I cannot say Günter Grass’s short novel was a particularly interesting read. It considered the after-effects on fictional characters in the present day of the real-life sinking of a German ship during the advance of the Red Army through Germany towards the end of the Second World War.

I never found the characters came to life, beyond their allegorical function. Moreover, the author’s deciding to deal with several plot strands at once, in different times, made the beginning of the book boring and, to me, felt meandering and aimless – and it might have seemed cleverer if it hadn’t been telegraphed in the title.

Once we reached the disaster itself, the book became more interesting and emotionally involving but nonetheless never really took off for me.

One review I read of the book complained about the poor translation, and that it didn’t read like English, but I didn’t particularly notice this, and I think a bit of the flavour of the original German wouldn’t do any harm.

As I started this blog as a place for glossaries, I noted a couple of words which I’d seen before but had to look up:

sophistry the use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.
reticent not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily.
proctor (vb.) invigilate (an examination).

About icfematerials

I am an EFL teacher in Moscow, Russia. I'm blogging about ICFE materials. I am in no way affiliated with Cambridge ESOL. My views are not those of my school or of Cambridge ESOL.
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