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What do Germans think about when they think about Europe?

Jan-Werner Müller: Germany’s Europe, 9 February 2012

... saw the decline of the staunchly pacifist left (its most prominent intellectual supporter, Günter Grass, had said that a united Germany would inevitably turn into a ‘monster’). The group’s deepest fear was expressed on a steel-grey poster ominously announcing: ‘Germany is becoming more German.’ At the same time, the so-called New Right ...

What sort of Scotland?

Neal Ascherson, 21 August 2014

... feels the need to say: “I am a proud Scot.”’ The bus party was an idea I had borrowed from Günter Grass. In 1964, during a particularly dreary West German election in which nobody dared to speak their mind, he herded writers and artists into a bus and led them round the small towns of northern Germany. His intention was first to ask people what ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... Norman wasn’t well enough to do the event but he liked the idea of it, a joint event with Gunter Grass, which I chaired. Grass had just published a memoir called Peeling the Onion, an ill-judged little book in which he speaks of his youthful membership of the SS. The night before the event, ...

Prussian Blues

Fredric Jameson, 17 October 1996

Ein weites Feld 
by Günter Grass.
Steidl, 784 pp., DM 49.80, August 1995, 3 88243 366 3
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... place, preferring to live in West Berlin outside that dispensation, when not in outright exile. Günter Grass’s new novel, Eine weites Feld, proposes another solution, a more radical and scandalous one. The scandal predictably aroused the outrage of all those (and they were and are many) who thought that politics could now be abandoned once and for ...

Kiss me, Hardy

Humphrey Carpenter, 15 November 1984

Peeping Tom 
by Howard Jacobson.
Chatto, 266 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2908 5
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Watson’s Apology 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 222 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7156 1935 7
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The Foreigner 
by David Plante.
Chatto, 237 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2904 2
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... wife Camilla indulge in orgies of this: ‘We consigned to the flames or the waves one Gunter Grass, two John Fowles, a Nabokov, a John Berger, three Doris Lessings, a Gore Vidal, two John Barths, and the whole of Jorge Luis Borges.’ This impatience with literary artefacts means that he and Camilla are also veteran walkers-out at the theatre. ‘Before ...

Drowned in Eau de Vie

Modris Eksteins: New, Fast and Modern, 21 February 2008

Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond 
by Peter Gay.
Heinemann, 610 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 434 01044 8
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... Since then, according to Gay, the noteworthy protagonists of the modern have dwindled in number. Günter Grass, Gabriel García Márquez: when they are gone, the last vestiges of the modern will be gone. But then comes the epilogue, with Gay’s trip to Bilbao, and in the embrace of Gehry’s brilliance he finds a glimmer of hope. Modernism ‘has had a ...

‘Famous for its Sausages’

David Blackbourn, 2 January 1997

The Politics of the Unpolitical: German Writers and the Problem of Power, 1770-1871 
by Gordon A. Craig.
Oxford, 190 pp., £22.50, July 1995, 0 19 509499 9
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... he has written elsewhere, extolling the commitment of figures such as Hans-Magnus Enzensberger, Günter Grass and Heinrich Böll. And what became true later had, according to Craig, also been true earlier. The Politics of the Unpolitical performs a balancing act, praising the chosen writers of the decades before unification by criticising the ...

In the Opposite Direction

David Blackbourn: Enzensberger, 25 March 2010

The Silences of Hammerstein 
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, translated by Martin Chalmers.
Seagull, 465 pp., £20, 1 906497 22 2
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... is one of Germany’s leading public intellectuals. He belongs to the same generation as Günter Grass and Jürgen Habermas, although he has been less bien pensant, less predictable, than either. His early poetry, lyric verse with a strong political content, won him the Georg Büchner Prize and he is now widely regarded as Germany’s foremost ...

Experiments with Truth

Robert Taubman, 7 May 1981

Midnight’s Children 
by Salman Rushdie.
Cape, 446 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 9780224018234
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... country. It is partisan rather than diagnostic, and in comparison with radical satire of the kind Günter Grass brings to bear on modern Germany, Midnight’s Children may look inadequate to its subject. One recalls 18th-century satire, however, and the animus directed by Pope and Swift against some small, personal targets. There is satire that rises ...

Post-Modern Vanguard

Edward Mendelson, 3 September 1981

After the Wake: An Essay on the Contemporary Avant-Garde 
by Christopher Butler.
Oxford, 177 pp., £7.95, November 1980, 0 19 815766 5
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... of novelists who prefer to say as little as repetitiously as possible. Butler says nothing about Günter Grass, nothing about the younger Latin American writers whom Gabriel Garcia Marquez plausibly described as the best alternative to the sterility of the nouveau roman. Thomas Pynchon appears only in lists of names, and Gravity’s Rainbow, arguably ...
A Mania for Sentences 
by D.J. Enright.
Chatto, 211 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 7011 2662 0
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The Mirror of Criticism: Selected Reviews 1977-1982 
by Gabriel Josipovici.
Harvester, 181 pp., £16.95, June 1983, 0 7108 0499 7
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In the Age of Prose: Literary and Philosophical Essays 
by Erich Heller.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £20, January 1984, 0 521 25493 0
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... and begins to sound like J.B. Priestley at the wartime microphone: ‘In their new books’ Günter Grass and Heinrich Böll ‘have both turned into what in my childhood were called “worrits”. Since we can worry well enough for ourselves, and in any case lack no assistance or guidance from newspapers and television, this may strike us as ...

On the Salieri Express

John Sutherland, 24 September 1992

Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... Cold War’. In addition to Bradbury’s invented personages the conferees include Martin Amis, Günter Grass and Susan Sontag (she skips one of the later conferences in the narrative, on the grounds that there is something more interesting going on in Northern Italy). Bradbury’s Villa Barolo is funded by the American Magno Foundation – offspring ...

Between Worlds

Edward Said: A memoir, 7 May 1998

... incompletely harmonised, aspects of what, cumulatively, I appear to have stood for. A phrase by Günter Grass describes the predicament well: that of the ‘intellectual without mandate’. A complicated situation arose in late 1993 when, after seeming to be the approved voice of the Palestinian struggle, I wrote increasingly sharply of my ...

Dirty Little Secret

Fredric Jameson: The Programme Era, 22 November 2012

The Programme Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing 
by Mark McGurl.
Harvard, 466 pp., £14.95, November 2012, 978 0 674 06209 2
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... into something called ‘magic realism’, this American speciality – whether adopted by Günter Grass or Salman Rushdie or the authors of the Latin American boom – has been promoted into a genuinely global genre, and we glimpse, outside the confines of an American Programme Era, the outlines of some wholly different world system of letters ...

Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... leaves that ludicrous enterprise in ruins, and he shows no hesitation about declaring Gunter Grass’s recipe-crammed novel, The Flounder, to be pretty thin fare; his own consumption of it, he confesses, was ‘spurred on by no other hunger than the puritanical craving to leave a clean plate’. Up until now, Updike has generally stayed away from his ...

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