Gunter Grass is. without doubt, the best known representative of postwar and contemporary German literature in the United States. A few random samples culled from reviews of Grass's work in this country may suffice to illustrate this point. In 1964, on occasion of the English translation of Hundejahre (Dog Years), Newsweek wrote: "Gunter Grass today is acknowledged as the author who put postwar German literature back in the world market. He is fast becoming a director of much of his country's creative movement, a keeper of old myths and new methods." The Tin Drum, the novel that so far has determined Grass's reception in this country-the voluminous and challenging The Flounder notwithstanding-was even credited with initiating "the rebirth of German letters." The recent film version of The Tin Drum contributed to a revival of interest in the novel; in 1982 the novelist John Irving stated: "Die Blechtrommel … has not been surpassed, it is the greatest novel by a living author.'' Irving continued in his praise of the author of The Tin Drum by claiming that "you can't be well-read today if you haven't read him. Gunter Grass is simply the most original and versatile writer alive." Although such lavish critical endorsement is not to be encountered in all quarters, at least one other segment of the reading public, the professional intermediaries of German literature, that is, the professors and teachers of German, seem to agree with Irving. In a literary opinion poll conducted by the Goethe Institute in Boston. Massachusetts, The Tin Drum ranked first among the professors' favorite works of postwar German literature. Curiously, The Flounder attained second place-ahead of such redoubtable works as Thomas Mann's Doctor Faustus, Heinrich Boll's Group Portrait with Lady, and Max Frisch's Homo Faber.
"From Admiration to Confrontation: Gunter Grass and the United States,"
University of Dayton Review: Vol. 17:
3, Article 2.
Available at: https://ecommons.udayton.edu/udr/vol17/iss3/2