On the Death of Siegfried Lenz ? ?You have to justify your life?

Siegfried Lenz, one of the great writers of German post-war literature is dead. He died on 7 October 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old.... more more

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25/09/2007

Magazine Roundup

Magazine Roundup, which appears every Tuesday at 12 p.m., is originally published by Perlentaucher.

Harvard Magazine | Outlook India | The Guardian | Al Hayat | ADN cultura | L'Espresso | Al Ahram Weekly | Die Weltwoche | Gazeta Wyborcza | Le Nouvel Observateur | Przekroj | The Times Literary Supplement | Le point | The New York Times
Harvard Magazine 01.10.2007 (USA)

In his Gorgon Gray lecture which was given last year and has now been published, the eminent literary academic Stephen Greenblatt gives an instructive insight into his own writing practice. He talks about beginning an essay in a such a way that the reader wants to read on, about "the calculation that underlies the appearance of effortlessness" and reference to current affairs: "I do not at all think that everything one writes should have an immediate bearing on the present. On the contrary, one of the crucial achievements in a liberal education is the understanding of worlds far removed from our own. ... I am not suggesting that you keep the television news on constantly when you are writing your papers. I am suggesting only that you should try to write well - and that means bringing to the table all of your alertness, your fears, and your desires. And every once in a while - say, every third paper - tell yourself that you will take a risk.


Outlook India 01.10.2007

The writer Arundhati Roy sticks her ever-sharp nose into the scandal surrounding the former constitutional judge YK. Sabharwal. He is being accused of having being involved during his tenure in a ruling that devastated the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Indians and lined the pockets of his sons. But the real scandal is that the newspaper which reported on the case has now been charged with Contempt of Court. "So now we're saddled with a whole new school of thought on Contempt of Court: Fevered interpretations of imagined insults against unnamed judges. Phew! We're in La-la Land. (...) If either the government or the courts do not order a credible investigation into the scandal, then a group of senior lawyers and former judges will hold a public tribunal and examine the evidence that is placed before them. It's all happening. The lid is off, and about time too."


The Guardian 24.09.2007 (UK)

The Royal Academy in London has staged a major retrospective of the painter George Baselitz. The curator Norman Rosenthal celebrates Baselitz as one of the greatest painters of our time. " As I look back over the many years I have known Baselitz and his art, I think there is a striking comparison to be made with Picasso. In their early years, both artists painted works that came from an inner necessity, the intensity of which frightened each of them. Both borrow from others, ruthlessly adopting ideas for their own purposes. Picasso used, among others, Raphael, Ingres, Delacroix and Cézanne. As well as taking from Cranach, Pontormo, Goltzius, Munch, Kirchner and indeed Picasso himself, Baselitz, too, has found affinities in the rough, anti-traditional, anarchic painting of the young Cezanne. .(..) Baselitz' career, like Picasso's, has been marked by intense periods of activity, usually culminating in a 'heroic' masterpiece or group of masterpieces, followed by a startling and surprising renewal."


Al Hayat 23.09.2007 (Lebanon)

American ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad has warned that the crises in the Middle East could escalate into a global conflict. For Wahid Abd al-Majid this is a very real threat. "What connects all the crises (in the region) today, is the conflict about the identity of the Middle East and its future – and with this, also its place and role in the world. It is a conflict between those who want the Middle East to be part of the ruling forces in the world and those who are striving to prevent this. The struggles related to this conflict ranges from the two 'interior' crises in Lebanon and Palestine to the Iraqi 'Holocaust' and the Iranian nuclear programme which has assumed a central role in the conflict." On an international level we ultimately face a confrontation between the USA, Iran in a marriage of convenience with Russia, and al-Qaeda. "Should this happen, we would have a completely new constellation. It would be a global war between three sides, and it is difficult to imagine any two of them joining sides or cooperating with one another."


ADN cultura 22.09.2007 (Argentina)

Crisis and reflection. Argentina has recently witnessed a minor boom in reportage or 'la cronica' (examples here and here). One of its practitioners, author Martin Caparros analyses the phenomenon. "An initial definition: Reportage is something our daily papers offer increasingly rarely. If you are neither rich nor famous nor rich and famous, you will be lucky to get into the papers as a catastrophe victim. A good reportage however succeeds by interesting readers in issues they would otherwise not be interested in. Moreover, unlike newspaper prose which acts as if there was no author behind it, as if it was informing neutrally on 'the truth', literary reportage is based on a first person narrator who shoulders responsibility. I saw, I experienced, I had thoughts about this."

Further articles: Alicia de Arteaga introduces BerlinBuenosAiresArtXchange07 which is the follow-up of a large-scale German Argentinian art show which first took place in Berlin in 2004 under the title of notango.

L'Espresso 20.09.2007 (Italy)

A document has surfaced in the archives of Yad Vashem, in which in the run-up to the Eichmann trials, writer Primo Levi listed his activities during the war, from resistance to his time in Auschwitz. L'Espresso prints it as an exclusive. "When I discovered on February 18 that the German SS had arrived in the area, everyone warned me, and the next day they advised us to disappear within 24 hours. No one attempted to flee. They loaded us into cattle wagons bearing the name "Auschwitz" on the side, a name which meant nothing to us at the time. ... The journey lasted three and a half days" In the document, Levi lists for the first time the names of those who fought with him and against him, as the literary academic Marco Belpoliti observes in the accompanying commentary.

