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The Tin Drum

(Die Danziger Trilogie #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  41,907 ratings  ·  2,050 reviews
On his third birthday Oskar decides to stop growing. Haunted by the deaths of his parents and wielding his tin drum Oskar recounts the events of his extraordinary life; from the long nightmare of the Nazi era to his anarchic adventures in post-war Germany.
Paperback, 580 pages
Published 2005 by Vintage (first published 1959)
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Alex Cole Goethe and Rasputin represent different angles of the German psyche - namely, Goethe represents Germany's literary and cultural past and the individua…moreGoethe and Rasputin represent different angles of the German psyche - namely, Goethe represents Germany's literary and cultural past and the individuated "reason" of Apollonian art. Rasputin represents the need for Dionysian communitarian intoxication underlying the deeply individualistic petit bourgeoisie society of pre-war Danzig. Both figures drive "history" in the carousel of Oskar's fever-dream, culminating in a sense of historical non-consciousness or nihilistic empty time to use the language of Walter Benjamin.

I should note, too, the Apollonian-Dionysian distinction is itself a German invention, finding its origins in the early writings of Friedrich Nietzsche.(less)

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Vit Babenco
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Society dislikes outsiders… Outsiders reciprocate…
Oskar is a little drummer boy staying outside of society and his life is an incessant drumming…
I’ve heard rabbits, foxes, and dormice drum. Frogs can drum up a storm. They say woodpeckers drum worms from their casings. And men beat on timpani, cymbals, kettles, and drums. We have eardrums and brake drums, we drum up excuses, drum into our heads, drum out of the corps. Drummer boys do that, to the beat of a drum. Composers pen concerti for strings
Apr 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I had an intense reaction to this book. I friggin hated it. Or, rather, I loved to hate it, while I was reading it. It was an assignment in a Postmodern Lit. class, and everyone in the class liked the protagonist but me. I thought he was awful. I couldn't believe they enjoyed him, much less admitted to enjoying him. But some part of me must have understood.

...That was the point. This is a story I felt in my stomach. It was so full of perversion, of the grotesque, and I was 20 and a "good girl" a
Ahmad Sharabiani
(Book 462 From 1001 Books) - ‎Die Blechtrommel ‭= The Tin Drum, Günter Grass

The Tin Drum, is a 1959 novel, by Günter Grass. The novel is the first book of Grass's Danziger Trilogies (Danzig Trilogy), and winner of the Nobel Prize in literature.

It was adapted into a 1979 film, which won both the Palme d'Or, in the same year, and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film the following year.

The story revolves around the life of Oskar Matzerath, as narrated by himself, when confined in a me
When you hear an inner Oskar Matzerath hitting his tin drum in protest against the utter absurdity of life, you know it is time to make a choice for or against sanity.

Oskar himself chose the "easy" way out, deliberately refusing to grow up and accept "moral" guidelines, and in the end, he chose the asylum as the best place to write his unreliable, yet truthful account on the brutal times he called his own.

What do you do if you missed that point at age three to stop growing, but you have been gif
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was ok
My reaction to finishing this book was 'thank god that's over'. I thought it was interesting in the abstract, but at times I couldn't stand reading it. The unreliable main character Oskar, decides to stop growing at the age of three . He refuses to speak, and communicates by banging on his titular drum. I gather this is supposed to reflect German societies refusal to accept the realities of the rise of Nazism and their complicity in it. But I don't really care. My problem with the book wasn't th ...more
When Satan's not in the mood, virtue triumphs. Hasn't even Satan a right not to be in the mood once in a while?
The Tin Drum ~~ Günter Grass


GRRRRRR The Tin Drum ~~ this damn exasperating book. It’s one of the best written, most difficult, utterly amazing, truly frustrating books I’ve ever read. I don’t even know where to begin with this review.

For starters, The Tin Drum is brilliant. Wait, no, it’s maddening …


A nearly 600 page novel may badly wear you out, but the marks it leaves in your mind, as
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of those books you read and remember them after years of reading masses of other books. A masterpiece...
Michael Finocchiaro
One crazy ride. Oskar is unlike any other character you will ever read about besides maybe Tyrion Lannister. The book is a comic masterpiece, a fanciful rendering of Germany during the war and after. It is part vaudeville, part absurd, part insane, and like nearly all great literature, impossible to classify. The movie was also unbelievably great. If you want to read one book by this Nobel laureate, I would suggest starting here - you will have a hard time putting in down. I think that it would ...more
Jr Bacdayan
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Heil, Oskar Koljaiczek Matzerath-Bronski! The drummer! The magical three-year-old! The hunchback! The Jesus! The Satan! The Goethe! The Rasputin! The arsonist reincarnate! The student! The destroyer of glass! The tempter! The Skat ace! The bane of propaganda assemblies! The war veteran! The Catholic! The disciple maker! The choir boy! The fizz blower! The father! The prodigal son! The entertainer! The tombstone engraver! The art model! The devotee of nurses! The jazz musician! The star! The love ...more
This, excitingly, felt like an ur-text not only of magic realism, but of a lot of later 20th-century litfic. Its postmodern self-awareness of its references, the grotesquerie and sleaze, and vagabond escapades in mundane settings, were all characteristic of the 1980s and 90s novels that were my first acquaintance with serious contemporary fiction. (And by no means only Midnight's Children, which is basically The Tin Drum plus X-Men in a different culture.) The Tin Drum's influence may have been ...more
Sidharth Vardhan
Onions and Potatos

