Grass, Günter (16 October 1927 - )
Günter Grass (16 October 1927 - )
University of Wyoming
This entry has been expanded by Mayer from her Grass entry in DLB Yearbook 1999. See also the Grass entries in DLB 75: Contemporary German Fiction Writers, Second Series; and DLB 124: Twentieth-Century German Dramatists, 1919–1992.
BOOKS: Die Vorzüge der Windhühner (Berlin & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1956);
Die Blechtrommel: Roman (Darmstadt, Berlin & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1959); translated by Ralph Manheim as The Tin Drum (London: Secker & Warburg, 1962; New York: Pantheon, 1963); excerpts from the German version published as Der Kampf un die polnische Post (Göttingen: Steidl, 2000);
O Susanna; ein Jazzbilderbuch: Blues, Balhden, Spirituals, Jazz, German text by Grass, pictures by Horst Geldmacher, music by Hermann Wilson (Cologne & Berlin: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1959);
Gleisdreieck (Darmstadt, Berlin & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1960);
Stoffreste: Ballett in einem Akt, music by Aribert Reimann (Berlin: Bote & Bock, 1960);
Katz und Maus: Eine Novelle (Neuwied & Berlin: Luchterhand, 1961); translated by Manheim as Cat and Mouse (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963; London: Secker & Warburg, 1963); German version, edited by Edgar Lohner (Waltham, Mass.: Blaisdell, 1969); German version, edited by H.F. Brookes and C. E. Fraenkel (London: Heinemann Educational, 1971);
Die bösen Köche: Stück (Berlin: Kiepenheuer, 1961); translated by A. Leslie Willson as The Wicked Cooks in Grass, Four Plays (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967; London: Secker & Warburg, 1968); original German expanded as Die bösen Köche: Ein Drama in 5 Akten. Mit 5 Reproduktionen nach Radierungen des Autors (Stuttgart: Reclam, 1978);
Hundejahre: Roman (Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1963): translated by Manheim as Dog Years (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1965; London: Secker & Warburg, 1965);
Hochwasser: Ein Stück in zwei Akten (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1963); translated by Manheim as Flood in Four Plays;
Die Ballerina (Berlin: Wolff’s Bücherei, 1963);
Onkel, Onkel! Ein Spiel in vier Akten. Mit neun Zeichnungen des Autors (Berlin: Wagenbach, 1965); translated by Manheim as Mister, Mister (Onkel, Onkel in British edition) in Four Plays;
Rede über das Selbstverständliche (Neuwied & Berlin: Luchterhand, 1965);
Dich singe ich, Demokratie (Neuwied & Berlin: Luchterhand, 1965);
Die Plebejer proben den Aufstand: Ein deutsches Trauerspiele (Neuwied & Berlin: Luchterhand, 1966); translated by Manheim as The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising: A German Tragedy (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966; London: Secker & Warburg, 1967);
Ausgefragt: Gedichte und Zeichnungen (Neuwied & Berlin: Luchterhand, 1967);
Der Fall Axel C. Springer am Beispiel Arnold Zweig: Eine Rede, ihr Anlaβ und die Folgen (Berlin: Voltaire, 1967);
Über meinen Lehrer Döblin und andere Vorträge (Berlin: Literarisches Colloquium, 1968);
Über das Selbstverständliche: Reden, Aufsätze, offene Briefe, Kommentare (Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1968);
Briefe über die Grenze: Versuch eines Ost-West-Dialogs, by Grass and Pavel Kohout (Hamburg: Wegner, 1968);
Geschichten, as Artur Knoff (Berlin: Literarisches Colloquium, 1968);
Davor: Ein Stück in 13 Szenen (Berlin: Kiepenheuer, 1969); translated by Willson and Manheim as Max: A Play (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovano-vich, 1972); revised German edition, edited by Victor Lange and Frances Lange (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973);
örtlich betäubt: Roman (Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1969); translated by Manheim as Local Anaesthetic (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1970; London: Secker & Warburg, 1970);
Die Schweinekopfsülze (Hamburg: Merlin, 1969);
Freiheit: Ein Wort wie Löffelstiel [by Grass]; Gegen Gewalt und Unmenschlichkeit [by Paul Schallück]: Zwei Reden zur Woche der Brüderlichkeit (Cologne: Schäuble, 1969);
Theaterspiele (Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1970)–comprises Hochwasser; Onkel, Onkel!; Zoch zehn Minuten bis Buffalo; Die bösen Köche; Die Plebejer proben den Aufstand; and Davor; Noch zehn Minuten bis Buffalo translated by Manheim as Only Ten Minutes to Buffalo in Four Plays;
Demokratie und Sozialismus 1971, by Grass, H. P. Tschudi, and A. Schmid (Bern: SPS, 1971);
Gesammelte Gedichte (Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1971);
Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke (Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1972); translated by Manheim as From the Diary of a Snail (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973; London: Secker & Warburg, 1974);
Der Schrifsteller als Bürger–Eine Siebenjahresbilanz (Vienna: Dr. Karl Renner-Institut, 1973);
Mariazuehren; Hommageàmarie; Inmarypraise (Munich: Bruckmann, 1973); Inmarypraise translated by Christopher Middleton (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973);
Liebe geprüft: Sieben Gedichte mit sieben Radierungen (Bremen: Schünemann, 1974); translated by Michael Hamburger as Love Tested: Seven Poems with Seven Etchings (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975);
Der lesende Arbeiter; Bildungsurlaub: Zwei Reden vor Gewerkschaften, Schriftenreihe der Industriegewerkschaft Druck und Papier, no. 23 (Bonlanden: Weinmann, 1974);
Der Bürger und seine Stimme: Reden, Aufsätze, Kommentare (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1974);
Radierungen 1972–1974 (Berlin: Galerie Andre, Anselm Dreher, 1974);
Mit Sophie in die Pilze gegangen: Gedichte und Lithographien (Mailand: Grafica Uno, 1976; Göttingen: Steidl, 1987);
Der Butt: Roman (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1977); translated by Manheim as The Flounder (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978; London: Secker & Warburg, 1978); excerpt from the German version published as Vatertag (Göttingen: Steidl, 1999);
Denkzettel: Politische Reden und Aufsätze (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1978);
Das Treffen in Telgte: Eine Erzählung (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1979); translated by Manheim as The Meeting at Telgte (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981; London: Secker & Warburg, 1981);
Die Blechtrommel als Film, by Grass and Volker Schlöndorff (Frankfurt am Main: Zweitausendeins, 1979);
Werkverzeichnis der Radierungen (Berlin: Galerie Andre, Anselm Dreher, 1979);
Kopfgeburten oder Die Deutschen sterben aus (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1980); translated by Manheim as Headbirths; or, The Germans Are Dying Out (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982);
Aufsätze zur Literatur (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1980);
Danziger Trilogie (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1980)–comprises Die Blechtrommel, Katz und Maus, Hundejahre; translated by Manheim as The Danzig Trilogy (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich / New York: Pantheon, 1987);
Nachruf auf einen Handschuh: Sieben Radierungen und ein Gedicht (Berlin: Galerie Andre, Anselm Dreher, 1982);
Zeichnen und Schreiben I: Zeichnungen und Texte 1954–1977 (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1982); translated by Hamburger and Manheim as Graphics and Writing I: Drawings and Words 1954–1977 (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983);
Bin ich nun Zeichner oder Schreiber? (Regensburg: Schürer, 1982);
Kinderlied: Poems and Etchings (Northridge, Cal.: Lord John Press, 1982);
Ach Butt, dein Märchen geht böse aus: Gedichte und Radierungen (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1983);
Die Vernichtung der Menschheit hat begonnen: Rede anläβlich der Verleihung des Feltrinelli-Preises am 25. November 1982 (Hauzenberg: Pongratz, 1983);
Widerstand lernen: Politische Gegenreden 1980–1983 (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1984);
Zeichnen und Schreiben II: Radierungen und Texte 1972-1982 (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1984); translated by Hamburger, Manheim, and others as Graphics and Writing II: Etchings and Words 1972–1982 (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985);
Nachdenken über Deutschland: Stefan Heym und Günter Grass diskutierten am 21. November 1984 in Brüssel (Berlin & Brussels: Goethe-Institut Brüssel, 1984);
Geschenkte Freiheit: Rede zum 8. Mai 1945 (Berlin: Akademie der Künste, 1985);
Die Rättin: 3 Radierungen und 1 Gedicht (Homburg: Beck, 1985);
In Kupfer, auf Stein. Das grafische Werk (Göttingen: Steidl, 1986; enlarged, 1994);
Die Rättin (Darmstadt & Neuwied: Luchterhand, 1986); translated by Manheim as The Rat (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1987);
Ausstellung anläβlich des 60. Geburtstags von Günter Grass: Hundert Zeichnungen 1955–1987, edited by Jens Christian Jensen (Kiel: Kunsthalle und Schleswig-Holsteinischer Kunstverein, 1987);