Al Ahram Weekly 20.09.2007 (Egypt)

Salah Eissa sees a basic flaw in the Islamist dream of the return to a golden past, because this golden past thrived on being open to the new: "The fact is that the fundamentalist project has an Achilles heel. It posits a dream of reviving the glory of the Islamic empire but ignores the fact that what enabled that empire to flourish was its openness to other cultures and civilisations. This applies to Muslim jurists and theologians, as long as the doors to dialogue and the exercise of reason in light of the changes and challenges of contemporary reality remained open, furnishing a constant source of inspiration and renovation. Conversely, the decline of Islamic civilisation began when the door leading to the application of reason and independent thought was slammed shut."

Further articles: Galal Nassar sees US policy in the Arab World as a glaring case of neo-orientalism. Salonaz Sami presents the television series "Qadeyat Ra'i A'am" (A case of public opinion), which tackles the taboo issues of sexual harassment and rape.


Die Weltwoche 20.09.2007 (Switzerland)

Some scientists hold that in 2040 summers at the North Pole will be ice free. In an interview, Danish author Björn Lomborg ("The Skeptical Environmentalist") doesn't pale at the thought: "That could be a problem, but it will also mean a boom. It will be a problem for polar bears and many other animals. But at the same time biodiversity will be enriched. There will be more butterflies, more birds. Sure, we're going to see fewer bears. But it will be a boon for Greenland. All of a sudden people there will be able to produce their own food, and new, shorter shipping routes will be opened up. I too would have preferred an Arctic with a lot of ice, as we knew it. But to say the melting will mean a catastrophe for the area is simply wrong."

Gazeta Wyborcza 22.09.2007 (Poland)

The 32nd Polish Film Festival in Gdynia has come to an end, and Tadeusz Sobolewski looks back in relief: "Polish cinema has a new face. The tone is changing - the climate is warming. Polish films are adopting features we'd always admired in Czech cinema: warmth, ironic humour, a distant yet positive look at reality and a local touch." Even if political and social topics still come up, the new motto is: an end to sadness!


Le Nouvel Observateur 20.09.2007 (France)

With the recent publication of a short story "Josephine et moi" - Gallimard) and an anthology of his poems, Hans Magnus Enzensberger provides information on Germany, Nazism, terrorism and his intellectual development. Those familiar with his writings published in Kursbuch review around 1968 will be surprised by his political positions today: "In 1968 I was considered an enfant terrible of the left. That's comical, because I was ten years older than the extreme left-wing militants of all the micro-organisations. This movement shook up people's morals and brought the question of authority - which is compulsory in Germany - into the centre of the debate. My role in this movement was what ethnologists call one of 'participatory observation.' I was an observer. I met most of the later German left-wing terrorists. They tried to get me to join them. As a Marxist, I appealed to their sense of reason: 'Your analysis is crazy. It's simply wrong, there is no revolutionary situation. Read your history.' But they were caught up in a vicious circle."


Przekroj 20.09.2007 (Poland)

Andrzej Wajda's new film "Katyn" hit the screens in Poland amid much hype on the anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland of 17 September, 1939. Malgorzata Sadowska is ambivalent: "It's not a fantastic film, neither particularly original nor innovative. But it is useful. Wajda shows the circumstances surrounding the murders in Katyn skilfully and clearly, without getting bogged down in detail. And he points to the consequences, which still continue so many years after the end of the war." Nevertheless, Sadowska is in no doubt: "Thanks among other things to its final sequence showing the shootings, the movie will have a place in Polish film history."


The Times Literary Supplement 19.09.2007 (UK)

Historian Niall Ferguson has read "Fateful Choices," the newest book by his colleague Ian Kershaw, and doesn't mince his words in his review. Kershaw presents ten decisions of world-historical importance between 1940 and 1941, yet he fails to present any possible alternatives, Ferguson writes: "If one wanted to show a class of undergraduates how historians conventionally deal with the problem of causation, these ten essays would be hard to improve on. In each one, Kershaw starts with a summary of the decision itself and its implications. Then, just as E. H. Carr recommended in 'What Is History?' (1961), he goes back some years to uncover the chain of events that led to this decision. Alternatives are considered only in order to demonstrate that they were not really alternatives at all, and were bound to be discarded. Kershaw's scholarship is impeccable. And yet the philosophical underpinning to his essays is positively antique."


Le point 20.09.2007 (France)

"Stop Hortefeux!" demands Bernard-Henri Levy in his notebook column, criticising the measures introduced by immigration minister Brice Hortefeux - including DNA tests of immigrants to verify family relationships. "The second, perhaps even worse act by Hortefeux was his summoning a 'dozen' prefects whose 'numbers weren't high enough,' which means: who couldn't attest to having expelled a sufficient number of immigrants to allow total expulsions to reach 25,000 per year... Everything about this story is unbearable. The very idea of a number, a number where there shouldn't be one. The fact that people are being treated like slabs of meat, like goods. This language of statistics and technology in a political sector."


The New York Times 23.09.2007 (USA)

In The New York Times Magazine, John Wray portrays in great detail Austrian film director Michael Haneke, who has just finished shooting his first film in the US, an American remake of his "Funny Games." Asked about his relationship to violence, Haneke point to problems he had with "Pulp Fiction": "The problem, as I see it, is with its comedy — there's a danger there, because the humor makes the violence consumable. Humor of that kind is all right, even useful, as long as the viewer is made to think about why he's laughing. But that’s something 'Pulp Fiction' fails to do."

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