Nobel Winner Wants to 'Stop' Digital Reading

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82-year-old writer Günter Grass is famous for writing such works as The Tin Drum, a wildly imaginative novel depicting a dwarf confined in an insane asylum, and for revealing, after a life spent as a left-wing critic, that he had served in the Waffen-SS during World War II. Grass is somewhat less known as a foe of reading on computers. He takes on this new role in an interview with Der Spiegel.

After urging fellow writers to bar their works from the iPad until "a law protecting authors becomes effective," he broadens his attack to all digital reading:

I would like to put a stop to this movement toward reading on computers, but it seems that nobody can do this. Nevertheless, the drawbacks of the electronic process are already apparent during the writing of the manuscript. Most young authors write directly on their computers, and then edit and work in their files. In my case, on the other hand, there are many preliminary steps: a handwritten version, two that I've typed myself on my Olivetti typewriter and, finally, several copies of versions that my secretary has input into the computer and printed out, and into which I've incorporated many handwritten corrections. These steps are lost when you write directly on the computer.

Later on in the interview, Grass addresses the more serious question of his relationship with the Waffen-SS:

SPIEGEL: Can you think of any other mistakes you have made during your life?

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Grass: In my case, as everyone knows, I was seduced by the Hitler Youth in my younger years. I make this abundantly clear in my book "Peeling the Onion." I suppose I derived a certain immunity to any ideological posturing from that mistake.

SPIEGEL: In "Grimms' Words," you address your time with the Waffen-SS once again, and you describe your swearing-in on a clear, cold winter's night. You were 17 at the time. Do you also count that moment among the mistakes in your life?

Grass: It was not a misdeed on my part. I was drafted, as many thousands of others were. I didn't volunteer for the Waffen-SS. The end of the war liberated me from the pledge of blind obedience. After that, I knew that I would never take an oath again.

[Hat tip: The Browser]

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