Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
In this extraordinary memoir, Nobel Prize-winning author Gunter Grass remembers his early life, from his boyhood in a cramped two-room apartment in Danzig through the late 1950s, when The Tin Drum was published.

During the Second World War, Grass volunteered for the submarine corps at the age of fifteen but was rejected; two years later, in 1944, he was instead drafted into the Waffen-SS. Taken prisoner by American forces as he was recovering from shrapnel wounds, he spent the final weeks of the war in an American POW camp. After the war, Grass resolved to become an artist and moved with his first wife to Paris, where he began to write the novel that would make him famous.

Full of the bravado of youth, the rubble of postwar Germany, the thrill of wild love affairs, and the exhilaration of Paris in the early fifties, Peeling the Onion -- which caused great controversy when it was published in Germany -- reveals Grass at his most intimate.

432 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2006

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Günter Grass

335 books1,392 followers
Novels, notably The Tin Drum (1959) and Dog Years (1963), of German writer Günter Wilhelm Grass, who won the Nobel Prize of 1999 for literature, concern the political and social climate of Germany during and after World War II.

This novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, and sculptor since 1945 lived in West Germany but in his fiction frequently returned to the Danzig of his childhood. He always identified as a Kashubian.

He is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum (1959), a key text in European magic realism. He named this style “broadened reality.” “Cat and Mouse” (1961) and Dog Years (1963) also succeeded in the period. These three novels make up his “Danzig trilogy.”

Helene Grass (née Knoff, 1898 - 1954), a Roman Catholic of Kashubian-Polish origin, bore Günter Grass to Willy Grass (1899 - 1979), a Protestant ethnic German. Parents reared Grass as a Catholic. The family lived in an apartment, attached to its grocery store in Danzig-Langfuhr (now Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz). He has one sister, born in 1930.

Grass attended the Danzig gymnasium Conradinum. He volunteered for submarine service with the Kriegsmarine "to get out of the confinement he felt as a teenager in his parents' house" which he considered - in a very negative way - civic Catholic lower middle class. In 1943 he became a Luftwaffenhelfer, then he was drafted into the Reichsarbeitsdienst, and in November 1944, shortly after his seventeenth birthday, into the Waffen-Schutzstaffel. The seventeen-year-old Grass saw combat with the 10th Schutzstaffel panzer division Frundsberg from February 1945 until he was wounded on 20 April 1945 and sent to an American prisoner of war camp.

In 1946 and 1947, he worked in a mine and received an education of a stonemason. For many years, he studied sculpture and graphics, first at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and then at the Universität der Künste Berlin. He also worked as an author and traveled frequently. He married in 1954 and from 1960 lived in Berlin as well as part-time in Schleswig-Holstein. Divorced in 1978, he remarried in 1979. From 1983 to 1986 he held the presidency of the Berlin Akademie der Künste (Berlin Academy of Arts).

During the German unification process in 1989 he argued for separation of the two states, because he thought a unified Germany would resume its past aggression. He moved to the northern German city of Lübeck in 1995. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999. In 2006, Grass caused controversy with his disclosure of his Waffen-Schutzstaffel service during the final months of World War II, which he had kept a secret until publishing his memoir that year. He died of complications of lung infection on 13th of April, 2015 at a Lübeck hospital. He was 87.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
539 (28%)
4 stars
738 (38%)
3 stars
469 (24%)
2 stars
123 (6%)
1 star
39 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 216 reviews
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
January 15, 2019
It must be the onion!

Why else would I feel my eyes fill with tears?

Finishing the tale of Günter Grass' layers of life, leading to that first sentence, that ominous first sentence that started the Tin Drum, that made Oskar Matzerath the master of the Grassian mind, I feel deeply, deeply touched.

Günter Grass grew up in Danzig, but before he published his first masterpiece, the city had ceased to exist in the way he knew it. He was taught to become a faithful member of Hitler's youth organisation, and before finishing school, aged 16, he volunteered to become a soldier, preferably a u-boat hero fed on Schiller's misinterpreted poem that haunted Böll too, to the point of cutting it in half on an imaginary blackboard in front of dying soldiers: "Wanderer, kommst du nach Spa..."

Instead of heroic death in the ocean, he was assigned Waffen-SS, and eternal shame once he understood, and took in, what that meant and stood for. Dulce et decorum non est, pro patria vivere!

Peeling the onion, he tries to accurately remember his own, individual problems as a teenager in chaos and war, and what comes to light is no grand pathos or big idea, but a threefold HUNGER! First, second and third hunger. The first one not stilled when he attended an abstract cooking class as a prisoner of war, the hunger for food, the basis in Maslow's pyramid. The second, never stilled for long: sexuality awakening to torture and delight and embarrass the young man. The third hunger: for art, for drawing, for sculpture, and later, once the first sentence was found, for literature. A neverending love story.

Grass is brutally honest about his inability to remember the boundaries between life and fiction, and consistently fails to see whether a situation is true in the factual sense of the word, or just in the sense that it served as a story to feed and satisfy his most urgent hunger, the third one. His life seems mainly to take place in order to decorate the stories he tells, and not vice versa. Oskar Matzerath is a greater authority in Grass' memory than the boy he once was, and a louder voice and drummer.

