Biography of Gunter Grass
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Gunter Grass is a German poet, novelist, playwright, sculptor, and printmaker. Grass describes himself as a "Spataufklarer", a belated apostle of enlightenment in an era that has grown tired of reason ("Gunter"). He was born in Danzig, Germany (currently Gdansk, Germany) on October 16, 1927. Grass wrote his first unpublished novel when he was only thirteen. Like many teenagers during World War II, Grass was a member of the Hitler Youth. He served under Luftwaffe when he was drafted at age sixteen. Grass was wounded and became a prisoner of war under American forces, but he survived. After the war, he worked as an apprentice to a stone cutter and as a drummer. From 1944-1946 he was also a farm laborer and a miner.
Gunter Grass studied art in Dusseldorf. He supported himself by dealing in the Black Market. Grass was also a tombstone cutter, and he played in a jazz band. He used the little free time that he had to write, spending his earlier years writing mostly plays. Grass's plays were said to have been "absurd" and "approaching aesthetic nonsense (Wilpert 308)." He started using the influence of Bertolt Brecht and wrote his most popular and most controversial play, The Plebians Rehearse the Uprising: A German Tragedy.
Grass studied in West Berlin at the academy of Fine Arts in 1948. He made many journeys to Italy, France, and Spain in the 1950's. In 1954 he married Anna Margareta Schwartz. Grass settled in West Berlin in the early 1960's. In 1978 he divorced Schwartz, and only a year later he married Ute Grunert.
In 1955 Gunter became a member of Gruppe 47, he later described it in one of his books. The writers' association encouraged him, and he started to produce his poems and plays. His first poetry was published in 1956 and he produced his first play in 1957. In 1956, he went to Paris, it was there where he wrote Die Blechtrommel, translated to Tim Drum. This was his first and most famous novel. The novel is a distorted exaggeration of Grass's own life in Danzig. This fact-based novel depicts the Nazification of average German families. The story tells of the postwar "economic miracle." Tin Drum has been translated into all major European languages and is well known all around the world. In 1979 they made his novel into a movie.
Many of the novels that Grass is well known for are politically based, though it appears that he virtually ignores the Holocaust and the experiences of the Jews. He wrote Ortlich Belaubt (Local Anaesthetic) which was a protest against the Vietnam War. Grass later wrote Katz and Maus (Cat and Mouse) and the epic novel Hundejahre (Dog...