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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22/01/2008

Magazine Roundup

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

The Chronicle of Higher Education | Le Nouvel Observateur | London Review of Books | Il Foglio | Nepszabadsag | The Economist | Przekroj | The New Republic


The Chronicle of Higher Education
25.01.2008 (USA)

Laurie Fendrich, fine arts professor at Hofstra University on Long Island, describes in a very amusing article the confusing effect Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "Letter to d'Alembert on the Theatre" has on her students. Particularly Rousseau's thesis that women shouldn't go to the theatre because this would cause vanity to replace their natural modesty outrages her students: "In class discussion, when my students invariably protest that Rousseau is an outdated chauvinist, I ask why most women in contemporary society wear makeup and most men don't, and why there isn't a store called 'Victor's' Secret. We talk about Jane Austen's women, their trade-offs between true love and men who, however repellent, provide security, and how much of that kind of social survivalism is still practiced today. These discussions are unsettling, I admit, even to me. But whether by habit or nature, I unfailingly wear lipstick to class."


Le Nouvel Observateur 17.01.2008 (France)

In an interview entitled "How can Islam be healed?" Tunisia-born professor, writer and poet Abdelwahab Meddeb presents some key ideas from his new book "Sortir de la malediction. L'islam entre civilisation et barbarie" (Seuil). Only with a "permissive" critical reading of the Koran can Islam overcome Islamism, Meddeb maintains. He also sees no chances for a political victory over Islamism, which he compares with fascism, even in Iran: "This country can free itself of fascism and totalitarianism which the Islamist ideology forces on it, because the works of its artists, filmmakers, photographers, sculptors, poets and thinkers of both sexes clearly situate it in modernity. The Kiarostamis, Panahis and Satrapis are numerous. In addition, every Iranian, even the most dogmatic mullah, maintains a bond of attachment to pre-Islamic Persia." See our feature "Islam's heritage of violence," an interview with Meddeb.


London Review of Books 24.01.2008 (UK)

The Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, born in 1917, reviews Eric Weitz's "brilliant" book "Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy" (Princeton). Above all, however, he looks back to his own schooldays during the Weimar Republic: "Even its few years of 'normality' rested on the temporary quiescence of a volcano that could have erupted at any time. The great man of the theatre, Max Reinhardt, knew this. 'What I love,' he said, 'is the taste of transience on the tongue – every year might be the last.' It gave Weimar culture a unique tang. It sharpened a bitter creativity, a contempt for the present, an intelligence unrestricted by convention, until the sudden and irrevocable death."


Il Foglio 19.01.2008 (Italy)

One very popular brand of Mexican pop music is very close to the world of drug smugglers. Maurizio Stefanini explains why more and more pop stars have been murdered recently. "The Tucanes, for example, have had themselves photographed with Kalashnikovs, and one of their most popular songs deals with a historic gunfight. The song's refrain: 'Mafias of the north and the south – which is the most powerful?' Police say the cartels have adopted various singers, regardless of whether they are 'narcos' or not. They side with their favourites and use the most hardcore means against their enemies' darlings. People say there are videos circulating on the Internet showing criminals torturing and killing to the sound of popular hits."


Nepszabadsag 19.01.2008 (Hungary)

Archaic communities arise wherever people participate in shared everyday activities, experience unchanging and common notions about ways of living, religion and the world and where they play an active role in shaping this community. Similar tribal-societal ways of living can also be observed in large state-run enterprises which accordingly are not only inefficient and burdensome to the state, but also particularly resistant to restructuring, believes behavioural researcher Vilmos Csanyi. "Naturally this is not due to evil lurking in the background but comes from the institutional existence itself, which allows an in-house 'culture' to develop – and this is as likely to happen within the postal service, the justice system or the police. As soon as these have been established, shared views and actions emerge, and with them a set of interests which are to be defended against the outside world. Existence-justifying concepts are rapidly formulated, as is the belief that insiders should never be able to talk their way into this world. (...) It outrages them when outsiders try to get an insight into, or worse still, try to get involved in things that they could never understand. And then these views are also spread by the media. This is the moment when society should wake up and smell that something has gone awry: that one of its institutions is trying to throw off the yoke which forms the secure link between control, performance and resources used. Now is the time to push through reform, later it will only be more difficult."


The Economist 19.01.2008 (UK)

How to combine ethics with and economically efficient trade? Daniel Franklin looks into what sparked off the boom of CSR or corporate social responsibility. "Scandals at Enron, WorldCom and elsewhere undermined trust in big business and led to heavy-handed government regulation. An ever-expanding army of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) stands ready to do battle with multinational companies at the slightest sign of misbehaviour.... And, more than ever, companies are being watched. Embarrassing news anywhere in the world - a child working on a piece of clothing with your company's brand on it, say - can be captured on camera and published everywhere in an instant, thanks to the internet." The special report covers the victory march of CSR in general and also follows a number of social projects launched by various companies and Larry Brilliant the head of Google.org.


Przekroj 17.01.2008 (Poland)

Milena Rachid Chehab has discovered a new breed of Polish immigrant worker: Expats in Ukraine! "These are experts who bear the free-market flame eastwards. Our previous knowledge of this species was limited to foreigners who, at the beginning of the nineties, took on top management jobs in western firms entering the Polish market. Now the domino effect is kicking in: Poles who have gathered experience over the years are passing it on to Ukrainians who, in economic terms, are standing at dawn of transformation." Why move from Warsaw to Kiev? "Better to be a big fish in a little pond than the other way round," as one manager put it.


The New Republic 30.01.2008 (USA)

Irene Nemirovsky is now officially a literary heroine in USA. Following on the successes of "Suite francaise" and "The Ball" US publishers have just brought out her novel "David Gobler" about a greedy oil magnate. Ruth Franklin is appalled by the anti-Semitism and reactionary thinking demonstrated by this novelist who was killed in Auschwitz. "It is true that Némirovsky said in 1935 that 'if there had been Hitler [at the time], I would have greatly toned down David Golder, and I wouldn't have written it in the same fashion.' So she knew what she had written. And she reiterated this in 1939: 'How could I write such a thing? The climate is quite changed!' Nemirovsky's repudiation of her own novel makes it all the more shocking that anyone is still trying to defend it. Anyway, a thoughtful contemporary observer might have noticed that 1929 was already a rather dangerous time to be fanning the right-wing flames."

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