Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Tuesday, June 25, 2019 04:50:32 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Gunter Grass, Nobel-winning German novelist

photo by

By
24th-Apr-2015       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

The writer Günter Grass, (October 16, 1927-2015) who broke the silences of the past for a generation of Germans, has died (13 April)  in hospital in Lübeck at the age of 87.
Grass was admitted to hospital with an infection only a few days ago, and his secretary, Hilke Ohsoling, said his death had come as a surprise.
His last public appearance was on 28 March, at the premier of a stage version of the Tin Drum at the Thalia theatre in Hamburg. "He took part in the premier party, where many of his own children were present, with great pleasure," Ohsoling told the Hamburger Abendblatt. She added that his family had been at his bedside when he died.
German president Joachim Gauck led the tributes, offering his condolences to the writer's widow Ute Grass. "Günter Grass moved, enthralled, and made the people of our country think with his literature and his art," he said in a statement. "His literary work won him recognition early across the world, as witnessed not least by his Nobel prize."
"His novels, short stories, and his poetry reflect the great hopes and fallacies, the fears and desires of whole generations," the statement continued.
Tributes began to appear within minutes of the announcement of Grass' death by his publisher, Steidl.
In a short statement, German chancellor Angela Merkel said Grass "accompanied and shaped Germany's post-war history with his artistic, social, and political engagement".
The Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk had warm personal memories: "Grass learned a lot from Rabelais and Celine and was influential in development of 'magic realism' and Marquez. He taught us to base the story on the inventiveness of the writer no matter how cruel, harsh and political the story is," he said.
He added: A generous, curious and a very warm friend who also wanted to be a painter at first!"
Geoffrey Mulligan, Grass's long-time British editor, said he was "one of the giants of world literature", adding: "Whereas most people would be delighted to excel in one artistic discipline, Günter Grass was an accomplished artist, sculptor, poet, playwright and novelist. In person he was funny, generous and wonderful company."
Grass found success in every artistic form he explored - from poetry to drama and from sculpture to graphic art - but it wasn't until publication of his first novel, The Tin Drum, in 1959 that he found the international reputation which brought him the Nobel prize for literature 40 years later. A speechwriter for the German chancellor Willy Brandt, Grass was never afraid to use the platform his fame afforded, campaigning for peace and the environment and speaking out against German reunification, which he compared to Hitler's 'annexation' of Austria.
Grass was born in the Free City of Danzig - now Gdansk - in 1927, "almost late enough", as he said, to avoid involvement with the Nazi regime. Conscripted into the army in 1944 at the age of 16, he served as a tank gunner in the Waffen SS, bringing accusations of betrayal, hypocrisy and opportunism when he wrote about it in his 2006 autobiography, Peeling the Onion.
The writer was surprised by the strength of the reaction, arguing that he thought at the time that the SS was merely "an elite unit", that he had spoken openly about his wartime record in the 1960s, and that he had spent a lifetime "working through" the unquestioning beliefs of his youth in his writing. His war came to an end six months later having "never fired a shot", when he was wounded in Cottbus and captured in a military hospital by the US army. That he avoided committing war crimes was "not by merit", he insisted. "If I had been born three or four years earlier I would, surely, have seen myself caught up in those crimes."
Instead he trained as a stonemason, studied art in Düsseldorf and Berlin, and joined Hans Werner Richter's Group 47 alongside writers such as Ingeborg Bachmann and Heinrich Böll. After moving to Paris in 1956 he began working on a novel which told the story of Germany in the first half of the 20th century through the life of a boy who refuses to grow.
A sprawling mixture of fantasy, family saga, bildungsroman and political fable, The Tin Drum was attacked by critics, denied the Bremen literature prize by outraged senators, burned in Düsseldorf and became a global bestseller.
Speaking to the Swedish Academy in 1999, Grass explained that the reaction taught him "that books can cause offence, stir up fury, even hatred, that what is undertaken out of love for one's country can be taken as soiling one's nest. From then on I have been controversial."
A steady stream of provocative interventions in debates around social justice, peace and the environment followed, alongside poetry, drama, drawings and novels. In 1977 Grass tackled sexual politics, hunger and the rise of civilisation with a 500-page version of the Grimm brothers' fairytale The Fisherman and His Wife. The Rat (1986) explored the apocalpyse, as a man dreams of a talking rat who tells him of the end of the human race, while 1995's Too Far Afield explored reunification through east German eyes - prompting Germany's foremost literary critic, Marcel Reich-Ranicki, to brand the novel a "complete and utter failure" and to appear on the cover of Der Spiegel ripping a copy in half.
His last novel, 2002's Crabwalk, dived into the sinking of the German liner Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945, while three volumes of memoir - Peeling the Onion, The Box and Grimms' Words - boldly ventured into troubled waters.
Germany's political establishment responded immediately to the news of Grass's death. In a statement posted on the German government's website, state culture secretary Monika Grütters, said: "The Tin Drum belongs without a doubt to the foundations of German literature. Günter Grass was a world literary figure, and his literary legacy will stand next to that of Goethe."