Reading his autobiography therefore is like reading the biography of his fictional characters, the somewhat awkward real life that was not enough to satisfy the artist's hunger is a sideshow, set at a dramatic time in German history.

The reader's hunger only grew while peeling the onion, and the drum sets the pace!
Profile Image for Helen.
Author 12 books223 followers
December 10, 2015
Gunter Grass died last night, and I am in mourning. Discovering his writing was like discovering a new uncle, one who spent WW2 on the wrong side of the war.

I read this book aboard an El Al flight to Israel, where those of us who knew and loved my mother were gathering at the cemetery in Beit Shemesh to dedicate the headstone in her memory.

Mom lived through many of the same events that Mr. Grass describes--though from the other side of the border. While he was idolizing Nazi submarine commanders and singing songs with the Hitler Youth, while he was enthusiastically volunteering to join the German Navy, Mom was running for her life, escaping from SS roundups of Polish Jews.

Peeling the Onion reveals, on page after page, that The Tin Drum is largely an autobiography, as seen through the distancing lens of a poet. This makes it even more miraculous; how many among us could take the events of our own lives and shape them into a metaphor for a whole country?

He confesses to everything. Yes, he was in the SS as a seventeen-year-old private. Yes, he, along with most of Germany, happily supported Hitler. Though he knew the Jews were being deported from Danzig, he never wondered where they were going. This, in fact, is his greatest regret as he looks back at that complacent young man growing up in Nazi Germany; he never asked any questions about anything.

This beautiful book, as poetic as anything fictional he has ever written, details the chain of events that turned Gunter Grass from an obedient SS soldier into one of the great voices for healing in the last century. He accomplishes this by pulling back the covers and exposing what is hidden in the dark, in a voice that is by turns funny, grieving, sly, sexy, sacrilegious, haunted, and finally, unforgettable.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,856 reviews1,370 followers
April 13, 2015
They had tried doing it by themselves in her room with a cheap onion, but it wasn't the same. You needed an audience. It was so much easier to cry in company. It gave you a real sense of brotherhood in sorrow when to the right and left of you and in the gallery overhead your fellow students were all crying their hearts out. The Tin Drum

The Goodreads/Amazon imbroglio only shocked me by being so predictable. Not to sound like a hungover Schopenhauer, but decay and disagreeable ends are to be expected, aren't they? When Herr Grass acknowledged that he'd been in the SS, my knees did feel weak. I did call most everything into question, then I kept on. Grass was in NYC shortly thereafter, he gave a reading from Peeling The Onion and my best friend Joel attended, bought me copy and had the author sign such. I was moved by his memoir. I suffer from being human myself. Dark times place everything in crisis. Normal metrics distort and blur.
Profile Image for Nate H..
79 reviews56 followers
May 1, 2015
The other day I listened to an interview with the american writer Charles Baxter where he said of Bulgakov's Master and Margarita ''it's one of those books that has Everything in it''. That phrase came to my mind when I finished this one by Gunter Grass. It's as if is a big container where Everything is thrown in. Un libro TOTAL.
Profile Image for Martin Iguaran.
Author 2 books295 followers
July 24, 2021
En esta memoria Grass nos relata su infancia en la ciudad de Danzig (una ciudad con un régimen político especial, pero cuyos habitantes se identificaban como alemanes), su adolescencia, sus experiencias en la guerra y la posguerra. Esta publicación fue muy polémica puesto que solo en 2006 Grass reveló que había peleado como parte de las Waffen SS, la rama militar de las SS, el escuadrón de la muerte nazi. Grass ocultó esto durante 60 años, mientras criticaba duramente a los alemanes por no reconocer el horror del Holocausto.
Profile Image for Kunal Sen.
327 reviews46 followers
July 27, 2019
In 1975, in my college days, I saw Gunter Grass for the first time in my family’s living room in Calcutta. He came to see my father, a filmmaker. At that time we just knew him as a German writer who wrote The Tin Drum.

Later I heard from some people who expressed their disapproval of him as a Nazi, who fought for the Germans in World War II. That’s what prompted me to read this book, as I wanted to know what he had to say about his past.

I am no longer a college kid, and I try not to draw simple conclusions from choices people make under circumstances that I will never fully understand. This book once again confirmed my conviction that we are far more complex creatures than what a simple ideology would allow. I could see why a 15 year old German can become a fan of Hitler, how he can join the war efforts, how he can believe everything he hears from the official propaganda, and how he can remain oblivious of what is happening in the name of progress.

Gunter Grass doesn’t try to justify anything. He doesn’t claim he is innocent. He does not expect us to forgive him. He just wants us to see at the world through his eyes, and he does it very successfully. A wonderful read.
Profile Image for Shane.
Author 11 books252 followers
November 5, 2010
Reading this intriguing memoir, I wondered why Grass wrote it. To expiate himself from the crimes of the Waffen SS to whom he had been attached at the tender age of 17? To pin down events before a fading memory lost them forever? Or to take the high road and cling to the claim that he never fired a shot during the war, but was shot and bombed to hell and back as a member of a defeated German army in the dying months of WWII, and therefore deserving to hang on to his Nobel Prize for Literature that everyone wants to take away from him because of his infamous past associations?

