?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

03/06/2008

Magazine Roundup

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

Outlook India | Polityka | London Review of Books | Clarin | Prospect | Gazeta Wyborcza | Merkur | The Guardian | L'Espresso | Nepszabadsag | The Spectator | La vie des idees | The Economist | Al Ahram Weekly | The New York Times


Outlook India 09.06.2008 (India)

Namrata Joshi found the poor, exotic and mystic India of Wes Anderson's film "The Darjeeling Limited" rather hard to digest. And one bit in particular: "The one sequence, which everyone found rather affecting, left me quite cold. It is when the brothers save two drowning kids but can't rescue the third and then stay on to attend his funeral in the village. The encounter with poverty and deprivation, the incident becoming a means for the brothers to grasp the deeper meaning of life - all of it turns out to be a rather artificial, sentimental exercise. It also made me wonder if Irrfan Khan (as the father of the child) should accept any and every role that comes his way in order to strengthen his links with the West."

Sanjaya Baru extols the book "Smoke Mirrors" by the Indian teacher and journalist Pallavi Aiyer, who writes about her life in China: "She has written a witty, insightful and profound book that every educated Indian must read to understand the life and loves, the fears and hopes, the ups and downs of our biggest, oldest and most important neighbour." Gerson da Cunha is grieved that no Indian films were screened at Cannes. When he put the question to festival director Thierry Fremaux, all he got was a laconic: "We were not convinced by any Indian entries." And Ashish Kumar Sen asks whom Indian-Americans, mostly Hillary Clinton fans, will support now that she's out of the running.


Polityka 02.06.2008 (Poland)

The Warsaw weekly has now started translating selected articles into German - one of them being Tomasz Wolek's instructive history of Polish anti-Semitism and the complex relationship between Poles and Jews. It ends in a rallying call: "If anti-Semitism is an infectious disease, then it must be treated. But every therapy should be preceded by an appropriate diagnosis. We must be untiring in our efforts to get to the bottom of this shameful phenomenon and attack its historical roots. This text is not a moral treatise but a modest attempt to do just that."

London Review of Books 05.06.2008 (UK)

The publisher of the London Review, Nicholas Spice, writes an enthusiastic portrait of Austrian Nobel literary laureate Elfriede Jelinek. He has obviously read almost everything she has ever written and that has been written about her in the original, including her recent Amstetten text "Im Verlassen", which he analyses in depth. His reason for writing this article, however, is a new English translation of Jelinek's novel "Gier" ("Greed") which, he complains, is a absolute catastrophe. "With its constant shifts of tone and register, the slippery sideways movement of thought through wordplay and punning, the frequent allusions to other German texts, the idiom of 'Greed' poses almost insuperable obstacles to good translation. Jelinek herself took years to translate 'Gravity's Rainbow' and it would take a comparable labour of love to translate 'Gier' adequately. As it is, doubtless under tight economic constraints, the publishers have paid for a hit-and-miss, standard, 'by the page' translation and the result is a disaster. It's hard to imagine that Jelinek's reputation in the English-speaking world will ever recover. It would have been better to have left the novel untranslated."

Further articles: Hugh Pennington explains – against the backdrop of the catastrophe in Myanmar - that contrary to popular belief, these sort of disasters seldom bring epidemics in their wake: "That the unburied dead are a significant source of disease is another old idea. In fact the microbes that cause corpses to decompose are dedicated to this particular task – they find it very hard to infect the living." David Runcimann describes the 2008 presidential campaign as the first real internet election event in US history – and as such the end of the mass-media monopoly. Michael Wood reviews a Robert Bresson DVD box.


Clarin 01.06.2008 (Argentina)

"What is the future of our cities?" asks N, the magazine of the Argentinian magazine Clarin. In a rare interview, Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava gives a surprisingly optimistic answer: "I do not believe that European cities in particular will continue to grow with anything like the speed with which they grew in the 20th century. We are just not going to see cities growing from 2,000 to 2 million inhabitants within two generations any more. In the 21st century, we will start to reconcile ourselves with the city. Through public transport and improvements in the infrastructure, cities will be born again as places where it is pleasant to live. I believe it will be a fantastic century."


