Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Sunday, September 23, 2018 05:15:09 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 »

CPJ reveals weakness of journalists by appealing to President


THE Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in a letter to the Bangladesh President has expressed deep concern about the Digital Security Act 2018, which was passed by the Parliament on September 18, and urged him to return it to Parliament for a review afresh.   If this legislation was allowed to ...

International »

Modi faces calls for resignation over French jet deal


Reuters, New delhi :Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faced calls for his resignation over allegations of corruption in a military jet deal with France after former French president Francois Hollande was quoted as saying New Delhi had influenced the choice of a local partner.Indian political parties have been gunning for ...

International »

US official in Russia probe suggested taping Trump: Report


Reuters, Washington: The US official who oversees the federal investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. election suggested secretly recording President Donald Trump last year and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke a constitutional amendment to remove him from the White House, the New York Times reported on Friday.Deputy Attorney ...

Football »

Tabarez renews with Uruguay until Qatar World Cup


AFP, Montevideo :Despite failing health the veteran coach Oscar Tabarez has signed a four-year contract extension to remain at the Uruguay helm until the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the South American country's football federation said on Friday.Tabarez, who suffers from a nerve disorder that forces him ...

City »

People of the Shia community brought out a Tazia procession in the city on the occasion of Holy Ashura. The snap was taken from Azimpur area on Friday.


Entertainment »

Rishi Kapoor, Juhi Chawla to reunite for a comedy The film will reunite Kapoor and Chawla 22 years after their last film 'Daraar'


Frequent collaborators Rishi Kapoor and Juhi Chawla will reunite for a family comedy produced by Sony Pictures International and MacGuffin Pictures, reported Variety.The untitled film will be co-written by Hitesh Bhatia and Supratik Sen (Parched, Kai Po Che!), and directed by Bhatia. The film will reunite Kapoor and Chawla 22 ...

Editorial »

Rohingya crisis: UN is helpless without active cooperation of int'l community


THE United Nations was established with a mission to stop brutality and promotion of human rights across the globe but at present is apparently helpless to stop the Myanmar military atrocity on Rohingya ethnic community. Though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the ...

Cricket »

India rout Pakistan by eight wickets in Asia Cup


AFP, Dubai :India crushed Pakistan by eight wickets in their long-awaited Asia Cup match which failed to live up to its hype in Dubai on Wednesday.Pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3-15) and part time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav (3-23) sent Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, collapsing to just 162 all ...

Football »

We aim to play SAFF U-16 Women's final: Choton


Bangladesh U-18 national women's football team head coach Golam Rabanni Choton said they aim to play the final of the SAFF U-18 Women's Championship which is scheduled to be held from September 28 to October 7 in Thimpu, Bhutan.He was speaking at a pre-departure press conference on Thursday at the ...

International »

US-North Korea relations making 'tremendous progress': Trump


President Donald Trump on Wednesday said US relations with North Korea are making "tremendous progress" from the days before his presidency when the two countries appeared close to "going to war."Trump said a recent letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un confirmed the positive track, which he said has ...

City »

Newly elected executive members of Bangladesh Photo Journalists Association paid a courtesy call on Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan at his ministry on Thursday.


Entertainment »

Not always necessary to do issue-based films: Yami Gautam


Actress Yami Gautam, who stars in Batti Gul Meter Chalu, says it is neither necessary nor possible for an actor to do issue-based films all the time. Yami was interacting with the media here on Wednesday at a promotional press conference of the film that releases on Friday. She was ...

Football »

Japanese MMA star Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto dies at 41


Tributes flowed Wednesday for charismatic Japanese Mixed Martial Artist ( MMA) Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, who died at age 41, three weeks after announcing a battle with cancer.Born to a family of wrestlers and martial artists, the wiry, tattoo-covered Yamamoto took on larger opponents in a wide range of MMA events, ...

Editorial »

Ecological danger for destroying forest by Rohingyas


A STUDY has revealed that 4,300 acres of hills and forests have been razed in Cox's Bazar to set up refugee camps and cooking fuel for Rohingyas who fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Quoting the study, news media reported that about 3,000-4,000 acres of hill land at Teknaf and Ukhia ...

International »

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuke site if US takes steps too


AP,  Pyongyang :The leaders of North and South Korea announced a wide range of agreements Wednesday which they said were a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula. But the premier pledge on denuclearization contained a big condition, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stating he'd permanently dismantle ...

 
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