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Wilson, E., Jr. (1986). Psyche. XXXIX, 1985: The Devastated Image of Modern Man in Günter Grass's Novel,The Tin Drum. Paul Neumarkt. Pp. 648–663.. Psychoanal Q., 55:697.

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Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psyche. XXXIX, 1985: The Devastated Image of Modern Man in Günter Grass's Novel,The Tin Drum. Paul Neumarkt. Pp. 648–663.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 55:697

Psyche. XXXIX, 1985: The Devastated Image of Modern Man in Günter Grass's Novel,The Tin Drum. Paul Neumarkt. Pp. 648–663.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

Neumarkt explores the symbolic and metaphorical meanings embodied in Oskar Matzerath, the hero of Grass's novel. He argues that Oskar is a homunculus, incapable of meeting reality, a purely intellectual being without body or feeling. His life is a representative of the polymorphous perverse sexuality discussed by Freud as an early state in individual development. Oskar, a dwarf, represents the primitive past of mankind. He retreats periodically under the skirt of his grandmother, as a safety zone, searching for a lost paradise. The character depicts a chthonic element in human nature. Another aspect of Oskar's character is his uncertainty about who his father is: was it Matzerath or was it his mother's cousin, Jan Bronski? This suggests an oedipal element. It contributes to Oskar's identification with the child Jesus. At the same time there is a deeply satanic element in Oskar's makeup, symbolized also by the tin drum. Neumarkt explores the various interpretations of the tin drum, as well as the religious and political implications of the novel. Although much of the focus of the novel is on the irrationality of the Third Reich and the position of the free city of Danzig during that period, the author argues that the novel on another level depicts the irrationality of modern times in general: Oskar is an attempt to depict the contemporary human condition.


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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1986). Psyche. XXXIX, 1985. Psychoanal. Q., 55:697

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WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.