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Diana Sheets: The Legacy of Günter Grass

Apr 26, 2015 by

An Interview with Diana Sheets: The Legacy of Günter Grass

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) Sadly, I have just learned that Günter Grass has died. Could you perhaps provide a brief summary about his life and work?

More than any other writer in Post-World War II Germany, Günter Grass came to signify the moral conscience of his nation in the aftermath of the Nazi Holocaust. Born in 1928 and now deceased, he lived 87 years. In 1959, Grass published his first and most celebrated novel, “The Tin Drum”. In this story the narrator, Oskar Matzerath, decides at age three never to grow up. He is a man-child, infantile in appearance while, nevertheless, possessing the consciousness of an adult, all the better to gaze in judgement at the circumstances of his wretched world.

The novel is a “Bildungsroman”, a story in which the character embodies the destiny of a nation. In “The Tin Drum”, history and literature become a two-sided mirror to reflect the journeys taken by Germany and Oskar. “The Tin Drum” is tragedy replete with cruelty, violence, betrayal, and absurdity sometimes masking as perverse comedy. It is narrated by a stunted man-child continually rapping on his tin, toy drum and, when under duress, occasionally emitting a piercing scream capable of shattering glass. It is a realistic novel and a phantasmagorical story that anticipates Gabriel García Márquez’s magical realism displayed so evocatively in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” (1967). Grass’s portrayal of Nazi Germany and its aftermath in “The Tin Drum” is poignant and, in today’s slangy nomenclature, “truly epic”.

If the story seems to belie reality that’s because life in Germany during and after the war defied rationality. Oskar, nominally the son of a Nazi named Alfred, is more likely the bastard child of his mother’s lover, Jan Bronski, a cousin and a Pole who is executed while trying to defend the [Polish] Danzig Police Office when the Germans invade. Oskar’s mother dies. Alfred remarries. Oskar has an affair with Maria, his stepmother. She gives birth to a son, whom she names Kurt. In all likelihood he is Oskar’s child, not Alfred’s. Nevertheless Kurt, unlike Oskar, continues to grow. Oskar leaves. He joins a group of dwarfs entertaining troops at the front. Oskar later flees the war theater, returning to Danzig.

He joins a gang. Alfred is shot by the Russian army invading Danzig. After the end of the war, Oskar, his stepmother, and Kurt leave Danzig for Düsseldorf. They part ways. Oskar becomes infatuated with Sister Dorothea. He becomes a drummer in a jazz band and achieves success. He is subsequently accused of murdering Sister Dorothea, although he is innocent. Oskar is committed to a mental asylum. He begins writing his memoirs.

“The Tin Drum” is a story of pain and loss and the drive to survive, despite the devastation wrought by “total war”. Germany’s fortunes parallel Oskar’s zig and zag. Relationships dissolve. Families are destroyed. War buddies and friends die or fade away. The landscape is that of a barbaric wasteland. Social mores have no sway. Today, it’s hard to imagine the magnitude of the destruction. More than sixty million people died in World War II, the greatest casualties of any military conflict. No wonder Oskar’s journey is a minefield of carnage and trauma. Only a stunted man-child, who is every bit as damaged mentally as he is stunted physically, could evoke the tragedy and the destiny and the pain and the sorrow. Grass’s challenge is conveying the pathos of Germany’s circumstances by means of this double narrative, demonstrating how nation and man-child reinvent their destinies in the aftermath of catastrophe.

To convey all that, Grass subverts convention because this can be no commonplace story.

Grass published many other novels, as well as plays, poetry, and memoirs. However, the power and impact of “The Tin Drum” exceeded all his other creative literary efforts. In 1961 “Cat and Mouse”, a novella, was published followed two years later by “Dog Years”. The three books became known as the Danzig Trilogy because of their focus on the rise of Nazism and the impact of World War II on Danzig, an independent city state with ties to Poland and Germany that was annexed by Germany during World War II. The Danzig Trilogy was followed by “The Flounder”, published in 1977, which showcased the battle between the sexes.

