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This article is taken from PN Review 54, Volume 13 Number 4, March - April 1987.

Günter Grass Eva Figes

Twenty years ago, Grass had so much energy that he was liable to exhaust his friends when, for instance, he visited London. Even now, at the age of fifty-eight, the one thing he cannot stand is inactivity. When he is not writing he is drawing, when he is not drawing he is modelling in terracotta, and when he is not busy in his study or studio he has a finger in every political pie. Top politicians court him, general elections find him actively campaigning for the Social Democrats, and for the past three years he has been President of the Berlin Academy of Arts, and not as a mere figurehead. In addition he has something of a passion for acquiring houses, so that even when he is not on the road or in the air for professional reasons, he is rarely in one place for more than a few days. There is a house in Portugal (which he visits four times a year), a house in Berlin where he reckons to spend one week in every month, whilst his family home is at present in Hamburg. Then there are a couple of country houses in Schleswig-Holstein, one being got ready for habitation, another to be sold eventually, while a third has been given to the city of Berlin as a refuge for working writers. If writers are usually sedentary people, Günter Grass is hardly one of them. In fact, if it were not for a secretary and a wife ...


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