Gunter Grass quotes

  • What I do is sometimes - at least in Germany - met with wounding campaigns. I always face the question: should I grow myself a thick skin and ignore it, or should I let myself be wounded? I've decided to be wounded, since, if I grew a thick skin, there are other things I wouldn't feel any more.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Skins #Germany #Campaigns

  • The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Jobs #Freedom #House

  • I expected more from literature than from real, naked life.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Real #Naked #Literature

  • It makes me realise that the fantasy of nature is much larger than my own fantasy. I still have things to learn.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Fantasy #Realising #Stills

  • As a child I was a great liar. Fortunately my mother liked my lies. I promised her marvelous things.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Mother #Children #Liars

  • Granted: I AM an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peep-hole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Eye #Sight #Blue

  • Even bad books are books and therefore sacred.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Book #Sacred

  • The human head is bigger than the globe. It conceives itself as containing more. It can think and rethink itself and ourselves from any desired point outside the gravitational pull of the earth. It starts by writing one thing and later reads itself as something else. The human head is monstrous.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Writing #Thinking #Mind

  • We already have the statistics for the future: the growth percentages of pollution, overpopulation, desertification. The future is already in place.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Future #Growth #Statistics

  • After the collapse of socialism, capitalism remained without a rival. This unusual situation unleashed its greedy and - above all - its suicidal power. The belief is now that everything - and everyone - is fair game.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Suicidal #Games #Rivals

  • Art is so wonderfully irrational, exuberantly pointless, but necessary all the same. Pointless and yet necessary, that's hard for a puritan to understand.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Art #Puritan #Irrational

  • I have found that words that are loaded with pathos and create a seductive euphoria are apt to promote nonsense.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Seductive #Nonsense #Found

  • I belonged to the generation that grew up under National Socialism, and was blinded and led astray - and allowed itself to be led astray.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Generations #Socialism #Grew Up

  • I did not volunteer for the Waffen SS, but was, as were thousands of my year group, conscripted. I did not then know as a 17-year-old that it was a criminal unit. I thought it was an elite unit.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Years #Volunteer #Criminals

  • I don't believe in writing at night because it comes too easily. When I read it in the morning it's not good. I need daylight to begin. Between nine and ten o'clock I have a long breakfast with reading and music.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Morning #Believe #Reading

  • What does a river like the Vistula carry away with it? Everything that goes to pieces: wood, glass, pencils, pacts ... chairs, bones, and sunsets too. What had long been forgotten rose to memory, floating on its back or stomach, with the help of the Vistula.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Memories #Sunset #Glasses

  • Art is accusation, expression, passion. Art is black charcoal crushing white paper.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Crush #Art #Passion

  • It's dangerous to watch staggering butterflies. They have a plan but it has no meaning.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Butterfly #Watches #Dangerous

  • How easily the routine of sin establishes itself.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Routine #Sin

  • Today I know that all things are watching, that nothing goes unseen, that even wallpaper has a better memory than human beings. It's not God in his heaven who sees everything. A kitchen chair, a clothes hanger, a half-filled ashtray, or the wooden replica of a woman named Niobe can serve perfectly well as an unforgetting witness to our every deed.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Memories #Clothes #Heaven

  • Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Things Change #Translations

  • Believing: it means believing in our own lies. And I can say that I am grateful that I got this lesson very early.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Lying #Believe #Grateful

  • Art is uncompromising, and life is full of compromises.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Art #Compromise #Life Is

  • People have always told tales. Long before humanity learned to write and gradually became literate, everybody told tales to everybody else and everybody listened to everybody else's tales. Before long it became clear that some of the still illiterate storytellers told more and better tales than others, that is, they could make more people believe their lies.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Lying #Believe #Writing

  • Where man had been, in every place he left, garbage remained. Even in his pursuit of the ultimate truth and quest for his God, he produced garbage. By his garbage, which lay stratum upon stratum, he could always - one had only to dig - be known. For more long-lived than man is his refuse. Garbage alone lives after him.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Men #Long #Quests

