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13/02/2009

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.

Der Tagesspiegel 07.02.2009

On the 20th anniversary of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, Perlentaucher editor Thierry Chervel writes about the effects Islamism has had on on the West and on the Left: "In confronting Islamism, the Left has abandoned all its principles. It once stood for cutting ties to convention and tradition, but with Islam the Left reinstated them all in the name of multiculturalism. It is proud of having fought for women's rights but in Islam it tolerates headscarves, arranged marriages and wife-beating. Where it stood for equal rights it is now is calling for the right to difference – and with it, different rights. Where it proclaimed freedom of expression it now emits embarrassed coughs when Islam enters the room. It once supported gay rights but now won't so much as mention the taboo in Islam. The West's much needed process of self-relativisation at the end of colonial era, which was spurred on by postmodern and structuralist ideas, lead to cultural relativism and a loss of criteria."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 07.02.2009

"The toad made a wrong call," Monika Maron concludes angrily after reading Günter Grass's 1990 diary "On the road from Germany to Germany" : "I'm not saying that to err is shameful. So you might say that Grass's diary testifies to the fears of a man who had learned from history, and who saw Germany's state unity as a disaster waiting to happen and which luckily for him and the rest of us, never did. For Günter Grass, though, this is proof of his prophetic powers or more modestly perhaps, his political vision or quite simply that he was right, yet again. But in actual fact, he is doing precisely what he accusing others of doing: he is colonising, if only mentally. He decides whose opinions are allowed, he knows what's right for those gullible, backwards, Deutsch-Mark crazy East Germans, what they should want and idiotically don't want, and he steps up to intercede in their best interests, as if they were too stupid to articulate them themselves."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10.02.2009

Michael Althen, like most of his fellow critics at the Berlinale, was deeply impressed by the German Competition entry, "Alle anderen" (Everyone Else) by Maren Ade. The film is about a young couple holidaying in Sardinia and "the way things go in love, the ups and downs, the back and forth, the longing and doubting, the successes and missed opportunities. It used to be only the French who dared to do nothing else for the duration of a film, love being a world in itself. But now it seems the Germans are able to talk about relationships without everyone hanging their heads. Of course pain is a factor, and Maren Ade's film does not shy away from the bits where it hurts. But the film lives on the desire to watch the game of love."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
10.02.2009

Axel Timo Purr casts an eye on literary scene in Malawi and explains why book production has virtually ground to a halt: "After the current government sold its forestry concessions and wood processing licences to a furniture company more that ten years ago, the country's paper mills stopped turning. Paper has to be imported from South Africa at great expense and since then publishers have limited themselves to printing school books which have comparatively high editions. There is only a budget for literary works in exceptional cases."


Die Welt 12.02.2009

Israeli historian and journalist Tom Segev expresses his shock at the election success of right-wing populist Avigdor Lieberman. "For years we flattered ourselves that as Jews, we were immune to racist sentiments. For years we even wanted to believe that the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians in the West Bank would not encroach on our own democratic system. We told ourselves proudly that we did not hate; it was the enemy that hated us. Now hate has become legitimate for us, too."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
12.02.2009

From an interview with theatre director and Berlinale jury member, Christoph Schlingensief, we can infer that he has been less than inspired by the films in this year's Competition. "Here of course we see plenty of nice little films which are strong on causal connectivity. But my friend the actor Alfred Edel taught me to look at things I had just written and to ask "Is that causal or acausal? If it's acausal, it's good!' This is something which future Biennale selection committees should perhaps take into consideration."


Frankfurter Rundschau 13.02.2009

Tom Mustroph reports from Italy that Silvio Berlusconi plans to cut telephone surveillance dramatically, but no one is celebrating. "To independent observers of the justice system this amendment looks like an attempt to make it easier for the more corrupt members of the administrative upper class to continue their criminal activities. Many of the scandals which have rocked Italy in the past two decades would never have surfaced under the new proposed conditions. The fraud at the dairy and food giant Parmalat would never have been uncovered, Giulio Andreotti's mafia cronyism would have remained a rumour, and even the football match fixing would never have come out."

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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
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From the feuilletons

Saturday 27 November - Friday 3 December

Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt explains how the Left got its culturist ideas. Slavenka Draculic writes about censoring Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film in Bosnia. Daniel Cohn-Bendit talks   about his friendship, falling out and reconciliation with Jean-Luc Godard. Wikileaks has caused an embarrassed silence in the Arab world, where not even al-Jazeera reported on the what the sheiks really think. Alan Posener calls for the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden to be shut down.
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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

The theatre event of the week came in a twin pack: Roland Schimmelpfennig's new play, a post-colonial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opened at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and the Thalia in Hamburg. The anarchist pamphlet "The Coming Insurrection" has at last been translated into German and has ignited the revolutionary sympathies of at least two leading German broadsheets, the FAZ and the SZ. But the taz, Germany's left-wing daily, says the pamphlet is strongly right-wing. What's left and right anyway? came the reply.
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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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