Monday, July 09, 2007


peeling grass

i first read gunther grass novels a very2 long time ago. in fact when i was in the second year uni ...oh seems like a hundred years ago. i remember reading the tin drum while munching on bread rolls with cold cuts and gerkhin pickles . we were on one of our ecology field excursions and i remember we were counting population of different species of flies and assorted insects on cow pats in a meadow under the shadow of pine trees. and the entomology professor was grumbling about the pine trees being slowly killed by by sirex wasps . and he glanced at what i was reading and glanced at a girl student -lisa hulse- beside me, reading one of those ian fleming's james bond's series and i remember he tsk tsk-ed at lisa and looking at me and said 'now here's a guy who knows about books'...i remember like it was yesterday. or may be my memory played trick on me , could it be during one of those times when we were growing lupins for our agronomy class? but never mind, the point is, i started reading gunther grass since a long while back.

and i still love his writings... dog years, the flounder, meeting at telgte, crabwalk and so on and so forth...and i have all of his major writings in my library and i hope to read them all one of these days...and so i was very excited when his memoir was published last year amid a lot of controversy because he admitted that he was once a member of the SS. and now that the english translation "peeling the onion" is just published i will certainly look for it.

now here's the interesting thing. him being a mere boy at that time , i would understand that joining the SS , however repulsive it may seem now (in retrospect of course) it was just one of those activities any normal german boys were perhaps expected to do and probably have nothing to do with his idealism or support for nazism as such, but many find this very2 offensive. he was criticised for hiding this fact for so long and only willing to come out and admit at such a late stage.

in this review of the book it was mentioned that:

When Peeling the Onion was published in Germany last year, Gunter Grass faced a hailstorm of disdain after he revealed that in the dying months of the Second World War he had been enlisted, aged 17, into the Waffen SS.


There were demands that Grass be stripped of his Nobel Prize. Lech Walesa, that other great son of Danzig/Gdansk, called for Grass's honorary citizenship to be revoked.

Not exactly on par with the fatwa on salman rushdie's head of course but the jury's response is basically the same. except that when muslims criticize salman's behaviour everybody are up in arms but when influential people criticize grass, nobody feels anything wrong with it. perhaps grass already anticipated the reaction so it was really good of him to keep it a secret until those guys give him the nobel first!....

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?