From the diary of a snail by Gunter Grass

From the diary of a snail by Gunter Grass

German fiction

Translator -Ralph Manheim

Source –  personnel copy

Well it’s here again German lit month and this is my first offering a Gunter Grass I have reviewed cat and Mouse by him Before ,so won’t say much about him ,He has won the Nobel prize for literature  in 1999 and is known for quite outspoken at time and being  controversial as well his latest following comments about Israeli  .But he has also campaign for social reform and the social democrats in Germany .This is where this book from the diary of a snail .

This book seems a very personal book looking into Gunter Grass back story ,he was quite close to Willy Brandt (at time he meet he was starting to campaign to be chancellor of Germany ) so from 1961 Grass had worked for something called the political election forum of German writers .This book in the main part follows the narrator that is part of Brandt’s election team as they follow the election of him as chancellor  ,this is also coupled with a story of a Jew during the second world war  in the home city of Grass in Danzig .I ve also wondered a about Willy Brandt from the time I spent in Germany I know how well-regarded he was almost mythical so some glimpse I got by this book where interesting .Also another view of Danzig during the second world war was interesting his great trilogy is also based there but was from a German perspective , not a German Jewish perspective like this book .The title is also a view of how politics work slowly like a snail but also is maybe symbolic we see slugs and snails crop up through out the prose .

For me the election campaign began in a drizzle on the lower Rhine .In the Kleve town hall I spoke on “twenty years of federal Republic ” a speech which afterwards lost weight in some towns ,put a topical fat in others ,and never came to a full stop .

Early on read this and knew I d love it as I lived in Kleve for a year

So after the book visiting a town I had lived in I was gripped .I am a fan of Grass not the man himself I do find he is someone the maybe like the myth of himself and also to be in the public eye a lot .But this has all the classic marks of his writing the Danzig war setting is a theme that has cropped up in a lot of his books ,as has social commentary a book ,like “my century ” also touched these subjects .Maybe not the book to begin a journey with Grass as it is complex but it is also a personal book with the strong first person narrative in the present well the Brandt campaign you feel this is grass himself not a character ..Grass has since published two vols ‘(in english ) of an autobiography the third to come some time soon but due to the nature of the book a dictionary of Grimm’s words that tally to Grass life it will be a while to translate . I shall be reading peeling the onion part one of the collection soon and will see if the character in this book is Grass .

Have you read this book ?

Do you think Grass is maybe a bit outspoken ?

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tony
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 23:08:48

    Definitely, outspoken, but I like his writing. I think his mistake was publishing a poem outlining his views. If he has an opinion, he’s entitled to it (although some people disagree), but publishing it as literature is just asking for trouble…

    I’ve enjoyed the two I’ve read, but (in German) he is hard work for me. I’d like to read ‘Hundejahre’ / ‘Dog Years’ (and this one!) to have more of the Danzig books under my belt, but I saw that it is again very long 😦


  2. Caroline
    Nov 02, 2012 @ 16:46:02

    This sounds interesting. I have only read The Tin Drum. I loved hos writing. He had some very negative press this year and not all of it was unjustified. Too bad.
    I guess he really is one of those where you have to focus on the work and forget about the man. At least for the time being.


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  6. Sancho
    Nov 02, 2013 @ 12:01:56

    I’ve got a fairly old copy of a translation of this book and at the start it says certain passages have been omitted for British legal reasons, I was wondering what these reasons might be and what laws these are?


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November 2012


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