Grass, Günter

Grass, Günter

▪ German writer
in full  Günter Wilhelm Grass 
born Oct. 16, 1927, Danzig [now Gdańsk, Pol.]
 German poet, novelist, playwright, sculptor, and printmaker who, with his extraordinary first novel Die Blechtrommel (1959; The Tin Drum), became the literary spokesman for the German generation that grew up in the Nazi era and survived the war. In 1999 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his accomplishments.

      In his native Danzig, Grass passed through the Hitler Youth movement and was drafted during World War II. As he revealed in 2006, he was called up to the Waffen-SS (the elite military wing of the Nazi Party) at age 17, two years after he had been refused as a volunteer for submarine duty. He was wounded in battle and became a prisoner of war in 1945. Later, while an art student in Düsseldorf, he supported himself as a dealer in the black market, a tombstone cutter, and a drummer in a jazz band. Encouraged by the writers' association Gruppe 47, he produced poems and plays, at first with little success. In 1956 he went to Paris and wrote Die Blechtrommel (filmed 1979). This exuberant picaresque novel, written in a variety of styles, imaginatively distorts and exaggerates his personal experiences—the Polish-German dualism of Danzig, the creeping Nazification of average families, the attrition of the war years, the coming of the Russians, and the complacent atmosphere of West Germany's postwar “economic miracle.” Underlying the anarchic fantasy is the moral earnestness that earned Grass the role of “conscience of his generation.” It was followed by Katz und Maus (1961; Cat and Mouse) and an epic novel, Hundejahre (1963; Dog Years); the three together form a trilogy set in Danzig.

      His other novels—always politically topical—include Örtlich Betäubt (1969; Local Anaesthetic), a protest against the Vietnam War; Der Butt (1977; The Flounder), a ribald fable of the war between the sexes from the Stone Age to the present; Das Treffen in Telgte (1979; The Meeting at Telgte), a hypothetical “Gruppe 1647” meeting of authors at the close of the Thirty Years' War; Kopfgeburten; oder, die Deutschen sterben aus (1980; Headbirths; or, The Germans Are Dying Out), which describes a young couple's agonizing over whether to have a child in the face of a population explosion and the threat of nuclear war; Die Rättin (1986; The Rat), a vision of the end of the human race that expressed Grass's fear of nuclear holocaust and environmental disaster; and Unkenrufe (1992; The Call of the Toad), which concerned the uneasy relationship between Poland and Germany. In 1995 Grass published Ein weites Feld (“A Broad Field”), an ambitious novel treating Germany's reunification in 1990. The work was vehemently attacked by German critics, who denounced Grass's portrayal of reunification as “misconstrued” and “unreadable.” Grass, whose leftist political views were often not well received, was outspoken in his belief that Germany lacked “the politically organized power to renew itself.” Mein Jahrhundert (1999; My Century), a collection of 100 related stories, was less overtly political than many of his earlier works. In it Grass relates the events of the 20th century using a story for each year, each with a different narrator.

      Grass was a long-time participant in Social Democratic Party politics in West Berlin, fighting for social and literary causes. When he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, there were many who believed that his strong, and sometimes unpopular, political beliefs had prevented him from receiving the prize far earlier. Grass's disclosure of his membership in the Waffen-SS, which came just before publication of his memoir Beim Häuten der Zwiebel (2006; Peeling the Onion), caused widespread controversy, with some arguing that it undercut his moral authority. He had previously claimed he had been drafted into an air defense unit in 1944.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Grass, Gunter — (10/16/1927 Danzig ) (Germany)    Graphic artist and writer. Best known as a novelist, he was also an accomplished artist. He is known to have created several erotic prints.    Source: Mitsuo Iiyoshi, [ From kitchen to bedroom: Gunter Grass s… …   Dictionary of erotic artists: painters, sculptors, printmakers, graphic designers and illustrators

  • Grass, Günter — (1927 )    Playwright. Grass was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1999 and is best known for his novels, but he wrote plays in the 1950s and 1960s. His short plays included Hochwasser (High Water, premiered in Frankfurt am Main, 1957);… …   Historical dictionary of German Theatre

  • Grass, Günter — ► (n. 1927) Poeta, novelista y dramaturgo alemán. Obras: El tambor de hojalata (1959), Años de perro (1963), La Ratera (1988), Malos presagios (1992), Madera muerta (1992), Es cuento largo (1997) y A paso de cangrejo (2002). Como autor teatral,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Grass, Gunter Wilhelm — ▪ 1996       In 1995 Günter Grass, Germany s best known living author, published Ein weites Feld ( A Broad Field ), an ambitious novel dealing with German reunification. The work became an instant best seller, as much for the fierce controversy… …   Universalium

  • Grass, Günter (Wilhelm) — (n. 16 oct. 1927, Danzig, Polonia). Novelista, poeta y dramaturgo alemán. Grass participó en la juventud hitleriana, se alistó a los 16 años y, herido en combate, fue hecho prisionero de guerra. Su extraordinaria primera novela, El tambor de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Grass, Günter (Wilhelm) — born Oct. 16, 1927, Danzig German novelist, poet, and playwright. Grass was involved in the Hitler Youth, was drafted at age 16 and wounded in battle, and became a prisoner of war. His extraordinary first novel, The Tin Drum (1959), brought him… …   Universalium

  • Grass — Grass, Günter …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Günter Grass — Günter Grass, 2004 Günter Grass (* 16. Oktober 1927 in Danzig Langfuhr, Freie Stadt Danzig) ist ein deutscher Schriftsteller, Bildhauer, Maler und Grafiker mit kaschubischen Vorfahren. Grass war Mitglied der Gruppe 47 und gilt als ei …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Günter Graß — Günter Grass (* 16. Oktober 1927 in Danzig Langfuhr) ist ein deutscher Schriftsteller, Bildhauer, Maler und Grafiker mit kaschubischen Vorfahren. Grass war Mitglied der Gruppe 47 und gilt als einer der bedeutendsten deutschsprachigen Autoren der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gunter Grass — Günter Grass Pour les articles homonymes, voir Grass. Günter Wilhelm Grass …   Wikipédia en Français

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