Martin Walser is in Cambridge and Boston for several days. On Monday, he spoke at the Center for European Studies, pulling together some ideas from essays of his on the problem of criticism.
In the wake of the Walser-Bubis debate, he remains defensive on this topic. Of course, the art of the "Verriss" is more consciously cultivated in the German book-review scene. The audience at CES was largely German-speaking, and there were interested questions from the floor. Walser's responses were very guarded.
I had spent the weekend reading his novel Muttersohn, and so I was eager to get him speaking on the issue of homage to other writers and artists as presented in that novel. I was a little disappointed that he didn't "bite" at the suggestion that the characters' often lengthy quotations from other writers--as well as the entire Wagnerian scaffolding of the novel--might be an alternative model that avoids criticism by focusing on appreciation instead.