Motives apart this memoir is truly a portrait of the consummate artist as a young man, and a primer on the conditions that gave rise to his art. From a two-bedroom flat where as a child he had a makeshift room under a window ledge from where he painted and sketched, to his brainwashing in the Hitler Youth organization on the glories of pre-war Germany, replete with Olympic victories, the Hindenburg Zeppelin and the magnificence of Mercedes Benz (an experience similar to those of insular kids in other past empires who were raised to believe that the sun rose and set on their nation and that everyone else lived in darkness), to his war time misadventures, to his long rehabilitation as a POW, and then as a struggling artist in an impoverished post-war Germany, this book offers a fresh perspective on the war—a German one—where not every German is a bad guy, and where German women (Grass’s mother being one) were raped by the victorious Allied armies, just like all conquering behemoths have done throughout history irrespective of their stripes.

Grass uses the onion metaphor for memory, peeling back the layers that sweat and bring out tears. He also uses the opposite symbol of amber that freezes objects within as it encases translucently, like memory frozen around certain events.

Towards the end of the war, the illusion of the glorious Nazi Germany unravels for young Grass, again like the proverbial onion, and he defies the administration by pissing into the coffee he delivers to his senior SS staff leaders. If the world is making a case that Canadian Omar Khadr was brainwashed as a child to be a killer, then we have to cut young Gunther some slack. After all, in his words, he didn’t even fire a shot! He even played cards with a fellow inmate, one Joseph Ratzinger, while in prison – perhaps that should buy him some additional indulgences!

I was intrigued by the life described by Grass in post-war Germany, from its bombed-out, black market-ridden blight in 1945 to the flourishing of art, material wealth and order that quickly followed despite the occupation by Allied forces and the partitioning of the country into East and West. In this shift, Grass quickly graduates from brain numbing mine work to gourmet cook to jazz drummer to art student to sculptor to poet to novelist, in Dusseldorf and later in Berlin - a great re-integration from a wounded POW suffering from hunger for months on end.

The final part of the book reveals the images that led to his creation of the character Oskar Matzerath, in The Tin Drum, the novel that launched his career as a Nobel Prize winning writer. Oskar epitomizes the damaged child of Germany who emerged between its two wars and is a collage of different people and situations that Grass encountered during those early postwar years: his own drumming in the three-piece jazz band, the child of a friend who rudely interrupted a party by banging on a tin drum, and his hunchbacked art teacher – all ingredients that go into the making of the memorable Oskar.

In the end, Grass leans on his faulty memory for escape from thornier issues and mixes up sequences while still recounting key events with exacting detail, slumping into third person whenever the memory is too painful. But throughout, his writing remains bold, rhythmic and honest—even to the point of once describing his private parts as resembling those of Caravaggio’s Cupid!

A great book chronicling the making of a writer, if you can forgive the man of the crucible that forged him.

Profile Image for Serbay GÜL.
206 reviews41 followers
March 15, 2019
Grass'ın başına işler açan otobiyografik kitabı Soğanı Soyarken tam bir günah çıkarma, sıkıntıları dökme girişimi niteliğinde. Kitabın ismi muhteşem bir metafor; soğan hayatı , soğanın her bir bölümü de hayatından parçalar. Böyle bir hayatı anlatırken de tabi ki cesaret isteyen soğanı soyma eylemi gözleri yaşartıyor. Daha çocuk sayılacak yaşta genç nazilere katılışını anlatıyor , hem de lafı dolandırmadan, nasıl gönüllü ve isteyerek katıldığını üstüne basa basa belirtiyor bizlere ve sonrasında gelen o korkunç pişmanlığı da. Kendisini tanıyanlar az çok hayatını biliyor zaten. Esir düştüğü dönemlerden sanata olan ilgisinin gelişimi hakkında bütün detaylar kitabın içerisinde bulunmakta. Ayrıca diğer eserlerindeki karakterlerin ve hikayelerin de hayatındaki yaşanmışlıklardan beslenip ortaya çıktığını da bir çok bölümde belirttiği referanslarla aktarıyor. Utancın , pişmanlığın , çocukluğun ve ergenliği getirdiği yanlışların samimi bir şekilde anlatıldığı muhteşem bir otobiyografi örneği.
Profile Image for Indrė Šadvilaitė/Knyga yra mama.
112 reviews35 followers
March 6, 2019
G. Grass memuarus skaičiau gana įdomiai. Autorius atvirai kalba apie ryškiausius savo gyvenimo momentus: menininko kelią, kareivio dalią, meilės kelius ir klystkelius. Giliai apmąstomi žmogaus jausmai: kaltė, baimė, ateities tikslų kūrimas, svajonės.
Prisiminimuose išsakyti jausmai ne tik apie kolektyvinę kaltę ir gėdą dėl genocido, bet ir asmeninio gyvenimo skauduliai: šeimyniniai santykiai, meilės ryšių mezgimasis ir griuvimas. Apskritai, gana aiškiai perteiktas bręstančio vyro pasaulis: nuo abicijų, gėdų, norų, dvasinių ir fizinių geidulių, bandymų save realizuoti ir įvairių trauminių patirčių.
Memuarai įdomūs ir dėl kultūrinio konteksto: vaizdingi pasakojimai apie to meto vokiečių menininkus (jų kūrybą, gyvenimo būdą bei kelius, kaip prasimušti į menininkų gretas). Gerbiu autorių už atvirumą.
Profile Image for Ava.
157 reviews206 followers
December 12, 2015
اولین کتابی بود که از گونتر گراس دست گرفتم و نمی تونم بگم انتظارات من رو از یه برنده ی نوبل بر آورده کرد. شاید یکی از دلایل اش اتو بیوگرافی بودن این کتاب بود. نا خود آگاه توو خوندن اتو بیوگرافی قضاوت میاد توو ذهنم و راجع به نویسنده اش قضاوت می کنم. شاید به این دلیل که انتظارات زیادی از همچین آدمی تو ذهنم دارم.هر چند از صمیم قلب شجاعت اش رو قابل تحسین می دونم.