Prospect 02.06.2008 (UK)

In a brilliantly researched and refreshingly unprejudiced leader, Tom Chatfield presents the latest facts on the big-business cultural form of the video game. "The complexity of games like World of Warcraft and Eve is not the only aspect of modern gaming to defy stereotype. Consider demographics: where once gaming was the preserve of adolescent males, players increasingly come from all age groups and both sexes ... The average American video game player is now 35 years old and has been playing games for 12 years, while the average frequent buyer of games is 40. Moreover, 40 percent of all players are women, with women over 18 representing a far greater portion of the game-playing population (33 per cent) than boys aged 17 or younger (18 per cent)."

Further articles: David Goldblatt introduces the Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem FC and its militant anti-Arab supporters. Prospect film columnist Mark Cousins spends a flight from the UK to Dubai mulling over what cinema means to him. The HIV Aids virus is no longer a death sentence in the UK – but this fact brings with it a host of other problems, as Elizabeth Pisani explains. Mark Pagel review two books on the genetic reality of race.


Gazeta Wyborcza 31.05.2008 (Poalnd)

Many "traumatised Ex-Yugoslavians" are predicting that the EU will go the same way as the Tito state, according to Bulgarian political scientist Ivan Krastev. Democracy and prosperity cannot protect the EU against burgeoning nationalism and a lack of solidarity: "Economic prosperity does not last forever and democracy will be used by the people to destroy the state," they warn. "It's a lop-sided analogy," comments Krastev, "but thoughts like these are useful in times of crisis. The intuitive feelings of the people I have discussed this with, are right – you cannot take the EU for granted, otherwise there will be no one left to defend it. This was also the tragic mistake of the Yugoslavian elite."


Merkur 01.06.2008 (Germany)

Thomas Speckmann claims that democracies are incapable of waging successful wars of aggression. "If democracies go against their conditioning and become militarily aggressive, they tend to regret it very quickly. This is what happened to France and Britain with the Suez Crisis in 1956 when Paris and London lost their positions of global power forever. Like the US economy and the dollar today, the British economy and the pound came under pressure. This, together with its loss of status, not least in the Third World, prompted the rest of the British and French colonies to push for independence. A few months before the Six Day War, the Minister of Defence Moshe Dayan visited Vietnam. His conclusion: 'The Americans are winning everything here – except the war.' In June 1967 you could say the opposite about the Israelis: the only thing they did win, was the war."


The Guardian 31.05.2008 (UK)

Novelist Ian McEwan warns, in an essay, that popular new strains of end-time thinking are not just a leftover of some superstitious age, but represent a very real danger: "Contemporary apocalyptic movements, Christian or Islamic, some violent, some not, all appear to share fantasies of a violent end, and they affect our politics profoundly. The apocalyptic mind can be demonising - that is to say, there are other groups, other faiths, that it despises for worshipping false gods, and these believers of course will not be saved from the fires of hell. And the apocalyptic mind tends to be totalitarian - which is to say that these are intact, all-encompassing ideas founded in longing and supernatural belief, immune to evidence or its lack, and well-protected against the implications of fresh data. Consequently, moments of unintentional pathos, even comedy, arise - and perhaps something in our nature is revealed - as the future is constantly having to be rewritten, new anti-Christs, new Beasts, new Babylons, new Whores located, and the old appointments with doom and redemption quickly replaced by the next."


L'Espresso 30.05.2008 (Italy)

The Bologna process, aimed at coordinating European Universities, might carry the name of his home-town university, but this doesn't warm Umberto Eco to the idea of something as daft as a three-year bachelor degree and its system of modules and credit points. You hardly see the students in the university any more he says: "Why are three years in an American college better than our B.A.? Partly, it seems, because they don't tell American students that they are 'dottori' after three years. Over there you also have to attend all the courses, and you spend the entire day in each other's company. Students and professors are in constant contact. This might not sound like much, but it is everything. So the problem is not the shortness of the degree course but the intensity of the participation. How can we manage to make participation obligatory again in Italy?"


Nepszabadsag 31.05.2008 (Hungary)

At this year's film festival in Cannes, the Fipresci critic's prize went to "Delta" by director Kornel Mundruczo – and producer Viktoria Petranyi. In an interview with Geza Csakvari, the two film makers discuss the importance of the prize for the Hungarian film scene which, in recent years, has become increasingly hostile towards films d'auteur. Much to Viktoria Petranyi's disgust: "The appalling misguided and unintelligently excited discourse, which is driving a wedge between art house films and mainstream cinema, won't be shifted by one film at Cannes. We need ten of them. We have never questioned the right of the mainstream films to exist, but the other side regards the production of art films as treacherous. The sickness and the divisions within the industry are huge."


