Czarny Pies's Reviews > La Grimace

La Grimace by Heinrich Böll
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bookshelves: german-lit, nobel-prize-winners
Recommended to Czarny by: An ehthusiastic librarian
Recommended for: Those who want the Zeitgeist of the FDR before reunification

This is a very powerful book by an author who attracted a lot of attention in the West for praising the Bader Meinhof Gang in public. This was not a publicity stunt; Boll who was a great artist and an even greater idiot really meant what he said.

This is unpleasant, hate-filled diatribe against the prosperous and self-satisfied FDR. The main character has the same problem as Gunter Grass's little Oskar. He is incapable of fitting into the new Post War Germany.

When I was travelling through Europe on a Euro Rail pass between degrees in the 1980s, I met a lot of young Germans who talked like l'heros Hans Schnier.

I really did not enjoy this book although it certainly represented its era..
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Reading Progress

August 6, 1972 – Started Reading
August 10, 1972 – Finished Reading
September 30, 2014 – Shelved
September 30, 2014 – Shelved as: german-lit
June 23, 2018 – Shelved as: nobel-prize-winners

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Jeremy (new) - added it

Jeremy "I didn't do it to be unpopular, but rather because—it comes back to what we were just talking about—the unimaginative use of words upsets me. Put very simply: in the case of Ulrike Meinhof and her comrades, they were called murderers before murder was proven against them. I consider that to be outrageous. I remind myself that this kind of slander, practiced here recklessly, not only by some of the most prominent publishers, but by others as well, makes me think of the press campaign of the Nazis against Jews, Communists, and then, later, against church circles. Actually, my excitement or really my anger, was just my way of saying: “Hold on here!” All of this is linked with my attitude toward the word, toward words. It was always a matter of words. I picked out a word and showed what lay behind it and what can be caused by its misuse. Many of my colleagues did not understand; they thought: “My God, he's supporting the terrorists,” which was not the case at all; but they concocted it out of everything I wrote. Then some of my words were quoted falsely, which put me and my family into a very difficult situation. Always, it was a matter of words. I consider that to be the task of being preoccupied with language. Particularly in our own history. As a young man I read the Stürmer and that damned Nazi press here, which made not only the Jews the subject of their evil propaganda, but other groups in society as well—homosexuals, Catholic priests, and, it goes without saying, Communists. So I'm just as sensitive when a group of people is defamed today by being called names, especially in the light of our own political history; don't forget that many of the defamers were overzealous, quickly-converted democrats who—let's say—in March 1945 were Nazis and in October 1945 were already flaming democrats. I mistrust them. I believe that democracy is based on lengthy processes. You can't become a democrat quite so quickly. All of that is related. I don't regret it, don't regret it: well, some things I said, in my rage, and also because I felt alone, were stupid things, too, fine, but the process was necessary." H.B. in 1974


Steven Godin Not the best of things to do by praising the Bader Meinhof Gang in public, but at least he was safe from being blown up.


Czarny Pies Steven: Whenever you read foreign literature you encounter problems. We North Americans have trouble understanding English history and social mores when we start our university studies. We are still nervous about our understanding of your country when we finish. I still do not know how to pick sides when the Germans start to debate their country among themselves.


Steven Godin Czarny wrote: "Steven: Whenever you read foreign literature you encounter problems. We North Americans have trouble understanding English history and social mores when we start our university studies. We are stil..."

You are right, but I still have problems connecting with my own country, and feel more at home reading other European literature, I just prefer the culture of say France, Italy or Scandinavia to England.


Steven Godin Going back to the Baader-Meinhof Group, I am right in thinking they were supported by the East German Stasi?. I know there was a writer (can't think who it was), who openly supported the IRA, days after they tried to blow up Maggie Thatcher. Writers should write, and keep there opinions to them selves, especially on matters than don't concern them.


Czarny Pies While I am one of the leading experts among GR members on the topic of policing drunk boaters on Lake Erie, I know nothing about Baader-Meinhof except that Boll publicly supported them once in a terrible lapse of judgement. Ideally writers should keep quiet on subjects about which they know nothing. However, it is well known that all people writers or not over value their own intelligence and the quality of the information that they possess.


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