"در حال کندن پوست پیاز" نه کتاب پر کششی بود و نه کتاب خوبی. کتاب متوسط و قابل تحملی بود که ارزش یه بار خوندن رو داشت. این که از اول از جنگ و فقر و بیچارگی و استیصال گفت و توو پایانش از عشق و از خوشبختی، گفتم که موفق بوده چه روزایی گذشته و به چه جاهایی ختم شده.چه خوبه که آدم همین آدمی باشه که ذره ذره خودش رو ساخته و تراشیده. این قدر الان از خودش مطمئن و راضیه که می تونه به بزرگ ترین اشتباهاتش هم اعتراف کنه.چه کتاب تلخ و چه کتاب پر از امیدی.

اون قدرها صادقانه نبود این کتاب. خیلی جاها خودش رو تو جیه کرد و خیلی جاها خود خواه و بی احساس بود. جنگ اصلا توو این کتاب اون جنگ کتاب های سلین و یا جنگ کارای بل نبود. جنگ بود . همین. خیلی هم پذیرفته شده و روز مره و کشدار. گشنگی تووش مهم بود و زنده موندن و فرار. خیلی خود محور بود و خیلی ... شاید باید بگم سرد. اما مادر.مادرش نور امید بود.شاید تمام اون احساسی بود که گونتر گراس رو نویسنده کرد.

اگه کتاب دیگه ای تو اولویت ندارید، انتخاب بدی نیست.

آذر نود و چهار
بین چله ی زود وبی حسی مدام
Profile Image for Stephanie Griffin.
876 reviews111 followers
April 29, 2008
Günter Grass is one of the best novelists to come out of Germany. In PEELING THE ONION, Grass’ memoir of his life up until the 1959 publishing of his first major novel, THE TIN DRUM, he reflects on the objects, people, and situations that ultimately wove their way into his stories. As in the peeling of an onion, one layer leads to the next, but all are part and parcel of the whole, which is his life.

It helps if one is familiar with Grass’ writings before reading this memoir. I myself have read THE TIN DRUM, and I found this memoir fascinating in the revelations of what was behind some of the details in that wonderful story. The style is almost free-flowing reminiscing, but in the end Grass masterfully wraps it all together as if carefully closing up the onion layers he had slowly peeled away.

I love Grass’ writing. It feels like he is speaking directly to me. It’s as if we were talking over a cup of coffee. He isn’t a perfect man and he expects us to understand that without having to make excuses. I’m so glad he wrote this book!
Profile Image for Mohsen Rajabi.
248 reviews
December 21, 2014
همزمان باید به این کتاب هر پنج نمره را داد: هم ضعیف است، هم بد نیست، هم خوب است، هم واقعا خوب است و هم شاهکار.

کتابی است سخت خوان. به شدت سخت خوان. در زیر بارش کمرتان هم می شود. سرتان درد می گیرد و چشمانتان به سوزش می افتد.
مدام باید با کتاب راه بیایید. تحملش کنید، تحملش کنید و تحملش کنید.
تجربه عجیبی بود برای من، خواندن این کتاب. نویسنده در حال کندن پوست پیاز است، و شمای خواننده هم باید این پیاز را پوست بکنید. لایه لایه کنید، و مهم نیست چند بار این پیاز را کنار می گذارید تا بروید چشمانتان را بشویید، هر بار، هنوز دست نگرفته، از چشمانتان اشک به راه می افتد.

از آن طرف، در حال خواندن کتاب، در حال کندن لایه های این پیاز است، که با ماجرای عجیب زندگی گونتر گراس آشنا می شوید... ماجرایی که فکر نمی کنم حالا حالاها از خاطره تان برود...

در خواندن این کتاب محتاط باشید، ممکن است تا مدت ها چشمانتان بسوزد.
Profile Image for خُزامَى.
127 reviews47 followers
December 12, 2015
تمنيت لو قرأت رواياته قبل البدء بها، الترجمة ثقيلة نوعا ما، علاقته بأمه كانت أروع ما في حياته..باﻹضافة أنه عاش في كفوف الفن متنقل من مكان ﻵخر و من علاقة ﻵخرى.
Profile Image for Aurimas Nausėda.
363 reviews27 followers
July 11, 2018
Knyga apie pastabaus žmogaus, patiriančio nacizmo "smegenų plovimą", karo žiaurumus, patirtis ir lėtą, bet daug rašymo patirčių reikalaujantį proveržį į Vokietijos rašytojų gretas. Įdomu skaityti Nobelio premijos laureato mintis apie parašytų knygų epizodus, autiobiografines įžvalgas.
Profile Image for Peter Beck.
112 reviews34 followers
July 8, 2019
This is the perfect book for understanding Germany's most influential writer of the 20th Century. All I really knew about the Nobel Prize winner was that his most famous book, "The Tin Drum" was considered a difficult read. I also remembered the stir his autobiography created when it came out because Grass admitted for the first time that he had served in the Nazi Waffen-SS, albeit as an (eager) 17-year-old who was injured before he could harm anyone.

