Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Günter Grass in quotes

Günter Grass
Poster by Triunfo Arciniegas

Günter Grass in quotes: 12 of the best

The Nobel prize-winning author, whose life and works reflect the traumas of 20th-century German history, had much to say about memory, integrity and guilt. Here are some of his best quotes

Günter Grass, the Nobel prize winning novelist playwright and poet, has died aged 87. No stranger to controversy, the writer, who was born in the Free City of Danzig – now Gdansk in Poland – also offered plenty of pithy opinion about life, work, art and society. Here are 12 of his most memorable quotes. If you would like to contribute more, please add them in the comments.
Even bad books are books and therefore sacred. ―From The Tin Drum, 1959

No idea stays pure. Even the flowering of art isn’t pure. And the sun has spots. All geniuses menstruate. On sorrow floats laughter. In the heart of roaring lurks silence. ―From Dog Years, 1963
Art is uncompromising and life is full of compromises. ―Quoted by Arthur Miller in the Paris Review, 1966
Melancholy has ceased to be an individual phenomenon, an exception. It has become the class privilege of the wage earner, a mass state of mind that finds its cause wherever life is governed by production quotas. ―From From the Diary of a Snail, 1972
If work and leisure are soon to be subordinated to this one utopian principle – absolute busyness – then utopia and melancholy will come to coincide: an age without conflict will dawn, perpetually busy – and without consciousness. ―From From the Diary of a Snail, 1972
Art is so wonderfully irrational, exuberantly pointless, but necessary all the same. Pointless and yet necessary, that’s hard for a puritan to understand. ―From a New Statesman and Society interview, 1990
We already have the statistics for the future: the growth percentages of pollution, overpopulation, desertification. The future is already in place. ―From a New Statesman and Society interview, 1990

Believing: it means believing in your own lies. And I can say that I am grateful that I got this lesson very early. ―From BBC documentary Günter Grass: Fiction at the Frontier, 1992
Memory likes to play hide-and-seek, to crawl away. It tends to hold forth, to dress up, often needlessly. Memory contradicts itself; pedant that it is, it will have its way. From Peeling the Onion, 2006
I was silent. Because so many others have kept silent, the temptation is great … to shift the blame onto the collective guilt, or to talk about oneself only figuratively in the third person: He was, saw, did, said, he kept silent … From Peeling the Onion, 2006
The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.
I’m always astonished by a forest. It makes me realise that the fantasy of nature is much larger than my own fantasy. I still have things to learn. ―From a Guardian interview, 2010


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