Günter Grass

It's hard to take seriously the expressions of shock and disdain at Günter Grass's recent revelation that he was, very briefly in the last months of the war when he was 17, a member of the SS. It's not as though we hadn't known that he was a Nazi sympathizer as a youth or that he had served in the armed forces (in an anti-aircraft unit initially). He had reserved this embarrassing added detail, as he told interviewer Hermann Tertsch in El País, until he was ready and had found a way to tell it. But in fact his most famous work is all about coming to terms with, and unsuccessful denials of, the unacceptable past. That in any event is the theme that came through most strongly in the novel I just finished reading, Dog Years.

I had picked up this novel just by chance, a week or so before Grass reappeared in the headlines for his new memoir. Now I want to read its predecessors in the Danzig Trilogy, The Tin Drum and Cat and Mouse. (Little by little and author by author, I'm trying to make up for my cultural deficits.)

See Günter Grass - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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