From the Diary of a Snail, by Gunter Grass. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 310 pp.
In some sense, all writers and artists are politically engaged; they have to protect the integrity of their work from the heavy hand of the commissar and the censor. In defense of freedom of expression the nonpolitical painter and the political poet share an ethos. A smaller number, whose work itself takes shape from political events, often feel compelled to make a personal commitment. These men and women choose parties, frame policies, enroll in movements. They could not do otherwise, even if, as Auden kept saying in his later years, a life in literature carries no special warranty of wisdom for a life in politics. Orwell, Malraux, a...
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