Grass is a great storyteller, with experiences that provoke both laughter and sadness. His efforts to plumb the depths of his memories ("peeling the onion") is fascinating and something that we can all relate to. In many ways his book reminded me of reading Vladimir Nabokov's "Speak, Memory" when I took a Nabokov class at U.C. Berkeley. But unlike Nabokov, Grass explicitly draws the links between his life and his books, which make them more accessible. Grass discusses the books that influenced him the most, including Graham Greene's "The Heart of the Matter," which I happened to be reading at the same time!

The most amazing thing I learned about Grass was that before he became a writer, he was an accomplished poet, musician (who even got to play with Louis Armstrong), dancer and sculptor. Even though the book only covers up to the writing of "Tin Drum," he relates what happens to key family members, so there is a sense of closure. This is also a great book for better understanding how Nazi Germany could have so many "willing executioners" as well as its rapid rise from the ashes.
Profile Image for Ricardo Munguia.
417 reviews5 followers
April 2, 2022
Libro autobiográfico del autor que abarca desde su infancia en Gdansk hasta la publicación de su célebre libro "El tambor de hojalata" en el año de 1959. Un increíble y crudo retrato de la Alemania de la posguerra desde una perspectiva que no siempre es visible que es la de los vencidos y de las personas que fueron víctimas al ser parte del régimen que propicio uno de los eventos más devastadores del siglo pasado.

De su infancia nos cuesta sobre su familia y las filas con su padre, de su incorporación a las juventudes hitlerianas y su indoctrinacion al nazismo (que fue un proceso involuntario, pero con cierto convencimiento), su participación en la guerra como de milagro consiguió sobrevivir y ser llevado a un campo de prisioneros, de su trabajo como minero y su incursión en la escultura en la Academia de Dusseldorf, su labor como tallador y sus viajes que le dieron su formación de dibujante, su participación en una banda de jazz y por último de su primer matrimonio y su labor como escritor, primero de poesía y después de ensayo y prosa. Todos estos sucesos hacen de su vida algo fascinante y están adornados con descripciones de los grandes pintores italianos quienes admira desde su infancia, y por supuesto de los platillos y sabores de su vida, que a lo que he visto nunca pueden faltar en sus libros.

Después de leer su historia, me queda claro muchas cosas de las que suceden en "El tambor de hojalata", pues varios capítulos básicamente son transcripciones de su vida pero encarnadas en los personajes de la novela, pero también se encuentran aquí las semillas de historias como la de "El gato y el ratón" y "Años de perro" (que me falta leer), y mucho de su poesía y su teatro. Además el libro tiene una particularidad y es que por momentos habla de si mismo en tercera persona, como si se desprendiera de sus recuerdos, el título de hecho proviene de una hermosa e interesante reflexión, y que es los recuerdos son como la piel de las cebollas, que se van formando por capas y cuando uno quiere evocarlos es como si los fuera pelando, pero la mayoría de los recuerdos se mezcla con nuestras fantasías por lo que llega un punto en el que no podemos estar seguros de que tan verídicos son nuestros propios recuerdos.

Ahora, este es un libro denso y lleno de alegrías, por lo que su lectura, como la mayoría de sus libros, requiere de tiempo. Pero no se siente pesado y a diferencia de otros de sus libros me pareció ameno y digerible, pero creo que para encontrarle el gusto es necesario haber leído previamente varios de sus libros. El final creo que es un poco precipitado, pero como el bien dice, creo que le faltaron (y con todo derecho) ganas de contarlo. Si te interesa un libro donde se retrate parte de la Alemania de la posguerra, en donde mucho de lo que se habla es de la miseria y de la condición humana, y estás familiarizado con la obra del autor, creo que este libro vale la pena que le eches un ojo y como mencioné, si te llama la atención lo anterior pero no has leído nada de él, te recomiendo que leas un poco de su obra antes de tomar reste volumen. Muy recomendable.
Profile Image for Alejo López Ortiz.
130 reviews33 followers
July 18, 2021
No soy lector de biografías. Y aunque pienso mucho por qué opté por leer la de Günter Grass, no encuentro respuestas. Fue, en todo caso, una pésima idea. Debo admitir sin embargo, que el inicio de la obra me sedujo bastante. Su niñez en Danzig (hoy Gdansk), una antigua ciudad alemana, hoy Polaca y que en el periodo de entreguerras fue una ciudad libre, bajo el mandato de la Sociedad de Naciones, mezcla todo una serie de sentimientos de alguien que vio estallar la II Guerra Mundial en sus narices, rápidamente incorporado en las fuerzas nazis y que hace que para mí, al menos en sus primeros capítulos, la obra sea toda una experiencia de un soldado, participante en la guerra, en el bando de los perdedores y que nos recuerda como la confrontación en la mente de los soldados, los que ponen su carne para ser fustigada, está muy alejada del discurso a veces xenófobo, a veces beligerante, a veces racista, de sus oficiales y los líderes militares que le conducen. La guerra es sin duda uno de los peores daños a la humanidad, no solo por su capacidad de destrucción física, sino por la enorme disposición a poner al frente de los cañones ciudadanos que no son conscientes del enorme significado simbólico que carga su presencia en los campos de enfrentamiento.