Radierungen, Lithographien, Zeichnungen, Plastiken, Gedichte (Berlin: Kunstamt, 1987);
Werkausgabe in zehn Bänden, edited by Volker Neuhaus (Darmstadt: Luchterhand, 1987)–comprises volume 1, Gedichte und Kurzprosa; volume 2, Die Blechtrommel; volume 3, Katz und Maus; Hundejahre; volume 4, örtlich betäubt; Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke; volume 5, Der Butt; volume 6, Das Treffen in Telgte; Kopfgeburten oder Die Deutschen sterben aus; volume 7, Die Rättin; volume 8, Theaterspiele–includes Beritten hin und zurück: Vorspiele auf dem Theater, translated by Michael Benedikt and Joseph Goradza as Rocking Back and Forth, in Postwar German Theatre, edited by Benedikt and George E. Wellwarth (New York: Dutton, 1967), pp. 261–275; volume 9, Essays, Reden, Briefe, Kommentare; and volume 10, Gespräche;
Calcutta: Zeichnungen (Bremen: Kunsthalle Bremen, 1988);
Die Gedichte 1955–1986 (Darmstadt: Luchterhand, 1988);
Zunge zeigen (Darmstadt: Luchterhand, 1988); translated by John E. Woods as Show Your Tongue (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989; London: Secker & Warburg, 1989);
Ecoutez-moi-–: Paris-Berlin, aller, retour, by Grass and François Giroud, edited by René Wintzen (Paris: Sell, 1988); translated into German by Sabine Mann and Ilse Strasmann as Wenn wir von Europa sprechen: Ein Dialog (Frankfurt am Main: Luchterhand, 1989);
Alptraum und Hoffnung: Zwei Reden vor dem Club of Rome (Göttingen: Steidl, 1989)–comprises “Globale Industrialisierung–Entdeckungen und Verluste des Geistes,” by Tschingis Aitmatow; and “Zum Beispiel Calcutta,” by Grass;
Meine grüne Wiese: Kurzprosa (Zurich: Manesse, 1989);
Skizzenbuch (Göttingen: Steidl, 1989);
Deutscher Lastenausgleich: Wider das dumpfe Einheitsgebot: Reden und Gespräche (Frankfurt am Main: Luchterhand, 1990);
Deutschland, einig Vaterland? Ein Streitgespräch, by Grass and Rudolf Augstein (Göttingen: Steidl, 1990);
Kahlschlag in unseren Köpfen (Berlin: Kunstamt Reinickendorf, 1990);
Ein Schnäppchen namens DDR: Letzte Reden vorm Glockengeläut (Frankfurt am Main: Luchterhand, 1990);
Tierschutz: Gedichte (Ravensburg: Maier, 1990);
Schreiben nach Auschwitz: Frankfurter Poetik-Vorlesung (Frankfurt am Main: Luchterhand, 1990);
Totes Holz: Ein Nachruf (Göttingen: Steidl, 1990);
Brief aus Altdöbern (Remagen: Rommerskirchen, 1991);
Gegen die verstreichende Zeit: Reden, Aufsätze und Gespräche 1989–1991 (Hamburg & Zürich: Luchterhand, 1991);
Vier Jahrzehnte: Ein Werkstattbericht, edited by G. Fritze Margull (Göttingen: Steidl, 1991); enlarged as Ein Werkstattbericht 1951–1992 (Göttingen: Steidl und Staatliche Kunsthalle Berlin, 1992); revised as Fünf Jahrzehnte: Ein Werkstattbericht (Göttingen: Steidl, 2001);
Unkenrufe. Eine Erzählung (Göttingen: Steidl, 1992); translated by Manheim as The Call of the Toad (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992; London: Secker & Warburg, 1992);
Rede vom Verlust: Über den Niedergang der politischen Kultur im geeinten Deutschland (Göttingen: Steidl, 1992); translated as “Essay on Loss,” in The Future of German Democracy, with an Essay on Loss, edited by Robert Gerald Livingston and Volkmar Sander (New York: Continuum, 1993);
Novemberland: 13 Sonette (Göttingen: Steidl, 1993);
Studienausgabe, 12 volumes (Göttingen: Steidl, 1993–1994);
Angestiftet, Partei zu ergreifen, edited by Daniela Hermes (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch, 1994);
Die Deutschen und ihre Dichter, edited by Hermes (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch, 1995);
Ein weites Feld: Roman (Göttingen: Steidl, 1995); translated by Winston as Too Far Afield (New York: Harcourt Brace, 2000; London: Faber & Faber, 2000);
Gestern, vor 50 Jahren: Ein deutsch-japanischer Briefwechsel, by Grass and Kenzaburo Oe (Göttingen: Steidl, 1995); translated by John Barrett as Just Yesterday, Fifty Years Ago: A Critical Dialogue on the Anniversary of the End of the Second World War (Paris: Alyscamps Press, 1999);
Der Schriftsteller als Zeitgenosse, edited by Hermes (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch, 1996);
Fundsachen für Nichtleser (Göttingen: Steidl, 1997);
Ohne die Feder zu wechseln: Zeichnungen, Druckgraphiken, Aquarelle, Skulpturen (Göttingen: Steidl, 1997);
Rede über den Standort (Göttingen: Steidl, 1997);
Werkausgabe, 16 volumes, edited by Neuhaus and Hermes (Göttingen: Steidl, 1997);
Auf einem anderen Blatt: Zeichnungen (Göttingen: Steidl, 1999);
Mein Jahrhundert, with watercolors by Grass (Göttingen: Steidl, 1999; text-only edition, Göttingen: Steidl, 1999); translated by Michael Henry Heim as My Century (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999; London: Faber & Faber, 1999);
Fortsetzung folgt– [Rede anlässlich der Verleihung des Nobelpreises für Literatur]; Literatur und Geschichte [Rede anlässlich der Verleihung des “Prinz von Asturien”-Preises] (Göttingen: Steidl, 1999);
Vom Abenteuer der Aufklärung: Werkstattgespräche, by Grass and Harro Zimmermann (Göttingen: Steidl, 1999);
Für- und Widerworte (Göttingen: Steidl, 1999);
Ohne Stimme: Reden zugunsten des Volkes der Roma und Sinti (Göttingen: Steidl, 2000);
Marthas Hochzeit (Göttingen: Steidl, 2000);
Stockholm: Der Literaturnobelpreis für Günter Grass: Ein Tagebuch mit Fotos von Gerhard Steidl (Göttingen: Steidl, 2000);
Mit Wasserfarben: Aquarelle (Göttingen: Steidl, 2001);
Im Krebsgang: Eine Novelle (Göttingen: Steidl, 2002); translated by Winston as Crabwalk (Orlando: Harcourt Brace, 2002; London: Faber & Faber, 2003);
Fundsachen für Grass-Leser, 7 volumes, edited by Karin Kiwus and Wolfgang Trautwein (Göttingen: Steidl, 2002);
“Fortsetzung folgt...” / “To Be Continued...” / “Leanfar de...”: The Nobel Lecture, Trilingual Edition, edited by Hans-Christian Oeser and Marco Sonzogni (Dublin: Irish Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association, 2002);
Gebrannte Erde: Plastiken aus eigener Werkstatt (Göttingen: Steidl, 2002);
Wörter auf Abruf: 77 Gedichte (Berlin: Wagenbach, 2002);
Letzte Tänze. Aquarelle und Zeichnungen (Göttingen: Steidl, 2003);
Der Schatten: Hans Christian Andersens Märchen–gesehen von Günter Grass, artwork by Grass, text by Hans Christian Andersen (Göttingen: Steidl, 2004);
Lyrische Beute: Gedichte und Zeichnungen aus fünfzig Jahren (Göttingen: Steidl, 2004);
Freiheit nach Börsenmass; Geschenkte Freiheit: Zwei Reden zum 8. Mai 1945 (Göttingen: Steidl, 2005);
“Wir leben im Ei”: Geschichten aus fünf Jahrzehnten, edited by Dieter Stolz (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2005);
Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (Göttingen: Steidl, 2006).
Editions in English: Selected Poems, translated by Michael Hamburger and Christopher Middleton (London: Secker & Warburg, 1966; New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966);
New Poems, translated by Hamburger (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968);
Speak Out! Speeches, Open Letters, Commentaries, translated by Manheim and others (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969; London: Secker & Warburg, 1969);
Poems of Günter Grass, translated by Hamburger and Middleton (Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 1969);
In the Egg and Other Poems, translated by Hamburger and Middleton (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovano-vich, 1977; London: Secker & Warburg, 1978);
The Flounder: Written and Illustrated by Günter Grass, 3 volumes, translated by Manheim (New York: Limited Editions Club, 1985);
On Writing and Politics 1967–1983, translated by Manheim (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985; London: Secker & Warburg, 1985);
Two States–One Nation? translated by Krishna Winston and A. S. Wensinger (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990);
Cat and Mouse and Other Writings, edited by A. Leslie Willson (New York: Continuum, 1994);
Novemberland: Selected Poems 1956–1993, translated by Hamburger (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1996);
The Günter Grass Reader, edited by Helmut Frielinghaus (Orlando: Harcourt Brace, 2004); German version published as Wenn ich Pilze und Federn sammle: Ein Lesebuch, edited by Frielinghaus (Göttingen: Steidl, 2005).
PLAY PRODUCTIONS: Hochwasser, Frankfurt am Main, Neue Bühne, 19 January 1957;
Onkel, Onkel! Cologne, Bühnen der Stadt Köln, 3 March 1958;
Beritten hin und zurück: Vorspiel auf dem Theater, Frankfurt am Main, Neue Böhne, 16 January 1959;
Noch zehn Minuten bis Buffalo, Bochum, Schauspielhaus, 19 February 1959;
Stoffreste, music by Aribert Reimann, Essen, Stadt-theater, February 1961;
Die bösen Köche, Berlin, Schiller-Theater, 16 February 1961; translated as The Wicked Cooks, New York, Orpheum Theater, 21 January 1967;
Mystisch–barbarisch–gelangweilt, Düsseldorf, Kammerspiele, 1963;
Goldmäulchen, Munich, Werkraumtheater, July 1964;
Die Plebejer proben den Aufstand, Berlin, Schiller-Theater, 15 January 1966; translated as The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising, Rhode Island, Theatre Company of Boston, 7 September 1967;
Davor, Berlin, Schiller-Theater, 14 February 1969; translated as Uptight, Washington, D.C., Kreeger Theatre, 22 March 1972;
Die Vogelscheuchen, music by Reimann, Berlin, 1970.
