Max: a play

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Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1972 - Drama - 122 pages
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Gunter Grass's latest play confronts two generations: the young activists, pressing for change through violent protest, and the middle-aged believers in gradual reform through the democratic process. On the one side there is Philipp Scherbaum, a young student, spurred on by his Maoist girl friend Vero; and on the other, Eberhard Starusch, bachelor and teacher of German and history at a Berlin Gymnasium, advised by his dentist. The action of the play centers around Scherbaum's grisly scheme to burn his dachshund Max at a Berlin cafe in view of cake-stuffing patrons, to stir their consciences against the American use of napalm in Vietnam. People, so he reasons, are more responsive to cruelty against animals than against humans. Starusch is bent on rescuing his favorite pupil from the prospect of certain death at the hands of irate Berliners. Through this outrageous predicament, Grass succeeds once again in illuminating our social and political confusions.

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About the author (1972)

Born on October 16, 1927 in Gdansk, Poland, GŁnter Grass was a member of the Hitler Youth in the 1930s. At the age of 16, he was drafted into the German military, was wounded, and became a prisoner of war in 1945. His first novel, The Tin Drum (1959), selected by the French as the best foreign language book of 1962, is the story of Oscar Matzerath, a boy who refuses to grow up as a protest to the cruelty of German society during the war. It is the first part of his Danzig trilogy, followed by Cat and Mouse (1961) and Dog Years (1963), and was made into a movie by director Volker Schlondorff, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1979. His other works include Local Anaesthetic, The Flounder, Crabwalk, and Peeling the Onion. He has been honored many times, including a distinguished service medal from the Federal Republic of Germany in 1980 which he refused to accept. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999.

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