The Rat

Front Cover
Harcourt Brace & Company, Apr 7, 1989 - Fiction - 384 pages
7 Reviews
In this superbly inventive, beautifully crafted novel, Gunter Grass relates, in dreamlike sequences, the end of this world and the beginning of an age of rats.

Grass received her as a gift one Christmas. She was sitting under the tree in her gift-wrapped cage, amid fleece-lined slippers, and hand-colored map, a handsome engraving. That's how the rat came into Grass's life and imagination. Dream alternates with reality in this story within a story within a story. Of Grass and his Christmas rat. Of a group of liberated women on a research ship in the Baltic Sea, complaining, lamenting, to the clatter of their knitting needles. Of our old friend the tin drummer, Oscar Matzerath, now sixty, balding, plagued by prostate troubles, and head of a major video corporation whose motto is: "We are creating the future." At his Grandmother Anna Koljaiczek's 107th birthday party, he shows a video of the re-greening of Germany carried out by characters from the pages of the Brothers Grimm - Rumpelstiltskin, The Frog King - and the Brothers Grimm themselves, now ministers of the environment in the Bonn government.

But the rat intrudes in all these stories with stories of her own, challenging our narrator in his dreams and in his realities, arguing with him, interrupting, threatening. He in turn fights to preserve the human present by elaborating on his memories of the past, as he conjures up visions of a terrifying future in apocalyptic images that make inspired reading.

Here Grass baroque, Grass sensuous, Grass the witty observer and interpreter of both the human and animal condition.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
5
4 stars
1
3 stars
0
2 stars
1
1 star
0

Review: The Rat

User Review  - Lauren DeLong - Goodreads

One of my favorite books, ever. The narrative style is delightful, and layered - and often humorous - insights into the human condition and capitalism make this a classic as far as I'm concerned. Read full review

Review: The Rat

User Review  - Joe Hunt - Goodreads

I didn't totally finish this one, either-- maybe dragged on a little bit in some parts... But sometimes it was amazing. It's funny...A great title. It's funny, just to start talking about rats, of all ... Read full review

References to this book

About the author (1989)

Born on October 16, 1927 in Gdansk, Poland, GŁnter Wilhelm Grass was a member of the Hitler Youth in the 1930s. At the age of 16, he was drafted into the German military, was wounded, and became a prisoner of war in 1945. His first novel, The Tin Drum (1959), selected by the French as the best foreign language book of 1962, is the story of Oscar Matzerath, a boy who refuses to grow up as a protest to the cruelty of German society during the war. It is the first part of his Danzig trilogy, followed by Cat and Mouse (1961) and Dog Years (1963), and was made into a movie by director Volker Schlondorff, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1979. His other works include Local Anaesthetic, The Flounder, Crabwalk, and Peeling the Onion. He has been honored many times, including a distinguished service medal from the Federal Republic of Germany in 1980 which he refused to accept. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.

Bibliographic information