?From the great beyond into the present? ? an interview with Jo Lendle

Hanser publisher Jo Lendle talks about gentle adjustments of languages and marketing strategies.... more more

GoetheInstitute

26/02/2008

Magazine Roundup

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

The Atlantic | Elet es Irodalom | Polityka | Nepszabadsag | Telerama | Semana | The Spectator | La vie des idees | L' Espresso | The Economist | Al Ahram Weekly | Weltwoche | ResetDoc | Portfolio


The Atlantic 01.03.2008 (USA)

Eliza Griswold tells the great story of oil and religion – from Nigeria. Here among the world's tenth largest oil reserves the front lies between Islam and Evangelical Christianity. A massacre that took place in the city of Yelwa during the last elections, claimed 78 lives. "After that episode, the Christians issued an edict that no Christian girl could be seen with a Muslim boy. 'We had a problem of intermarriage,' Pastor Sunday Wuyep, a church leader in Yelwa, told me on the first of two visits I made in 2006 and 2007. 'Just because our ladies are stupid and attracted to money,' he sighed. Economics lay at the heart of the enmity between the two groups: as merchants and herders, the Muslim Jarawa were much wealthier than the Christian Tarok and Goemai. But Pastor Sunday, like many others of his faith, felt that Muslims were trying to wipe out Christians by converting them through marriage. 'It's scriptural, this fight,' he said. So he and the other elders decided to punish the women. 'If a woman gets caught with a Muslim man,' Sunday said, 'she must be forcibly brought back.' The decree turned out to be a call to vigilante violence as patrols of young men, both Christian and Muslim, took to the streets. What eventually transpired, in the name of religion, was a kind of Clockwork Orange."


Elet es Irodalom 22.02.2008 (Hungary)

One year ago, Jean-Pierre Frommer, an employee of the French ministry of the environment and the organiser of Les Mardi hongrois de Paris launched a European campaign to collect signatures to save the Jewish quarter in Budapest from the bulldozer. In an interview with Julia Cserba, he talks of his surprise that his "open letter to the Hungarian press had provoked anti-Semitic reactions. And this although the walls of the houses are not Jewish, and neither, probably, were the architects, and that people of all confessions live in the district. The Hungarians have to understand that this is not a Jewish matter, but a matter for Budapest and the country as a whole. The fate of something that is important to all of us is at stake, and something that is almost unique in Europe. Perhaps the description 'Jewish quarter' means that people who don't live there think it has nothing to do with them. It's existence might even be disturbing to some people and they might be glad to see it disappear without a trace. This is what I was thinking when I found out that the final remains of what were once the ghetto walls were being torn down and the bricks sold. In Berlin, they have retained several sections of the Wall, although it commemorates an epoch that was anything but glorious."


Polityka 23.02.2008 (Poland)

On the 160th anniversary of its publication, Edwin Bendyk asks why the "Communist Manifesto" is still so popular in the west. "Marx has not fared well as a theorist of the revolution but he is still a brilliant investigator of capitalism. Absent, however, from his thinking is the consideration that capitalism might feed on his critique, using it as an engine. And by the end of the 20th century capitalism was using the slogans of the great revolt of 1968 – self-development and individuality –to argue for greater flexibility in the markets and the phasing out of social systems." For Bendyk, "we should read the manifesto today like a Greek tragedy. No Marx without Shalamov ("Kolyma Tales"), this is not to say that Shalamov makes the questions which Marx asks us irrelevant today. This is a tragedy with no end, no catharsis, it is a double question with no answer."

"Dissidents in America?" asks Daniel Passent after reading Artur Domoslawski's collection of interviews "Ameryka zbuntowana" (Rebellious America). "America's stable democratic system sways gently from Democrat to Republican and back again. Deep down below deck, in narrow but comfortable book-lined quarters, the system has stowed its eggheaded malcontents who are bent on changing the course of the cruise liner 'USA'. No one will persecute them, they are left to read, write and discuss to their heart's content. The cruise ship sails on." Domoslawski's conversations with Noam Chomsky, Richard Rorty, Howard Zinn, Loic Wacquant, Tony Judt among others, are 'required reading' for anyone interested in America, writes Passent. But the book might have benefited from a little less humility towards the dissidents.