In 2002 Grass published “Crabwalk”, a historical novel that blends fact and fiction. It presents the story of a (real) German refugee ship torpedoed by a Russian submarine, which resulted in 9,400 deaths. Even today this event represents the highest mortality ever incurred in the sinking of a vessel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Wilhelm_Gustloff). With the exception of the firebombing of the cultural city of Dresden, which resulted in an estimated 22,000-25,000 casualties, it’s hard to think of an event during the war that was so emotionally fraught for Germans.

Why was this novel so significant for Germans? Grass described the crabwalk as “scuttling backward to move forward” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crabwalk). This story was Grass’s public assertion that it was time for Germans to address their pain and loss in order to move forward. As the German author with perhaps the greatest moral authority on the role of German guilt and responsibility for World War II, Grass was allowing, nay encouraging, Germans to express their grief. No doubt for many Germans their suffering was profound.

Nevertheless, for the victims of German aggression and the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, a novel that encouraged Germans to express their sorrow about the events surrounding the war was controversial. All the more so because the book was written by Grass, Germany’s most famous living author, whom many regarded as the supreme moral arbiter of Nazi guilt and responsibility. “Why”, the critics reasoned, “should the pain of the perpetrators override that of the victims? Germany was the aggressor. They lost the war. Their suffering was collateral damage, not something to be resurrected and mourned publically”.

Indeed, some of Grass’s critics felt that “Crabwalk” was a calculated move on the author’s part to restore his literary reputation, nurturing the grievances of his aging German reading public in order to sustain the author’s gargantuan ego and buttress his literary reputation even if, in effect, he was engaged in a treacherous act of revisionist history.

This sentiment of disgust voiced by Grass’s critics intensified in 2006. That year the author published his memoir “Peeling the Onion”. In it, Grass disclosed a secret that as a writer he had kept hidden from the public for nearly fifty years, namely, that during the last days of the war he had been a member of the Waffen-SS, the official military wing of the Nazi Party directly associated with some of the most egregious war crimes. Grass, who joined at seventeen, had no direct role in these atrocities and his military involvement was slight. Nevertheless, given his public censure over the years of those serving in the Waffen-SS, this disclosure, which appeared in the press two weeks prior to the publication of his memoir revealing the details, seemed calculated to ensure blockbuster book sales and to restore his flagging literary reputation at any cost. Not surprisingly, many were outraged.

2) Why did Grass wait so long to admit his Nazi past, and what were the repercussions of his admission?

To understand why so many individuals found Günter Grass’s actions reprehensible, it’s important to realize that for most of his life Grass had positioned himself as the public intellectual uniquely suited to pass righteous moral judgment on Germany’s Nazi past and, indeed, increasingly on the actions and behavior of other nations and people. Even someone as generally even handed as John Updike came to resent Grass’s pronouncements, noting, “Here is a novelist who has gone so public he can’t be bothered to write a novel. He just sends dispatches to his readers from the front line of his engagement” (Stephen Kinzer, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/14/world/europe/gunter-grass-german-novelist-dies-at-87.html).

Grass had hidden his Waffen-SS past from the public for most of his life. Now, at the close of his literary career, just as he was trying to restore his public fame by publishing his memoir “Peeling the Onion”, he disclosed his darkest secret. To many critics his actions appeared entirely self-serving. Perhaps if he had quietly written his fiction out of the limelight or never sought public acclaim or appeared visibly anguished, critics would have made allowances. But his constant need to engage in censorious judgments of others made his admission seem deeply hypocritical and, at the same time, carefully calculated. Thus, conservative scholar, journalist, historian, and editor Joachim Fest, whose Catholic family had resisted Nazification at great personal cost, concluded in the aftermath of Grass’s Waffen-SS disclosure that Grass was “deeply damaged”, noting, “I wouldn’t buy a used car from this man now” (Ian Buruma, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/09/18/war-and-remembrance). The prominent German literary critic Hellmuth Karasek expressed contempt at Grass’s duplicity: “I hope that finally he has the sense to shut his mouth” (Alan Riding, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/17/arts/17gras.html?pagewanted=all).

Charlotte Knoblock, then serving as vice-president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, expressed the moral qualms felt by many of Grass’s staunchest critics when she suggested his actions were opportunistic. Why, after all, did he maintain his silence about his Waffen-SS past for years only to disclose it now? Because, she suggested, his actions were comparable Franz Schönhuber, the ultra-right German politician who “also revealed his S.S. membership just before publishing a memoir” (Ian Buruma, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/09/18/war-and-remembrance).