The head of the Green party, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, called Grass a "great author, a critical spirit. A contemporary who had the ambition to put himself against the Zeitgeist."
Culture secretary Monika Grütters said: "The Tin Drum belongs without a doubt to the foundations of German literature. Günter Grass was a world literary figure, and his literary legacy will stand next to that of Goethe."
"Günter Grass was a contentious intellectual - his literary work remains formidable," tweeted the head of the opposition Free Democratic party, Christian Lindner.
The foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was "deeply dismayed" at the news of the author's death, a tweet from his ministry said.
Steinmeier is a member of the Social Democratic party, with which Grass had a fraught relationship - after campaigning for the party in 1960s and 70s, he became a member in 1982, only to leave ten years later in protest at its asylum policies.
"Günter Grass was a contentious intellectual who interfered. We sometimes miss that today," SPD chairwoman Andrea Nahles said.
Volker Schlöndorff, director of the Oscar-winning 1979 film of the Tin Drum, had thoughtful words for his old friend. "He was the voice you listened to, both at home and abroad. The voice from Germany that made the world listen after the war, which he, famously or infamously, took part in. He knew what he was talking about when he wrote. And he - usually - sensed the resonance ... the typewriter was his tin drum. He knew how to use it, for the sake of the reader and our country. Because of course he was a patriot."
While there were plenty of tributes recognising Grass as one of Germany's most important post-war writers, social media users swiftly revived many of the controversies of his divisive career, bringing up his membership of the SS and his alleged anti-Semitism.
Speaking to the Paris Review in 1991, Grass made no apology for his abiding focus on Germany's difficult past. "If I had been a Swedish or a Swiss author I might have played around much more, told a few jokes and all that," he said. "That hasn't been possible; given my background, I have had no other choice."
The controversy flared up again following by publication of his 2012 poem What Must be Said, in which he criticised Israeli policy. Published simultaneously in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Italian La Repubblica and Spanish El País, the poem brought an angry response from the Israeli ambassador to Germany, Shimon Stein, who saw in it "a disturbed relationship to his own past, the Jews, and Israel".
Despite his advanced age, Grass still led an active public life, and made vigorous public appearances in recent weeks. In a typically opinionated interview for state broadcaster WDR, which he gave in February after a live reading from Grimms' Words, Grass called his last book a "declaration of love to the German language".
He also talked about how the internet and the loss of the art of letter-writing had led to a "new illiteracy". "Of course that has consequences," he said. "It leads to a poverty of language and allows everything to be forgotten that the Grimm brothers created with their glorious work."
He remained critical of western policy in the Middle East ("now we see the chaos we make in those countries with our western values"), and talked about how his age had done nothing to soften his political engagement.
"I have children and grandchildren, I ask myself every day: 'what are we leaving behind for them?' When I was 17, at the end of the war, everything was in ruins, but our generation, whether for good reason or not, had hope, we wanted to shape the future. That's very difficult for young people today, because the future is virtually fixed for them."
Grass noted the "new illiteracy" whose consequences should be reflected upon. As Noam Chomsky, the world's leading linguistics expert, has shown, between ages two and five, the human being (that is not a feral) develops a structurally correct ability to use his native language, a feat no animal can match. It is upon this basis that all future ability to attain human consciousness depends. Because the ability to think something out for oneself depends upon precision in the use of one's language, the human ability to attain consciousness is being lost and human vulnerability to propaganda and conditioning is being vastly increased, with the most serious consequences to a human future. We now have people like Ray Kurzweil and his ilk who are not even interested in a human future; rather they crave a future for a "man-machine" who will be the plaything of his totalitarian masters as we move ineluctably toward the world Orwell warned us about in 1984. This evil fantasy is the real product of our drive for technological control; it will bring in its wake what we are already seeing--endless warfare and the end of a viable and life-sustaining planet. This is the end-product of philosophical materialism and the real reason why someone once said "If there is no God, we shall have to invent one." This was Sophocles' insight in "The Antigone." The only defense against the totalitarian state (Creon's edict that Polyneices is to remain unburied) lies at the level of the transcendent. Bonhoeffer understood this when he laid down his life against Nazism. There is no hope for the human being who cannot appeal to the transcendent level of represented by conscience. If we really think we'll all be better off surrounded by conscienceless and remorseless individuals, I'm here to say we are utterly wrong.
(Internet)

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Train accident: Responsible persons must be punished


AT least five people, including three women, were killed and more than 100 injured as the Upaban Express -- a passenger train heading to the capital from Sylhet -- derailed on a bridge in Moulvibazar on Sunday night. One of the carriages of it fell into a canal while two ...

