07/03/2008

From the Feuilletons

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Die Tageszeitung 07.03.2008

Gabriele Lesser looks back at 1968 in Poland. "For many intellectuals in Poland it will come as a shock that over 80 percent of young people today attach little historical importance to "March 1968." At that time the Polish Unified Workers' Party (PZPR) launched an anti-Semitic witch hunt, student protests were brutally suppressed and around 20,000 Jews fled Poland. This has all been forgotten, according to research carried out by the left-liberal Polish paper Gazeta Wyborcza on the 40th anniversary of the Polish 'March of Shame 1968." Some of the young people questioned were convinced that March 1968 marked the beginning of the Second World War or when Karol Wojtyla became Pope."


Frankfurter Rundschau 06.03.2008

The FreeMuse forum organised a symposium on music and censorship in Oslo. While there, Hans-Jürgen Linke learned a thing or two about censorship mechanisms, even in democratically constitutional countries such as Turkey, Norway and the USA. Kris Kristofferson for example spoke about how he was prevented from making records in the early 80s. "Strangely the market no longer wanted him, Kristofferson said, after he began to voice his criticism of the middle-America politics of the US government, and later of policy in Iraq under President Bush senior."


Frankfurter Rundschau 05.03.2008

In reference to an essay in his new book, "Turning Back the Clock: Hot Wars and Media Populism", in which he imagines what a world without computers would look like, Umberto Eco talks in an interview about the uses and limits of the internet, and admits to having a weakness for technical gadgets. Apart from the iPod. "On principle I find it idiotic to listen to music while walking. I prefer to listen to music at home, sometimes I'll even put on a concert DVD. But even if I don't possess an iPod, I have all kinds of technical gadgetry around the house. I love the stuff, I love buying new IT products and trying them out. Recently I bought an external 250 gegabyte hard drive. Unbelievable. I immediately copied the entire contents of the Italian National Library onto it - great works of world literature. When I travel, I just stick the thing in my suitcase and then take it out again in my hotel room. And then I always have the complete works of Shakespeare, the Bible or the Koran at my fingertips."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 05.03.2008

Finland has spent the last ten years and 12 million euros trying get invited to the Frankfurt Book Fair as guest country. But reports A.Kl., the director of the Book Fair has just announced that "Iceland will be the guest country in 2011. According to an editorial in Helsinki's Hufvudstadsbladet, the director 'made it absolutely clear' that the closure of the Nokia factory in Bochum had cast a highly unfavourable light on Finland's situation." (Does this mean that German publishers will be boycotted as a result of the job cuts at Siemens and BMW -ed?)


Frankfurter Rundschau 04.03.2008

Sonja Margolina wanted to vote in Russia on Sunday but she could find no one to join her. "No one from my immediate surroundings – not even friends of friends – wanted to fulfil their civic duties. The people I knew belonged to the wrong minority, I should try somewhere else was the impression I was getting. And indeed only one friend of mine did actually vote and she had been in psychiatric treatment for a month. "Our director said that the entire psychosomatic ward should do their civic duty and vote for a president. 'Do you think,' my friend asked me, 'that I should cross out the voting slip instead?' She started to cry and I burst into tears too because her situation was so desperate and the election in the lunatic asylum was so completely crazy." 67 percent of inmates cast their vote.


Süddeutsche Zeitung 03.03.2008

Today is the first day of the first semester in Turkey where female students can wear headscarves in universities. The country is up in arms, Kai Strittmatter reports, because no less is at stake than "the soul of the country, the freedom of the people and the survival of the Republic." "Kemalists have been complaining for years that the headscarf is gaining the upper hand. Yet two Turkish polls last year showed that numbers of headscarf-wearers have dropped in the last decade. But headscarves have become more visible because of the number of conservative Anatolian families who have moved to the cities. And also because their daughters do things today that their mothers would never have dared to do. Moreover, it has class war element to it, because as long as only cleaning and peasants women wear the headscarf, the urban elite won't bat an eyelid. It's only when headscarf-wearing women want to become doctors and start shopping in expensive shops that they are perceived as a threat."


Die Welt 01.03.2008

Russsian writer Viktor Erofeyev is not overly enthusiastic about the prospect of voting on Sunday and he has no idea who Medevedev is. "Whether he will go forth from the depths of the system like a new Kruschev, who was open to ideological thaw, or a new Gorbachev who – like Medevedev – also had no team of his own at the start, it is impossible to say. Putin has not died like most over-aged communist rulers. He is close by, smiling and holding Medevedev's hand. ... Whether he likes it or not, Medevedev is the last hope for me and the Russia I love. If he turns out to be an historical mishap, then however hard it tries to look like a superpower, Russia will sink like the 'Kursk'."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 01.03.2008

The first Michelin guide to Japan has been published and all 150 restaurants listed have stars. The Japanese are over the moon, writes Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit, because "nothing seems to be more important in Japan than the cuisine. It is a means of communication, an expression of collective and personal aesthetics embedded in a complex system of cultural signs and gestures. It is a commonly recognised cultural mediator and a central provider of social meaning. Climate and geography have bestowed on the country an abundance of the most varied foodstuffs, 'the joy of the mountains and the sea' as the Japanese would say, which can be prepared with both sophisticated simplicity and extreme elaborateness."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 01.03.2008

Felicitas von Lovenberg airs her suspicions that "the most exciting, headstrong and multifaceted German writing today comes from Austria." And she lists Michael Köhlmeier, Arno Geiger, Karl-Markus Gauß, Thomas Glavinic, Robert Menasse and Marlene Streeruwitz. "It is commonly acknowledged that Austrian writers have developed their own unique sense of form and style in the long shadow of the "Wiener Gruppe". And their ground-breaking storytelling has also received its fair share of attention in recent years. But above all, it is not so much an unusualness of theme or style which could be labelled as 'typically Austrian', but more the extreme individuality which reveals itself in the way traditions are played with or broken."

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