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Tin Drum

4.3 out of 5 stars 221 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 13, 1991
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Editorial Reviews

Japan Tin Drum Import New

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Art Of Parties
  2. Talking Drum
  3. Ghosts
  4. Canton
  5. Still Life In Mobile Homes
  6. Visions Of China
  7. Sons Of Pioneers
  8. Cantonese Boy


Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 13, 1991)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Plate Caroline
  • ASIN: B000000I00
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,393 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Following the generally accepted premise that great novels deserve to be re-translated every generation or so, Breon Mitchell has tackled the most important postwar German novel, and one which had already been translated by Ralph Manheim brilliantly into English not long after it appeared in German in 1959.

But now a half-century has passed, and Mitchell's skills are awesome, indeed. He has leapt courageously into the deep end of Guenter Grass' linguistic inventiveness, some of which looks at first as if it will defy translation at all. But Mitchell has succeeded beyond any bilingual reader's expectations. THE TIN DRUM is still far richer in its original German, but Mitchell has rendered its wealth anew, and those readers who have yet to discover this masterpiece in English will be rewarded.

Dr. Richard J. Rundell
Professor of German
New Mexico State University
11 Comments 105 of 112 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Western literature is full of what Germans call "bildungsroman", that is, the story of a young man's (or woman's)intellectual and emotional growth, often told from the main character's own voice. This kind of novel has adopted innumerable shapes and styles through history, and certainly this one is, so far for me, the strangest and one of the best.
It is hard to summarize the plot, as it is mainly the diverse and extreme experiences of Oskar Matzerath's life. Born in 1924 in Danzig, itself a unique and troubled city, Oskar decides at age three not to grow up anymore. Or does he simply has an illness of the tyroid gland, as he hints at some point? It doesn't matter, precisely because that moment starts the style of the whole book: all the time, terrible things are happening to Oskar, to his family, to his city, to his nation and to his century, but we see everything only through the distorted glass of this unique character's view.
First he tells us about his ancestors and the life they led in pre-war German Poland. Then we know the story of his parents, the infidelity of his mother and other disturbing and often sordid events. His community starts to fall apart as the Nazis rise to power. Then the Nazis come and destroy the city, phisically and spiritually. Oskar spends the whole war in Danzig as well as wandering through France and Belgium as part of a grotesque midget-troupée. After the war, they flee Poland for Düsseldorf, where he is employed in very different jobs: as a tomb engraver, painters' model, jazz drum player. The chapter which describes the journey by train is simply horrible and scaring, as the chapter on his emotional disappointing is sad. The end is strange, confusing but full of hope.
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Echoing the rise and fall of the Third Reich through the eyes of the Peter Pan like Oskar Matzerath, Günter Grass' highly acclaimed novel, The Tin Drum paints a surreal and disturbing portrait of people in a time of great uncertainty. The story begins with Oskar's grandmother, Anna Koljaiczek, a woman who conceives Oskar's mother, Agnes, in a potato field encounter that can only be described as "bizarre." Agnes, herself, grows into a woman out-of-the-ordinary and in time, forms the hypotenuse of a strange love triangle that encompasses two men who love her equally: her husband, Alfred Matzerath and Jan Bronski, the biological father of young Oskar. Oskar, himself, is, from the very beginning, an extraordinary child. Even as a fetus, he refuses to be born until Agnes entices him out of her womb with the promise of a tin drum on his third birthday.
Oskar is born and Agnes keeps her promise. On the day he receives his red and white lacquered tin drum, Oskar makes a promise that rules his life for the next eighteen years: Observing the hypocritical nature of his German-Polish family, Oskar decides to stop growing and forever remain three years old. In an effort to accomplish this, he throws himself down the cellar stairs, an act that comes to haunt Alfred (he had left the door open). Oskar does manage to freeze himself in time and his tin drum becomes the symbol of his extreme youth as well as his weapon against adult intervention. It is when Alfred tries to take the drum away that Oskar discovers another unique talent: he can scream at such a high register that glass around the world shatters. At three years old, Oskar has learned the art of manipulation and control.
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Comment 35 of 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
In this review, I have little to say. Grass' masterpiece "The Tin Drum" is legendary not only for its haunting story, but the vast amount of scholarly interpretation and analysis. I will not attempt to tackle any of that here.

What I can say is this. I have an older translation of "The Tin Drum" which I thought very good. And it is very good. But, in reading portions of this new translation, I get the odd feeling that I am reading a vaguely different and more layered story. This is not to denigrate the older edition I have, but this new translation is obviously much better. As I read, I am simply getting "more" out of the book than what I remember from the first time I read it, and I really don't think it is a function of my own personal experiences or age allowing some greater understanding, but a richer, more faithful translation. It's nothing I can put my finger on with precision, but it's there. This edition is simply a better version of a classic masterpiece.

The binding is solid and I am having no difficulty with any printer's errors or shoddy construction values.

Enthusiastic recommendation without reservation.
18 Comments 76 of 86 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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