Citizen Grass

A Biography

Original Title: Bürger Grass

original edition

Hardcover with jacket, 480 pages, 15.0 x 22.7 cm, 5.9 x 8.9 in.
ISBN: 978-3-570-00576-7
€ 24.99 [D] | € 25.70 [A] | CHF 33.90 * (* rec. retail price) recommended retail price
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Publishing House: C. Bertelsmann

Date of publication: September 5, 2002
This title is available.

 

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Rights sold to: Korea*, Romania* (*rights available again)



Michael  Jürgs - Citizen Grass
 
 
 

 

A revised biography of Günter Grass – Nobel Prize winner and internationally acclaimed author

The Nobel Prize winner, regarded by some as an authoritative teacher and by others as the conscience of the nation, has not only confronted past and present German history in what he writes but has always been active in political events himself. He was the first writer to leave the ivory tower deemed appropriate for his kind, travelling the country as a speaker on behalf of Willy Brandt and drumming up support for the SPD. His friendship with Brandt survived even those times when their political opinions differed. Citizen Grass always remained uncompromisingly honest, whether opposing the Grand Coalition and the Extra-Parliamentary Opposition, the Stalinists of the German Democratic Republic or the Nazis in his own country. He was against rearmament and the SPD compromise on the asylum question, he commits himself to the cause of persecuted writers in both east and west, and he can speak as knowledgeably about Brecht and Shakespeare as he can about the “milk pfennig”, coal mining and the North-South conflict.

As a result, even those who thought everything he said outrageous have listened to him. He was not against German unification, but he spoke up for those who lost out on the deal. Among those who regularly ask his advice is Federal German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

He can write – novels, poems, plays, speeches – he can draw and he can paint. This sculptor in language will be seventy-five this year. He has enemies such as Marcel Reich-Ranicki and Rudolf Augstein, friends like John Irving and Salman Rushdie. The landmarks in his life – his birth in Danzig on 16 October 1927, the international fame he achieved with his first novel The Tin Drum in 1959, the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, etc. – can be looked up in the reference books, but no biography has yet tackled the subject properly.

There are two reasons for that. First, the sheer quantity of his work is daunting, for Grass was and still is tirelessly active every day. Second, he is wary of all attempts to reveal and describe, behind the larger-than-life Titan, Günter Grass the man – father of six, grandfather of fifteen, a sensualist whom many women have loved, a petit-bourgeois by conviction, a local patriarch, married for the second time and living in the country near Lübeck.

This biography of Citizen Grass draws on interviews with more than fifty people who have played a part in his life and have been his companions or opponents. It is also based on many intensive conversations with Günter Grass in his studio and on a meticulous search for the clues to his Danzig childhood, spent between the Holy Ghost and the picture of Hitler. It is thus – very much in the spirit of the brilliant novelist himself – not a dry academic account of his works, but a combination of the many stories that go to make up the life story of Günter Grass, and through him the story of Germany after 1945.

"What a risky venture it is to portray one of the most outstanding contemporary writers. Michael Jürgs has succeeded in doing so with flying colours."

Die Welt

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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