GUNTER GRASS PEELING THE ONION PDF

A great book chronicling the making of a writer, if you can forgive the man of the crucible that forged him. The revelation of the SS membership comes too late in the book. In our American schools, we learn a lot about WWII and the Holocaust, bu This book is nothing more than truly remarkable and fascinating. Grass can date precisely the end of his childhood: La forma barocca e pesante.

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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. Coming clean now, his adversaries charged, was no more than calculation - controlling the damage before others exposed the truth.

There were demands that Grass be stripped of his Nobel Prize. Peeling the Onion has now been translated into English. It demands far more thoughtful attention as a book than the barrage of attacks on Grass the man have allowed.

Slivers of thought. Things that hurt. This is a meditation on memory, cajoling in its honesty and yet openly deceptive. Things that left their mark. Other things too Memory is precise in its images, fuzzy in its testimony to the truth of them. Grass can date precisely the end of his childhood: the day the first shots of the war were fired in his home city, when German troops stormed the Polish Post Office and his uncle Franz, a Pole, never spoken of at home again, died defending it.

Hold the amber to the light and the preserved insect eventually becomes visible. The passing of time does not pay off the burden of remorse. As child becomes soldier, a different metaphor takes over the story. When his conscription letter comes in the summer of , its signature smudged and illegible, it takes him unknowingly to the Waffen SS. In the hopeless defence of Berlin, the first corpses he sees are Germans hanging from lamp posts, executed for desertion.

His war is a retreat across a phantasmagoric landscape as his comrades are butchered around him. Hiding in a dark wood, he sings in terror a catch from a nursery rhyme; it is answered by the fairytale figure of a veteran lance-corporal, whose name Grass never knows. He guides Grass back through the Russian lines only to have his legs blown off as he brings the boy to safety.

The lance-corporal has another function. Grass is wearing SS uniform; does he understand its significance? He exchanges it for a Wehrmacht jacket.

Does he do so of his own accord? If so, one could conclude he knew full well what the SS stood for. Thus is his unknowing bewilderment, complicit yet ignorant, precariously preserved. He dares us not to believe him. Can it really be true that after the war, in Dusseldorf, playing in a band, Louis Armstrong turns up one night and joins in? He is reunited with his family. His mother ascribes this miracle to fate, but Grass knows better.

Ostensibly, it concludes with the publication of The Tin Drum, but the energy has drained from it long before the end. Literature and memory cannot be deployed as evidence of historical events; their power lies in the subversion of the certainties they appear to offer. But memory, like the onion, does more than that. Loathes his shopkeeper father. Taken prisoner of war by the Americans. Robert Collins.

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GUNTER GRASS PEELING THE ONION PDF

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. Coming clean now, his adversaries charged, was no more than calculation - controlling the damage before others exposed the truth. There were demands that Grass be stripped of his Nobel Prize. Peeling the Onion has now been translated into English. It demands far more thoughtful attention as a book than the barrage of attacks on Grass the man have allowed. Slivers of thought. Things that hurt.

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