On 30 September 1999 the early-morning Internet readers of The New York Times were among the first to learn that the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature had been awarded to Günter Grass, German author whose best-known works include Die Blechtrommel (1959; translated as The Tin Drum, 1962). The Associated Press reported the reaction of the seventy-one-year-old writer: “I’m happy.” Although Grass had been a possible candidate for the Nobel Prize for the last forty years (1959–1999), critics felt the timing of the award in the last year of the century was appropriate. Grass’s keen sense of history, both past and present, had just been confirmed by his latest book, Mein Jahrhundert, published in July 1999 and translated as My Century in November 1999. The cover of the first German edition–with a design, as usual, by the author-artist–shows a flaming bonfire of historical dates topped by combinations of the 1900s and 1990s.
The decision had been an easy one for the eighteen members of the Swedish Academy. They had required only two sessions to agree on Grass as an especially deserving laureate. German chancellor Gerhard Schröder sent Grass a congratulatory telegram in which he expressed his hope that this international recognition might provide some satisfaction after the political vituperations Grass had to endure in his own country. He mentioned Grass’s contributions to German cultural heritage and identity and maintained that, thanks to Grass, the dialogue between politics and culture has again become possible in Germany.
The prize was awarded for Grass’s complete body of work. This consideration is an important one, for it includes the writer’s novels, plays, poetry, essays, and speeches as well as his work in the fine arts that has been, especially since the 1970s, an intrinsic part of his literary work.
Günter Wilhelm Grass was born on 16 October 1927 to Kashubian-German parents, Willy and Helena Knoff Grass, in the then “Free City of Danzig.” At the age of seventeen, in 1944, he was drafted from high school to serve (as he claimed for many years) as an aide with an air force antiaircraft battery. Wounded at Cottbus in 1945, he was hospitalized at Marienbad in Czechoslovakia and processed through an American prisoner-of-war camp in Bavaria in 1946. This processing included a tour of the Dachau concentration camp, which left a profound and lasting impression on the teenager. His parents and sister had fled to the West in 1945 when Danzig became Polish Gdansk, and Grass worked in a potash mine to maintain financial independence before he decided to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf. There he worked as an apprentice stonecutter for a gravestone manufacturer and played in a jazz trio until the war-damaged academy reopened in the fall of 1948.
Grass pursued studies in sculpture, first in Düsseldorf and then at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts until 1956. At the same time he experimented with poetry. He won third prize in a lyric contest in 1955, and in that year he was also invited to read his poetry at a meeting of Gruppe 47 (Group 47), an informal workshop that had been initiated by Hans Werner Richter in 1947. Since Nazi abuse had poisoned the German language, these writers had to find their own voice, new starting points, and different values in order to write about their experiences of pain, accusation, and guilt. The members of Gruppe 47 felt strongly that they, as writers, were responsible for shaping a new postwar society. During group meetings they read from their manuscripts and received constructive criticism from their fellow writers.
In 1956 Grass published Die Vorzüge der Windhühner (The Advantages of Windfowl), his first volume of poetry and drawings. The surrealistic images of the poems and the fine-lined drawings of stylized birds and oversized insects hold keys to much of Grass’s subsequent work. The poem “Hochwasser” (Flood), for example, sets the stage for a play first performed in 1957 with that title. Of several other Grass plays that originated in the 1950s, only two ballets and Onkel, Onkel! (1965; translated as Mister, Mister, 1967) were first performed before the publication of Die Blechtrommel in 1959.
In 1956 Grass and his Swiss-born wife, dancer Anna Schwarz, whom he had married in Berlin in 1954, moved to Paris. There she continued her ballet training while Grass was working as a stoker in the basement room of their apartment house, where he was writing versions of his first novel. In 1957 he became the father of twin boys, Franz and Raoul, and the following year his reading from the manuscript of Die Blechtrommel won the Gruppe 47 Prize. He also visited his former hometown in Poland to check on some historic sites for his novel. Following the publication of Die Blechtrommel, his fame was established.
In this novel of 3 books, 46 chapters, and 750 pages, Grass presents an unabashed insider’s view of society in the Third Reich, from an unusual visual perspective. His protagonist, Oskar Matzerath, possesses an adult intelligence in the body of a three-year-old; his stunted growth is a consequence of his decision not to grow up like the adults around him. Oskar’s toy drum-harking back, perhaps, to Grass’s experience in a jazz trio and also corresponding to the author’s strong sense of rhythm in language–becomes his powerful instrument of self-expression, speech, and protest.
As Oskar tells his story from the hospital bed of an institution for the criminally insane, drumming enables him to conjure up the events and emotions from the past. By observing society literally and figuratively from the ground up, Oskar obtains the demonic license to ignore all social taboos. His transgression of these taboos initially caused some moral outrage about the novel: amid accusations of blasphemy and pornography, the City Senate of Bremen refused to award Grass the Bremen literature prize that a jury had agreed to confer on him. But as Hans Magnus Enzensberger wrote in an 18 November 1959 review for Süddeutscher Rundfunk, “What legitimates Grass’s brusque invasions and turns them into artistic deeds is the perfect naturalness and impartiality with which he carries them out; he does not chase after the taboo . . . he simply doesn’t notice it.”
After the American publication of The Tin Drum, Frederic Morton wrote in The New York Times Book Review (10 April 1963): “Grass brings off what no German has managed or even dared to attempt–to show that the Nazis were not a black breed apart, imposing their exotic evil on the good little people. The Nazis were the good little people themselves.” Morton observed that “the book often lapses into a jungle of symbols,” and the search for symbolic meanings in the book, which remained on the best-seller list of The New York Times for three months, has continued to characterize American readings of the novel. Oskar has mistakenly been identified with the Nazi spirit, with the drumbeat of its propaganda, and even with Adolf Hitler himself. Yet, the diverse interpretations, especially of the protagonist, demonstrate the rich potential of the novel, which led the Swedish Academy to remark in a 30 September 1999 press release that “The Tin Drum will become one of the enduring literary works of the 20th century.”
After the success of Die Blechtrommel, Grass and his family moved back to Berlin, where in 1960 he published Gleisdreieck (Rail Triangle), his second volume of poetry and drawings, which he named after an East-West Berlin railroad station. Larger in format than the 1956 collection and dominated by drawings in charcoal and India ink, this volume offers several motifs and statements about aesthetics that recur throughout Grass’s works. The author’s plays written in the 1950s were now in demand for first performances. In 1961 his daughter Laura was born. That same year, Die bösen Köche (translated as The Wicked Cooks, 1967) was successfully performed at the Schiller-Theater in Berlin, and he published Katz und Maus (translated as Cat and Mouse,1963), a novella with the harbor waters of Danzig as its background.
The cat-and-mouse game that the narrator, Pilenz, plays with the Adam’s apple of Mahlke, his friend, apparently triggers Mahlke’s ultimately destructive obsession with hiding it. Pilenz later feels compelled to tell the story in writing, “denn was mit Katz und Maus begann, quält mich heute” (for what began with cat and mouse, torments me now). Mahlke’s desire to hide his Adam’s apple eventually becomes an obsession to obtain the Knight’s Cross in order to cover up his “mouse.” Once he has earned this prized object by destroying a record number of Russian tanks, Mahlke finds that it fails to procure for him what he really wants: recognition by his former teachers and classmates as “the great Mahlke.” Outstaying his furlough, he dives, in the presence of his friend Pilenz, to the sunken Polish minesweeper in the harbor as he had done so often in the past to the amazement of his peers. In those high-school years he had dived with a screwdriver hanging from his neck, which he used to gain access to a dry space in the sunken vessel. This time, however, he dives without a screwdriver or anything else around his neck. Pilenz counts the seconds and waits in vain for a signal; but Mahlke fails to resurface anywhere. For Pilenz, the despair and ultimate death of his friend, including his own presumed role in that death, remain unfathomed. Critical approval for this novella both in Germany and abroad prevailed over some attempts in Germany to ban it for young readers because its frank language broke some sexual taboos of the time.
When Die Blechtrommel won the prestigious French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger in 1962, Grass was working on the third part of what came to be known as his “Danzig Trilogy.” The voluminous novel Hundejahre (1963; translated as Dog Years, 1965) was published in the same year that Ralph Manheim’s translation of Die Blechtrommel appeared in the United States.
Although Hundejahre covers the same period (from the 1920s to the 1950s) that had been scrutinized in Die Blechtrommel and, like that first novel, begins at the mouth of the Vistula River and ends in the postwar West, Hundejahre differs from that novel in every other respect. Instead of employing a single narrator, it uses a “collective” of three narrators to report on the childhood years, the war years, and the postwar years of the two main protagonists. Yet, the reports of these narrators intertwine, and, to bridge any disparities, a dog is central. The dog, Prince, whose genealogy goes back to Danzig, becomes Hitler’s personal property. He escapes from the government headquarters just before the collapse of the Reich, swims across the Elbe River, and winds up in the West.
The first narrator–Amsel, alias Brauxel, son of a Jewish business family–and the third narrator, Matern, son of a miller’s family, are childhood friends. Their adventures along the shores of the Vistula are narrated in a lyrical language that suggests a suspended early-morning harmony among all creations of men and nature. Amsel, whose birth and name are related to blackbirds, absorbs the world with the eyes of an artist. He constructs scarecrows in the image of man. During their school years Matern sees himself as Amsel’s guardian, protecting him from the teasing of schoolmates. Later, disguised among a gang of Sturmabtei-lung troopers, Matern betrays and almost kills his friend. Amsel loses all his teeth and becomes transfigured into another person named Brauxel. During the same night another gang, led by Tulla Pokriefke, rolls plump little Jenny into a snowman, and she emerges from this experience as a frail ballerina.
