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14/03/2008

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.

Frankfurter Rundschau 14.03.2008

After a visit to the Frankfurt Musikmesse, Christian Schlüter can recommend the budding talents of the Bundeswehr music corps. "It takes four years to train to be a musical staff sergeant. First you have to take a 'music specialisation aptitude test,' and undergo 'general military training' as well as 'music specialisation training' at the Robert-Schumann Hochschule in Dusseldorf. Then you have to pass the 'music specialisation exam with the trainee musical corps' and 'serve in a Bundeswehr musical corps.' I should mention that the training is by no means restricted to marching music. Along side their big-band activities, our musical soldiers play in orchestras of more classical configurations and they even have small chamber music formations."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
13.03.2008

On the seventieth anniversary of the "annexation" of Austria by the Nazis, the notorious 95-year old Archduke and Crown Prince of Austria, Otto von Habsburg made a speech before the Austrian parliament, reheating the national myth by saying that "no country in Europe has more right to call itself a victim." German studies academic Egon Schwarz who fled from Vienna at the time has a different tale to tell Paul Jandl: "As early as March 1938 Austrian Nazi cadres were committing the most horrific crimes. They were in familiar surroundings, they knew all the local Jews whom they were now permitted to rob or kill. And it didn't stop there. For me it was a pogrom. The Jews had to wash anti-Jewish slogans off the streets and the storm troopers would stand, legs spread far apart, in front of Jewish shops to prevent people from buying there. I saw people jeering as they set Jews' beards on fire. Once a storm trooper tried to arrest me. I refused to go with him. There was a struggle and I was the stronger one. But we all knew we'd get it in the end."


Die Welt 12.03.2008

Were it not for the healthy state of German literature at the present time, Elmar Krekeler would have remained in a foul mood throughout the Leipzig Book Fair. What makes him so angry is the "concentration process in the book industry which is cutting deeper by the day into what was once a lively landscape. (...) More and more media attention is going to ever fewer books. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about what one could have done with all the critical space that was dedicated this year to repeated reviews of bogus literary giants such as Jonathan Littell. Is there anything positive in this disastrous scenario? Actually it's impossible to maintain a long face this year in Leipzig. Paradoxically, German-language literature is looking healthier on this war-torn terrain than it has in a long time, and not only because the publishing houses and feuilletons are paying it so much attention on account of the enduring creative break in American writing."


from the blogs
11.03.2008

wirres.net comments on the list published in the Guardian of the fifty most important blogs, where first place goes to the Huffington Post blog financed by millionairess Arianna Huffington. "Apart from the fact that the German-speaking could desperately use someone like Arianna Huffington, someone who not only has bucks, but also idealism and enough infectious enthusiasm to motivate lazy-assed A, B and even E-list celebrities to write for the internet. Apart from this the Guardian analysis shows the importance of an individual who can get a project like this up and running, not only as a nice little earner for a major publishing house, but out of passion for writing and journalism."


Frankfurter Rundschau
10.03.2008

March 1968 in Poland is not only about student protests, it also marks the start of the communist regime's anti-Semitic witch hunt, writes Andreas Mix. Twenty thousand Jews left the country as a result and the friction is still palpable today. "President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who began his political career in the Communist Party of the late people's republic, made an official apology to the denaturalised in 1998. His successor Lech Kaczynski, who witnessed the violence of 1968 as a law student in Warsaw, has now honoured forty of the former protesters with the Order for the Rebirth of Poland. Henryk Szlajfer and Adam Michnik were not among them. As the editor of the daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Michnik is one of Kaczynski's fiercest critics. (Even the otherwise Kaczynski-friedly paper Rzeczpospolita has criticised the president for not inviting Michnik to the celebrations of the 1968 student protests, writes Thomas Urban in the Süddeutsche Zeitung). Aside from this leading intellectuals are demanding that those forced to leave the country in 1968 should have their citizenships symbolically returned. But the president is hesitant."


Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung 10.03.2008

On the hundredth anniversary of the first book publication by Rowolt publishers, translator Helmut Frielinghaus remembers how Heinrich Maria Ledig-Rowohlt would call upon "his wife Jane, the head of the translation department and his assistant, the translator if he wanted to join, and a further editor" to convene for days on end to discuss the translation of a book. "The team work progressed as follows: the assistant, who for many years was Liselotte Hohlwein, would slowly read out the translation sentence for sentence in sonorous tones and a strong Hessian accent ... The rest of us would stare at the original and comment whenever we discovered a mistake in the translation or to suggest a syntactic or stylistic improvement. Which happened relatively often. Armed with her long fingernails Lady Jane, as we called Ledig's wife, would be knotting a rug and would interrupt her work whenenever she, the Englishwoman, noticed that we were barking up the wrong tree. It was always the same rug, all the fifteen years that I attended those meetings."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
08.03.2008

Andreas Breitenstein had a fascinating talk with Romanian writer Mircea Cartarescu about communism, Ceaucescu, the corruption in today's Romania and his unwillingness to share the anti-capitalist sentiments of the western left. "I do not share the opinion that money is purely destructive, it is also constructive and gives vitality. Money is like blood. If it is infected it poisons the whole body, but if it is healthy it makes the body flourish. A society based on honestly earned money is able to enjoy the lightness of living, and this is also the basis of intellectual and artistic achievement. Culture is luxury. In the past, intellectual life flourished as a rule when the economy was healthy."

