German novelist, Nobel Prize for Literature winner, author of one of the most stirring and challenging books of the 20th century – Günter Grass is dead.
I read the The Tin Drum when I was a teenager, after being hooked on the movie (starring the odd and shouty Oskar who can break glass with his voice). We rewatched it earlier this year, and got excited all over again. This article is a brilliant read: The Tin Drum summarised the 20th century in three words – it was written on the 50th anniversary of the novel’s publication.
Barbaric, mystical, bored: here is the last century in summation. A schizophrenic, self-mutilating era in which man flew higher than was dreamed possible and plumbed depths unimaginable; slaughter beyond measure coupled with advances beyond comprehension; collective insanity and individual rationality; atavistic passions and detached irony; terror and humour.
Read him if you haven’t – his writing is utterly original.
Come on down to Central Library Peterborough to have a look at our genuine First World War memorabilia, kindly loaned by local collector Barry O’Sullivan. Featuring gas masks, cameras, soldiers’ kits, uniforms and a wide variety of other items from both home and abroad, this is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with life from 1914 to 1918. The exhibition runs until Sunday 24 May, so do pop in and give us a visit.
I’ve just finished reading Women Heroes of World War I. It includes Lady Helena Gleichen and Nina Hollings, radiographers in Italy. Among other things, they x-rayed gassed soldiers and discovered that their lungs shrivelled to about two inches in diameter. That sounds a little uncomfortable to me – all that stood between them and the gas was a flimsy hood soaked in glycerin and sodium thiosulphate. The German gas mask by comparison looks a lot more like the bug-eyed versions I’m familiar with, with goggles attached to a breathing apparatus.
Another exciting discovery is the possible connection between a camera in our exhibit and a roll of film donated to the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. They have kindly provided some scanned copies of the photos taken on the camera which can be viewed alongside the exhibition.
Vest Pocket Kodak, camera and case, [circa 1910-1920] Examples of items soldiers carried with them. Marked with E. J. Jekyll, 7/740. 1 C.M.R. N.Z.M.R. Barry O’Sullivan collection. CCL-O’Sullivan-1835-006
First World War information