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Gunter Grass is a German poet, novelist, playwright, sculptor, and printmaker. Grass describes himself as a "Spataufklarer", a belated apostle of enlightenment in an era that has grown tired of reason ("Gunter"). He was born in Danzig, Germany (currently Gdansk, Germany) on October 16, 1927. Grass wrote his first unpublished novel when he was only thirteen. Like many teenagers during World War II, Grass was a member of the Hitler Youth. He served under Luftwaffe when he was drafted at age sixteen. Grass was wounded and became a prisoner of war under American forces, but he survived. After the war, he worked as an apprentice to a stone cutter and as a drummer. From 1944-1946 he was also a farm laborer and a miner.
Gunter Grass studied art in Dusseldorf. He supported himself by dealing in the Black Market. Grass was also a tombstone cutter, and he played in a jazz band. He used the little free time that he had to write, spending his earlier years writing mostly plays. Grass's plays were said to have been "absurd" and "approaching aesthetic nonsense (Wilpert 308)." He started using the influence of Bertolt Brecht and wrote his most popular and most controversial play, The Plebians Rehearse the Uprising: A German Tragedy.
Grass studied in West Berlin at the academy of Fine Arts in 1948. He made many journeys to Italy, France, and Spain in the 1950's. In 1954 he married Anna Margareta Schwartz. Grass settled in West Berlin in the early 1960's. In 1978 he divorced Schwartz, and only a year later he married Ute Grunert.
In 1955 Gunter became a member of Gruppe 47, he later described it in one of his books. The writers' association encouraged him, and he started to produce...
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...is lifetime Grass has received many awards and prizes, among these are the Preis der Gruppe 47 in 1958, "Le meilleur livre etranger" in 1962, the Buchner Prize in 1965, the Fontane Prize in 1968, Premio Internazionale Mondello in 1977, the Alexander-Majakowski Medal in 1979, the Antonio-Feltrinelli Prize in 1982, and the GroBer Literaturpreis der Bayerischen Akademie in 1994. Grass has also received doctorates from Kenyon College and the Universities of Harvard, Poznan, and Gdansk ("Grass"). He was also elected President of Berlin Academy of Arts and served for three years.
In October of 1999 the seventy-one-year-old writer received the Nobel Prize for his achievements in the literary category. His strong political standings, which are often unpopular, prevented him from getting this well deserved award earlier. Grass is still writing and speaking to this day.
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