  • Everything bigger than life attracts a crowd.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Crowds #Bigger

  • Melancholy and utopia are heads and tails of the same coin.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Tails #Coins #Melancholy

  • In statistics, what disappears behind rows of numbers is death.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Death #Numbers #Statistics

  • [America is] the land where people find whatever they have lost.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Land #America #People

  • I was assigned to the Waffen-SS but was never involved in any crime. Besides, I always felt the need to write about my experiences in a larger context one day. This has only developed recently, now that I have overcome my inner aversion to writing an autobiography in the first place, specifically one having to do with my younger years.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Writing #Years #One Day

  • I had an uncle who was a postal official at the Polish post office in Gdansk. He was one of the defenders of the Polish postal service and, after it capitulated, was shot by the Germans under the provisions of martial law. Suddenly he was no longer a member of the family, and we were no longer allowed to play with his children.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Uncles #Children #Law

  • I catch myself judging myself as that 13-year-old boy, who, of course, rightfully points out that he is only a child. And my membership - well, I was drafted into the Waffen-SS and didn't exactly volunteer, which was just as idiotic. I wanted to be on the submarines and then ended up with the Waffen-SS.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Children #Boys #Years

  • I have heard my fill of hurtful words. I think it's especially egregious when citizens like me, who point out abuses in their country, are referred to as 'do-gooders.' This is how a phrase that can be used to stop an argument dead becomes part of common usage.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Country #Thinking #Abuse

  • If work and leisure are soon to be subordinated to this one utopian principle - absolute busyness - then utopia and melancholy will come to coincide: an age without conflict will dawn, perpetually busy - and without consciousness.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Age #Dawn #Principles

  • An empty bus hurtles through the starry night Perhaps the driver is singing and happy because he sings.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Night #Singing #Empty

  • I shall speak of how melancholy and utopia preclude one another. How they fertilize one another... of the revulsion that follows one insight and precedes the next... of superabundance and surfeit. Of stasis in progress. And of myself, for whom melancholy and utopia are heads and tails of the same coin.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Progress #Tails #Coins

  • Everybody knows how fallible memory can sometimes be. You remember certain fragments precisely, but as soon as you try to join the fragments together, for a story, there is a certain - not falsification, but a shifting.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Memories #Trying #Together

  • ...if I were asked to think up a new name for temptation, I should recommend the word 'doorknob', because what are these protuberances put on doors for if not to tempt us...
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Thinking #Doors #Names

  • ...I remain restless and dissatisfied; what I knot with my right hand, I undo with my left, what my left hand creates, my right fist shatters
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Hands #Left Hand #Fists

  • Today I know that all things are watching, that nothing goes unseen, that even wallpaper has a better memory than human beings.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Memories #Unseen #Today

  • When Satan's not in the mood, virtue triumphs. Hasn't even Satan a right not to be in the mood once in a while?
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Triumph #Satan #Virtue

  • You are vain and wicked- as a genius should be.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Wicked #Genius #Vain

  • When the young woman leans over the sky, about to water the flowers as well as the weeds, her white front splits open until her milk runs.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Running #Weed #Flower

  • If Jesus had been a hunchback, they could hardly have nailed him to the cross.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Jesus #Crosses

  • On sorrow floats laughter.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Laughter #Sorrow

  • Love That’s it: The cashless commerce. The blanket always too short. The loose connexion. To search behind the horizon. To brush fallen leaves with four shoes and in one’s mind to rub bare feet. To let and rent hearts; or in a room with shower and mirror, in a hired car, bonnet facing the moon, wherever innocence stops and burns its programme, the word in falsetto sounds different and new each time. Today, in front of a box office not yet open, hand in hand crackled the hangdog old man and the dainty old woman. The film promised love.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Heart #Moon #Men

  • And when the sun goes down and the mood comes upon me, I'll watch the play of the colors on the water, yield to the fleetly dissolving images, and turn into pure feeling, all soft and nice....
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Nice #Play #Yield

