Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Sunday, July 23, 2017 08:33:37 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Gunter Grass, Nobel-winning German novelist

photo by

By
24th-Apr-2015       Readers ( 1388 )   0 Comments
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all (0) »

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)

0 Comments. Share your thoughts also.
Write a comment
Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Police are for fighting crimes and not for guarding official buildings


ANOTHER rape victim succumbed to her injuries after being rescued from a city hotel on Wednesday following two other rape incidents at another hotel in the capital's posh localities. Concurrently, five people were arrested in two separate cases for killing two girls after rape in Dhaka's Kadamtali. The incident of ...

Football »

Dempsey at home 1 goal from record, US team in Gold Cup semi


AP, Arlington :Clint Dempsey is back in his home state of Texas, one goal away from a national scoring record for the United States team that is one win from playing in another CONCACAF Gold Cup final.The Americans play a semifinal game Saturday night against Costa Rica in a stadium ...

International »

May to stay as PM until at least 2020, close ally predicts


Reuters, London :British transport minister Chris Grayling, one of Prime Minister Theresa May's closest cabinet colleagues, has predicted she will remain in the job until at least 2020 and could even fight another national election.Following reports of cabinet infighting, Grayling said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, published on ...

Sports »

Bolt on right path to world 100m defence


AFP, Monaco :Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt insists he is on the right path as he targets the defence of his 100m crown at next month's world championships in London. In his swansong season, the 30-year-old has struggled to light up the track. In his outings over the blue riband ...

City »

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina exchanging pleasantries with Hajj pilgrims at the inauguration of Hajj activities at Ashkona Hajj Camp in the city on Saturday.


Entertainment »

When Mimi was nowhere to be found


Tolly Bffs, Nusrat and Mimi, were recently in California attending an awards ceremony. When we got in touch with Mimi to ask how her trip was, the actress shared with us an anecdote that we can’t get over! It so happened that Mimi and Nusrat were out and about one ...

Editorial »

People affected by flood and river erosion need immediate help


RIVER erosion in many parts of the country is making countless people homeless across the country as floodwater started receding. Media reports said monsoon rains caused havoc to flood affected districts like Sirajganj, Chapainawabganj, Kurigram and Lalmonirhat and river bank erosion now follows to add further miseries to the people ...

Entertainment »

Lopa renders song with Asif Akbar for first time


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :From many days there was a good relationship between popular singer Asif Akbar and singer and news presenter Lopa Hossain. When Lopa took part in music reality show Close up 1 from that time Asif liked her music. But they never got the scope to work together. ...

City »

BNP Vice-Chairman Advocate Khondkar Mahbub Hossain, among others, at a protest rally organised by Bangladesh Jatiyatabadi Nagorik Dal at the Jatiya Press Club on Friday demanding withdrawal of false cases filed against BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman.


.

Cricket »

Girls power as India hail World Cup heroines


AFP, New Delhi :Where the men failed, India is hoping its female cricketers can blaze to glory when they face England in the World Cup final on Sunday.Images of captain Mithali Raj and star batswoman Harmanpreet Kaur adorned the front pages and the team was hailed on social media after ...

International »

Merkel may win election, but lose her Finance Minister


Reuters, Sasbachwalden :Wolfgang Schaeuble has won his parliamentary seat a dozen times, survived an attempt on his life and guided Angela Merkel through the euro zone crisis. Now, the German chancellor may have to sacrifice him to secure a coalition deal.Merkel's conservatives are likely to win a national election on ...

Football »

Pietersen eyes South Africa international return


Kevin Pietersen said Wednesday he has not ruled out resurrecting his international career with his native South Africa even though he'll be pushing 40 when he requalifies. The 37-year-old batsman will become eligible to play for the Proteas in 2019 having not been selected for England after being sacked in ...

Editorial »

Havoc from waterlogging, traffic jam in city life


EXPERTS at a seminar on 'Development Options for Dhaka towards 2035' on last Wednesday voiced grave concern over the worsening traffic jam in Dhaka city streets at a time when monsoon downpour and waterlogging have added to create an unimaginable situation with traffic holding in long queues for hours together. ...

Entertainment »

Ileana D`cruz opens up about dealing with being body shamed


Ileana D’Cruz, who bagged the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut (South) in 2006 for her turn in the Telugu drama Devadasu, repeated the feat six years later with her Bollywood debut, Anurag Basu’s acclaimed Barfi! Four years later, the 30-year-old actress, who features in two bigbudget ensemble films this ...

International »

`Brexit lunch` to assess talks progress


AFP, Brussels :Britain and the EU will wrap up four days of tough Brexit talks in Brussels on Thursday with a special lunch between their chief negotiators as major differences emerged on key points.The two sides remain far apart on the exit bill that the EU says Britain must pay ...

 
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