Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass

First American edition of The Tin Drum
Originally published in Germany in 1959, pictured above is the cover of the first American edition of The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. Published by the Pantheon imprint of Random House in 1961—which specialized in foreign titles—The Tin Drum was first translated into English by superstar translator Ralph Manheim. Gunter Grass' first novel is, simply put, one of my favorite books; there is nothing quite like it, and in my opinion none of his other books really compare. A war ballad combined with proponents of magical realism, The Tin Drum recounts the epic of Oskar Matzerah and his family in Danzig, Germany before, during and after World War II. Oskar willed himself to stop growing at the age of 3, only maturing mentally, and can shatter glass with his voice. He dons a tin drum, which he can play to conjur any memory from the past. It is a ridiculous and special book. The cover drawing is one of my favorites—drawn by Grass himself—and has been incorporated in some way or another into nearly ever future edition (see below).

Oskar character on the back cover of a later Pantheon paperback
Another Oskar from the cover of a British Penguin paperback

No comments:

Post a Comment