Nepszabadsag 25.02.2008 (Hungary)

"Poland has narrowly escaped being mentioned in the same breath as Turkey," writes journalist Gabor Miklos. His comment refers to the decision reached on February 11 by the Krakow Public Prosecutor, not after all to press charges against Polish-American historian, Jan Tomasz Gross, for insulting Polishness in his book, "Fear", about anti-Semitism in Poland which was recently translated and published in Polish. Gabor Miklos sees this as an optimistic sign. "My friends inform me that the book is being sold in shopping centres, right next to the tills. It seems that people are also interested in the darker side of their history. Who knows where this will end... The connection between the National Catholics and the Communists was the myth of national innocence. Forty years ago in 1968, Germany embarked on the path of self-examination. The end of the Cold War in Central Eastern Europe also revived the murderous myths of yesteryear. Which is why so many people are unsettled by Jan Tomasz Gross' book. They are scared. They are scared of ghosts and history. They are scared of losing the false myths of national perfection."


Telerama 21.02.2008 (France)

In an extensive interview conducted on the publication of his book "Le Soi-disant", French novelist Yves Pages talks about the societal significance of work. "Work! This is the only relevant question! (...) We have to ask how work is changing. My generation is experiencing a crazy revolution and lacks the terminology to think it through. The classic employee, a life of full-time employment has been done away with. Is this reason to mourn? I'm not doing that. But those who live in precarious conditions deserve rights. Students who work part time are workers who never appear anywhere. They are fully integrated in the job market but lack recognition. Politicians and trade unionists do nothing, they don't understand the issue or don't want to. Temporary workers, the precarious workers are not enemies of the working class. They are today's working class."


Semana 23.02.2008 (Columbia)

"I would never have thought conservatism could be so appealing," writes Columbian Hector Abad Faciolince pleasantly surprised after his trip through Switzerland at the invitation of the Swiss government. "Many people, and foreigners in particular, constantly go on about Switzerland being so conservative. This may be true, but it's in the best sense of the word, because 'conservative' here has a very different meaning there than in Columbia, where is implies sexual uptightness, defending the privileges of big land owners and religious fanaticism. Calvinism might have come from Switzerland but the most obdurate Puritans felt obliged to emigrate to the New World – such obvious unease did they feel in this long-established climate of religious tolerance."


The Spectator 23.02.2008 (UK)

Tony Blair has set his sights on the EU presidency. But there's a just one little thing in his way. "On the streets of Europe, as I say, he is trusted no further than you or I could spit", Rod Liddle explains. "Nobody seems to want him and yet his victory is already being seen as inevitable, a given. He is, you see, a great communicator; he has stature. It is said that he straddles the divide of old and new Europe, or at least hops between these two camps like a flea on a hotplate, one week offering succour to the Poles, the next kicking them in the teeth. His presidency would either offer a challenge to the Franco-German dominance of the European Union or ensure its survival: take your pick. Both possibilities have been suggested and that, in a way, is Mr Blair’s triumph as a politician, to be all things to all people while actually being no thing at all."


La vie des idees 21.02.2008 (France)

Historian Jean-Marc Dreyfus reads, for the wonderful internet site La vie des idees, several books about Ukraine's "Holocaust by bullet." Among them "Porteur de memoires" by Father Patrick Desbois who, together with a team of youngish people, travelled around Ukraine, collecting the the last eye witness accounts. "They show him where the mass graves are, they explain to him what they saw when they experienced the massacre. The priest interviews them with great thoroughness. They talk for the first and probably last time. Hundreds of hours of eye witness accounts have already been secured on video."


L' Espresso 22.02.2008 (Italy)

With the Italian election campaign in full swing, Umberto Eco is keen to remind the rival politicians, who are yet again promising the earth, of their own mortality. Humility is something Eco learnt from his music teacher, the Salesian monk Don Celi. "On January 5th, 1945, I went to him and announced with great excitement, 'Don Celi, I'm thirteen years old now." The answer was a peevish, "And you've done nothing with it.' What did he intend with this retort? That at this worthy age I should now slowly start examining my conscience? That I should not expect to receive praise for a simple biological fact. Perhaps it was the just the Piedmont character which categorically rejects all platitudes, even those of politeness. I think however, that Don Celi knew exactly what he wanted to teach me, and this was that a teacher should always cut his students down to size so as not to spur them on unduly." Berlusconi was obviously not one of Don Celi's pupils.