The issues of causality and outcome run deep. Grass acknowledged in his Nobel Prize lecture in 1999 that at thirteen he responded to a writing contest offered by the Hitler Youth magazine “Hilf mit!” and began writing a novel. As he himself noted, “At the age of ten, I was a member of the Hitler Cubs; when I was fourteen, I was enrolled in the Hitler Youth. At fifteen, I called myself an Air Force auxiliary. At seventeen, I was in the armored infantry” (Daniel S. Burt, “The Literary 100”, 2009, p. 424). Given his outsized ambition, one that often defines writers whose efforts often seem carefully orchestrated over a lifetime to win the coveted Nobel Prize in Literature, it’s not implausible to imagine a different outcome.

What if Hitler had won World War II? Conceivably Grass might have been well positioned to become Nazi Germany’s most celebrated post-war author. He was youthful, strategically positioned to lean either way politically, depending on the war’s outcome. As it turned out, Germany’s defeat ultimately shaped its most celebrated post-World War II author against tyranny and in favor of social justice. But what if history had taken a different course?

The same, for instance, could not be postulated about the German writer Heinrich Böll who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1972. He was older. His worldview was shaped in the years prior to World War II, not in the aftermath of Germany’s defeat. His Catholic family had opposed the rise of Nazism. Unlike Grass, Böll had refused to join the Hitler Youth in the 1930s. After he was conscripted into the army, Böll was wounded four times. No one would ever have accused him of opportunism.

3) How, then, should we judge Grass as a writer?

In today’s politically charged society, critics and readers conflate a writer’s “self” with his or her fiction. While as critics or readers we might admire or dislike Günter Grass’s personal actions or his politics or his worldview, nevertheless, these judgements should have no bearing on our assessments of his fiction. We must evaluate his fiction strictly on its literary merits.

4) I still have my copy of “The Tin Drum” published by Vintage, costing $2.45 at that time, in front of me. How much of an impact was “The Tin Drum” on literature in general?

Initially, reaction to “The Tin Drum” was mixed. It was both celebrated and vilified. However, by the late sixties it had achieved canonical stature as one of the great post-World War II novels and has retained that stature. Indeed, Burt’s “The Literary 100”—which ranks the most notable novelists, playwrights, and poets throughout the ages—places the “The Tin Drum” in 2009 as 112th out of the 125 best works of literature ever published.

In my case, I read two novels that greatly enhanced my appreciation for fiction. The first was Günter Grass’s “The Tin Drum”, which we’ve discussed. Later, I read Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children” (1981), a novel that traces India’s journey from colonialism to independence, and the subsequent partitioning of British India. Rushdie intertwines historical events with the fictional narrative of Saleem Sinai, who was born on midnight at the moment of India’s independence. Both “The Tin Drum” and “Midnight’s Children” are Bildungsromans. Both intertwine realism with fabulism. Both are allegories.

Both relay events that are foundational moments in the development of a nation. Both have narrators whose formative lives are inexorably entwined with the fate of their nation. For readers around the globe, Grass’s “The Tin Drum” shaped their post-World War II literary perceptions of Germany. Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children” has had a similar impact in influencing readers views of modern India. It won Britain’s top literary award, the Booker Prize in 1981 and was subsequently awarded the “Booker of Bookers” in 1993 and the “Best of the Booker” in 2008. It remains the only novel ever to have achieved these “Booker of Bookers” awards. For me, these two novels represent fiction at their very best. It’s doubtful that any novel published in my lifetime will again impact me the way “The Tin Drum” and “Midnight’s Children” have.

As for Grass’s reputation, permit me to quote from Salman Rushdie article “The Greatness of Günter Grass” recently published in “The New Yorker” (http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-greatness-of-gunter-grass). In 1982, when Rushdie traveled to Germany to promote the German translation of “Midnight’s Children”, reporters pressed him to give his literary assessment of Grass.

