Güinter Grass & a Hollow Tin Drum
Towering above the other ranks of the German intelligentsia who had been thrown into such panic and disarray by the Revolution of November 1989, was Günter Grass. Since the death of Heinrich Boll some years before, he had functioned indefatigably as the nation's literary conscience: liberal, voluble, reliable. In point of fact Grass had lost his equanimity a long time ago. Somewhere along the line he skipped into step with the radical-chic Left, that herd of independent minds who fashioned the agitprop priorities of the 1970s and '80s, and out of step with popular forces and, as it turned out, the logic of history. Only an autodidactic genius of German letters could take time off from the composition of a chef d'oeuvre to read his vast public grave lessons in history, politics, economics, and diplomacy. For the rest Grass has been seduced by styles and fashions, sometimes of his own wilful trend-setting.