Translators Association – 60 Years of Classic Translations: The Tin Drum (1961)

Oskar Matzerath, the diminutive anti-hero of Günter Grass’ THE TIN DRUM, was unleashed upon the English-speaking world in 1961. This first translation from the German was by Ralph Manheim. Weird, sweeping, brilliant, it’s frequently nominated as one of the great 20th century novels.

Manheim’s translation contributed to the book’s huge international success, but from the 1970s onwards Grass was keen to see a new English version. With the book’s 50th anniversary approaching, he invited a number of translators into different languages to work with him on the book in his home town of Gdańsk. Breon Mitchell’s acclaimed English retranslation, published in 2009, emulates Grass’ linguistic idiosyncrasies more closely.

Also in 1961: The screenplay of the experimental film HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR was translated into English by Richard Seaver. Written by Marguerite Duras and directed by Alain Resnais, the film explored the influence of war on both Japanese and French culture, and was a major catalyst of French Left Bank cinema.

By Charlotte Collins

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