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The Rat Paperback – May 5, 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; First Harvest Edition edition (May 5, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015675830X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156758307
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #974,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"A melange of fable, history, polemic, diatribe and jeremiad, its prose interspersed with verse, The Rat . . . defies brief description and amply displays Grass's fecund imagination," stated PW . The flounder and the tin drummer of previous works reappear and "Manheim's heroic translation lucidly conveys Grass's linguistic idiosyncrasies, bizarre neologisms and madcap eccentricities."
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

And the rats shall inherit the earth, or so Grass concludes in this wonderful work of speculative virtuosity. With no less a subject before him than the ultimate fate of humankind, this superb German writer weaves together stories to produce an imaginative whole. As the oracular She-rat tells of humanity's demise and the rat's ultimate dominion, Grass himself fights back with memories and dreams, seeking to establish a better future through the acts of history and mind. Meanwhile, a barge crewed by women plies the Baltic Sea. And Oscar Matzerath, the drummer of Grass's early novel The Tin Drum, now appears as a 60-year-old film producer with a plan to film the natural world before it dies in chemical offal. Wildly entertaining as well as thought provoking. Paul E. Hutchison, English Dept., Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Born in Danzig, Germany, in 1927, Günter Grass is a widely acclaimed author of plays, essays, poems, and numerous novels. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Manuel Haas on August 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
In the early 1980s the Cold War was on its last legs, but at the time it did not quite feel that way. Especially in Europe, many people were afraid that the new more sophisticated nuclear missiles would sooner or later destroy humanity. At the same time there were growing worries about the environment, as trees and whole forests seemed to be dying from the exposure to pollution. That is the background of Grass' novel "The Rat", which is his own version of the Apocalypse.
The construction of the novel is very intricate, poems and prose interweave several plots. The rat of the title is a pet which the narrator keeps, and which suddenly starts telling him about the end of humanity in a nuclear war; rats survive and found a new civilisation. The narrator does not want to accept this and starts telling stories to prove to the rat that he still exists. There definitely is a feeling of endgame about the novel, as Grass summons characters from earlier novels (such as Oskar from "The Tin Drum"), all the women he has loved (the five of them corss the Baltic Sea in a boat) and his native Danzig-Gdansk as if to say goodbye to them all. In another subplot, characters from well-known fairytales try to start a kind of revolution to save the German forests.
Much of this is very poignant, some of it full of brilliant black humour, yet somehow I get the impression that maybe Grass tried to do too much here. The novel is far from being a page turner. As both the rat and the narrator insist on their points of view, some annoying repetitions occur. - To me it seemed quite dated, too. Even Grass himself seems to be less worried about the end of the world today, as his recent novels are more concerned with the injustices of German unification.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ross James Browne on April 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
_The Rat_ is my favorite novel by Gunter Grass. It is miserly and potent, with very little wasted space or filler. It is an almost continuous stream-of-conscience monologue; it is the nonstop ranting and raving of an angst-ridden person in the midst of a spiritual crisis, venting his frustration and confusion. Overall, this technique proves to be a very successful literary device. It reads almost like nonfiction philosophy, and because Grass does not get bogged down with an absurd plot and characterization, this novel provides an ideal vehicle for his undiluted spiritual-philosophical beliefs. Keep in mind, however, that there is very little in the way of action, charaterization, and concrete plot events in this novel. If you are looking for a more traditional novel, you may want to look elsewhere. Nevertheless, I still believe this is Grass' best work because it is personal and revealing with regards to his deepest sources of philosophical angst and spiritual misgivings. I recommend this book to anyone who really wants to know what is going on in the mind of Gunter Grass.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
One of the best books I have read in a long time. I agree that this book is very dense with symbolism, but I think that this is a virtue, not a fault. Grass orchestrates an amazing chaos through out the book, tying together themes as diverse as the death of fairy-tales, the destruction of the environment, human attitudes toward rats, and a host of other ideas, and somehow turns them into something remarkable. For all its different plot lines, I felt a unity running through this book that few authors could have achieved.
This book is certainly not for everyone, and I would not advise reading it until after you have read "The Tin Drum" and "The Flounder" both by Grass, but for me this book was a remarkable reading experience.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
I was throughly entertained by this imaginative book. With a background of Germany's recent tumultuous history and the more recent destruction of the environment as well as our favorite fairy tales characters, humanity's destruction is described. The earth has simply expelled us to such a degree that even the genetic mixture of humans and rats (Rattenmenschen oder Menschenratten) is eventually wiped out.
After I finished the book, I even had a fonder, or more tolerant, view of rats.
Can't wait to start Die Blechtrommel.
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