In the very first chapter, I was reminded of Midnight Children because of Oscar's conversational tone of narrative - same as that of Saleem Shinai. Once MC was in my mind couldn't help locating similarities - both narrators start their stories with the first meeting of their maternal grandparents, both like talking about sex, both of them feel need to hide from the world (Oskar in grandmother's skirts, Shinai in laundry box) etc. Still there are enough differences,

Re-visit 2015: Günter Grass, Nobel-winning German novelist, dies aged 87

Description: Danzig in the 1920s/1930s. Oskar Matzerath, son of a local dealer, is a most unusual boy. Equipped with full intellect right from his birth he decides at his third birthday not to grow up as he sees the crazy world around him at the eve of World War II. So he refuses the society and his tin drum symbolizes his protest against the middle-class mentality of his family and neighborhood, which stand for all passive
"Granted: I'm an inmate in a mental institution."

This opening line prepared me only a little to what was to come: a challenging, weird, unbelievable and extraordinary story.
Oskar's drums and his drumming may still "haunt" me for some time after finishing his story. I am lost for more words here but one: recommended!
The story here is thoroughly absorbing. The writing is of its own style—creative, unique, one-of-a-kind. Simply marvelous.

The book is perfect as I lie in the hospital with a fractured kneecap. I hope to return home with the leg in a brace at the end of the week. Life was never said to be easy.

During twelve days the book has kept me thoroughly occupied. Now at home, I have finished the book and am writing my review.

The story is an autobiographical memoir written by a dwarf. Writing from an insane
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: german-austrian
Painful because what is presented as entertainment is actually crime. Disturbing because what is responded by laughter should be responded by tears. This is a world unaware of its crime, and in the aftermath of the atrocity unable to mourn.
There are a lot of brilliant use of symbolisms. The one that stuck with me the most is the peep hole Bruno used to observe Oskar which resembles the peep hole equipped in gas chamber to observe the struggle of the dying.
To end with a quote: "Our kind has no
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
*Available from KOBOBOOKS

The most remarkable thing that strikes one about The Tin Drum is an absence. For a novel that so famously deals with Germany's war guilt, there is remarkably little about the war in the novel.

I don't mean to say that the novel does not touch on or talk about World War II. Of course it does. There is, after all, two whole chapters dealing with the German invasion of Poland, for example, where Oskar, Jan Bronski, and a dying man play a game of cards at the Polish Post Off
I knew this book is good, but I had no idea it were that good.

The novel that is not novel

On the surface, this is a fairly simple, easy to read book. It's the first novel by Günter Grass and it was published in 1959. You would think an author of this caliber would produce something that has a sophisticated (or should I say complicated?) style, something awesome, something the literary world would have a hard time explaining. But — he didn't. Grass obviously wasn't very fond of this. Right at the
Clif Hostetler
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This novel written in the voice of a fictional memoir tells the story of a boy/man growing up in the Free City of Danzig in the years between WWI & WWII and continues through the war years into the late 1940s. The story is narrated in a droll tone of realism but also contains impossible events and abilities. The combination is surreal.

The main character who's narrating the story (written in a mental hospital, accused of murder) indicates he decided to stop growing after age three (and indeed st
Nov 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny, Brechtian Story of a Murderous Dwarf who is a Genius Drummer

This is a tough book to review.

The story uses Brecht's concept of distancing to keep us from identifying with the characters.

The tale takes place in Germany and Poland, before, during, and after World War II.

The main character and narrator is Oskar Matzerath, a dwarf (and later on, a hunchbacked dwarf), who develops a precocious genius for drumming as a toddler. His parents supply him with toy tin drums (which he wears out with h
Mar 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a moving text published in the French newspaper Le Monde in October 2000, titled “Je me souviens”, Günter Grass remembers going back to Danzig in the spring of 1958, for the first time after the war. The nostalgic evocation of a past that the writer is not willing to forget and that is a perpetual inspiration of his fiction, filled with odors, images, words, sounds and dreams, that demand to be persistently interpreted.

