Monday, February 20, 2012
The holiday this year coincides with my reading of The Tin Drum. Like carnival, The Tin Drum in shocking in places with its dwarves, eels, onions & potatoes, horseheads as fishing tools, incest and invading armies, and also outrageous, and very engaging. Along with the story, I like the particularly German things that come up, like school-going "cornucopias" (Schultüten), which I wouldn't have understood if I hadn't had children here, and the famous fizz powder sweet, a stand-in for sexual climax in the book.
Anyone who knows anything about The Tin Drum knows it is about the rise of the Nazis, and the post-war years in Germany. The protagonist is a supposedly insane dwarf, who decided at three to stop growing and remain a child, and there of course are all the Germans who had no responsibility for anything in their society.
This is the year I penciled in to read more German/ic and Germany-related literature, and this seems a good start. Here's part of the first chapter, the creation scene, which leads us right into the distorted grotesque: My grandmother had on not just one skirt, but four, one over the other. It should not be supposed that she wore one skirt and three petticoats; no, she wore four skirts; one supported the next, and she wore the lot of them in accordance with a definite system, that is, the order of the skirts was changed from day to day. The one that was on top yesterday was today in second place; the second became the third. The one that was third yesterday was text o her skin today. The one that was closest to her yesterday clearly disclosed its pattern today, or rather its lack of pattern: all my grandmother Anna Bronski's skirts favored the same potato color. It must have been becoming to her.