Von Auschwitz nach Calcutta : nationale Identität und die Begegnung mit der Dritten Welt in Texten von Günter Grass. / by Taekyu Yang.
This project investigates the Third World engagement of the German writer Günter Grass. A strong proponent of solidarity between the First and the Third World countries, Grass traveled widely in the Third World and incorporated his experience into his novels, travelogue, narrative texts and also into his visual art. Grass ascribes to literature the function of a new enlightenment without diminishing its autonomy. This position derives from his conviction that the European Enlightenment has undergone a process of degeneration in the course of history resulting in irrationalism and destructiveness, which is nothing less than a manifestation of the negative essence inherent in Enlightenment. Both his political and literary concern for the Third World are a means for reinventing a new national identity for Germans, which is to be defined, according to Grass, along the lines of “Kulturnation” opposed to the traditional “Staatsnation” based on political power. Grass justifies this concept of a “Kulturnation” by way of German history with its unique establishment of a national consciousness, which is different from that of other western nations. Especially remembrance of the darkest phase in German history, that of fascism, should be an important factor in charting a national identity for the future. Grass' engagement with the Third World comes to the fore at this moment of the projection of a new national identity for the future. The Third World is a vivid realization of the anticipated future of humanity at the present moment. Just as the German past throws a shadow over the present and the future with its collective guilt, the Third World represents itself as a yardstick, by which the rest of us should define our identity, both national and postnational. Confronting Central European subjectivity with both the temporal and spatial difference of the Third World, Grass challenges his readers to call into question their self-absorbed, narrow view of the universality of cultural values. By engaging ourselves with the Other, we may perhaps realize the plurality of our own identity and be prompted to reexamine our values inherited from the Enlightenment.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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