Tulla’s cousin Harry relates the war years in love letters to Tulla, who first appeared in Katz und Maus. These letters recount Harry’s family life in a carpentry in Danzig Langfuhr, where the shepherd dog Harras (Prince’s father) holds center stage. Among Tulla’s uncontrollable, often malicious, sometimes emotionally charged deeds and misdeeds, Harry records her discovery of mountains of skeletal remains and a proliferation of rats near the Stutthof concentration camp. When, after the war, Brauxel and Matern, the latter accompanied by Prince the Föhrer-dog, meet again in the West, they descend to the subterranean showrooms of Brauxel’s scarecrows, which are now exported all over the world. They leave Prince, alias Pluto (the hellhound), behind as they return to daylight.
Such a summary fails to take into account Grass’s new language in this novel about an artist by an artist. Critics as well as translators had a hard time adapting to his style, which they described as Joycean, Rabelaisian, expressionistic, or lyrical. A reviewer for Time (13 April 1970), in an inset on the “Trials of a Translator,” mentions “those long inventories of physical objects” as part of Grass’s Dingmagie (thing magic). German critics were arguing how far Grass could take this object-syntax without verbs. They also argued about Grass’s parodies of Martin Heidegger’s philosophical language in Sein und Zeit (1927; translated as Being and Time, 1962), while Time enjoyed Grass’s spoofing of Hitler’s military jargon in German headquarters’ commands to recapture the dog Prince: “On the Jöterbog-Torgau line, projected antitank trenches are replaced by Föhrerdogtraptrenches.” Grass describes the shepherd dog who fathered Prince as having hair that glistened “black, umbrella-black, priest-black, widow-black, SS-black, blackboard-black, Falange-black, blackbird-black, Othello-black, dysentery-black, violet-black, tomato-black, lemon-black, flour-black, milk-black, snow-black.”
In the wake of the Danzig Trilogy and the attention he won with it, Grass went on the stump for the Social Democrats (SPD). He had assisted Willy Brandt, then mayor of West Berlin, with speech writing since 1961; and when the Berlin Wall went up in that year, he requested a public statement from Anna Seghers, the renowned writer from the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It was not forthcoming. After 1963 he campaigned for Brandt and the Social Democrats, and when the SPD lost in the 1965 elections, Grass continued to advocate political change in his acceptance speech for the Böchner Prize that year. His new play, Die Plebejer proben den Aufstand: Ein deutsches Trauerspiel (1966; translated as The Plebeians Rehearse the Uprising: A German Tragedy, 1966) caused a scandal when it was performed in Berlin in 1966.
The play recalls a workers’ uprising that was cruelly put down by Soviet tanks in Berlin on 17 June 1953. Grass combines the historical event with the fact that socialist playwright Bertolt Brecht was working in Berlin at the time. Although Grass never refers to Brecht by name, the “boss” who rehearses the Plebeians’ Uprising in this play refuses to support the actual workers’ rebellion against higher quotas and other injustices. While Grass wanted to show a gap between theory and practice in German history, Berlin audiences saw him challenging Brecht’s image. Later performances of Die Plebejer proben den Aufstand in the United States and eventually in Calcutta (1986) more successfully conveyed Grass’s message.
In 1966 Grass also took part in the meeting of Gruppe 47 at Princeton University, just before the demise of that organization the following year. His address, “On Writers as Court Jesters and on Non-Existent Courts,” included as its closing statement this remark on the relationship between writers (and their work) and politics: “A poem knows no compromise, but men live by compromise. The individual who can stand up under this contradiction and act is a fool and will change the world.”
In the 1967 volume of poetry and drawings, Ausgefragt (Questioned), Grass tried unsuccessfully to engage the protest movement of the New Left in constructive election activity. Ausgefragt, like his previous volumes of poetry, includes statements on his poetic and/or aesthetic principles. Grass published Über das Selbstverständliche (On the Self-Evident), a volume of collected speeches, essays, and open letters, in 1968. The English translation Speak Out! Speeches, Open Letters, Commentaries (1969) includes most but not all of these pieces. Several more volumes of his political speeches and writings followed over the next decades. Grass received the Berlin Fontane Prize and addressed the general assembly of the Social Democratic Party in 1968. By the time the Social Democrats under Brandt came to power in 1969, Grass had contributed nearly a hundred election speeches toward this goal.
Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke (1972; translated as From the Diary of a Snail, 1973) recounts for his children the fate of the Jewish community in Danzig during World War II and also the events of election campaigns from March to September 1969. Before publishing Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke, Grass had completed a new novel, örtlich betäubt (1969; translated as Local Anaesthetic, 1970), and shaped from it a new play, Davor (1969; translated as Max, 1972). This novel, Grass’s first fictional departure from his Danzig origins, is set for the most part in Berlin and deals with the protest movement against the Vietnam War. A television screen attached within sight of a dentist’s chair allows for a complex structure of flashbacks in örtlich betäubt, and its protagonists confront each other more directly in the play Davor.
Starusch, a high-school teacher who is receiving dental treatment (and for whom the television screen provides a distracting “local anaesthetic”), discusses with the dentist a student’s plan to set fire to his dog on the showy Kurfürstendamm Street in West Berlin. Scherbaum, the student, will not be dissuaded from this act, which he hopes will arouse people to the realities of war. In the end, no dog is burned, but “there is always new pain,” as the last sentence of örtlich betäubt points out. The novel was considered a failure in Germany because it seemed to belittle the problems at hand. In the United States, however, it earned Grass a cover story in Time (13 April 1970) in which he was characterized as a “Novelist between the Generations–A Man Who Can Speak to the Young.” Even though the young at that time did not listen to Grass, whom Time had dubbed “a fanatic for moderation,” örtlich betäubt demonstrates his continuing involvement with contemporary issues of historic significance.
While he was working on Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke, Grass had several other projects on his mind in addition to the ongoing election campaigns. He had been asked to give a speech for the five-hundredth-anniversary celebration of the birth of Albrecht Dörer and was carrying with him a picture postcard of Dürer’s famous engraving “Melencolia I.” This challenging print from the year 1514 (reproduced in the English edition of From the Diary of a Snail) inspired his choice of topic. Grass’s speech, “Vom Stillstand im Fortschritt” (translated as “On Stasis in Progress”), is appended to Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke. The title of the speech alludes to the image of the snail that Grass had rediscovered while writing this “diary.” When his children asked, “What do you mean by the snail?” he answered, “The snail is progress.”
Grass was also taking up Dürer’s medium when he began to etch his visions of the snail in copperplates. In conjunction with the American publication of From the Diary of a Snail, prints of Grass’s etchings were exhibited in galleries in the United States. Most of the etchings combined the snail with various subjects, such as the author’s self-portrait, or with objects such as his fountain pen. The etchings also included snail races, double-headed snails, and snails in Israel–to which, in 1972, Grass accompanied Brandt on a visit. The history of the Jewish community in Danzig and the fate of some of its members as refugees from the Nazis form one of the narrative strands of Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke, with “Doubt” as the protagonist. All these motifs–progress, the snail, and Melencolia and her counterpart Utopia–are woven into Grass’s account of campaign travels for the SPD. In Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke he combines his first self-portrait in an etching-showing the snail in his eye–with what is also the closest to being a literary self-portrait in his works.
In 1976 Grass published Mit Sophie in die Pilze gegangen (Mushrooming with Sophie), a limited edition of lithographs and poems, and several poems from this collection were included among the forty-six poems in his 1977 novel Der Butt (translated as The Flounder, 1978). The comprehensive design of this novel evolved progressively from the etchings through the concise language of poetry. Not until the second year of Grass’s work on the novel did he integrate the talking fish, the Butt (Flounder) from the fairy tale by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, “The Fisherman and His Wife.” It is the mythical fish who from the beginning of time has whispered ideas into the fisherman’s (and author’s) ear, as illustrated on the dust jacket of the book. In Grass’s version of the tale, the narrator’s wife, Ilsebill, becomes pregnant, and the nine sections of the book correspond to the months of her pregnancy. Each section also presents a major era of history, from mythical and prehistoric times to the present. The parallels between historic eras, represented by female cooks, and the nine months of the human gestation period correspond to timelines of the past and present. This structure allows the first-person narrator to be present at all times and in all male roles. On the present timeline, a women’s tribunal of eleven feminists sits in council over the Flounder, the male element they have caught, isolated, and indicted.
Cooks, for Grass, have always signified more than ordinary cooking; they are figures endowed with creative and magical power. The “wicked cooks” in Die bösen Köche appear to be in a political power struggle. The historical female cooks in Der Butt, limited as they are by the natural resources available to them, become great through their personal resourcefulness as providers of nourishment. The Flounder, representing the male component of human nature, subverts the cooks’ work to ensure survival, by instigating wars and by inventing new means of human destruction.
It took Grass five years to finish this epic in time for his fiftieth birthday. It was dedicated to his daughter Helena, born in 1974. While the book was extremely popular in Germany, it required some time to sink in with readers abroad. In 1978 Grass and his wife divorced. The following year, he married Ute Ehrhardt, a Berlin organist.
