The Absence of ‘Paucity’ & ‘Momentariness’: Two New Components of Magical Realism in Günter Grass's The Tin Drum

Document Type: Research Paper


Assistant Professor Islamic Azad University, Shahr-e-Rey Branch-Tehran


This article presents the question whether it is correct to classify Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum as a work of magical realism. A brief scrutiny of the elements of magical realism, particularly Authorial Reticence and concept of Hesitation indicates that contrary to the advertisement of certain sources and publishers, this novel in certain circumstances, contradicts and opposes these two indispensable elements of magical realism. The scrutiny of the text based on the technique of ‘close reading’, followed by exemplification and providing excerpts from the text, helps one find out that the only distinctive feature of this narrative mode, namely authorial reticence is explicitly neglected and overlooked. Unlike the principles of magical realism, the protagonist of the novel attempts to provide rational explanations and logical justifications for whatever he does. Likewise, due to the lack of a firm and confident voice and lack of matter-of-fact statements of the protagonist, readers begin suspecting the accuracy and validity of his words and actions. This sustained hesitation ultimately harms the total effect of the work as being magical realism. Moreover, based on Franz Roh’s famous statement regarding the palpitating nature of magic, hidden behind our represented world, two conclusions are drawn: one is paucity or scarcity of magic, implying that extraordinary events should not occur incessantly and frequently. Secondly, it should happen momentarily and promptly and consequently should not be controllable, intruding our lives from the outside world. Whereas, in this novel, not only Oskar’s magic power is used frequently, but also is controlled at any time he wishes.