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Ch. 7, Rasputin and the Alphabet 
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Post Ch. 7, Rasputin and the Alphabet
The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass

Book one, Chapter seven
Rasputin and the Alphabet



Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:20 am
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Post Re: Ch. 7, Rasputin and the Alphabet
Two phrases caught my attention in this chapter:

"Even bad books are books and therefore holy" Grass seems to take a sideways cheap shot at Goethe then launches his analysis of Rasputin.

"(regarding Rasputin) Women believed in him, while officers had to remove him from their path before they could again believe in themselves." That statement makes claims about woman's belief systems and man's egos.

Grass gets points for both profoundness and brevity.


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Sat Sep 18, 2010 1:48 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 7, Rasputin and the Alphabet
Although I am not sure which book on Rasputin is refferenced in Drum, I have added a little info about him.

This is a little info about "The Elective Affinities", by Goethe which is mentioned by name in Drum.

Quote:
Eduard and Charlotte are an aristocratic couple who live a harmonious but idle life in their estate. But the peace of their existence is thrown into chaos when two visitors - Eduard's friend the Captain and Charlotte's passionate young ward Ottilie - provoke unexpected attraction and forbidden love. Taking its title from the principle of elective affinities - the theory that certain chemicals are naturally drawn to one another - this is a penetrating study of marriage and adultery. Inspired by Goethe's own conflicting loyalties as he battled to maintain his relationship with his wife and control his feelings for a younger woman, "Elective Affinities" is one of the greatest works of the romance era: a rich exploration of love, conflict, and the inescapable force of fate.


http://www.amazon.com/Elective-Affiniti ... 0140442421


Quote:
Rasputin was born in the Tyumen district of Siberia, far away from the glittering salons in the Imperial Capital of St. Petersburg. Even today he is a shadowy and mysterious character; a person of contradictory personality traits. Was he a miracle worker or just a crafty manipulator of the Imperial Family? While he was alive, witnesses, including doctors and skeptics, concluded he possessed some inexplicable power over the Tsarevich and his deadly episodes of bleeding. This mysterious ability to heal her son was enough to convince Alexandra that Rasputin, whatever people said of him, must have been sent by God. In her mind he was he the answer to her fervent prayers for God to save her son. It was impossible for her to believe that he could have been a wolf in sheep's clothing.


http://www.alexanderpalace.com/2006rasputin/

What I think is very clever is how Oskar combines both of these books, "Rasputing" and "The Elective Affinities".

Oskar would tear out pages from both, then shuffle them together creating one story.

"He would settle down to read this remarkable work and look on with intense though smiling wonderment as Ottilie strolled demurely through the gardens of Central Germany on Rasputin's arm while Goethe, seated beside a dissolutely aristcaratic Olga, went sleighing through wintry St. Petersburg from orgy to orgy", (page 93).

This is really funny! Grass's humor is coming out more and more. I am also feeling more and more sympathy towards Oskar. Someone mentioned that they could not feel sympathy at all for Oskar.

What do you think, is it impossible to feel sypmathy for Oskar?



Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:07 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 7, Rasputin and the Alphabet
Yes, Suzanne, I think is is possible to feel sympathy for Oskar. So much of what he dislikes is easy to dislike with him. He is not a "good guy" by any measure but this is "theater of the absurd" so we can be sympathetic and still be wary.


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Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:46 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 7, Rasputin and the Alphabet
Gary, I find it interesting that you have compared Drum to Theatre of the Absurd. This is something I have never thought about, thank you for this observation. Although, yes, I do see some aspects of the book as being, "absurd", most of the novel is pretty tangible. The drum itself and the frequent tense changes do present themselves in the absurd technique. Of course I had to do a little research and I found this:

Quote:
Grass' fiction borrows much of its influence from twentieth century movements such as Expressionism and Theater of the Absurd. He is known for his use of objects and objective correlative to propel his story line, instead of strict narrative. Grass sees a separation between the man-made categories of morality and logic and the actual thread of events. His chosen objects take on a certain ambiguity of meaning and lack straightforward morality. His objects take an individual personality in his novels, becoming extended metaphors and motifs that hold throughout the text. In the same vein, Grass plays with time in his work, both extending and foreshortening traditional narrative distance and flow. This holds for point-of-view as well - Oskar in The Tin Drum uses several points of view, sometimes layered simultaneously. Grass' work also represents success as parody; The Tin Drum's style is a parody of Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meister, which follows a young man through his education to maturity.


http://www.bookrags.com/notes/ttd/BIO.html

There is a Goethe connection. The Goethe novel Grass chooses to incorporate into Drum is based on marriage and adultery. I think this is a very appropriate book to mention because Oskar is facing this, but it also enables Grass to pick on Goethe a little more.

He is very witty, that Grass!



Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:58 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 7, Rasputin and the Alphabet
Okay, I understand this chapter okay, but man, I am like addicted to Ibuprofen! Can't understand some of the sentencing in this book, but I'm still reading it, slowly, but getting there.



Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:41 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 7, Rasputin and the Alphabet
I'm glad you are hanging in there NY.

The frequent changes in tense, oftentimes within the same sentence is an obstacle. But what I am finding is there is a seperation between "Oskar" and "I". And this seperation is becoming more and more apparent. When the narrator mentions Oskar, then goes on to speak of himself in the first person makes me truly think that there are two different entities.

I am finding that I like Oskar better than the first person I. If that makes any sense. When the narrator speaks of Oskar, Oskar is a child, he gets picked on at school, he is starting to notice problems with his parents, and I do care for him. When the narrator switches to the first person, more mature feelings and qualities come out, qualities such as conceit, and hate. I sense that the narrator may not want to coropt Oskar the child, but the man in the institution comes out when the narrator uses the first person tense.



Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:53 pm
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