Grass’s next novel, Das Treffen in Telgte (1979; translated as The Meeting at Telgte, 1981), depicts some twenty poets from all parts of Germany converging on the little town of Telgte in 1647, just before the end of the Thirty Years’ War, to contribute to the negotiations leading up to the 1648 Peace of Westfalia. The story was Grass’s birthday present for seventy-year-old Richter, who had founded Gruppe 47 three hundred years after the fictitious meeting at Telgte and whose convocation of poets had been concerned about the peace after World War ö. The implied correspondence of historical events accounts for Grass’s remarkable opening sentence in Das Treffen in Telgte: “Gestern wird sein, was morgen gewesen ist” (The thing that hath been tomorrow is that which shall be yesterday). It also explains the dust-jacket etching of a hand holding a quill raised above rubble.
In Das Treffen in Telgte, well-known poets from the baroque period who lived to see the end of the Thirty Years’ War are shown reading and discussing their works, exchanging opinions about poetry and politics, and hoping to influence the terms of the humiliating peace through a manifesto signed by all. Yet, the manifesto is destroyed when the inn where they stay burns down, and the writers part in disarray. Grass succeeds in portraying each poet through that poet’s particular style and diction, combined with Grass’s own tongue-in-cheek humor. The wildest portrayal is that of the young “Gelnhausen” (Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen, author of Simplizissimus , a novel about the Thirty Years’ War). Some parallels between Gelnhausen’s character and Grass’s role within Gruppe 47–such as his grotesque humor and baroque style (for example, in Die Blechtrommel) and his love for women-are unmistakable, and it is tempting to look for further correlations between the baroque poets and those of Gruppe 47.
The 1980s were approaching as Grass finished his first draft for Kopfgeburten oder Die Deutschen sterben aus (1980; translated as Headbirths; or, The Germans are Dying Out, 1982). The beginning of that decade was coinciding with new elections in Germany, with Helmut Schmidt running against Franz Josef Strauss, the candidate of the conservative Bavarian Christian Democrats, who warned that the Germans might be dying out under the rule of the Social Democrats. Grass saw this approach as “fear-mongering” used to provide a political program, and he used Strauss’s picturesque reference to writers as “rats and blowflies” as inspiration for a self-portrait with blowfly.
The term “headbirths” recalls the birth of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, from the head of Zeus– “a paradox,” Grass writes, “that has impregnated male minds to this day.” The book is written in the style of a movie script for Volker Schlöndorff, who had just directed the prize-winning movie version of Die Blechtrommel (1979). Later in 1979 the Schlöndorffs and the Grasses took a tour of East Asia sponsored by the Goethe Institute, and in Grass’s novel Harm and Dörte Peters, a couple of politically active young teachers, go on a similar tour sponsored by the Travel Agency Sisyphus. Harm and Dörte wish to educate themselves about Third World realities in order to decide whether or not to have a child in an overpopulated world. Grass refers to Headbirths within the text as “title of the film or book, or both” and frequently designs specific scenarios for the “Headbirths movie.”
The movie-script concept allows the author to flash backward and forward in time. Recalling how critics have preferred his writings about the past to those of “undistanced involvement with the present,” Grass anticipated the criticism awaiting this book. In the novel, he admits:
We’ve learned in school that the present comes after the past and is followed by the future. But I work with a fourth tense, the paspresenture. That’s why my form gets untidy. On my paper more is possible. Here only chaos foments order. Here even holes are contents. And loose threads are threads that have been left radically untied. Here everything doesn’t have to come out even.
In German literary circles, Grass’s new coinage “Vergegenkunft,” translated by Manheim as “paspresenture,” has become a frequently cited term.
In the first two years of the 1980s Grass deliberately refrained from writing, concentrating his creative energies on new etchings, lithographs, and some clay sculptures. When he found a man’s glove washed ashore by the sea, the discovery inspired a cycle of seven etchings, Nachruf auf einen Handschuh (1982, Obituary on a Glove). The six prints, following a self-portrait titled Thoughtfully With Glove, all bespeak “was bleiben wird” (what will remain) after the demise of humankind. Part of it, like “the sailor’s glove,” will be “our garbage.” On receiving the Antonio Feltrinelli Prize in Rome in 1982, Grass questioned in his acceptance speech whether the book he was planning to write could assume a future, since a future had become questionable at present. In 1983 he wrote the first fragments of this book, Die Rättin (1986; translated as The Rat, 1987), on clay pages; in retrospect, Grass remarked in his Ein Werkstattbericht 1951–1992 (A Studio Report 1951–1992) that he should have written all five hundred pages of the novel in this form, one copy only.
To appreciate the apocalyptic visions, or rather the travesty of the apocalypse that takes place in Die Rättin, it helps to recall the doomsday mood that prevailed in central Europe during the 1980s. The escalating arms race between the superpowers, the real possibility of destroying the world, had provoked a genuine fear that such a disaster would happen, accidentally or otherwise. Grass’s book was a relative latecomer in a wave of “Endgame” literature (named after Samuel Beckett’s 1957 play). The narrator of Die Rättin, who has received a she-rat for Christmas, is subjected in his dreams to the rat’s teachings about the inevitability of the second “big bang” that will lead to the demise of mankind. The rat–an animal with historical significance ever since the days of Noah’s Ark, which refused to shelter it–has much survival experience and can become the creature that ultimately outlasts all.
When the big bang takes place, it affects diverse figures in the novel at the same time. The sixty-year-old Oskar Matzerath, who has anticipated events, hides under the skirts of his grandmother at the party for her 107th birthday, where the explosion of the neutron bomb transforms him into a shriveled, leathery object. Famous fairy-tale characters, who try to rescue what remains of their forest by promoting the Brothers Grimm to higher posts in the government, and a ship with female crew members who have just located the sunken utopian realm of Vineta, are also affected by the disaster.
D.J. Enright (The New York Review of Books, 24 September 1987) identified four main narrative strands in Die Rättin, one of which includes the story of an artist, Lothar Malskat, who forged copies of Gothic paintings that had miraculously reappeared in a Lübeck cathedral. Enright interprets this thread as a parable about the “double forgery” by the East and West German politicians Walter Ulbricht and Konrad Adenauer. Writing for The New York Times Book Review (5 July 1987), Janette Turner Hospital discussed the fear and panic felt by the readers of Die Rättin because of the switching back and forth between “all six story lines.” As Hospital saw it, “In the age of logorrhea, Grass’s novels (mutating in form and syntax along with his hominoid protagonists, writhing like indomitable victims of some linguistic Chernobyl) are passionate attempts ‘to put off the end with words’ even as words themselves must be scraped free of the counterfeiter’s muck.”
Before Die Rättin was published in Germany in February 1986, Manheim’s English translation of selected Grass essays and speeches, On Writing and Politics, 1967–1983, had been published, and it was later reviewed in The New York Times (17 June 1985). The reviewer, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, had maintained that it was “boring to read Mr. Grass on technology, industrial waste, missile arms and the imminent arrival of the end of time . . . because what he has to say has been said so many times before.” Lehmann-Haupt continued, “If what he says is true, as it well may be, then we ought to be awakened to the threats instead of numbed by their repetition.” Die Rättin attempts to sound just such a wake-up call.
In the summer of 1986 Grass and his wife left Europe for a prolonged stay in Calcutta. It was his second visit to this city, the first one since 1975 when, as a guest of the Indian government, he had resolved to return. In Zunge zeigen (1988; translated as Show Your Tongue, 1989) Grass writes:
Wovon ich wegfliege: von Wiederholungen, die sich als Neuigkeiten ausgeben; von Deutschland und Deutschland, wie schwerbewaffnete Todfeinde einander immer ähnlicher werden; von Einsichten, aus zu naher Distanz gewonnen; von meiner nur halblaut eingestandenen Ratlosigkeit, die mitfliegt.
(What I am flying away from: from repetition that claims to be news; from Germany and Germany, the way two deadly foes, armed to the teeth, grow ever more alike; from insights achieved from too close up; from my own perplexity, admitted only sotto voce, flying with me.)
The couple lived in the Calcutta suburbs through January 1987.
In Zunge zeigen, Grass records his experience of Calcutta by synthesizing three forms. The first, a prose report, is based in part on diary entries, including small drawings. In its final form, the report contains both fact and reflection–the latter inspired by memories held fast in drawings and by the books the couple had brought along. The second part of Zunge zeigen presents fifty-six expressionistic drawings integrating pictures and words. These drawings were developed in part from Grass’s Skizzenbuch (1989, Sketchbook) but mostly from a collection of three hundred drawings he produced while experimenting with different graphic techniques. They feature garbage squares, garbage mountains being combed through by human figures, cows, crows, pavement dwellers, sleepers, squatters, and empty coconut shells reminiscent of decapitated heads–over which hovers the black goddess Kali showing her tongue in shame. Also recurring are scenes from public transportation, public crematoriums, and nightly floods and feasts.
Kali, the goddess of destruction, dominates the third section, a twelve-part poem titled “Zunge zeigen.” On her festival, Kali Puja, she unleashes the final flood: “I show my tongue, I cross banks, I abolish borders, I make / an end.” Each part of this book evolves from the preceding part, the poem combining narration and images in reflection upon each other. Clark Blaise (The New York Times Book Review, 21 May 1989) described it as a “one-man-show of a book” and found it to be “despite its virtuosity, a modest, very personal book. It charts Mr. Grass’s inner journey to a kind of fundamental, uncomplicated political esthetic.” Blaise is referring to Grass’s enthusiasm over the slum dwellers’ ingenious ways of surviving in rows of hovels composed of industrial waste materials: “Sacks, straw mats weighed down with stones and sticks, tin rusting on tin, tires on top, flabby hoses, a car hood rolled flat. And jammed together: baskets, sieves, crates. Tied up in wire, sisal ropes. Layer on layer of chance, items found by chance–wretchedness, or wealth of a different sort.” For readers who remember the “items found by chance” from which young Amsel built his scarecrows in Hundejahre, the aesthetic Grass discovers in the slum hovels of Calcutta is familiar.