The Spectator 30.05.2008 (UK)

In Germany, internet and telephone data can be saved for a maximum of seven months. In Britain, things are a little more advanced, as Edie G. Lush reports. "Last week the Labour government revealed its plans to create a national cyber-database to hold details of every phone call, text, email and visit to the internet, as part of its plan to fight terrorism and crime. Internet service providers and telecoms companies will be required to give their records to the Home Office, where the data will be held for at least a year. Police and other security units will be allowed access if permission is granted by the courts. The government claims the proposal comes as part of plans to implement an EU directive developed after the 7 July bombings to bring uniformity of record-keeping among member states. The proposal set alarm bells ringing for both human rights and security experts. The Information Commissioner Jonathan Bamford warned that the database was 'a step too far' and that the UK was in danger of 'sleepwalking into a surveillance society.'"


La vie des idees 28.5.2008 (France)

Annie Jourdan introduces a book on Napoleon's coup d'etat on November 9, 1799: " Le Dix-huit Brumaire. L'epilogue de la Revolution francaise" (Gallimard). Its author, Patrice Gueniffey, is being hailed as the heir to Francois Furet, the historian who freed the history of the French Revolution from the grips of pro-communists and reflected on the history of the left in France. "A former student of Furet, Gueniffey has been researching Napoleon for many years, and he continues where Furet sadly left off, with investigations into the epoch of the consulate and the empire. Gueniffey is particularly interested in the question of legitimacy, in the functioning of the institutions, the coup d'etat as phenomenon, the relations between power and authority, and the nature of Napoleon's regime."


The Economist 29.05.2008 (UK)

The American suburbs, once homogeneous, white and primly middle-class enclaves, are undergoing a rapid sea-change, as the Economist reports. "According to William Frey, a demographer, the white population of big-city suburbs grew by 7 percent between 2000 and 2006. In the same period the suburban Asian population grew by 16 percent, the black population by 24 percent and the Hispanic population by an astonishing 60 percent. Many immigrants to America now move directly to the suburbs without passing through established urban ghettos. ... Gary Gates, who follows the subject at the University of California at Los Angeles, says the number of gay and lesbian couples in suburbia is also increasing. Much of this can be put down to greater tolerance ... but some of it is due to migration from central cities."

The reviews include the extremely Bush-critical memoirs of George W. Bush's former spokesman Scott McClellan, and Jonathan Dimbleby's reportage from "Russia".


Al Ahram Weekly 29.05.2008 (Egypt)

In Cairo, an Israeli conference on the history of the Jews in Egypt was cancelled at the last moment, prompting Dina Ezzat to address the subject : "In Egypt today there are no more than 70 Jews. Mostly consisting of elderly women and no more than two men, the Jewish community of Egypt today perceives itself as "an empty nest with no young members. ... This meagre presence offers only a tiny glimpse of the multilayered presence Egyptian Jews once had in the country, when they were part and parcel of every echelon of society. Rich Jews, with well- known names like Rolo, Cattawi, Menashe, Suares and Mosseri who are known to have demonstrated patriotism in the face of British colonisation and less well-known ones like Leon Castro, lived in the upscale neighbourhoods of Cairo and Alexandria and contributed to the cultural, economic and political activities of Egypt. Poorer Jews lived among the rest of the economically disadvantaged Egyptian population, while preserving their distinct religious identity."

Further articles: Rania Khallaf reports on a conference about the writer Youssef Idris, who remains a highly controversial figure almost 20 after his death.


The New York Times 01.06.2008 (USA)

James Traub pens a detailed reportage about Pakistan's lawyers who, in their black suits, are now putting the heat on the newly elected government, in what Traub describes as "perhaps the most consequential outpouring of liberal, democratic energy in the Islamic world in recent years." The mastermind of the movement is Aitzaz Ahsan: "A man who has done so much to restore democratic government to Pakistan is now threatening the new, elected regime - in the name of democracy. What's more, Ahsan is pointing the weapon of popular agitation at his own political party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, whose leader, Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto, has been dragging his feet on the restoration of the judiciary. The lawyers themselves started talking about a coming 'train wreck'; so were nervous P.P.P. officials. But Ahsan was unfazed. 'You can't have a democracy without an independent judiciary,' he told me in one of a series of conversations across Pakistan earlier this year. 'And you can certainly not construct a parliamentary structure on the debris of the judicial edifice.' Over the ensuing weeks, Zardari made and unmade a series of promises to restore the judges. A few weeks ago, Ahsan and the country's lawyers voted to go back to the streets."

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