Every German journalist I met wanted to ask me what I thought of him, and when I said that I believed him to be one of the two or three greatest living writers in the world some of these journalists looked disappointed, and said, “Well, ‘The Tin Drum,’ yes, but wasn’t that a long time ago?” To which I tried to reply that if Grass had never written that novel, his other books were enough to earn him the accolades I was giving him, and the fact that he had written “The Tin Drum” as well placed him among the immortals.

5) I have always been impressed by the first line or sentence of various authors. Let’s revisit Oskar and the first line of Günter Grass’s book “The Tin Drum”: “Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me; he never lets me out of his sight; there’s a peephole in the door, and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me”. What does this first sentence say to you and what montage does it set?

It’s a beautiful sentence, isn’t it? I often make judgements about whether I’ll read a book based on that first sentence, those first paragraphs, and how the writing conveys place, time, space, character, and story.

That first sentence sets off a series of free associations that compel the reader to read the novel. First, the character’s in a mental hospital. Why? How did he get there? Is he crazy? Is society crazy? Who is responsible for his predicament? What is his predicament? Is this about surveillance? Authority? Oppression? Should we believe this protagonist? Is he an unreliable narrator? Perhaps we think of Ken Kesey’s novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1962) in which authority, rebellion, oppression, electroshock treatments, and madness propel the story.

In literary terms, that first sentence is a “hook” to grab the reader and keep her reading. We note the sophisticated style of writing. The narrator doesn’t seem crazy or angry or wildly out of control. The narrator seems to believe that he—“a blue-eyed type like me”—is inherently superior to the orderly whose eye gazing back at him through the peephole is only “the shade of brown”. Who holds power here? Oskar seems to perceive himself a member of the superior Aryan race and, therefore, having the upper hand even though as a dwarf, which we later discover he is, that clearly would not be feasible. Then again, it’s unlikely Oskar views himself as a dwarf. Rather, he sees his small stature as a self-imposed act of resistance, rather than a genetic defect.

That initial sentence gives us an insight into the history and influence of Nazi ideology. That a blue-eyed person should feel superior, entitled, potentially in control because of Aryan looks even though he is imprisoned in a mental hospital, well, that tells us a great deal about the character, the society, and the values. Then again, the sentence places us, the readers, at an ironic distance. The character is in a mental institution. He’s a victim. He’s not in control. Or is he? The sense of power and/or powerlessness becomes destabilizing, leading us to wonder: “Can we trust the narrator’s assumptions?” This complex montage compels our curiosity. We want answers. This story confounds. We jump into the rabbit hole of Grass’s fiction, hoping to find our way back by means of his peculiar looking glass.

If the reader is expecting a novel about heroes or victims or simple truths, we know, right at the outset, these perspectives have been upended. The novel challenges our assumptions about Germany, World War II, and what or who will drive the narrative.

6) Emotions felt for Oskar throughout the book—in your literary mind, what emotions are experienced, felt, and why?

What are we to make of Oskar? Is he a hero? A victim? Has he been swept along by the tidal wave of social forces or has he engaged in his own self-styled heroic rebellion even if its impact proved very limited? In a society striving for Aryan perfection, Oskar is a freak. Half man, half child, living outside the pale, refusing to grow up, but maturing even though his mind remains encased in a child’s body. Oskar plays the drum; under duress his screeches shatter glass. Is he an innocent or a miscreant? Oskar’s quest is to travel through the darkness toward the light. Does he succeed? Hardly. What are our emotions regarding Oskar and his circumstances? Empathy, disgust, pity, horror, fascination, revulsion: “schadenfreude”—that peculiar German word that conveys those primitive, primal feelings we shouldn’t have, namely, a perverse pleasure witnessing the misfortunes of others in order to reassure ourselves that, however miserable and pathetic our lives, others have it much, much worse.

7) The context is important here—“The Tin Drum” appeared after the War. What was the message? And why the appeal even today to readers?

“The Tin Drum” is a meditation on war, memory, history, national destiny, free will versus determinism, the human drive to understand good and evil, and how the fate of the 20th century hangs in the balance. This is a powerful novel engaged in breathtaking themes. It posits its characters within the titanic forces of demonic destruction while still managing to be playful, confounding, earthy, and ironic.

8) Some German authors are remarkable in terms of their impact. I daresay I have read almost everything of Hermann Hesse, (but not all of Günther Grass). And what is it about the German author (Goethe) that is so impactful?

