The values of literary criticism have been developed since the beginning of modern literature and canonization of literary texts is a complex process. The paper aims to explain how this process works, to be able to discuss the development of the reception of Grass’s novel Die Blechtrommel in the German-speaking countries. To be highly valued by experts, literature has to appear new and original; but by creating new and original forms and ideas, literature is often controversial and provocative. Grass was a young and not well-known author, except to a small group of experts, when he presented his novel. By receiving the prize of the Gruppe 47 for reading out one chapter, the path was paved for a positive reception by other experts who valued an original text. Other critics, more in favour of conventional literature, criticized Grass’s novel harshly. A jury nominated the novel to receive the Literary Prize of Bremen (Bremer Literaturpreis), but the city’s senate voted against it. This scandal shows the difference between the expectations of experts on the one hand and a wider public on the other. The further reception is also quite typical for the way literature is processed in modern society. The wider public became acquainted with the novelties and valued the contribution it made to the development of literature. Consequently, Grass became a well-known author and even received the Nobel prize, especially for the Die Blechtrommel, in 1999.
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