Guenter Grass is my hero, writer John Irving says

16th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

16 October 2007, Frankfurt (dpa) - US writer John Irving views Guenter Grass as a hero and role model, he said in an interview marking the German Nobel literature laureate's 80th birthday on Tuesday.

16 October 2007

Frankfurt (dpa) - US writer John Irving views Guenter Grass as a hero and role model, he said in an interview marking the German Nobel literature laureate's 80th birthday on Tuesday.

"Dickens made me want to be a writer - but it was reading The Tin Drum at 19 and 20 that showed me how," the author of The World According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire said.

"I marked certain passages in The Tin Drum and memorised the English translations. It turned out to be a way to meet girls," Irving told the German daily Frankfurter Rundschau.

The two authors have been friends for years and Irving often accompanied Grass on his reading tours in the United States.

At a dinner party in New York in the late 80s, Grass pulled Irving aside and told him that he was worried about him because he wasn't quite as angry as he used to be.

"I spent the rest of the night resolving that I would get angrier and stay angry. If my hero, my role model, the author who wrote campaign speeches for Willy Brandt, found me lacking in firepower, I needed to fan the flame."

Irving also repeated his defence of Grass over his belated disclosure that he was briefly a member of Hitler's Waffen SS during the latter part of World War II.

Many claimed that Grass' admission in his semi-autobiographical Peeling the Onion came to late, Irving wrote. "But a good author writes about the important things before he starts babbling secrets.

"A good author does not tell tales before he has written about them. This autobiography is a painful recognition. It is the moral resoluteness with which he makes himself responsible that gives his book of memories such a powerful echo."

Irving said he planned to attend Grass' birthday celebrations in his home town of Luebeck on Tuesday and in Goettingen the following week.

"It is my opinion that every writer who has truly read Guenter Grass is deeply indebted to him," he wrote. "I can say that for myself with absolute certainty.

Grass won the Nobel literature prize in 1999. His best-known work is The Tin Drum, allegorical novel set in the town of his birth, Danzig, now Gdansk in Poland.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article