En todo caso, luego de acabada la guerra, Grass navegará por su vida, por la descripción de una Alemania posguerra y los avatares de la vida de un ex soldado, un hermano y un hijo. La vida de artística de Grass se va moldeándose para ser, en definitiva, y gracias a aquel regalo en su segundo matrimonio, la de un excelente escritor. Aquella faceta que nosotros conocemos de él.

Lamento mucho la calificación y mayor aún que no haya sido de mi gusto la obra. No obstante, el principal error, como en otras lecturas que han sido igual de frustrantes, ha sido mío. Elegir libros cuyo perfil se aleja de mis gustos literarios y no saber abandonar una obra cuando definitiva no la disfrutas, es uno de los peores errores de un lector cualquiera. Sin embargo, y como en su obra, ahí estuve, para pelar con Grass la cebolla de su vida, de sus miedos y de los golpes que retumban en su consciencia.

Profile Image for Silvia.
131 reviews5 followers
April 22, 2023
Ho lasciato trascorrere un po' di tempo dall'uscita di quest'opera autobiografica, la giusta distanza per provare a leggerlo con occhio imparziale. La scrittura è piana e pacata, molto densa e segue la cadenza dei ricordi con un fluire apparentemente casuale. Raccontare di una generazione segnata dal nazismo non è facile, la vergogna di aver fatto minimamente parte di questo orrore si percepisce nel racconto con viva forza anche quando le parole sono quasi sussurrate.
Profile Image for Tom.
Author 1 book43 followers
October 2, 2016
Almost gave up on mister Grass and his most peculiar style of writing, especially during the rather cumbersome part about his war experiences. In the end though, I feel like this is a very special book by a very interesting author. Grass has lived an artists life which I imagine might be virtually impossible to live nowadays, living through the worst of times only to come out on top through the pursuit of his many hungers, which include women, art and food.

Throughout the book, Grass is peeling his onion, which is a sort of metaphor for the exploration of memory. He's exaggerating throughout, sometimes inventing versions of stories and other times immediately admitting to his own faulty memories. He tells of his time as a young man in the Hitlerjugend, his struggle to find a job after the war and the making of his artistic career. It makes for fascinating reading, often about love, politics and social issues, but most of all about regret: about time wasted, women left unloved and little Austrian men with antisemitic sympathies left unchallenged. Grass does not mention the Holocaust often, but when he does, the book strikes a nerve.

In the end, though, 'Peeling the Onion' is just a wonderful memoir, much like that of Elias Canetti, relating an incredibly rich life and thus constituting a genre of its own. We can learn a lot from books like this, I'm sure. A very high 3,5 out of 5.
Profile Image for Jafar.
728 reviews234 followers
July 10, 2008
Gunter Grass’s autobiography. This was a very interesting read after The Tin Drum. You slowly see how some events of the novel were influenced by his own life, and how many characters of that novel were based on the real people in his life. I couldn’t help comparing this book with Nabokov’s Speak Memory. Nabokov’s autobiography mostly disappointed me in spite of the good writing. This was far better. Grass tells the story of his eventful life in some really great writing.

