10 July, 2008

Günter Grass



Günter Wilhelm Grass was a Nobel Prize-winning German author and playwright.

He was born in the Free City of Danzig; now Gdańsk, Poland. Since 1945, he has lived in West Germany, but in his fiction he frequently returns to the Danzig of his childhood.

He is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum, a key text in European magic realism. His works frequently have a strong left wing, socialist political dimension, and Grass has been an active supporter of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. In 2006, Grass caused a controversy with his belated disclosure of Waffen-SS service during the final months of World War II.

English-speaking readers probably know Grass best as the author of The Tin Drum, published in 1959. It was followed in 1961 by the novella Cat and Mouse and in 1963 by the novel Dog Years, which together with The Tin Drum form what is known as The Danzig Trilogy. All three works deal with the rise of Nazism and with the war experience in the unique cultural setting of Danzig and the delta of the Vistula River. Dog Years, in many respects a sequel to The Tin Drum, portrays the area's mixed ethnicities and complex historical background in lyrical prose that is highly evocative.

Grass received dozens of international awards and in 1999 achieved the highest literary honour: the Nobel Prize for Literature. His literature is commonly categorized as part of the artistic movement of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, roughly translated as "coming to terms with the past."

In 2002 Grass returned to the forefront of world literature with Crabwalk. This novella, one of whose main characters first appeared in Cat and Mouse, was Grass' most successful work in decades.

Representatives of the City of Bremen joined together to establish the Günter Grass Foundation, with the aim of establishing a centralized collection of his numerous works, especially his many personal readings, videos and films. The Günter Grass House in Lübeck houses exhibitions of his drawings and sculptures, an archive and a library.

Grass died of a lung infection on April 13, 2015, in a Lübeck hospital at the age of 87. He was buried in a private family observance April 25 in Behlendorf  where he had lived since 1995.

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