Entertainment »

Shirin Shila`s Lady Action


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :With the inspiration and assistance from noted film actress Rasheda Chowdhury Shirin Shila started her journey in film industry. Before starting acting in big screen Shila acted with Rasheda Chowdhury in a drama. Basically Rasheda Chowdhury inspired Shila to work in movie. Once she also introduced Shila ...

Cricket »

Shakib first Bangladeshi batsman to complete 1000 WC runs


Talismanic all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan became the first Bangladeshi batsman to complete 1000 runs in the World Cup during the match against Afghanistan at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Monday.Starting the match with 965 runs and 35 runs shy of achieve the feat, Shakib flicked pace bowler Dawlat Zadran ...

International »

Saudi women use wedding contracts to assert right to drive


AFP, Dammam :Saudi salesman Majd had just begun his wedding preparations when his fiancee sought to enshrine in their marriage contract a condition already guaranteed by law-her right to drive.Wedding contracts have long been a safety net for brides in the deeply patriarchal society, used to guarantee demands that are ...

International »

Iran denies US cyber attack ahead of new sanctions


AFP  :Iran denied Monday it was hit by a US cyber attack as Washington was due to tighten sanctions on Tehran in a standoff sparked by the US withdrawal from a nuclear deal.Both nations say they want to avoid going to war, but tensions have spiralled as a series of ...

City »

Chief of Army Staff General Aziz Ahmed inaugurated a building of Baridhara Scholars International School and College in the city on Monday.


Cricket »

No six pack but Malinga still a big-game hunter: Mahela Jayawardene


Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene praised Lasith Malinga for his ability to step up in big games after the paceman inspired his country's shock World Cup win over England.Malinga returned figures of four for 43 to help Sri Lanka dismiss England for 212 as they stunningly beat the hosts ...

Editorial »

Banks must strengthen security systems to counter cyber heists


NEWS media reported that transnational scammers in May attacked three Bangladeshi commercial banks' networks and stole around Tk 25 crore from Dutch Bangla Bank Limited (DBBL) while two other banks — NCC Bank and Prime Bank — claimed they however managed to avert financial losses.Intelligence agencies said hackers planted malware ...

International »

UK's Boris Johnson under pressure to explain domestic 'row'


Boris Johnson, the strong favourite to become Britain's next prime minister, came under pressure from figures in his own party on Sunday to explain reports of a domestic 'row' that led to a police visit.Although still heavily backed to beat Jeremy Hunt to become Conservative Party leader, and therefore prime ...

International »

North Korean leader receives 'excellent' letter from Trump: KCNA


AFP, Seoul :North Korean leader Kim Jong Un received a personal letter of "excellent content" from US President Donald Trump, the country's state media said Sunday, amid a nuclear deadlock between Pyongyang and Washington.Talks have been stalled since the collapse of a second summit between Kim and Trump in Hanoi ...

Entertainment »

Tomalika returning with play Rarang


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :To change her personal life, National Film Award winner actress Tomalika Karmakar was in USA for last one year. Before Eid-ul-Fitr, she returned to country. Now she has decided to stay here and will continue acting. She is returning acting through her theatre troupe Aronnyok’s popular play ...

Editorial »

Subsidise agriculture to maintain food security


AGRICULTURAL economists suggested the government for setting up a special fund from where the farmers would receive support during the harvesting period. As the growers become deprived of the fair price of their production, the fund would help the farmers and encourage them to stay in the agriculture sector. The ...

Cricket »

Bangladesh to wait for Saifuddin to get fit


Considering the form of pace-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin, Bangladesh team management tries its best to get him fit ahead of their crucial clash against Afghanistan on Tuesday at the Southampton.Saifuddin has been the Bangladesh's 'go to' bowler in the death over and is the highest wicket-taker for the side with ...

International »

Trump nominates Mark Esper as Secretary of Defense


AP, Washington :Donald Trump has nominated Mark Esper to be the US Secretary of Defense, the White House said late Friday, as Washington navigates a spike in tensions with Iran.The nomination of Esper, who was this week elevated to acting Pentagon chief from his post as Army Secretary, was announced ...

Editorial »

Govt worth its name must explain every abduction and every disappearance


Police have found Syed Iftekhar Alam Shourav, a nephew of former State Minister for Home Affairs Sohel Taj, in Mymensingh, 11 days after he went missing from Chattogram. Quoting officials of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit, media reported that an unidentified car dropped Shourav in front of a ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news