Six collections of Grass’s speeches, essays, and discussions were published in 1990, and Gegen die verstreichende Zeit (1991, Against the Passing Time) collected additional writings he had published from 1989 through 1991. A selection of these speeches and discussions was published in English translation as Two States-One Nation? (1990). The title of this collection is based on Grass’s speech “Deutschland–zwei Staaten– eine Nation?” in the 1990 collection Deutscher Lastenausgleich: Wider das dumpfe Einheitsgebot. In February 1990 Grass debated with Rudolf Augstein, editor of Der Spiegel magazine. This discussion and other television and radio debates concerning the question of German unity were collected in Deutschland, einig Vaterland? (1990). Augstein countered Grass’s objections with the statement: “The train has left, nothing can stop it.” Grass asked in an open letter: “The train has left, but where is it going?”
In August 1990 Grass published Totes Holz: Ein Nachruf (Dead Wood: An Obituary), a volume of fifty charcoal and ink drawings of dying forests in Denmark and in East and West Germany. On foot with his dog and his graphics equipment he had spent three years collecting the sad evidence of massive forest death. Pointed observations and brief citations, in part from government statistics, provide captions for the drawings–a passionate, graphic record documenting the decline of nature in a world oriented predominantly toward industrial growth.
In the spring of 1992 Grass published another of his fables about contemporary and, possibly, some future history. Unkenrufe (translated as The Call of the Toad, 1992) became the last of his books translated by Manheim, who died in September of that year. In Unkenrufe, which Herbert Mitgang (The New York Times, 18 November 1992) called Grass’s “most linear and readable novel in recent years,” the voice of an animal that folk legend associates with gloom and death expresses a subtle but unmistakable warning. This warning comes amid an appealing, heartwarming love story between Alexander Reschke, a widowed art professor from Germany, and Alexandra Piatkowska, a widowed art restorer from Poland. These two characters meet by chance on All Souls’ Day, November 1989, in a market in Gdansk. Together they buy rust-red asters and late wild mushrooms and then visit a Gdansk cemetery. When Alexandra recalls how her parents, refugees from Lithuania, had wished to be buried in Wilna, Alexander ponders his parents’ desire to return in death to Danzig. At this point, an idea for founding a Polish-German-Lithuanian Cemetery Association (PGLCA) in Gdansk is born to the couple. Their plan materializes, now that the borders are open not only for travel by the living but also for transport of the dead. The new “Cemetery of Reconciliation” is dedicated on the day the Polish-German border is ratified.
On a picnic, while listening to the late day call of a toad, Alexandra realizes that it is time to terminate the project, because wealthy Westerners are investing in it so eagerly that their capital threatens to retake Poland from its people. But Alexander explains that it is already too late to stop the project–that the business of selling gravesites, homesites for the aged, and golf courses and other facilities for people to enjoy even before they die will continue and can no longer be stopped. At a later stage Alexandra says, in thinking about the administrators of the company that has taken over the project planning and made merely honorary members of her and Alexander, “Now they sell us piece by piece.” When the lovers die together on their honeymoon in a traffic accident near Naples, they are buried in the unmarked graves of a local cemetery.
On 14 December 1992 Grass’s reading from Unkenrufe at the Ninety-second Street YMCA in New York was the occasion of one of his last visits, to date, in the United States. John Irving gave the introductory presentation, calling Grass “the world’s greatest living writer.” After Grass’s reading in German, Irving read from the English translation of the novel and conducted the question-and-answer session that followed.
Following his first visit in 1964 Grass has returned to the United States for at least eleven visits. In 1965 and 1976 he received honorary doctorates from Kenyon College and Harvard University, respectively. Etchings and lithographs by Grass were exhibited in nineteen countries during the 1970s and 1980s. Grass’s books have been translated into thirty-four languages. Concerned about the difficulties facing his translators, Grass arranged with his publishers to hold regular conferences with translators of his major works.
Poetry is perhaps Grass’s favorite literary genre, and several volumes of his selected poems have been published in English translation. Michael Hamburger has been the most frequent translator of Grass’s poetry, and Novemberland: Selected Poems 1956–1993 (1996) takes its title from a collection of thirteen sonnets Grass published in March 1993. Grass wrote these sonnets, each accompanied by a sepia drawing, in November 1992, when he also wrote his speech Rede vom Verlust (1992; translated as “Essay on Loss,” 1993). The speech, delivered in Munich on 18 November 1992 following several murderous attacks on asylum seekers and foreigners, presents one of the author’s most outspoken critiques of what he describes as the “declining democratic process in the united Germany.” The poems, by contrast, mourn the losses within the strictly prescribed limitations of the sonnet form. Following early baroque tradition, each sonnet consists of two quartets and one sestet in the iambic rhythm of the alexandrine, mostly in alternating rhymes.
The first-person speaker of the poems prefers the plural form “we” and “us” but on occasion refers pointedly to the burden of guilt, “for which I am accountable.” The motifs characterizing his “Novemberland” include the beauty of the hills widely spread “as if in travel leaflets,” the November dead, Poland, All Souls’ Day with open graves, storm warnings, influenza epidemic, anticipation of the first advent, newspapers drifting under wind and hail showers alluding to the journalists’ hour zero: unification. The lyrical images within the confines of the narrow sonnet form let readers stumble all the harder over tough conclusions such as this one: “Auf Siegers Seite lebten wir, behötet und getrennt, / bis uns die Einheit schlug, die keine Gnade kennt” (On the victor’s side we lived, divided, safe from stress, / till unity struck us and proved merciless).
In 1997 Grass presented quite a different affirmation of his love for poetry and pictures. Fundsachen für Nichtleser (Found Objects for Nonreaders) is dedicated to “meine Enkelkinder in wachsender Zahl” (my grandchildren in growing number). It includes 131 short poems with 116 watercolors. These works clearly represent another version of Grass’s “items found by chance” such as the materials Amsel used for his scarecrows, or the articles that compose the slum hovels in Calcutta.
Fundsachen für Nichtleser remains untranslated–not because the short poems, sometimes reminiscent of haiku, could not be translated, but because they are inscribed in the watercolors and are intrinsic parts of the pictures. Grass names the images “Aquadichte” (from Aquarell and Gedichte) or “aqua-poems,” thus expressing their inseparable nature. A sample illustrates the effect of this poetry: “Moist in Moist / until the hard objects, / the hammer, the pliers / the nail are melting down, / and quickly, / before the color dries, / few words made to flow... / aqua-poems–listen to me, please, / do not look away.” It is one thing to read the words in print but quite another to see them happen in colors.
Grass’s Fundsachen are no surrealistic objets trouvés but rather ordinary things one uses or sees every day, at home or at work, inside or outside. Yet, these familiar items presented in quick-drying brush strokes of saturated watercolor acquire new impact and dynamism. Some objects, such as a collection of buttons from the sewing basket, speak with each other–“speaking all for themselves, at once.” Though written for “nonreaders” and dedicated to grandchildren, Fundsachen für Nichtleser requires the ability to read and listen.
Publication of Grass’s major novel of the 1990s, Ein weites Feld (1995; translated as Too Far Afield, 2000) preceded Fundsachen für Nichtleser by two years. In late 1992 Grass had begun work on what was to be a panorama of German history from the failed March revolution of 1848 to the present. The actual narrated time extends from the fall of the Berlin Wall (November 1989) to the reunification of Germany. The action is set for the most part in Berlin, particularly in the Haus der Ministerien-the site of government administration for the former GDR, the former Third Reich aviation center under Hermann Göring, and finally the seat of the Bonn Treuhand institution for “unwinding” all state property in the GDR–which serves as a focus of political change.
Ever since Zunge zeigen it was apparent that Grass had become fascinated with the life and career of the writer Theodor Fontane, who as a journalist had taken part in military campaigns until the “unification” of Germany under Bismarck in 1871. Fontane’s gifts as a writer of socially critical novels and as a contemporary theater critic did not surface until the last two decades of his life. The title of Ein weites Feld alludes to the dictum “that is too wide a field,” spoken by the aristocrat father of Fontane’s tragic character Effi Briest in the 1895 novel by that name.
The main character of Grass’s novel, Theo Wuttke, nicknamed “Fonty,” reincarnates Fontane by recalling nineteenth-century events from his lifetime and writings in the context of life in twentieth-century Berlin. Fonty, a former cultural attaché, runs document errands in the “House of Ministries” guarded by a professional government spy. Hoftaller (modeled on the spy Tall-hover, created by Grass’s colleague Hans Joachim Schädlich) becomes Fonty’s “day-and-night shadow.” Fonty, his wife, and Hoftaller (an unavoidable yet sometimes useful evil) experience events from the viewpoint of former GDR citizens after the borders have been opened. With his sons having left for careers in the West, Fonty’s beloved daughter marries a Western entrepreneur. His own moves, including an attempt to flee the country, are effectively controlled by Hoftaller’s blackmail strategies, as the spy threatens to make revelations about Fonty’s past.
One of these revelations is the existence of Madeleine, Fonty’s granddaughter from a wartime affair during his service in France. Thanks to the maneuverings of Hoftaller, Fonty’s granddaughter is united with him in Berlin. “La petite,” as she is called, not only speaks fluent and charming German but also is familiar with all the writings of Fonty’s nineteenth-century past. When Fonty’s wife and daughter move permanently to the West to take over the business left behind by a son-in-law, Fonty suddenly disappears after having delivered a public speech. All searches of his colleagues in the archives of the Treuhand are fruitless–until Hoftaller finds Fonty riding the Ferris wheels with Madeleine on the Berlin fairground. The two men part, going in different directions. A postcard informs the archivists about the contented existence of Fonty and his granddaughter in a French region devoid of humans, but with an end of “the field” in sight.