I, too, grew up in the American counter-culture reading the fiction of Hermann Hesse, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946. Ultimately, however, I was far more influenced by Thomas Mann’s novels, particularly “Buddenbrooks” (1901) and “The Magic Mountain” (1924). As your readers may know, Mann won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. As for Goethe, arguably Germany’s greatest writer, his work deserves to be read and reread. His play, “Faust” (1808/1828-1829) presents as dilemma the great temptation known to writers and intellectuals who seek immortality through greatness. Who amongst us would turn down the devil’s offer to have it all—knowledge, fame, love—in return for an afterlife in hell? “Faust” is a biblical story of infinite longing, human fallibility, and the consequences that ensue. No wonder it has been so suitable for opera.

9) Many modern writers, including John Irving, have acknowledged Grass as one of the most impactful contemporary writers. Why was Irving so moved by Grass? And how has Grass influenced field of literature in general?

Permit me to quote Per Wastberg, a Nobel juror, who made the case as strongly as anyone for the greatness of Günter Grass: “We in the Swedish Academy saw him as the summit of the 20th century. He was the twentieth century, at least after Thomas Mann” (cited by Stefan Wagstyl writing posthumously about Grass in the “Financial Times”, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/804f9400-e1ce-11e4-8d5b-00144feab7de.html#axzz3XvIR1w9G).

John Irving has been one of America’s strongest advocates for Günter Grass. In the aftermath of Grass’s death, “The Guardian” had tributes from many writers about him. Let me focus on what Irving said in that article, although I’ve provided a link so your readers can consider comments by Neal Ascherson, Rachel Seiffert, Ian Buruma, David Kynaston, Orhan Pamuk, Adam Thirlwell, Philip Hensher, Simon Winder, Lawrence Norfolk, and Daniel Kehlman, (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/18/gunter-grass-tributes-man-broke-silence).

Irving states: “I was 19 or 20 when I read ‘The Tin Drum’; I hadn’t known it was possible to be a contemporary novelist and a 19th-century storyteller. Oskar Matzerath refuses to grow; by remaining small and childlike, he is spared in the Nazi years—he survives the war but doesn’t escape the guilt”.

But it’s the further admission by Irving in that article that explains the reason for his underlying passion for Grass: “I learned from my favorite 19th-century writers that I wanted to be a certain kind of novelist—like Dickens and Hardy, like Hawthorne and Melville. I learned from Grass how to do it”.

Let me build from Irving’s statement. The contemporary literary novel today has turned its back on realism. It has become a sustained meditation on memory, an internal monologue that is largely divorced from lived experience and the understanding that comes from engaging with the world. To be a literary writer today, you need not know anything. You get an MFA degree. You publish. You teach. You write about an imaginary world steeped in consciousness, but that consciousness has little basis in reality.

Perhaps the best contemporary German writer who exemplifies this trend is W. G. Sebald (1944-2001). He was an academic writer who held an appointment at the University of East Anglia, which has the most established and, arguably, the most successful writing program in Britain. Sebald’s approach to fiction was aptly characterized by Jon Cook, the dean of the School of English and American Studies at the university: “It was a special kind of mixture of fiction, memory and history. He was deeply concerned with the nature of memory, whether the past is lost or not” (Mel Gussow, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/15/books/w-g-sebald-elegiac-german-novelist-is-dead-at-57.html). This celebrated author was considered a serious contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Sebald was born in the Bavaria region of Germany. His father served in the German army, was later captured, and then held as a prisoner of war until 1947. When Sebald and his classmates were shown images of the Holocaust in school, they were dumbfounded. Nothing prepared them for the Nazi horror. The memory of the Holocaust and its impact on post-war Germany was a continual theme in his fiction (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._G._Sebald).

But if a reader examines “Austerlitz” (2001), Sebald’s final and, perhaps, most critically successful novel, one discovers a story that resembles elliptical memory. There are no paragraphs, the narration digresses seemingly ad infinitum, and the distinctions between reality and fiction are blurred. It’s as if the reader is wandering through a dreamscape nightmare. Nominally, the story is a sustained meditation on modern memory and the guilt felt by a survivor of the Holocaust. The book has embedded images within the text, almost as a way of suggesting that fiction cannot sustain itself with just words today: It must be interleaved with pictorial images to elicit memory and to be meaningful.