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Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

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Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

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Saturday 13 - Friday 19 November, 2010

Dieter Schlesak levels grave accusations against his former friend and colleague, Oskar Pastior, who spied on him for the Securitate. Banat-Swabian author and vice chairman of the Oskar Pastior Foundation, Ernest Wichner, turns on Schlesak for spreading malicious rumours. Die Zeit portrays the Berlin rapper Harris, and the moment he knew he was German. Dutch author Cees Nooteboom meditates on the near lust for physical torture in the paintings of Francisco de Zurburan. An exhibition in Mannheim displays the dream house photography of Julius Schulman.
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Saturday 6 - Friday 12 November, 2010

The NZZ asks why banks invest in art. The FAZ gawps at the unnatural stack of stomach muscles in Michelangelo's drawings. The taz witnesses a giant step for the "Yugo palaver". Bernard-Henri Levy describes Sakineh Ashtiani's impending execution as a test for Iran and the west. Journalist Michael Anti talks about the healthy relationship between the net and the Chinese media. Literary academic Helmut Lethen describes how Ernst Jünger stripped the worker of all organic substances.
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Saturday 30 October - Friday 5 November, 2010

Now that German TV has just beatified Pope Pius XII, Rolf Hochmuth tells die Welt where he got the idea for his play "The Deputy". The FR celebrates Elfriede Jelinek's "brilliantly malicious" farce about the collapse of the Cologne City Archive. "Carlos" director Olivier Assayas makes it clear that the revolutionary subject is a figment of the imagination. The SZ returns from the Shanghai Expo with a cloying after-taste of sweet 'n' sour. And historian Wang Hui tells the NZZ that China's intellectuals have plenty of freedom to pose critical questions.
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Saturday 23 - Friday 29 October, 2010

Author Doron Rabinovici protests against the concessions of moderate Austrian politicians to the FPÖ: recently in Vienna, children were sent back to Kosovo at gunpoint. Ian McEwan wonders why major German novelists didn't mention the Wall. The NZZ looks through the Priz Goncourt shortlist and finds plenty of writers with more bite than Houellebecq. The FAZ outs two of Germany's leading journalists who fiercely guarded the German Foreign Ministry's Nazi past. Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt analyse the symptoms of culturalism, left and right. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht demonstratively yawns at German debate.
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Saturday 16 - Friday 22 October, 2010

A new book chronicles the revolt of revolting "third persons" at Suhrkamp publishers in the wild days of 1968. Necla Kelek is appalled by the speech of the very Christian Christian Wulff, the German president, in Turkey. The taz met a new faction of hardcore Palestinians who are fighting for separate sex hairdressing in Gaza. Sinologist Andreas Schlieker reports on the new Chinese willingness to restructure the heart. And the Cologne band Erdmöbel celebrate the famous halo around the frying pan.
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Saturday 9 - Friday 15 October, 2010

The FR laps up the muscular male bodies and bellies at the Michelangelo exhibition in the Viennese Albertina. The same paper is outraged by the cowardice of the Berlin exhibition "Hitler and the Germans". Mario Vargas-Llosa remembers a bad line from Sweden. Theologist Friedrich Wilhelm Graf makes it very clear that Western values are not Judaeo-Christian values. The Achse des Guten is annoyed by the attempts of the mainstream media to dismiss Mario Vargas-Llosa. The NZZ celebrates the tireless self-demolition of Polish writer and satirist Slawomir Mrozek.
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Saturday 2 - Friday 8 October, 2010

Nigerian writer Niyi Osundare explains why his country has become uninhabitable. German Book Prize winner Melinda Nadj Abonji says Switzerland only pretends to be liberal. German author Monika Maron is not sure that Islam really does belong to Germany. Russian writer Oleg Yuriev explains the disastrous effects of postmodernism on the Petersburg Hermitage. Argentinian author Martin Caparros describes how the Kirchners have co-opted the country's revolutionary history. And publisher Damian Tabarovsky explains why 2001 was such an explosively creative year for Argentina.
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Saturday 25 September - Friday 1 October

Three East German theatre directors talk about the trauma of reunification. In the FAZ, Thilo Sarrazin denies accusations that his book propagates eugenics: "I am interested in the interplay of nature and nurture." Polemics are being drowned out by blaring lullabies, author Thea Dorn despairs. Author Iris Radisch is dismayed by the state of the German novel - too much idle chatter, not enough literary clout. Der Spiegel posts its interview with the German WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt. And Vaclav Havel's appeal to award the Nobel prize to Liu Xiabobo has the Chinese authorities pulling out their hair.
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Saturday 18 - Friday 24 September, 2010

Herta Müller's response to the news that poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant was one of overwhelming grief: "When he returned home from the gulag he was everybody's game." Theatre director Luk Perceval talks about the veiled depression in his theatre. Cartoonist Molly Norris has disappeared after receiving death threats for her "Everybody Draw Mohammed" campaign. The Berliner Zeitung approves of the mellowing in Pierre Boulez' music. And Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, allowed to leave China for the first time, explains why schnapps is his most important writing tool.
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Saturday 10 - Friday 17 September, 2010

The poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant, the historian Stefan Sienerth has discovered. Biologist Veronika Lipphardt dismisses Thilo Sarrazin's incendiary intelligence theories as a load of codswallop. A number of prominent Muslim intellectuals in Germany have written an open letter to President Christian Wulff, calling for him to "make a stand for a democratic culture based on mutual respect." And a Shell study has revealed that Germany's youth aspire to be just like their parents.
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Saturday 4 - Friday 10 September, 2010

Thilo Sarrazin has buckled under the stress of the past two weeks and resigned from the board of the Central Bank. His book, "Germany is abolishing itself", however, continues to keep Germany locked in a debate about education and immigration and intelligence. Also this week, Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been awarded the M100 prize for defending freedom of opinion. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech at the award ceremony: "The secret of freedom is courage". The FAZ interviewed Westergaard, who expressed his disappointment that the only people who had shown him no support were those of his own class.
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