The eight-hundred-page novel outraged some critics in Germany. Even before people had a chance to buy or read it, devastating reviews appeared in major newspapers. Der Speigel (21 August 1995) featured a cover showing the literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki tearing up the book. In a six-page open letter to Grass, Reich-Ranicki maintained, among other reasons for his objections to the book, that it is unclear which letters and documents ascribed to Fonty are actually Fontane’s and which are Grass’s inventions. Generally, the novel was criticized as boring, one-sided, and an imposition on the reader. Reviewers considered Fonty a hopelessly confused character who has understood nothing about the historical developments during the last decade of the twentieth century. The judgment of the newspaper critics, however, ended up sparking the curiosity of readers. Despite (and in part because of) the initial outrage of critics, analysis of this fable about German history is continuing. Kjell Espmark, in his 2001 study of the history of the Nobel Prize in Literature, points out that the announcement of the 1999 prize for Grass, while calling special attention to Die Blechtrommel, “refused to share the politically biased German view of Ein weites Feld.”
The American edition of Grass’s retrospective Mein Jahrhundert is missing the author’s watercolors that accompany the first German edition of 1999. Although not vital to the one hundred stories in the book (one for each year of the century), these watercolors provide structures that let the reader pause and think. For instance, portions of the centennial bonfire on the cover, which is burning up the 1900s, occur at intervals throughout the book: between 1961 (the year the Berlin Wall was erected) and 1962 (the year the Adolf Eichmann trials were held), or between 1945 (the year World War II ended) and 1946.
First reviews of the book were not enthusiastic. Peter Gay (The New York Times Book Review, 19 December 1999), referring to the book as a novel, found it to be a “collection of fragments that fail to cohere.” Yet, much as readers might want to see Mein Jahrhundert as a novel– preferably with a happy outcome–reality, especially in a multifarious retrospective, does not cohere. The annals in Mein Jahrhundert consist of memories by different witnesses, stories or “black fables,” strung together on a timeline. They offer a selection from the historical raw materials that–as Grass has shown in his work ever since the 1950s–can occasionally be shaped into novels.
The art of storytelling corresponds to the human need to make historical raw material cohere, to fill with meaning the mechanical passage of time–and, in Grass’s words, “to write against the current of time.” According to one of his translated poems from Ausgefragt, writing presents “Chaos / more skillfully executed.” But this attempt to create order from the chaos necessarily includes revealing its logical rifts, gaps, and grotesque inconsistencies. Grass accentuates those gaps and inconsistencies by letting witnesses speak in retrospect, a technique that often polarizes their impressions. Erich Maria Remarque, author of Im Westen nichts Neues (1929; translated as All Quiet on the Western Front, 1929), a pacifist novel about World War I, and Ernst Jünger, author of In Stahlgewittern (1920; translated as The Storm of Steel, 1929), a novel filled with approval for World War I, both recall their different impressions in their fictitious meeting during the mid 1960s. Other polarized, imagined retrospectives include those of Brecht and Gottfried Benn in 1956, the year they both died; or the poet Paul Celan, known for his “Todesfuge” (1944, Fugue of Death) about the concentration camps of the Holocaust, in an encounter with the “silent” philosopher Heidegger, who did not speak out against the Nazi regime.
Presenting different speakers reminiscing about the same events in Mein Jahrhundert also raises the question of why the same facts would hold such different values in the memories of individuals. The disparities in values explain why the future of the world is so uncertain. When Grass resurrects his mother for her 103rd birthday in the year 1999 to allow her to look back at her century and forward to the new one, she draws the one conclusion that the century suggested to her: “Wenn nur nicht Krieg ist wieder . . . Erst da unten und dann öberall. . . .” (If only there won’t be war again... first down there [among the young ones] and then everywhere . . . .). This last sentence of Mein Jahrhundert is missing in the 1999 American edition.
In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech Grass envisioned what chances the future may hold for the literary arts “To Be Continued. . . .” This formula generated by the rise of the serialized novel in the nineteenth century holds both a promise and a command at the beginning of the twenty-first century: “Our common novel must be continued.”
After the prize ceremonies in Stockholm, documented by Gerhard Steidl in a journal with photographs (2000), Grass’s own work continued. In 2002 he published Im Krebsgang: Eine Novelle (translated as Crabwalk, 2002). The title and the first sentence of the work–“‘Why only now?’ he says, this person not to be confused with me”–indicate that Grass’s choice of narrative technique and narrator are integral parts of his story. Grass applies the nonlinear spatial progression of the crab to the narrative movement in historical time, “seeming to go backward but actually scuttling sideways, and thereby working my way forward fairly rapidly.” This “crabwalk” approach to time reveals a surprising coincidence of historical dates: “on 30 January 1945, fifty years to the day after the martyr’s [Wil-helm Gustloff’s] birth, the ship named after him began to sink, signaling the downfall of the Thousand-Year Reich, twelve years–again to the day–since the Nazis’ seizure of power.” This observation is the turning point of the novella, and all other “side-steps” revolve around it. Grass also chooses this fatal date for the birth of his narrator, Paul Pokriefke, thus linking Paul’s life directly to the 1945 disaster when the Wilhelm Gustloff, with some ten thousand refugees and wounded German soldiers on board, went down in the Baltic Sea after being torpedoed by a Soviet submarine.
Paul is the son of Tulla Pokriefke, the controversial character who had featured as a spindly child among the teenage boys in Katz und Maus and who, in Hundejahre, had been unable to carry to term her first pregnancy. But Paul was born on a rescue boat during the night when the Wilhelm Gustloff sank. Coming ashore with her baby, the eighteen-year-old mother, whose hair had turned white within the course of a single night, tried to head west but got stuck behind Russian lines in the town of Schwerin. As Paul grew up, Tulla sent him to West Berlin to study journalism and to lodge with “aunt Jenny,” the former ballerina from Hundejahre. Tulla hopes that her son, a journalist, will write her version of the Wilhelm Gustloff story. J. M. Coetzee, in a review essay for The New York Review of Books (12 June 2003), considered Tulla one of the most interesting characters in Grass’s work, suggesting that on the societal level she represents an ethnic populism that has its own slanted, but deeply felt account of what happened in Germany in the twentieth century, an account that resents being repressed and will not go away.
The first, expository chapter of the book presents three historical protagonists in a tightening plotline: Wilhelm Gustloff, a Nazi Party leader working in Switzerland; David Frankfurter, the young Jewish medical student who assassinated Gustloff in 1936; and Aleksander Marinesko, captain of the submarine that sank the Wilhelm Gustloff. The events surrounding these figures are interwoven with Paul’s life and those of his mother and his son, Konrad.
At the outset of each of the nine chapters of his report the narrator refers to an anonymous person, “a certain someone, who is about Mother’s age” (both Tulla and Grass were born in 1927), “the old boy” or “boss” who has written himself dry, a shadowy kind of father figure, who seems to have engaged the unwilling journalist as a ghost writer and keeps prodding him along for his own purposes. Grass’s self-portrait looking over the shoulder of the narrator is as recognizable and ironic as some of his graphic self-depictions. Some of the work sessions between the two even suggest that the older man may be Paul’s father.
At another meeting with Paul, the elderly writer confesses that writing the story of the Wilhelm Gustloff should have been his task a long time ago: “Soon after the publication of that mighty tome, Dog Years”, he should have dug through the material at his disposal, including the fate of Tulla and the Pokriefkes. He had failed to do so because, owing to the demands of the present in the mid 1960s, “he’d had it with the past,” and now it was too late for him. But he had discovered the narrator among the survivors, after a long search, “like a piece of lost property.” Although this relationship sounds like a metalepsis–the author meeting the character he created–saturated with irony, it can also be taken at face value, especially in conjunction with a more far-reaching self-accusation. At the outset of the fifth chapter, the “old boy” describes the hardships the refugees from East Prussia had to endure: “Never, he said, should his generation have kept silent about such misery, merely because its own sense of guilt was so overwhelming.”
Paul’s Internet research leads him to a website run by his own son, Konrad, who (under the influence of Tulla) glorifies the “martyrdom” not only of the people on the ship but also of Gustloff himself. A chat-room debate between Konrad, acting as Gustloff’s advocate, and another young man who identifies himself with Frankfurter, leads to a meeting in which Konrad fatally shoots the other teen. After he is sentenced to seven years in juvenile detention for manslaughter, his father finds a new website dedicated to the unrepentant Konrad: “We believe in you, we will wait for you, we will follow you.” The despairing narrator concludes: “It doesn’t end. Never will it end.”
The author, by contrast, is trying to find a measure of closure by his historically accurate, albeit novelistic account of the events surrounding the Wilhelm Gustloff tragedy. Moreover, the dedication of the book “in memoriam” encompasses the victims of the Holocaust as well as those of World War II and the three generations for whom the trauma of these events will not end within living memory.
In 2004 Grass dedicated another large-format volume to his children and grandchildren: Der Schatten: Hans Christian Andersens Märchen–gesehen von Günter Grass (The Shadow: Hans Christian Andersen’s Tales–As Seen by Günter Grass). The book combines a selection of thirty tales by Andersen (in their German translation) with prints from more than a hundred lithographs done by Grass to accompany the stories. The volume received an enthusiastic welcome in Denmark.
