Grass Gunter




Günter Grass
Günter Wilhelm Grass, Gunter Grass, Guenter Grass

Ocotber 16, 1927 -

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He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). In 1945, he came as a refugee to West Germany, but in his fiction he frequently returns to the Danzig of his childhood.

He is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum, a key text in European magic realism and the first part of his Danzig Trilogy. His works frequently have a left wing, social democrat political dimension, and Grass has been an active supporter of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
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. Günter Grass


Haiku and Senryu

by Chen-ou Liu

reading Günter Grass...
I see a boy scurrying
backward and forward

Ls 2&3 allude to his 2002 novel, Crabwalk.
The book is a compelling account of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in January of 1945, the deadliest maritime disaster in history.

The title, described by Grass as "scuttling backward to move forward, refers to both the necessary reference to various events, some occurring at the same time, the same events that would lead to the eventual disaster."

Crabwalk, published in Germany in 2002
Im Krebsgang
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reading The Tin Drum --
I have a powwow solo
in the attic

The Tin Drum, first book of Danzig Trilogy, is one of the most highly acclaimed novels by Gunter Grass. It’s about a boy named Oskar who refuses to grow older, and who constantly lashes out at anything he dislikes with screams and poundings on his tin drum.


Gunter Grass's tears...
peeling the onion off
one layer at a time

The poem alludes to Gunter Grass’s 2006 memoir entitled Peeling the Onion. In the book, he shocked Germany and the readers around the word by confessing that “as a youth, late in World War II, he had served in the Nazi Waffen SS.”

The image of peeling the onion also makes a thematic allusion to Chapter 42, The Onion Cellar, of Grass’s most-read novel, The Tin Drum.

"But there was neither a bar nor a menu in the Onion Cellar. There was only one thing served in the club. Schmuh would don a silk shawl, disappear, and reappear with a basket on his arm. He would hand out cutting boards, shaped like either pigs or fish, to the customers, then paring knives. Then, he would hand each person an ordinary onion. At the signal, the customers would peel, then cut into the onions. The onions would make their eyes begin to water ...

‘.... it is not true that when the heart is full the eyes necessarily overflow, some people can never manage it, especially in our century, which in spite of all the suffering and sorrow will surely be known to posterity as the tearless century. It was this drought, this tearlessness that brought those who could afford it to Schmuh's Onion Cellar, where the host handed them a little cutting board - pig or fish - a pairing knife for eighty pfennigs, and for twelve marks an ordinary, field-, garden-, and kitchen-variety onion, and induced them to cut their onions smaller and smaller until the juice - what did the onion juice do?

It did what the world and the sorrows of the world could not do: it brought forth a round, human tear. It made them cry. At last they were able to cry again. To cry properly, without restraint, to cry like mad. The tears flowed and washed everything away. The rain came. The dew. Oskar has a vision of floodgates opening. Of dams bursting in the spring floods. What is the name of that river that overflows every spring and the government does nothing to stop it?’"
(p. 525)

Related words

***** Personal Names used in Haiku



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