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Gunter Grass

  • German author
  • Born October 16, 1927
  • Died April 13, 2015

Günter Wilhelm Grass (German: [ˈɡʏntɐ ˈɡʁas]; 16 October 1927 – 13 April 2015) was a German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor, and recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature.He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). As a teenager, he served as a drafted soldier from late 1944 in the Waffen-SS and was taken prisoner of war by US forces at the end of the war in May 1945. He was released in April 1946. Trained as a stonemason and sculptor, Grass began writing in the 1950s.


My sister and I did not have our own rooms, or even a place to ourselves. In the living room, beyond the two windows, was a little corner where my books were kept, and other thing - my watercolors and so on. Often I had to imagine the things I needed. I learned very early to read amidst noise.




Even bad books are books and therefore sacred.

Even bad books are books and therefore sacred.




I don't believe in writing at night because it comes too easily. When I read it in the morning it's not good. I need daylight to begin. Between nine and ten o'clock I have a long breakfast with reading and music.




Our minds aren't bound by a chronological corset. When thinking and dreaming, past, present and future are mixed up. That's also possible for a writer.




Over the years, I had something in principle against autobiographical writing altogether because memory plays tricks on us, and we also tend to reinvent ourselves. But there comes an age when one begins to observe life, and there are things that need time to mature, also in terms of literary form.




The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.

The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.




A writer must face up to the test of reality, including political reality, and that can't be done if he keeps his distance. A literary style cultivated like a hothouse plant may show a certain artificial purity, but it won't really be pure.




No idea stays pure. Even the flowering of art isn't pure. And the sun has spots.

No idea stays pure. Even the flowering of art isn't pure. And the sun has spots.




Believing: it means believing in our own lies. And I can say that I am grateful that I got this lesson very early.




Lies that do not hurt, which are different from lies that protect oneself or hurt another person. That is not my business. But the truth is mostly very boring, and you can help it along with lies. There is no harm in that.




If we take into account the existence of our planet, we have to recognise that we are guests that spend a short and very determined period in this world, and all we leave behind is nuclear waste.




I think it's a shame that we have 'Bild' like you have the 'Sun'. Now serious newspapers like 'FAZ' and 'Spiegel' use a bit of the tone of 'Bild.' This is terrible.




When I am working on an epic-length book, the writing process is fairly long. It takes from four to five years to get through all the drafts. The book is done when I am exhausted.




Often I had to imagine the things I needed. I learned very early to read amidst noise. And so I started writing and drawing at an early age.




I was assigned to the Waffen-SS but was never involved in any crime. Besides, I always felt the need to write about my experiences in a larger context one day. This has only developed recently, now that I have overcome my inner aversion to writing an autobiography in the first place, specifically one having to do with my younger years.




I remember when I was writing 'The Tin Drum,' I had the totally misguided idea of giving Oskar Matzerath a sister, and he just wouldn't have it. There was no space for a sister, yet I had the character of the sister in my head. In fact I used her in later novels, in 'Cat and Mouse' and 'Dog Years,' Tulla Pokriski.




I have often supported Israel, I have often visited the country and want the country to exist and at last find peace with its neighbours.




With drawing, I am acutely aware of creating something on a sheet of paper. It is a sensual act, which you cannot say about the act of writing. In fact, I often turn to drawing to recover from the writing.



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