Brilliant, Fallible Titans: Günther Grass meets Norman Mailer
Posted by Stephen Lewis on July 23, 2007
Anyone who is interested in literature, philosophy, personal responsibility, courage, cowardice, risk taking, men and women, sex, parents and children, violence, aging, serendiipity, the 20th century, totalitarianism, mass communications, food, the responsibilities and failures of societies and governments, Hitler, Stalin, two world wars, hatred and mass murders, post-war Paris, Bush and Iraq, humor, and the sweat, rewards, pains, and deceptions of being an artist — or in anything else for that matter — might want to listen to the recorded version of back-to-back interviews with, and a subsequent discussion between, two of the greatest writers and most monumentally outspoken, courageous, moral, and fallible men of the 20th and nascent 21st centuries: Günther Grass and Norman Mailer.
The interviews and discussion, held in June at the New York Public Library, are given poignancy by Grass’s recent fumbling admission about having been less-than-forthcoming over the years about his three months in the Waffen SS and by Mailer’s announcement that the interview may have been his final appearance in public. (Mailer claims to be hampered by failing hearing and eyesight but his erudition, wisdom, and speech are more profound and compelling than ever). The only jarring notes: The interviewer’s rather out-of-place-at-the-New-York-Public-Library Scottish accent and somewhat pale performance as interlocuter.
To listen to the event go to this page on the website of the NYPL and click on the appropriate links to parts one and two. For recordings of other NYPL events, click here.