82-year-old writer Günter Grass is famous for writing such works as The
Tin Drum, a wildly imaginative novel depicting a dwarf confined in an
insane asylum, and for revealing, after a life spent as a left-wing
critic, that he had served in the Waffen-SS during World War II. Grass
is somewhat less known as a foe of reading on computers. He takes on
this new role in an interview with Der Spiegel
urging fellow writers to bar their works from the iPad until "a law
protecting authors becomes effective," he broadens his attack to all
I would like to
put a stop to this movement toward reading on computers, but it seems
that nobody can do this. Nevertheless, the drawbacks of the electronic
process are already apparent during the writing of the manuscript. Most
young authors write directly on their computers, and then edit and work
in their files. In my case, on the other hand, there are many
preliminary steps: a handwritten version, two that I've typed myself on
my Olivetti typewriter and, finally, several copies of versions that my
secretary has input into the computer and printed out, and into which
I've incorporated many handwritten corrections. These steps are lost
when you write directly on the computer.
Later on in the interview, Grass addresses the more serious question of his relationship with the Waffen-SS:
SPIEGEL: Can you think of any other mistakes you have made during your life?
Grass: In my case, as everyone knows, I was seduced by the Hitler Youth
in my younger years. I make this abundantly clear in my book "Peeling
the Onion." I suppose I derived a certain immunity to any ideological
posturing from that mistake.
In "Grimms' Words," you address your time with the Waffen-SS once
again, and you describe your swearing-in on a clear, cold winter's
night. You were 17 at the time. Do you also count that moment among the
mistakes in your life?
It was not a misdeed on my part. I was drafted, as many thousands of
others were. I didn't volunteer for the Waffen-SS. The end of the war
liberated me from the pledge of blind obedience. After that, I knew
that I would never take an oath again.
[Hat tip: The Browser
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