  • Everyone is born into a certain era. I wouldn't want to see anyone faced with the circumstances that prevailed at the time, when there were few or no alternatives.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Alternatives #Want #Eras

  • Who can deny that the environment has been destroyed?
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Environment #Deny

  • One of the mistakes the Germans made ... was that they were not brave enough to be afraid.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Fear #Mistake #Brave

  • Cemeteries have always had a lure for me. They are well kept, free from ambiguity, logical, virile, and alive. In cemeteries you can summon up courage and arrive at decisions, in cemeteries life takes on distinct contours -- I am not referring to the borders of the graves -- and if you will, a meaning.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Decision #Borders #Alive

  • What can you say about a guy who lets himself be saddled with a baby when he's thirty-five and losing his hair? Love? Forget about that till you're past seventy, and by then the parts will have stopped working anyway.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Baby #Past #Hair

  • We dance for the pure joy of it. In the kitchen to the record player. Because we've got it in us. All over ... it's not just in the legs. It comes from inside and runs all through you. In waves. From down below to up above. All the way to the scalp.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Running #Player #Joy

  • Can it be that action is active resignation? Something is trying to develop; it moves ever so slightly, and there comes your man of action and bashes in the hothouse windows.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Moving #Men #Trying

  • Students who don't want to get anywhere are sure to get somewhere.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Achievement #Want #Students

  • The patience of poverty. In rice fields, backs bent forever. Amazing, man outoxens the oxen and still smiles. The mystery of India, say Indologists.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Men #Oxen #Forever

  • What makes books - and with them writers - so dangerous that church and state, politburos and the mass media feel the need to oppose them?
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Book #Media #Church

  • So I have no grounds to complain; on the contrary, writers should consider the condition of permanent controversiality to be invigorating, part of the risk envolved in choosing the profesión. It is a fact of life that writers have always and with due consideration and great pleasure spit in the soup of the high and mighty. That is what makes the history of literature analogous to the development and refinement of censorship.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Risk #Literature #Soup

  • I am not faithful but I am attached.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Marriage #Faithful

  • I wept when the muse Ulla bent over me. Blinded by tears I could not prevent her from kissing me, I could not prevent the Muse from giving me that terrible kiss. All of you who have ever been kissed by the Muse will surely understand that Oskar, once branded by that kiss, was condemned to take back the drum he had rejected years before, the drum he had buried in the sand of Sapse Cemetery.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Kissing #Years #Giving

  • I have often supported Israel, I have often visited the country and want the country to exist and at last find peace with its neighbours.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Country #Israel #Want

  • Often I had to imagine the things I needed. I learned very early to read amidst noise. And so I started writing and drawing at an early age.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Writing #Drawing #Age

  • Lies that do not hurt, which are different from lies that protect oneself or hurt another person. That is not my business. But the truth is mostly very boring, and you can help it along with lies. There is no harm in that.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Hurt #Lying #Different

  • Writers know that sometimes things are there in the drawer for decades before they finally come out and you are capable of writing about them.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Writing #Sometimes #Drawers

  • In general, I agree with Jacob Grimm and feel that we ought to permit changes and uncontrolled growth in language. Even though that also allows potentially threatening new words to develop, language needs the chance to constantly renew itself.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Growth #Needs #Chance

  • My relationship with Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm reaches far back into my childhood. I grew up with Grimm's fairy tales. I even saw a theater production of 'Tom Thumb' during Advent at the State Theater in Danzig, which my mother took me to see.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Mother #Childhood #Thumbs

  • There must be reasons why we men are so hipped on breasts as if we'd all been weaned too soon.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Men #Breastfeeding #Reason

  • Melancholy has ceased to be an individual phenomenon, an exception. It has become the class privilege of the wage earner, a mass state of mind that finds its cause wherever life is governed by production quotas.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Class #Feelings #Mind

  • Information networks straddle the world. Nothing remains concealed. But the sheer volume of information dissolves the information. We are unable to take it all in.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #World #Information #Volume

  • Even if surrounded with explanations, Auschwitz can never be grasped.
    -- Gunter Grass

    #Auschwitz #Explanation