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The Tin Drum

(Die Danziger Trilogie #1)

by
3.96  ·  Rating details ·  35,826 ratings  ·  1,577 reviews

Without a doubt, The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass is a classic of Western Literature. Sardonic in tone and exuberant in its condemnation of the late 20th century world and its values, The Tin Drum is a picture of a world in upheaval. Told through the eyes of dwarf, it was Grass's first novel and it catapulted him to fame.

The Tin Drum is a portrait of German society from the

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Paperback, 582 pages
Published April 8th 2010 by Mariner Books (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…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)

Community Reviews

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3.96  · 
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 ·  35,826 ratings  ·  1,577 reviews


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Tia
Apr 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Your [intellectual] inner beast.
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
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Ahmad Sharabiani
462. Die Blechtrommel = The Tin Drum, Günter Grass
The Tin Drum (German: Die Blechtrommel) is a 1959 novel by Günter Grass. The novel is the first book of Grass's Danziger Trilogie (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 mental
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Dan
Feb 11, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Beata
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those books you read and remember them after years of reading masses of other books. A masterpiece...
Jr Bacdayan
Jan 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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, MC is mo
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Bettie☯


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
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Jeb
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeb by: Nathan, 'A Novel Idea' bookclub
Shelves: favorites
The plot, characters, and setting are all top-notch, but what makes Drum a stellar read is its tone. A reviewer might have described it as 'sardonically irreverant' had not Waiting for Guffman been the source of the phrase. Dripping with arrogance and wit against a macabre backdrop, The Tin Drum follows our sturdy-at-three-feet protagonist Oskar from his vivid recollections of his own birth through Hitler's occupations of Danzig, DE and Oskar's familial Poland through many other no doubt excitin ...more
Erwin
"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!
Mona
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
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Elie F
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german
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
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Matt
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
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Whitaker
*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
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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 indee
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Michael Finocchiaro
One crazy ride. Oskar is unlike any other character you will ever read about besides maybe Tyrion Lannister maybe. 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 wo ...more
Jonfaith
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Emil  Astalus
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
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
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Maureen
Jul 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, with enthusiasm
Recommended to Maureen by: Tom Carson
Shelves: novel, anti-war
The world portrayed in The Tin Drum is brutal and harsh, and, at the same time freakishly strange. There is an aspect to violence that disconnects from everyday reality. In this book, seen through the eyes of its diminutive hero, it becomes downright surreal. Though the tone may be fantastic, Grass does a better job of capturing life under Nazi rule than anything else I have ever read. Even in translation, his language is dazzling, and one thing is certain: after reading what happens at the end ...more
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
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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:"
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[P]
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitchin
When I was younger the only musical instrument we had in the house was an old acoustic guitar of my dad’s. Despite an interest in music, I was never particularly drawn to it, finding it a snivelling and cowardly instrument; an acoustic guitar, I thought to myself, cowers and sighs and feels sorry for itself, and that wasn’t at all what I wanted to express. No, I wanted to hammer something, to make a noise. Quite evidently, at that age, and in those circumstances, what best suited my feelings was ...more
Drew
Pop quiz: what's the name of that book with the physically deformed protagonist who's got paternity uncertainty and lives his own country's history? You know, he's got a superpower that sort of fades in and out as the book progresses, and, if I recall correctly, a relative who can cook feelings into soups. And he falls in with a group of weird kids with comical nicknames like Eyeslice and PuttPutt. No, it's not Midnight's Children. I'm talking about the one with the narrator who tells the whole ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘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
Alex
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hunchbacked dwarf musical prodigies
"Even bad books are books, and therefore holy.'

But this is not a bad book. What a tightrope act it is! Sustaining the totally unreliable, possibly insane voice of Oskar through a book this long without stumbling or stretching our suspension of semi-belief is a hell of a task, and Grass totally nails it. I found this entertaining, funny, sad, weird and wholly likable.

I do wish I hadn't read that part about catching eels while eating a sandwich. That shit was gross as hell.

Anyone know where I can
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Karl
May 17, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I learned that I don't find eccentric midgets that make highly stylized allusions to archaic information and literature very interesting, but that I do like it when eccentric midgets kill their fathers and have lots of sex. So ultimately this book taught me I am shallow; goodbye Harpers, hello National Enquirer.
Manisha
Actual review: 4.5

“Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peep-hole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.”

Did I enjoy this book?

No, not at all. Not in the slightest. I did not enjoy this book at all.

Could I put it down?

No, not at all. Not in the slightest. I could not put this book down.

This book was an amalgamation of an unreliable narrator, fanta
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Leslie
3.5 stars rounded up. I ran out of steam with this so I am giving it the benefit of the doubt by rounding up.

There is a lot to think about in this and I don't think that I understood some of it (much of it?). It is too bad that this is a library book as it would be good to go back and reread or ponder certain passages again when a little time has passed.

I really struggled with one fundamental feature of the novel -- Oskar's supposedly voluntary non-growth, allowing him to remain in a 3-year-old
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Sandi
I swear I could hear that drum playing in my head at odd moments. Especially every time I tried to write this review. I think it was my own warning to pay proper homage to a brilliant book. It always amazes me how some authors can take some dark passages of a characters life and treat it with a humour that doesn't detract from the seriousness of the subject.

I wanted to kick Oskar in the rump almost as often as I wanted to hug him. What an exasperating protagonist but I suspect he is very much a
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Jeremy
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I have now dedicated my right forearm to this book.

Granted: I’m an inmate in a mental institution...


Oskar, the narrator of ‘The Tin Drum’ (apart from a few short pages...), begins his story with a direct admission, and with an immediate sense of familiarity with us, as if we’ve known him for a while, and been talking before, as if we’re coming to this mid-conversation, almost mid-sentence. We know nothing else, not even a name, but we know the speaker is an inmate of a mental
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect capitalization in title 2 8 May 19, 2019 03:23PM  
Play Book Tag: the tin drum | gunter grass | 5 stars 10 30 Sep 05, 2018 11:01AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add ISBN-13 (3) 3 12 Mar 09, 2018 01:05PM  
Der "Erwachsenen-...: Leserunde zu "Die Blechtrommel" von Günter Grass 24 28 Jul 03, 2017 12:33AM  
Guardian Newspape...: June 2016- The Tin Drum 25 30 Aug 17, 2016 04:10PM  
Estilo 1 6 Feb 05, 2016 05:15PM  
Around the Year i...: The Tin Drum, by Günter Grass 2 25 Jan 09, 2016 01:51AM  

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Günter Wilhelm Grass was a Nobel Prize-winning German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, and sculptor.
He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). Since 1945, he lived in West Germany, but in his fiction he frequently returned to the Danzig of his childhood. He always identified himself as a Kashubian.

He is best known for his first novel, "The Tin Drum" (1959)
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Other books in the series

Die Danziger Trilogie (3 books)
  • Cat and Mouse
  • Dog Years
“Even bad books are books and therefore sacred.” 453 likes
“Granted: I AM an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peep-hole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.” 48 likes
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