The Economist 22.02.2008 (UK)

The Economist features a detailed article on the – painfully slow – progress of Hollywood in putting its films online. "It will doubtless take Hollywood a few more years to work out how to deliver films over the internet. Meanwhile, studios and retailers are poised to introduce movie-download kiosks, using flash memory. Several companies, such as MOD Systems, of Los Angeles, have cut download times to a few minutes; Ireland's Porto Media claims a time of 17 seconds. The idea is to put kiosks in such places as shops, airports and petrol stations. Using Porto Media's system, films are downloaded onto a tiny device (pictured) which plugs into dock attached to a television. Kiosks could hold more titles than physical video shops and would never be out of stock."


Al Ahram Weekly 21.02.2008 (Egypt)

A beauty salon for veiled women recently opened in Cairo, to the horror of secular Egyptians, reports Gihan Shahine. The secular press is ranting and raving that Christian women are being banned from entering. The owner, actress Hanan Tork says this is a misunderstanding. "'We never actually said they should not come. All we said is that we will not do the hair of non-veiled women - be they Muslims or Christians - because we do not want to share in the sin [of them going out unveiled on the streets]. That, of course, is not our own opinion. We got three religious edicts from three different [Egyptian, moderate] scholars before we decided to do that.' Unveiled women, according to Tork, can use all other facilities in the place. They can, for instance, do hair treatments and cuts, skin masks, pedicure and manicure and enjoy sitting in the cafe. 'The issue is as simple as this: you cannot ask to eat koshari [a popular Egyptian dish of mixed rice, pasta, and lentils with fried onions and garlic tomato sauce on top] in a Chinese restaurant and you cannot blame the restaurant for offering only a certain type of cuisine.'"


Weltwoche 25.02.2008 (Switzerland)

In Switzerland and in Liechtenstein tax evasions is not a crime, but a sort of summary offence, Ralph Pöhner writes with a complete lack of understanding for Germany's deployment of "investigator crews" to hunt down tax fraudsters. "There's little understanding that other nations foster a different relationship between subject and authority (as regards the citizen and the state) – and this relationship inevitably makes itself felt in tax legislation. In Liechtenstein or Switzerland discretion and the private sphere of the individual have more weight that state interests in tax levies; tax evasion is deemed a minor offence; and the relationship with the tax payer is based on trust. Taxes here are not a priori state property, they are considered donations from the citizen."


ResetDoc (Italien), 21.02.2008

In an interview with Amara Lakhous Ernesto Ferrero, head of the Turin Book Fair, responds to the calls by Tariq Ramadan and Dario Fo to boycott the fair on the grounds that Israel is this year's guest country. "We do not invite writers from 'the State'. Ramadan reasons on exclusively political terms, while we are interested in the cultural aspects. It seems he does not know what a book fair is, even though last year, despite being a much discussed figure in Italy, he was our guest. He was able to speak freely and they listened to him with interest. Now he should let others talk". And regarding the demands that Palestinian authors should also be invited, he says, "Palestinian writers, such as Ibrahim Nasrallah, Suad Amiry and Sahar Khalifeh, amongst others, have already been invited, but they declined saying that they did not wish to celebrate al-Nabka or Apartheid. But this is not what we ask."


Portfolio 01.03.2008 (USA)

Writer Denis Johnson travelled to Iraqi Kursidstan and could not believe his eyes – "It's Paul Wolfowitz's wet dream" There's peace, democracy and the Kurds even love Americans. "Love, love. Investors swarm in from all over the globe, and foreigners are common in Erbil, but if you mention tentatively and apologetically that you’re American, a shopkeeper or cafe owner is likely to take you aside and grip your arm and address you with the passionate sincerity of a drunken uncle: 'I speak not just for me but all of Kurdish people. Please bring your United States Army here forever. You are welcome, welcome. No, I will not accept your money today, please take these goods as my gift to America.'"

And writer Jay McInerney cruises with the big fish at Art Basel Miami Beach and feels "the collective ripple in the body aesthetic when one of the big collectors swims past."

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