From the Diary of a Snail

Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke; From the Diary of a Snail (1972)This book combines fiction and non-fiction: it features an account of Grass’s participation in the 1969 election campaign in West Germany in support of Willy Brandt and the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands/Social Democratic Party of Germany), interwoven with the story of Hermann Ott, a collector of snails who spent the Second World War in hiding. Grass compares the progress of social democracy in Germany to a snail’s progress. In doing so, he asserts his belief in moderate, gradual social reform, along the lines proposed by Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932), a German Jewish Social Democrat who provoked a ‘revisionist’debate within the SPD at the end of the nineteenth century when he argued that a communist revolution was both unlikely and undesirable, and that the SPD should pursue a policy of gradual reform.

Further Reading

Rebecca Braun, ‘Authorial construction in From the Diary of a Snail and The Meeting at Telgte’, in The Cambridge Companion to Günter Grass, ed. by Stuart Taberner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 96-110

Mary Cosgrove, Born under Auschwitz: Melancholy Traditions in Postwar German Literature (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2014)

Scott Tatchell, ‘'Volkstribun oder Bürokrat'?: the representation of the social-democratic politician in German literature, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Reading, 2004