Book Review – Crabwalk by Gunter Grass

RIP, Mr. Grass.

Kevin Stephany's Critique Compendium

In his opus German History 1770 – 1866 historian James Sheehan defined German history though its: “diversity and discontinuity, richness and fragmentation, fecundity and fluidity.” While feeling generous Gunter Grass referred to it more simply as a “crabwalk”; meaning “scuttling backward to move forward.” While in his protagonist’s point-of-view he elucidated it as such:

History, or to be more precise, that history we Germans have repeatedly mucked up, is a clogged toilet. We flush and flush, but the shit keeps rising. (Page 122)

I attended a class in German history while an undergraduate. This might explain why the professor didn’t add Crabwalk to the required reading list.

Grass’ historical novel presented a take on the recent German past from the Second World War through the book’s publication date. (2002) He used his protagonist, Paul Pokriefke, to express it.

At times Crabwalk read like a history book. Grass did his research…

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