“Even when we travel to places", writes Grass, "that we had left behind,
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: herrgrass
Funny I missed rating and reviewing this jewel. This is the lodestar, the mandrake root, the intrepid ooze making friends in the lukewarm pools of primeval poetry. This was the point of departure. A hallowed book I finished in a laundromat. I almost can't remember my reading life before wee Oskar. Eels, fizz, post offices, onions and Dusters have littered my imagination seemingly forever. I wanted to read the new translation and likely will someday. My memories of my own grandmother now smell li ...more
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Exuberant, meandering, grotesque ... that are already three salient descriptions for this written down or maybe dictated life story of Oskar Matzerath, or rather Oskar Oskar Koljaiczek Bronski, or better yet, the 3-year-old boy that decides not to grow anymore and most of his life walks through the adult world with a tin drum.

The setting: the city of Danzig in the period 1930-1945, swinging between Poland and Germany (that ambiguity is typical), and the postwar Düsseldorf. Oskar is not a sympat
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books
"What more shall I say: born under light bulbs, deliberately stopped growing at age of three, given drum, sang glass to pieces, smelled vanilla, coughed in churches, observed ants, decided to grow, buried drum, emigrated to the West, lost the East, learned stonecutter's trade, worked as model, started drumming again, visited concrete, made money, kept finger, gave finger away, fled laughing, rode up escalator, arrested, convicted, sent to mental hospital, soon to be acquitted, celebrating this d ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
‘The Tin Drum’ was one of the first proponents of what many readers dub “magic realism”, in which magical or fantastical happenings take place in a broadly realistic world. The term, however, is something of a misnomer; there is nothing more magical than reality, than the dazzling reflection of sunlight from a car window pane, than the myriad of colours which exist in a simple cloud, pink, white, blue or deep red. Reality, that most slippery of concepts, is often stranger than people think, peop ...more
Czarny Pies
Gunter Grass is the only winner of the Nobel Prize able to speak Kaszub a weird Slavic language still spoken in the area of Danzig. Perhaps realizing that he spoke a language that belonged to the world of myth and magic but not to his own century, Grass decided to convert his experiences into a twentieth century fairy tale.

The hero Little Oskar is a boy born in the Free City of Danzig, a state that was created by the 1919 Treaty of Paris and liquidated by the Germans in September 1939. Little Os
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure how to rate this book. I am not sure if I like it or hate it. It is just out of this world and Gunter Grass (Nobel Prize in Literature awardee) is just in his own league.

The book is about a midget who refused to grow up. He decided to stop growing up at the age of 3 when he also started to beat his drum. His story as a child (Book 1) coincides with the pre-holocaust period in Poland. The scenes that struck me here the most are the 5-layer skirt of his grandmother where his grandfa
Horace Derwent
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
during the expidition of the subjugating war in ireland, one soldier of cromwell got possessed by demon. the chaplain had no other choice(actually, he was good for nothing) and threw him into a pond(used to be a method of exorcism), the soldier sank without a single note of sound...moments after, the demon went up to the surface and said to the priest:"you just killed that poor man, you scam artist."

the pastor replied:"no, i did not. i saved him, he's with god now"

then the demon roared in rage:"
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How better to describe German history from the 1920s through the 1940s than through the eyes of Oskar Matzerath, who stopped growing at age 3 following a fall down a staircase, and who recounts his earlier life while assigned to a mental hospital in the early 1950s. The themes of death, guilt, lust and insanity are neatly woven through these pages in wonderful prose. An example of one captivating passage:
Fräulein Dr. Hornstetter, who drops by my room almost daily long enough to smoke one cigaret
Nothing I write here is going to fully express how much I enjoyed this novel. Grass's Oskar is both heroic and villainous. He can shatter glass with his screams, manipulate minds with his drum, and seduce ladies with fizz powder. There are riddles of paternity, rites of passage, and an aroma of rancid butter coming from beneath his grandmother's layered skirts. This is jazz music and chopped onions and nurse fetishes. It's dwarfs and hunchbacks and rental Rottweilers. If you're in the mood for h ...more
Joy D
As the story opens, we find thirty-year-old Oskar Matzerath in a mental institution. He proceeds to tell the story of his life. It is set in Danzig (Gdańsk) from 1899, when his grandparents meet, to 1954. Oskar, at age three, is given a toy drum for his birthday, and decides to quit growing. What follows is a bizarre combination of the history of Germany and Poland, satire, and absurd fable.

Oskar summarizes the plot: "Born beneath light bulbs, interrupted my growth at the age of three, was give
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Play Book Tag: The Tin Drum by Günter Grass - 3 stars 8 13 Apr 13, 2021 07:34AM  
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Novels, notably The Tin Drum (1959) and Dog Years (1963), of German writer Günter Wilhelm Grass, who won the Nobel Prize of 1999 for literature, concern the political and social climate of Germany during and after World War II.

This novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, and sculptor since 1945 lived in West Germany but in his fiction frequently returned to the Danzig of

Other books in the series

Die Danziger Trilogie (3 books)
  • Cat and Mouse
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