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The Flounder (Helen & Kurt Wolff Book) Reprint Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0156319355
ISBN-10: 0156319357
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A masterpiece by one of the most gifted and original of contemporary writers. It is a book that will repay study and rereading. Only a churlish, insular reader could fail to respond to its bold and exhilarating historical sweep, its poetic celebration of food and the arts of cooking" New Statesman "Grass spices his potent brew with a juicy concoction of tales and anecdotes, and a rich, Rabelaisian humour" Daily Telegraph "I know of no one else capable of writing anything like it" Sunday Times "Grass is one of the few great writers in Europe today" Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Helen & Kurt Wolff Book
  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (May 5, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156319357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156319355
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #659,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book when it first came out (1980?), and have read, in English or German, 4 other novels by GG. All were wonderful, but this was my favorite. It's "magic realism" that's both thought-provoking and very entertaining, and so well-written and translated. It's really too bad that it's out of print.
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Format: Paperback
Truly an epic journey. The story combines many themes and just as many characters. One must read about half to get a grasp on the reins and after that, it's fun. Cooking and copulation play large roles. All the talk about soup and the endless mushrooms are fantastic. Throughout the text are poems and songs. At first, they don't seem to relate. But one comes to expect them after a time. This is a big change from the style of the Danzig trilogy, much more modern. Grass makes some interesting points about guilt and shame (defecation circles, sleeping with the abbess.) The last few scenes are tremendous. Supposedly, this was Grass' present to himself. The terrific ending must reveal an optimist side to him.
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By A Customer on December 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
An outstanding statment by Grass on history, feminism, cooking and Joycean bodily details which encapsulates the obssession by the Germans of systems, machoness and abstractions that have led to disaster. But the book is a balanced look at the effects of excess feminism as well.
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Format: Paperback
"Doesn't it strike you as poor taste, defendant Flounder, to come here and crack literary jokes at the expense of the world's oppressed women?"

If you are intrigued by this line (page 219), you will love this book. If you don't feel intrigued, you will feel a different strong emotion. In brief, that's the best advice I can give to a prospective buyer. I have provided some further thoughts below.

---

Typically labelled "magic(al) realism", this book could be characterized much more specifically as a fusion of two magic-related genres: it is a fairytale reimagined as an origin myth. The fairytale is that of The Fisherman and His Wife, which is a story embedded in folk traditions from Slavic to Polish to Indian to Germanic. Grass is unsatisfied with the received wisdom of the conventional story, as related by the Brothers Grimm, which tells us of the disaster brought on by a pushover husband and his greedy wife when they happen upon an enchanted flatfish.

The Grimms' fairytale closely parallels a certain other story, also combination fairytale and origin myth. The story of the Fall of Adam and Eve, as told by (e.g.) Milton, tells us that the sorry state of humanity all boils down to females' ambition and males' failure to be in charge. Much of Grass's book is devoted to rewriting the received wisdom that history is a story of progress driven by masculinity. So we start in the paleolithic, where women are in charge, men are errand-boys, and everyone is apparently quite content. The historical era is related as a series of behind-the-scenes looks at how what we "know" of history might have had unrecorded dimensions -- that is, women might have had a greater role than we know.
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Format: Paperback
This is a hypnotic trip from the beginning of man and woman to the modern age, examining our most basic passions and powers. Fabulous use of a fairy tale! Better-than- LSD inversions of social norms! As Oldenburg sculptures inform us immediately, so does Grass get profound -- and funny -- with images and recipes from time immemorial. Had a dinner party years ago, inviting folks to read this book prior to coming, and served a tabletop of the dishes Everywoman cooked. Admittedly, some guests didn't make it thru the novel but we were all glad to pay homage with a meal of celebration. Grass, whose profound personal process of redemption informed him and infused his writing with a contagious love of humanity.
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