In August 2006, weeks before the scheduled publication of his autobiographical volume Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (By Peeling the Onion), Grass confessed in an interview for the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he had been a member of the Waffen SS, a combat branch that fought alongside regular military units. He was a seventeen-year-old conscript at the time, and his enlistment lasted only a few months until he was captured by American forces; but the revelation sparked much controversy. Some critics were less upset that the teenaged Grass was influenced by Nazi propaganda than by the fact that he was silent about the truth for sixty years afterward, even misleading his biographers. Other commentators even viewed the admission as a publicity stunt for the book (fueled by the fact that the publisher moved up the release date and ordered additional copies printed after the news broke).
Some critics felt that Grass’s Nobel Prize should be revoked, but an article in The New York Times (16 August 2006) quoted Michael Sohlman, executive director of the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, as having replied: “The decisions are absolute, and it has never happened that a prize has been revoked.” Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace laureate and former president of Poland, initially called for Grass to give up his honorary citizenship in Gdansk but was later satisfied by a letter of explanation that Grass wrote to Pawel Adamowicz, mayor of Gdansk, on 20 August; in the letter, Grass said that the episode of his SS service “weighed on me heavily.... Only now, with age, I have found the right formula to talk about it in a wider perspective.” In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung interview, he said: “My silence during all these years is one reason that led me to write this book. It had to come out.”
It is still too early to arrive at summary conclusions about Günter Grass’s place in German and world literature. Horace Engdahl, in his presentation speech for Grass’s Nobel Prize, aptly formulated the merits of Grass’s literary work: “You have shown that as long as literature remembers what people hasten to forget, it remains a power to be reckoned with.”
Briefe 1959–1994, by Grass and Helen Wolff, edited by Daniela Hermes (Göttingen: Steidl, 2003).
Jean M. Woods, “Günter Grass Bibliography,” West Coast Review, 5, no. 3 (1971): 52–56; 6, no. 1 (1971): 31–40;
George A. Everett, A Select Bibliography of Günter Grass (New York: Burt Franklin, 1974);
Patrick O’Neill, Günter Grass: A Bibliography 1955–1975 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976).
Scott H. Abbott, “Günter Grass’ Hundejahre: A Realistic Novel about Myth,” German Quarterly, 55 (1982): 212–220;
Susan C. Anderson, Grass and Grimmelshausen: Günter Grass’s “Das Treffen in Telgte” and Rezeptionstheorie (Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1987);
Peter Arnds, Representation, Subversion, and Eugenics in Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum (Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, 2004);
H. E. Beyersdorf, “The Narrator as Artful Deceiver: Aspects of Narrative Perspective in Die Blechtrommel,” Germanic Review, 55 (1980): 129–138;
Wesley V. Blomster, “The Documentation of a Novel: Otto Weininger and Hundejahre by Günter Grass,” Monatshefte, 61 (1969): 122–138;
Philip Brady, Timothy McFarland, and John J. White, eds., Günter Grass’s “Der Butt”: Sexual Politics and the Male Myth of History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990);
James C. Bruce, “The Motif of Failure and the Act of Narrating in Günter Grass’s Örtlich Betäubt,” Modern Fiction Studies, 17, no. 1 (1971): 45–60;
Lester Caltvedt, “Oskar’s Account of Himself: Narrative ‘Guilt’ and the Relationship of Fiction to History in Die Blechtrommel,” Seminar, 14 (1978): 284–294;
Mark E. Cory, “Sisyphus and the Snail: Metaphors for the Political Process in Günter Grass’ Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke and Kopfgeburten oder Die Deutschen sterben aus,” German Studies Review, 6 (1983): 519–533;
W. G. Cunliffe, “Aspects of the Absurd in Günter Grass,” Wisconsin Studies, 7, no. 3 (1966): 311–327;
Cunliffe, Günter Grass (New York: Twayne, 1969);
Subhoranjan Dasgupta, The Tin Drummer’s Odyssey: Essays on Günter Grass (Calcutta: Dasgupta, 2002);
Antoinette T Delaney, Metaphors in Grass’ Die Blechtrommel (New York: Peter Lang, 2004);
Edward Diller, A Mythic Journey: Günter Grass’s “Tin Drum” (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1974);
Thomas Di Napoli, “Guilt and Absolution: The Contrary World of Günter Grass,” Cross Currents (Winter 1977): 435–446;
Manfred Durzak, “Günter Grass,” in West German Poets on Society and Politics, edited by Karl H. Van D’Elden (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1979), pp. 162–179;
Kjell Espmark, Litteraturpriset: Hundra år med Nobels uppdrag (Stockholm: Norstedt, 2001);
Martin Esslin, “Günter Grass the Dramatist,” in his Reflections: Essays on Modern Theatre (New York: Doubleday, 1969), pp. 143–150;
“Germany’s Günter Grass,” Time (13 April 1970): 69–78;
Michael Hamburger, “Moralist and Jester: The Poetry of Günter Grass,” in his Art as Second Nature: Occasional Pieces, 1950–1974 (Cheadle: Carcanet New Press, 1975), pp. 134–149;
Ronald Hayman, Günter Grass (London & New York: Methuen, 1985);
Michael Hollington, Günter Grass: The Writer in a Pluralist Society (London & New York: Marion Boyars, 1980);
John Irving, “Günter Grass: King of the Toy Merchants,” in his Trying To Save Piggy Sneed (New York: Arcade, 1996), pp. 397–432;
Martin Kämpchen, ed., My Broken Love: Günter Grass in India and Bangladesh (New Delhi & New York: Viking, 2001);
Alan Frank Keele, Understanding Günter Grass (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988);
Stephen Kinzer, “Günter Grass: Germany’s Last Heretic,” New York Times Book Review, 22 October 1995, p. 47;
Richard H. Lawson, Günter Grass (New York: Ungar, 1985);
Irène Leonard, Günter Grass (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1974);
Ann L. Mason, The Skeptical Muse: A Study of Günter Grass’ Conception of the Artist (Bern: Herbert Lang, 1974);
Sigrid Mayer, “Günter Grass in Calcutta and the Aesthetics of Poverty,” in Intertextuality: German Literature and Visual Art from the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century, edited by Ingeborg Hoesterey and Ulrich Weisstein (Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1993), pp. 142–158;
Siegfried Mews, “Grass’ Kopfgeburten: The Writer in Orwell’s Decade,” German Studies Review, 6 (1983): 501–517;
Mews, ed., “The Fisherman and His Wife”: Günter Grass’s “The Flounder” in Critical Perspective (New York: AMS Press, 1983);
Keith Miles, Günter Grass (London: Vision / New York: Barnes & Noble, 1975);
Janice Mouton, “Gnomes, Fairy-Tale Heroes, and Oskar Matzerath,” Germanic Review, 56 (1981): 28–33;
“Nobel Prize Winner Explains Nazi Service,” CNN.com, 22 August 2006 <http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/books/08/22/poland.guentergrass.ap/index.html?section=cnn_topstorie>;
Patrick O’Neill, Günter Grass Revisited (New York: Twayne, 1999);
O’Neill, ed., Critical Essays on Günter Grass (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987);
Heinz D. Osterle, “An Orwellian Decade? Günter Grass Between Despair and Hope (with a Campaign Speech of 1983),” German Studies Review, 8 (1985): 481–507;
Gertrud Bauer Pickar, “Silberpappeln and Saatkartoffeln: The Interaction of Art and Reality in Grass’ Die Plebejer proben den Aufstand,” in Theatrum Mundi: Essays on German Drama and German Literature, edited by Edward R. Haymes (Munich: Fink, 1980), pp. 198–220;
Pickar, ed., Adventures of a Flounder: Critical Essays on Günter Grass’ “Der Butt” (Munich: Fink, 1982);
Julian Preece, The Life and Work of Günter Grass: Literature, History, Politics (Houndmills, Basingstoke & New York: Palgrave, 2001);
John Reddick, “Action and Impotence: Günter Grass’s örtlich betaubt,” Modern Language Review, 67 (1972): 563–578;
Reddick, The “Danzig Trilogy” of Günter Grass (London: Secker & Warburg / New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975);
Alan Riding, “Nobelist is Bedeviled by SS Past,” New York Times, 17 August 2006: B1, B8;
David Roberts, “The Historikerstreit, the Self-Understanding of the Federal Republic and the Self-Understanding of a Generation: Jürgen Habermas and Günter Grass,” Thesis Eleven, 28 (1991): 33–55;
Salman Rushdie, “On Günter Grass,” Granta, 15 (1985): 180–185;
Peter Russell, “Floundering in Feminism: The Meaning of Günter Grass’s Der Butt,” German Life and Letters, 33 (April 1980): 245–256;
Richard Erich Schade, “Poet and Artist: Iconography in Grass’ Treffen in Telgte,” German Quarterly, 55 (1982): 200–211;
M. K. Sosnoski, “Oskar’s Hungry Witch,” Modern Fiction Studies, 17, no. 1 (1971): 61–77;
George Steiner, “A Note on Günter Grass,” in his Language and Silence (New York: Atheneum, 1967), pp. 110–117;
Kurt Lothar Tank, Günter Grass, translated by John Conway (New York: Ungar, 1969);
Noel Thomas, The Narrative Works of Günter Grass (Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1982);
William Underhill, “Murky Conscience,” Newsweek, 18 August 2006 <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14417128/site/newsweek>;
John Updike, “Snail on the Stump,” New Yorker (15 October 1973): 182–185;
Alexander Weber, Günter Grass’s Use of Baroque Literature (Leeds: W S. University of London, 1995);
Ray Lewis White, Günter Grass in America: The Early Years (Hildesheim & New York: Olms, 1981);
A. Leslie Willson, ed., A Günter Grass Symposium (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971).
The Günter Grass Archive is in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv (German Literature Archives), Marbach am Neckar, Germany.