Grass caused a controversy with this book by revealing that he had served in Waffen-SS for a short period towards the end of the War. Apparently, for many years he’s been quite critical of Germany’s treatment of its wartime past, so this late-by-60-years admission smelled of hypocrisy. While a wartime teenager’s volunteering for SS can be forgiven as a product of hormones and inexperience, such late admission by an intellectual heavyweight who’s been passing moral judgments cannot be so easily justified. As another reviewer said here, a literary master like Grass can easily attempt to manipulate his readers into sympathizing with him and forgiving him. I don’t think Grass tried to do that. We do stupid things. We end up with contradictions. We try to hide it. And we falter morally. Who hasn’t been there?
Profile Image for Baris Ozyurt.
820 reviews33 followers
February 24, 2021
“ Bir pazar günü -‘Pazar çocuğusun sen,’ derdi hep, içinden sürünerek, bağırarak çıktığım annem; erken yaşlarından beri kompleksinden vazgeçmeyen çocuğun, o ana kuzusunun on dört yaşındayken bile kucağına oturduğu annem; zenginlik ve şöhreti, sıcak ülkeleri, cennet vaat edercesine vaat ettiğim, bu konuda yeminler ettiğim, hayaller sunduğum annem; borcu olanların borçlarını küçük taksitlerle tahsil etmemi –‘Cumaları çalmalısın kapılarını, haftalıklarından ellerinde bir şey kalmış olur o zaman’- bana öğreten annem; benim uyutulmuş iyi vicdanım, bastırılmış kötü vicdanım olan annem; gitgide çoğalan kemirgenler gibi içinde büyüyen kaygılara ve korkulara neden olduğum annem; alacaklarımızı toplayarak kazandığım parayla Anneler Günü'nde elektrik ütüsü -yoksa kristal kâse miydi?- hediye ettiğim annem; ben, salak çocuk, gönüllü olarak askere yazıldığımda uğurlamak için gara gelmeyen -‘Seni ölüme yolluyorlar’- annem; Köln'den Hamburg'a trenle giderken, Ruslar olanca vahşetiyle gelince neler yaşadığını sorduğum, ama tek kelime etmeyen -‘Kötü olan her şey unutulmalı...’- annem; bana skat oynamayı öğreten, ıslattığı başparmağıyla kâğıt paraları ve yiyecek kuponlarını sayan annem; on parmağıyla piyanoda ağır ağır akan parçalar çalan ve kendisinin okumadığı kitapları benim için yan yana dizen annem; üç erkek kardeşinden geriye sadece orta büyüklükte bir bavulu ancak dolduran şeyler kalan ve bende erkek kardeşlerini bulan -‘Bütün bunlar sana Arthur ile Paul'den geçmiş, biraz da Alfons'tan...’- annem; yumurta sarıma şeker karıştıran annem; ben sabunu ısırdığımda gülen annem; Doğu'dan gelen sigaralar içen ve ara sıra dumandan halkalar üflemeyi başaran annem; bana, pazar günü doğan çocuğuna güvenen -bu yüzden Güzel Sanatlar Akademisi'nin yıllığının hep aynı sayfasını açan, annem; bana, oğulcuğuna her şeyi veren ve pek az şey alan annem; benim sevinçlerimin ve kederlerimin vadisi olan, eskiden yazdığımda ve şimdi yazarken, ölümünden sonra bile, omzumun üstünden bakıp ‘Sil şunu, çirkin olmuş,’ diyen -ama ben onu pek dinlemezdim, dinlediğim zamansa artık çok geç olurdu- annem; beni sancı çekerek doğuran ve sancı çekerek ölürken ara vermeden yazabileyim diye özgür bırakmış olan annem; benimle, sadece benimle yolculuklara çıkabilsin ve güzellikleri, sadece güzellikleri görebilsin, sonun da, ‘Bunu da görebildim ya, ne güzel, ne güzel,’ diyebilsin diye beyaz kâğıdın üzerinde öpüp uyandırmak istediğim annem; annem, benim annem 24 Ocak 1954'te öldü. Ama ben sonra ağladım, çok sonra.” (s.321)
Profile Image for Marisa Fernandes.
Author 2 books41 followers
June 23, 2017
Não dou cinco estrelas, mas são quatro estrelas e qualquer coisa. E não dou* apesar de considerar que, de todos os livros lidos de Günter Grass até à data (contei seis com este incluido), este é, sem sombra para dúvidas, o melhor. É declaradamente auto-biográfico.

Neste livro Grass confessa-se. Confessa aquilo que muitos alemães, que viveram a Guerra, procuraram ocultar dos outros e de si próprios no pós Segunda Guerra Mundial por vergonha: pertenceu às SS. O seu papel não foi relevante nas SS, mas ainda assim integrou-as e isso foi o bastante para se sentir culpado, envergonhado com isso, sentimentos que o acompanharam toda a vida. Até ao último dia.

Neste "Descascando a Cebola" ficamos também a compreender a relação existente entre as obras de Grass e a sua vida. Cada uma delas quase que tem, ou tem mesmo, algo de auto-biográfico. É uma leitura interessante, sobretudo para aqueles que pretendam conhecer um pouco da "psique" alemã mais recente.

* - Porque tive momentos em que achei que o autor se esgotou em alguns temas, como a imperiosa necessidade de satisfação de desejo sexual do autor, uma vez terminada a Guerra. O tema podia ser abordado, sim -somos humanos de carne e osso - , mas creio que o foi de forma excessiva e isso tornou-se, para mim, aborrecido... E essa foi uma das críticas feitas aquando da publicação na Alemanha e é, no meu entender, justificada.
Profile Image for Andrew.
1,989 reviews700 followers
August 27, 2014
The modern American memoir has decayed into mawkish, simpering shopworn confessionalism-- the sort of thing that was embarrassing back when Sylvia Plath scrawled "Daddy, Daddy, you bastard I'm through," and now is almost beneath reproach.

Fortunately, the fine tradition of the memoir as a catalyst for deep introspection and irony and exploration of larger themes is alive and well in Herr Grass' version. Here was a guy who did it all, and has to face the fact, again and again, that for a bit, he was not only one of the bad guys, he was one of the really bad guys.

That being said, he's not that apologetic. He talks about being in the Waffen-SS in the same way I talk about my time as a stoner layabout at the same age. For a man who has spent the better part of a century wagging his finger at the German people for their inability to come to terms with their own history (and getting a Nobel for the same), he is a hypocrite of the highest order, hiding his past, and then not coming to terms with his own history in the public forum that he seems to have created specifically for coming to terms with his own history.
66 reviews
April 15, 2013
Overcome with emotions, I have a hard time putting his memoir down. I am lost in my reading. In some parts I'm saddened because he has abandoned his belief in a personal God with finality. Curiosity also gets hold of me, especially when he talks of his adolescent urges and liaisons, his ambitions, the books and paintings that have transformed him. But I'm depressed when he talks about the war, or when he chooses to skip some very important parts, like what happened to his family while he was away. He does write about it, albeit scantily.

