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17/04/2009

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung 11.04.2009

Sonja Zekri pays a visit to Kyrgyzstan, the state which hit the headlines in February, when it bowed to Russsian pressure and announced that it would be closing a key US airbase situated there (news story). It's a pretty place, but there's not a lot going on: "Kyrgyzstan, this blind spot between Moscow and Tehran, Kabul and Shanghai. Kyrgyzstan has no oil, no gas, no high tech and no high potentials, at least very few that stay. It just has itself. Aquamarine lakes, mountains under eternal ice, 93 percent of the land is unfit for development, but it's geopolitical hotspot."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
14.04.2009

Aldo Keel reports that Norway is to introduce general conscription for women next year, and that Denmark and Sweden are also considering this delicate move towards equality: "Experience in Africa and Afghanistan, where women are reluctant to communicate with unfamiliar men, shows how important women officers can be for intelligence gathering and troop security. In an article for the Oslo Aftenposten, however, a retired woman major criticised the 'male climate right through to misogyny' that continues to rule in officer circles. And the emphasis that remains on camaraderie rather than professionalism."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
14.04.2009

Andreas Rossmann reports on his visit, that took place under almost conspiratorial conditions, to the "emergency clinic" for material pulled from the wreckage of the Cologne City Archive which collapsed last month: "No one knows when or what will be back in place or restored, or when the stocks will be housed under one roof again and accessible to the public. The collapse has left the archive in chaos, all order overturned... It may take twenty, even thirty years, one archivist estimated, before the archive, even with the huge losses it has sustained, is returned to its pre-disaster state. Only then will the head be returned to the body."

Dietmar Bartz spent four days dispensing first aid to files rescued from the rubble in Cologne. His diary entry, printed in the taz on April 15, read: "At the local security authorities on Wednesday, I had to sign an oath of secrecy, not only for data protection reasons: the city also prohibits 'the writing of any articles for the press' as well as all photography. And all information given to the media has to be approved first."


Berliner Zeitung
16.04.2009

"Fear-induced vomiting is a fine and splendid thing, particularly if it doesn't prevent artists from going on stage," writes Daniela Pogade, on what would have been the 80th birthday of Jacques Brel. The late Belgian singer-songerwriter once said that that stage fright made him throw up three times a day."


Die Welt 16.04.2009

"Best building in the Bundesrepublik," declares Rainer Haubrich, in reference to architect Sep Ruf's Kanzlerbungalow in Bonn which is now open to the public following renovation. A symptomatic building: "This was the birthplace of that hackneyed topos which determined that architecture is only democratic if it is 'open and transparent'. And it features a number of details that prefigure the sort of dwarfism that eventually became a monument to post-war architecture (the low porch roof and the round concrete tubs clustered below speak volumes)."


Jungle World 16.04.2009

The leftist weekly, Jungle World, focusses on the UN's Durban Review conference on racism and related intolerance which opens next week in Geneva. For Lukas Lambert, the preparations confirm the worst: the UN doesn't give a damn about human rights. "The countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have been using their majority in the Human Rights Council for several years now, to pass a number of resolutions to combat so-called 'defamation of religions'. These 56 states demand that religions, and primarily Islam, should be recognised as the bearer of human rights, whose 'violation', for instance through 'insulting images', should be pursued and prosecuted. In the same context they demand 'voluntary' limits on press freedom. The council passed a resolution to this effect just two weeks ago, giving the persecution of opposition figures and minorities in dictatorial states the UN's blessing one more time."


Die Zeit
16.04.2009

Germany's most famous feminist, Alice Schwarzer, goes to town in the politics section. Why, she asks, is the media turning a blind eye to the fact that in the school shooting in Winnenden last month, eleven of the twelve victims were female. "What would have happened, I found myself asking two days after the massacre, if Tim K. had gunned down eleven Turkish kids and one of their German friends in the classroom. The answer is simple: all hell would have broken loose! Any halfway critical reporter or journalist would not only have drawn attention to this fact but they would also pursue it. And draw conclusions, such as making the connection between the perpetrators and the social climate in which xenophobia exists – which perhaps not surprisingly precipitates into such forms as its most extreme."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
16.04.2009

In Budapest, Hubert Spiegel talked to Hungarian writers Peter Nadas (more) and Peter Esterhazy (more), who both see their as country embroiled in a deep-reaching crisis. Peter Nadas, in particular, cannot find the least grounds for optimism: "If it were not so tragic, I would describe it as farcical. Nothing has changed, we live in the old structures, the political parties are unaccountable, there is no functioning middle-class, let alone a bourgeoisie, no sense of responsibility. Responsibility means nothing in this country – except the responsibility  for scraping together as much as possible for your own purse and your own family as soon as you land a position that enables you to do so."

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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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