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The Rat

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  460 ratings  ·  27 reviews
A female rat engages the narrator in a series of dialogues-convincingly demonstrating to him that the rats will inherit a devastated earth. Dreams alternate with reality in this story within a story within a story. Translated by Ralph Manheim. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 5th 1989 by Mariner Books (first published 1986)
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Community Reviews

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Flying across the Atlantic in 1997 Two Frenchmen noticed me reading The Rat, both were already quite drunk and fuelling their mirth with minibottle cocktails which they pored into Coke cans. One held his nose and said something the other began laughing and mumbled something in a thickened voice, the word nazi may have been in there. I can't really say. I put on my headphones and attempted to ignore them, hoping the airport security would stomp them upon arrival. No, I didn't think that. I was ho ...more
Joe Hunt
I didn't totally finish this one, either--

maybe dragged on a little bit in some parts...

But sometimes it was amazing.

It's funny...A great title.

It's funny, just to start talking about rats, of all things.

Seemed like he had a lot to say about rats. It was good. (I can't remember a ton of it.) Something about a rat.

(You know what? I really like to post books I only read a little of...

I must be the laziest reader in the world.

I think I read it in a dream.)
Now, She-rat, that forests and rivers, plains and mountains, manifestos and prayers, even banners and leaflets, not to mention heads emptied by speculation, provide indications that our yarn may be running out; now that the end is being postponed from day to day, knitting women are the lat counter-force, whereas men just talk everything to pieces and finish nothing, not even mittens capable of supplying warmth to freezing humanity."
-Gunter Grass, The Rat, p.27

This book was a roller coaster of a
T.P. Williams
I have generally been a fan of Grass', more so in the sixties, but recently enjoyed "Crabwalk," but found this book a big disappointment. Muddled POV is only one problem, as I was frequently lost between the narrator and the She-Rat as to who was relating the story, such as it was. Several strands of thought are not connected by the author. He revisits old territory, "Tin Drum" and "The Flounder" by reviving some of those characters, including old pal Oskar Matzerath. That was good, but the stra ...more
I remember struggling with this book when I read it in high school, a time period that seems very far away now. However, it's also stuck with me, sort of like a bad dream, and so perhaps it's one I should re-read someday. Since he references his earlier work in this book, and it's the only Grass I've read, it's not surprising I had trouble with it. The Tin Drum is certainly higher on my to-read list.
Lauren DeLong
One of my favorite books, ever. The narrative style is delightful, and layered - and often humorous - insights into the human condition and capitalism make this a classic as far as I'm concerned.
Pat Anderson
Grass is another one of those beatnik/hippy writers, like Vonegutt, whose ideas seem a bit dated now. I enjoyed 'The Tin Drum' when I read it in the late 80s, even though Oskar comes across as a nasty, self-centred brat. I am sure when the book was written Oskar seemed like a wonderful, radical, non-conformist role model. Times change though. That is why I did not enjoy 'The Rat.' It was written in the 80s, so it is hard to indulge Grass his hippy rhetoric. The main crime, though, was his crass ...more
Had to read it for my German class in Year 12. It made me fall asleep constantly... no other book managed to do that to me so far. But nonetheless, it was not necessarily a bad book. I just think I was maybe a bit to young to read such a challenging book in terms of writing style, language and themes. I might even reread it sometime in the future if the mood hits me.
Aug 11, 2009 Mazel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: roman
Ce roman, dont l'action se situe dans les années 80, traite de la double menace de la prolifération du nucléaire et de la destruction de l'environnement. L'auteur y mêle humour et faconde au fil de plusieurs récits s'interpénétrant.

Un personnage est au cœur de cette trame romanesque : une ratte - ou femelle du rat -, apparue en rêve au narrateur, qui raconte comment l'humanité suicidaire, sachant qu'elle court à sa perte mais espérant un miracle in extremis, ne semble rien faire de sérieux pour
Definitely not a book I will recommend to anyone unless they are academic literature or Germanophile historian types. To truly break it down would required an academic paper, since Grass is certainly very skilled literarily. But for the sake of time and space, I will write some short impressions: pretentious; pessimistic; outdatedly predictive of man's fall; overstated importance of his generation's will to affect their demise.

