Bawer On Günter Grass

10 Apr

Gunter Grass

Gunter Grass

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The only sur­pris­ing thing about the anti-Semit­ic poem that Gün­ter Grass pub­lished last week, and that has cre­at­ed an inter­na­tion­al firestorm, is that he wait­ed so long to write such a thing. Anti-Semi­tism, after all, is all the rage these days among left-wing Euro­pean lit­er­ary intel­lec­tu­als (excuse the mul­ti­ple redun­dan­cy), and Grass has always prid­ed him­self on being in the fore­front of these trends, not being a Johann-come-late­ly.

Who is Gün­ter Grass, you ask? For decades after the 1959 pub­li­ca­tion of his first and most famous (and high­ly over­rat­ed) nov­el, The Tin Drum, he was described by admir­ers as the con­science of post­war Ger­many. His detrac­tors had oth­er words for him: smug, arro­gant, obnox­ious. Even Richard Gilman, a writer for the left-wing The Nation whom one might have expect­ed to cel­e­brate the guy, com­plained in 1982 about his lofty, hec­tor­ing tone, stat­ing:

Today there is no writer more swollen with self-impor­tance than Gün­ter Grass, who has begun to think of him­self as iden­ti­cal with the fates of Ger­man lit­er­a­ture, Ger­man pol­i­tics, and Ger­man mores. John Updike, for his part, saw Grass as a cau­tion­ary case for polit­i­cal­ly engaged writ­ers: he can’t be both­ered to write a nov­el; he just sends dis­patch­es from the front lines of his engage­ment.

Read it all…

Arti­cle by Bruce Baw­er.

© 2012 — 2017, Gabriel Thy. All rights reserved.

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