Gunter Grass

Thursday, May 27, 1965

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

From card catalog: Gunter Grass, novelist, talks about writing. Questions and answers.

Introduction: I think he is a German Joyce, but if he is, I hope he doesn't write anything as incomprehensible as Finnegan's Wake. (Grass is 37 at this time.)

Grass talks briefly about other German writers, writing after the war. Talks about boxing (Cassius Clay vs. Sonny Liston). Beautifully describes the fight.

Questions: Literature in Eastern Germany? Lists several writers, young and old. Poets only known in Germany. How was the Tin Drum received? It's forbidden in East. Which writers influenced him? It's a long list! The power of interpretation? ... Reaction to critics? Treatment of Hitler in German literature? No author in German literature can work without this period.

Host introduces important guests. Questions continue. Right wing novelists in Germany? None exist. More influenced by poets? Protests against the press in Germany? His predictions on elections (Willie Brown?)? What will he do at Columbia (as the writer in residence)?

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 5778
Municipal archives id: T683


Günter Grass


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About Overseas Press Club

Comprised of both speeches and question-answer sessions, this news program brings together foreign correspondents and public figures from culture and politics.

The Overseas Press Club (1940-1967) contains voices from the past that help us understand their time and place in history. What sets these talks apart from others like them is the presence of a live audience of foreign correspondents — reporters with international perspectives and questions. The resulting sessions have a distinctly different dynamic than would those with an audience of American journalists of the period.

Speakers include the German writer Günter Grass talking about his fascination with American prize fighters; a fiery young LeRoi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka) telling his audience "where it’s at with Mr. Charlie"; James Farmer on the civil rights movement and where it should be going; David Halberstam on the trials of covering the war in Vietnam; Josephine Baker on the focus of her later years, her adopted children; and Herman Kahn on being pushed to the nuclear edge.  Other notable speakers include the actor Alec Guinness, Richard Nixon, and a gaggle of early female pilots competing in the air race known as the Angel Derby. 

With presentations ranging from rambunctious and spirited to contentious and political, this collection provides invaluable access to the language and nomenclature of America's burgeoning global culture.


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