Günter Grass: Man Muss ins Herz Treffen

This interview with Grass, conducted by German newspaper, Die Zeit, is entitled “Man Muss ins Herz Treffen.”  Roughly translated, this means “One Must meet the Heart.”  Consequently, this interview is deeply personal and involves, among other things, the writing of Grass’ first full novel, The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel).  Further, Grass speaks on the topic of theater, a topic that Grass seldom is asked.  Among Grass’ most overlooked works are his plays, many of which were composed after The Tin Drum.

Günter Grass: Writing Against the Wall

Find here a lengthy (38 minute) video interview with Grass, conducted by Louisiana Channel.  Louisiana Channel is a Danish multimedia museum and archive whose literary mission is to document the thoughts of writers on the topic of writing.  In addition to Grass, they have interviewed Umberto Eco, Joyce Carol Oates, Patti Smith, and many others.

In this interview with Grass, Louisiana Channel probes deep: speaking to Grass on a large manner of things, including his involvement in the SS, Grass’ personal life, German reunification, the Holocaust, Grass’ feelings on his own works, and his writing process.  Grass also discusses his adoration of Albert Camus, Franz Kafka and Alfred Döblin.

The editor of this archive, Alex D. Cole, has transcribed this interview and his transcription can be found here.

A Political Introduction to Günter Grass

**Disclaimer: this post also appears on Discourses on Liberty**

-Alex Donovan Cole

The problems of modernity are indeed disconcerting, but they have always been with us.   Chiefly, modernity’s major problem is its lack of a readily apparent vital center for politics, whether in the form of a common identity or a common moral outlook.  This most often appears in the conflict between what Taylor calls “moral sources.”  According to Charles Taylor, “the drive to original vision will be hampered, will ultimately be lost in inner confusion, unless it can be placed in some way in relation to the language and vision of others.”[1]  The primary actor modernity concerns itself with, however, is the individual subject, making the possibility of this relation to “the vision of others” more difficult.

 

Taylor writes, “selfhood and the good” to the moderns “turn out to be inextricably intertwined themes.”[2]  Indeed, subjectivity allows an individual human being to evaluate claims regarding politics and personal ethics and pursue a lifestyle based upon their subjective understanding insofar as this lifestyle does not present a danger to others.  Despite the differences in moral outlooks, Taylor argues that the common claim of modernism is: “We…feel particularly strongly the demand for universal justice and beneficence, are peculiarly sensitive to claims of equality, feel the demands to freedom and self-rule as axiomatically justified, and put a very high priority on the avoidance of death and suffering.”[3] 

Continue reading