Die Blechtrommel [The Tin Drum]
Since, sadly, there’s no concert to go to today, I got around to finishing the book I started 2 weeks ago. I felt sort of guilty for dragging it this long – even so, I still would have rather had a concert to go to 😉 But I’ll always have Paris (I hope 😉 ).
I felt sort of like I had to read this book; after all, The Tin Drum is big – in a figurative sense – so big in fact that I don’t really think I can say much about it, without sounding silly. I was intrigued by something Dragos said somewhere: that the roots of Rushdie’s Midnight Children can be easily traced back to this particular book. And, while I see the resemblances – the physical disadvantages and the abilities that they generate, the social and political subtexts – I still have a personal preference for Mr Rushdie. There’s just more twisty magic in his world.
The Tin Drum feels in so many ways like a classic: bildungsroman with elements of the picaresque, well defined main character (which probably represents the homework of many German students 😉 ), symbols and subtexts. It’s quite a pleasure to read, although not necessarily too accessible, entertaining and gripping while not giving in to sensationalism.
I won’t go spoiling the plot – and I’ll just quickly skip to my favorite thing about it: Oskar’s duality. His destiny is marked from the first second my uncertainty over his paternity (Jan Bronski – his mother’s cousin and lover, the Polish dandy or Matzerath – his mother’s husband, the German merchant) and from then on his preferences will always be clearly split: Rasputin (the carnal and earthly) or Goethe (the poetic, aerial, abstract) in his formative years; Poland or Germany throughout the war; in fact – art vs. war in itself; and the women: mothers or nurses. The perhaps one thing that keeps them all together is his uncanny talent for drumming from which, no matter how tragic his experiences turn out to be he can never really stay away. A rare gift he has (and now that I sound like Yoda, it crosses my mind that Oskar might look a bit like the Jedi master – except for the green skin and pointy ears 😀 ): he can sing, evoke his life and other’s life and the touch of the drum – childhood, neighbours, war, interior conflicts, deaths and overwhelming guilt, friends lost and friends gained, love and rejection, the Polish potato fields and the 4 brown skirts, all sorts of darkened pasts.