Not once during the few years she had left did my mother ever so much as drop a hint or utter a word that might indicate what had gone on in the empty shop, in the basement, or in the apartment, nothing that might indicate where and how often she had been raped by Russian soldiers. It was not until after she died that I learned—and then only indirectly from my sister—that to protect her daughter she had offered himself to them. There were no words.

Sometimes the loudest narratives are the ones untold.
Profile Image for Zane Neimane.
88 reviews8 followers
June 15, 2021
Neparasta autobiogrāfija, kas pati ir literārs darbs. Grass atklāti apraksta savu pieredzi hitlerjūgendos un SS. Viņš cīnās ar visur esošo klusēšanu par to, ka daži cilvēki pazūd. Mēmums padara viņu traku. Viņš nesaka - es biju tikai bērns. Viņš apzinās, ka bija daļa no visas klusēšanas.

Pēc kara Grass apraksta sagrauto pasauli un sagrautos cilvēkus. Viņš stāsta par savu izsalkumu, kas sākumā ir pēc ēdiena, tad pēc sievietes, bet beigās - mākslas. Un ar pēdējo neiet viegli. Savas gaitas viņš sāk, kaļot kapakmeņus. Viņš krogos iemācās smēķēt un runā par visa esošā mestamību, jo eksistenciālisms tajā brīdī ir kruts. Viņš atrod sievu un nokļūt līdz rakstniecībai.

Vienlaikus viņš atceras gan būšanu SS, gan savu pārējo dzīvi, lobot sīpolu. Un mēs zinām, kā iet ar sīpolu aiztikšanu. Birst asaras. Pat zinot visus notikumus, vienmēr galvenais ir tas, kā viņš raksta. Un tas ir brīnišķīgi.
Profile Image for S©aP.
405 reviews74 followers
October 31, 2012
Non conoscevo Grass e non è stato amore a prima vista. La forma barocca e pesante. Un compiacimento lessicale a volte stucchevole; altre disgustoso. Metafore troppo liriche. Periodare lungo, articolato, complesso. Insistenti domande retoriche. Una pressante autoreferenzialità, da scrittore affermato. Qualche immagine efficace e originale. Lo sguardo su una Germania post-bellica, e povera, resta l'unica occasione curiosa di questo testo; per conoscere. La seconda metà del libro, più scorrevole, non mi indurrà comunque ad acquistare i romanzi (forse avrei dovuto cominciare con quelli?). Il prezzo della copertina rigida è eccessivo, a mio giudizio, per questa lettura.
Profile Image for Sorin Hadârcă.
Author 3 books213 followers
January 22, 2018
Günter Grass e un om cu multe sertărașe pe care le deschide pe rând. Ce scoate din ele numai el știe. Se simpatizează vădit, uneori atât de tare încât e de prisos să-l simpatizezi și tu. Chiar și așa, omul e mare cât o epocă, iar conținutul unor sertare mai doscnice e fascinant peste măsură.
Profile Image for ....
103 reviews22 followers
December 23, 2014
مذكرات ممتعة..الأن تشجعت لقراءة الطبل الصفيح رواية غراس المشهورة
Profile Image for Jim.
2,054 reviews673 followers
August 31, 2020
The first volume of German author Gunter GrassGunter GrassGunter Grass's biographic trilogy -- Peeling the Onion -- covers the 1940s and 1950s, with occasional jaunts into later decades before rubber-banding back.

I found the first half of the book to be the best, covering Grass's childhood and wartime experiences, including a stint in the Waffen SS on the Eastern Front. As soon as the war ends, Grass seems to lose focus (which is understandable) as he vaguely moves toward a career in the arts, though he is not quite sure which one. I rate the first half of the book five stars, the second as three stars. So I've averaged the two.
Profile Image for Dagnija Lace-Ate.
237 reviews12 followers
February 15, 2021
Jāatzīst, kad Grasu fragmentāri lasīju Berlīnē vāciski, vai nu valodu tik labi nepratu vai biju par jaunu.

Šoreiz vārdu un metaforu plūdos, atmiņām klājoties kā rudens lapām, lasītajam ļaujot stāstīto uztvert arī ar garšu, smaržu un tausti, starpkaru Dancingas puikas pieaugšanas stāsts ir savā vietā un ir lasāms, lasāms, lasāms. Vienā brīdī cerēju izlasīt atsauci uz Heses Demianu, tik ļoti pazīstams šķita pusaudža sevis meklējumu stāsts.

Grāmata izsauca daudz diskusiju, jo autors runā par vēsturi no ļoti personiskas pozīcijas. Jo sevišķi grūta ir saruna par to, cik liela vainas daļa par notikušo ir jāuzņemas arī hitlerjūgenda puikam. Te nu man gan šķita nedaudz pārspīlēta autora paššaustīšanās. ...bet to pašu man teica arī mans vācu valodas skolotājs, kurš bija tajā pašā vecumā to pašu karu pieredzējis.

Visu stāstījumu autors sniedz atskaiti par to, ka no viņa patiesās dzīves (vai atmiņām par to) ir iedzīvojies daiļradē un kas tās tēlos greizi spoguļojas. Tad nu es tagad gribu atkal lasīt "Skārda bungas", man interesanti.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 216 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.