We are doing the same thing now. While Grass thought we'd kill oursel
Víctor Sampayo
Aburrido. Malditamente aburrido. En el arranque parece que será un gran ejercicio de imaginación, pero se pierde en un océano de tedio. Directo al cesto de los infumables.
Boyd Coleman
Maybe my favorite book ever! It is so amazingly abstract, yet it makes wonderful observations on the human condition buried in three bizarre seemingly unrelated stories being told at the same time. I also find it amusing how the same characters and stories show up in so many of Gunter Grass' works. It's almost as if half of his books are really the same book shown from different points of view. The guy is a genius. By the way he was the mentor for John Irvin when he was beginning to write.
Nate D
All form, little function. The characters are bizarre and potentially fascinating, but all prove to be lifeless puppets, or armies of lifeless puppets, all animated and slung about the world. It's amazing how much not caring at all (or perhaps not being allowed to care) for anyone involved can ruin a completely fascinating premise, or set of premises. Gunter Grass will always write a few amazing scenes and devices, but will never be a favorite, I have the feeling.
This is not necessarily a book I would recommend. Much like the Flounder, it sprawls and double backs - pulling in several themes to form a sort of mosaic whole - a style I enjoy. But I got the feeling Grass was writing this book more for himself than the readers. Also, it is absolutely required to read the Flounder and the Tin Drum first as he resurrects their characters in this novel. Good, but not great.
I've been reading this book off and on since 2000. Yes, it's true - seven years long. Obviously, I don't get very far; I get distracted, perhaps I have Attention Defecit Disorder? No, I don't. This book is hard to read as a novel. I enjoy parts of it nevertheless - random paragraphs, the many poems, the imagery - in small doses.
Feb 05, 2009 Julie is currently reading it
This book is in a box buried somewhere in my storage space. I started it, found the style and material interesting... and then life intervened, I suppose. One of those books that I didn't intend to stop reading, but haven't gotten around to finishing yet.
I never seem to be able to sustain my enthusiasm for Gunther Grass long enough to finish a book. I quite enjoyed this one for maybe a hundred pages or so, but then it all began to seem tedious, and my interest flagged, and I gave it up.
Read about 90 pages and then just gave up, a little too jumpy and dreamy and even though I'm not easily confused with books, a bit too confusing for me.
One of the best apocalyptic fictions I've ever read. I love Chapter 11!
Couldn't manage to finish it.. I reckon i should be to one to get zero stars.
Liz Gillingham
I love his writing style. He inspires me to start writing again.
Dec 28, 2007 Rochelle is currently reading it
interesting so far... very stream of consciousness
Joe Britches
Nov 13, 2008 Joe Britches rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Joe by: all day
An amazing book! Really intense layered social critique...
Jun 30, 2009 Shauna marked it as to-read
still reading it.. not very far yet due to general business
Viewed as a sequel of The Tin Drum: Excellent.
Long, and a bit confusing.
Oliver Twist & Shout
Oliver Twist & Shout is currently reading it
Mar 25, 2015
Goran Remborg
Goran Remborg marked it as to-read
Mar 20, 2015
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Günter Wilhelm Grass is a Nobel Prize-winning German author and playwright.
He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). Since 1945, he has lived in West Germany (now Germany), but in his fiction he frequently returns to the Danzig of his childhood.
He is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum, a key text in European magic realism. His works frequently have a strong left wing,
More about Günter Grass...
The Tin Drum (The Danzig Trilogy, #1) Cat and Mouse (The Danzig Trilogy, #2) Crabwalk Dog Years (The Danzig Trilogy, #3) The Flounder

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“Because men
are killing the forests
the fairy tales are running away.
The spindle doesn't know
whom to prick,
the little girl's hands
that her father has chopped off,
haven't a single tree to catch hold of,
the third wish remains unspoken.
King Thrushbeard no longer owns one thing.
Children can no longer get lost.
The number seven means no more than exactly seven.
Because men have killed the forests,
the fairy tales are trotting off to the cities
and end badly.”
More quotes…