Gunter Grass' The Tin Drum

“The Tin Drum” this with out a doubt the single most challenging book I’ve ever read. It was in its way a complex story about how fascism crept into the comities of the German people threw there desperation. I must be honest it’s a very difficult book to understand, so I’m starting this to get the opinions of others on this book.

I never read the book — I’ve only seen the movie. Your OP honesty made me say that :slight_smile: I know how ignorant that sounds

It is the only German lang. movie besides Das Boot and the Will that I have ever seen. It was very hard to get into, but I’m glad I did it – much like 6th grade.

Basically the little boy refuses to grow in response to the Nazi’s & in the people around him we see many different types of reaction to the rise. To see it acted was at times interesting, boring, dense & funny.

I can’t imagine it written. One thought I have is that having it written (in German yes?) and then translated into English could not made the going for you any easier - it may be the translation

My OP makes me realize i can’t eve compose a decent thread

I read the book over Christmas break. It also ranks up there with the most difficult stuff I ever read.

And I don’t know if I will ever understand half the stuff that was flying around in that book. It’s probably the only book I’ve ever read that I wanted to go searching for criticism on.

I saw Oskar’s growth stunt as a way for him to avoid passing through the stages of growing up, where he would be brought into the youth brigades and raised into conformity, and passing into the world of adults. Look at the adults around him: no matter how well they’re presented, they’re liars, concealers, and theirs is a strict and harsh world. His short stature is a very visible way for other people to assume he’s a child, so he remains somewhat untouched by the Nazis taking power. He sees all the effects of the Nazi occupation of Poland in a very secondary way, such as through food shortages.

I also read a review at Amazon that claimed Oskar was supposed to represent the artists and the intelligentsia of Poland and Germany at the time. Incapable of making real statements about what they saw happening, removed and protected by others, only able to use their voices for senseless destruction. That fits.

Again, this is only what I got from the book, and there’s a bunch of stuff in there that I knew was going completely over my head. If anyone else has some opinions, please jump in!

Can some just put Daowajan post where my first one is because that’s pretty much what i wanted to say but my mind turns to mush when i think about that book
Do you think you will go on and Read “Cat and mouse and Dog Years”?

They called the movie obscene for a short time here in Oklahoma City, citing child porn. :rolleyes:

I’ve only seen the movie too. I did pick up the book at one point, though, but couldn’t get past the first few pages…

I agree completely with what Daj said re Oskar’s physical stature. Remain a child, you retain a child’s innocence and outlook, thereby escaping the ugly reality of Nazism.

I must admit, though, that I was shocked at some of the nudity in the film, especially since the actor playing Oskar was an actual child at the time…:eek:

Shame on me, I never read the book. But the movie was great. It should be required viewing, although I’m sure parents would find it “indecent” or something equally stupid. Great flick.

I got maybe two-thirds through the book. It’s rough going and I have all the best intentions of returning to it someday. I’d seen the film first with my parents when I was far too young to understand much of it, which was a traumatic experience all to itself. Some of the images from the film really stuck with me, though, like Oskar in the doctor’s office cracking the specimen jars with his voice, and pulling the eels out of the horse’s head.

I tried to read this in the summer preceding 10th grade. It didn’t turn out so well. I’ve also seen the movie.


My problem with the book is that Grass wants to feel like a big man with revolutionary ideas and shout “Hey, look at me I’m an iconoclast!!!” in every scene. Take, for example, the entire chapter dedicated to Oskar’s musing on the penis on the statue of the infant Christ. If Grass hadn’t set out to gain attention in so egotistic a manner, I’d have probably enjoyed the book.


After seeing the movie and liking it, I got hold of the book and just skimmed it. I used the book to look up background on my favorite scenes in the movie.

Just thought I should point out that the movie only covered something like half of the book’s narrative line. The movie ended (as it had begun, with Grandma by the train tracks) at the end of the war. But in the book, Oskar’s further adventures took him to Germany where he became the drummer in a jazz combo. One nightclub they play in serves no food and no drinks. The only thing they serve is raw onions with cutting boards and knives (each customer gets the choice of a fish-shaped or a piggy-shaped cutting board). Everybody sits around and cuts onions till the tears flow. This allows people to deal with emotions from the war and the postwar period, by the catharsis of getting them all together to break down their inhibitions with onions and have a good cry together. Well, I thought it was interesting and very humanistic. If you only saw the movie, you miss all this.

Shortly after first seeing the movie, a kitten was born to my cat. When the kitten was newborn, one of his eyes was cockeyed just like David Bennent’s, so I named him Oskar. Even after his eye straightened itself out, the name stuck.

Grass has always been abit of an eccentric, try reading his the Flounder - about a flounder that possesses a chef, they fall in love, etc…etc…

Obscure would be a nice term in that case.