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Chapter 37: Madonna 49 Notes from The Tin Drum

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The Tin Drum Chapter 37: Madonna 49

Oskar says he would have been a good citizen had he married, owning a large stonecutting business. It was the currency reform, however, which though allowing for general prosperity, made Oskar fall victim to art. He left Korneff before he could be let go because of the currency reform. Oskar neglected his appearance, spending his time standing on street corners. He sat on park benches for hours on end. In the park he was approached by four young art students, who wanted to use Oskar as a model. Oskar accepted and was placed on a revolving pedestal in the studio of Professor Kuchen.

"The coal-breathing professor gave his disciples a short briefing: What he wanted was expression, always expression, pitch black, desperate expression. I, Oskar, he maintained, was the shattered image of man, an accusation, a challenge, timeless yet expressing the madness of our century. In conclusion he thundered over the easels: 'I don't want you to sketch this cripple, I want you to slaughter him, crucify him, to nail him to your paper with charcoal!'

...My beautiful hair is a glossy chestnut brown. They made me a scraggly-haired gypsy. Not a one of them ever noticed that Oskar has blue eyes." Chapter 37, pg. 463

Topic Tracking: Individuality/Identity 16

Oskar says these students saw only the Rasputin in him and neglected the Goethe. Nevertheless, Oskar posed for six hours a day. The drawings took on different shapes; some had backgrounds showing war scenes. Oskar was glad when the sculptors asked him to pose in the nude. He posed for Professor Maruhn, friend of Kurchen's and a lover of classical form. Oskar spent weeks with Maruhn, who found it impossible to find a suitable pose for Oskar. He could not bring himself to apply clay to the perfectly formed internal skeleton in a manner resembling Oskar. Maruhn had his students try to sculpt Oskar, but though they applied clay, the hump weighed too much and would always sag and break off. There were three groups of sculpture students - first, the homely, gifted women, who abstracted Oskar's penis, but reproduced the rest of his body perfectly; second, the pretty, scatterbrained women, who paid no attention to his body but reproduced his penis accurately; and third, the men, who abstracted Oskar completely. Next, the painting students wanted in on Oskar. They saw only his blue eyes and painted the whole canvas in blue tones.

At an artists' ball for Carnival, Oskar met two lesbians from China who successfully used his hump. He had dressed as a court jester - Yorick. Then he saw Corporal Lankes, who asked him right off, as usual, for a cigarette. Oskar and he reminisced; with Lankes was a beautiful woman, Ulla, who was very drunk. Oskar resolved to introduce her to the artists at the Academy, where she could model. Lankes loved the idea; back at his studio he had to slap Ulla to make her agree. She and Oskar began to pose nude together. It took brilliant students to capture the two of them together; a student called Raskolnikov turned out the masterpiece of Oskar and Ulla posing together, calling it "Madonna 49." The students called the student Raskolnikov because he was forever talking of Crime and Punishment, of guilt and atonement. Lankes now only beat Ulla when his disposition demanded it; Oskar wanted often to be violent with her, but took her to pastry shops instead. Raskolnikov, however, had an affair with her without even touching her. He would have her pose with her legs apart, then sit and whisper of guilt and atonement until he had an orgasm. Then he would leap up and paint brilliantly. Raskolnikov kept putting objects in Oskar's hands to hold as he posed; finally when he brings Oskar a drum to hold, Oskar refuses, saying he has atoned, his drumming is done.

Maria saw a poster with Oskar on it, advertising an exhibition of the work done on him. Maria saw the exhibition and informed Oskar that he was a degenerate; she wanted no more help from him or his filthy money. Oskar resolved to move away.

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