Susan Sontag, a literary writer whose most significant publication was a collection of essays entitled “On Photography” (1977), brought public attention in the United States to Sebald’s work. In a cover blurb for “Austerlitz”, she noted that the fiction of W. G. Sebald was a testament to the possibility that “literary greatness” is “still possible”. But is photography embedded in fiction, which diverts the mind from the text in favor of the image, life affirming or soul destroying? These contemporary literary stories steeped in stream-of-consciousness, of which Sebald’s fiction is but one illustrious example, have been murderous to fiction. Against this trend are the plot-driven stories based on reality characteristic of Günter Grass and John Irving.

10) What about the other German writers today? How can they be compared and contrasted with Grass?

Christa Wolf (1929-2011), who lived much of her life in East Germany before reunification, was one of post-war Germany’s most significant writers. Her novella “What Remains”, written more than a decade before it was published, was released in 1990, the year after the Berlin Wall was dismantled. It is about an East German woman, prior to the country’s reunification, who is spied on by the Stasi. It was later revealed that Wolf was an informant for the Stasi between 1959 and 1962.

Even today, one of my favorite novels is Heinrich Böll’s “Group Portrait with Lady” (1971). It’s a story about a woman living in Cologne, Germany between World War I and the 1970s. During the 1930s and 1940s it seems as if Leni Pfeiffer is under surveillance by almost everyone she knows—more than one hundred informants—and we are privy to commentary about these reports. Nor is life in post-World War II Germany easy for Leni. Life is a constant struggle against oppression and dehumanization. But it’s the archival records of the 1930s and 1940s of everyone who ever spied on her—friends, enemies, neighbors, and casual acquaintances supplemented with commentary relayed by the narrator—that proves the most riveting.

Indeed, for anyone living today, the prospect of constant surveillance and its impact on our lives remains unsettling. I also encourage your readers to watch the wonderful German film “The Lives of Others” (2006), about a playwright under surveillance by the Stasi in East Berlin before German reunification. It was directed by filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. That movie is now available for viewing on Netflix.

Herta Müller, born in Romania and now living in Germany, is natively German speaking. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009. As someone who survived the brutally cruel Communist regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu, her fiction chronicles the terror, the violence, and horror of totalitarianism. One of her recent novels is “The Hunger Angel” (2009), which presents the story of a German youth sent in 1945 to a forced labor camp in the Soviet Gulag for five years. Indeed, many of the Germans living in Transylvania during the Soviet occupation of Romania were sent to the Gulag.

Ingo Schulz has written several novels, but my favorite thus far is “Simple Stories” (1999), a linked collection of stories about the fate of East Germans after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Karen Duve’s work “Rain” (2004) is presented in the style of a modern Gothic tale. It is also set in post-reunified East Germany. What is striking these days is that the fiction is written by a generation of writers whose experiences are not Nazi Germany or the Holocaust or the Gulag or even, necessarily, Communism, but a nation undergoing rebirth and prosperity with the 20th century horrors receding in the rear-view mirror. The trauma of the past has been replaced with the quotidian. For many, that’s a welcome occurrence.

11) What have I neglected to ask and what do you think Grass would be saying about the current state of literature (I almost said deplorable—but we shall leave it at that)?

I’m reluctant to speculate about Grass’s thoughts. Let me conclude by saying that my concern is that fiction is increasingly irrelevant. The world we inhabit is a post-literary world with a cacophony of distractions—visual, sound, text, and so much more. The consequence is that the solitary act of immersing oneself in reading has become a lost art.

I encourage your readers to look at my website, www.literarygulag.com, where they can find my essays and obtain information about my novels, “The Cusp of Dreams” and “American Suite”. It also includes “read only” versions of my published essays notably “The Humanities in Crisis: What Went Wrong and How to Restore Their Centrality in Our Daily Lives”, as well as an essay on the significance of the Great Books and one on the importance of critical thinking.

Some of my Literary Gulag publications can be found on IDEALS, the open-access website hosted by the University of Illinois, https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/3459.

My short opinion essays are posted on Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-diana-e-sheets/.

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