Green Beans and Pears

Günter Grass

Green Beans and Pears
Green Beans and Pears
20.9 x 28.3 in. / 53 x 72 cm


The poem »Bohnen und Birnen« (»Beans and Pears«) (1956) exemplifies the fruitful interaction between Günter Grass's texts and images and the recurring variations of individual motifs. The poem describes summer coming to an end. Autumn motifs, such as asters and earwigs, announce winter's approach. In view of this transience, the lyrical subject calls for enjoying life one last time in the form of a hearty meal. Some twenty years later, Grass again evokes the invigorating dish of beans, peas, and mutton in The Flounder (1977): „Ilsebill put on more salt. Before the impregnation there was shoulder of mutton with string beans and pears, the season being early October. Still at table, still with her mouth full, she asked, “Should we go to bed right away, or do you first want to tell me how when where our story began?””

The poem The Merits of Windfowl in the debut volume from 1956 of the same name is accompanied by a drawing of a spider about to fall into a glass, which reappears in later illustrations. The term »text« derives from the Latin word »textere« – to weave. In this way, the spider can be read as a symbol for writing and drawing. Both as illustrator and writer, Grass uses lines – symbolized by spider silks – as means of expression. In his lithograph »Beans and Pears« from the portfolio of prints called "Küchenzettel" ("Kitchen Notes"), Günter Grass again turns to the early poem. This time, he combines the elements of the poem, such as a spider, pears, a mutton skull, and a self-portrait, in apparently unconnected drawings. In fact, the text not only links these elements in terms of content. The graphic texture of the writing, which fills the entire sheet and the spaces between the individual motifs, »interweaves« words and images to form a text/image creation. This work is characteristic of the lithographs in the portfolio expressing Grass's passion for cooking and eating.