?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

07/07/2009

Magazine Roundup

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

MicroMega | The Nation | The Times Literary Supplement | Al Ahram Weekly | Observator Cultural | Standpoint | Dawn | Nepszabadsag | Le Monde | London Review of Books | L'Espresso | Le Nouvel Observateur | The Economist | Outlook India


MicroMega 02.07.2009 (Italy)

The Italian parliament has just passed a law which makes illegal immigration a crime (more here). A long list of Italian intellectuals – among them Andrea Camilleri, Antonio Tabucchi, Dario Fo and his wife Franca Rame - have protested vociferously against the new law. Let's hope that a European scandal ensues: "Women who are illegal immigrants in Italy are now no longer allowed to register the births of their children. This means that the children of 'non-registered' foreign women will spend their entire lives branded as children of unknown parents according to the will of a temporary majority. The new law can be used to separate them from their mothers at birth and put them into state custody. Not even fascism went this far! The race laws which the regime introduced in 1938 did not separate children from their Jewish parents, nor did they force women to have abortions to avoid having their children taken away by the state. We would not be turning to the European public if this were not an issue that transcends national borders. Anyone who believes in humanity must raise his voice! Europe cannot accept that one of its founding states is regressing to the most primitive level of social organisation, thereby violating international law and the very principles of the European Union." To date the petition has over 10.000 signatories.


The Nation 20.07.2009 (USA)

In his report on Iran, Robert Dreyfuss has abandoned hope for the popular uprising. He sees two alternatives for the country: "At best, Iran will remain embroiled in the stalemate it has faced since 2005, with the economy continuing to unravel. At worst, it could fall into North Korea-like isolation, with fundamentalists and the security establishment preaching that subsistence-level economic privation must be endured for the sake of Islamic purity. At the very least, the clergy-run, quasi-democratic Iranian state has been replaced by something that looks a lot more like a military dictatorship. Since his election in 2005, Ahmadinejad has installed scores of ex-commanders from the IRGC throughout government ministries and as governors and local officials in all thirty provinces. Ahmadinejad's cronies have created a powerful clique loyal to Khamenei but, at the same time, encircling the office of the Leader."


The Times Literary Supplement 03.07.2009 (UK)

In a well-researched background article Rosemary Righter recommends Amir Taheri's book "The Persian Night", which puts paid to countless myths in Iran's history. He even casts doubt on the CIA overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadeq. "By 1953, he writes, the great democrat Mossadeq had quarrelled with the Shah, dissolved the Majlis, postponed elections, declared martial law and was governing by decree. With some difficulty, the Shah obtained a guarantee of US support should he dismiss Mossadeq; but then fled the country when Mossadeq rejected as a forgery the firman dismissing him. By this time, Taheri writes, the CIA, working with British agents, was without doubt 'engaged in a number of dirty tricks designed to incite public opinion against the prime minister by creating the impression that the Communists were about to seize power'. But, as Pravda gleefully reported at the time, the US botched the job because its plans hinged on Mossadeq's dismissal and fell apart when he refused to go. The CIA cable to Washington read: 'The operation has been tried and failed'."

The reviews cover Alain de Botton's new book "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work" - from which Toby Lightig learns that the international "precariat" is easily exploited but also difficult to control - and David Watkin's study "The Roman Forum".


Al Ahram Weekly 02.07.2009 (Egypt)

The New York literature professor Hamid Dabashi energetically rejects the theory that the demonstrators in Iran were all from the middle classes and Ahmedinejad's supporters from the poor: "In 1997, some three million high school graduates participated in the Iranian national university entrance examination, of which only 240,000 managed to pass through the Seven Tasks of Rostam and enter a university. So the full capacity of the entire Iranian university system is less than 10 per cent of the total applicants. What happened to that more than 90 per cent? Where did they go? What job, what opportunity, and what education? The answer is frightful. A significant portion of this remaining 90 per cent is absorbed into various layers of the militarised security apparatus, including the Basij and the Pasdaran. If in fact anyone qualified for that dreaded 'middle class' status it is precisely this component of the 15-29 year olds who have not made it to the university system and have joined the security apparatus of the regime, for they have a steady job, can marry, form a family, and have a solid investment in the status quo and be considered 'middle class'."


Observator Cultural 05.07.2009 (Romania)

What's worse than Western capitalism? Capitalism that hides behind a hammer and a sickle. Moldovan journalist and translator Leo Butnaru sends a caustic letter from Moldova, where the April 7 elections were followed by heavy protests against the Communist election victory. Butnaru explains how the elections were manipulated – a large percent of Moldavians working abroad were prevented from voting – and the perverse nature of the regime: "We're dealing here with a mutant that is hard to describe. This fabulous mongrel, communo-capitalism looks exceptionally repulsive in the fun house mirrors of mysteriously still ongoing, retarded bolshevism, with which European autocracy and diplomacy nevertheless go on flirting. I would very much like to know, for instance, why last March his Excellency, the former British ambassador to Chisinau, John Beyer, allowed himself to be decorated by tovarish Voronin, a dictator, a hypocrite, a show-off, a scoffer at the idea of Europe - an inveterate bolshevik, pure and simple, who benefits from 'multilaterally-developed' capitalism - to borrow a phrase from the old Party manuals."

Beyer is not the only politician whom Butanaru names: his list of foreign dignitaries queuing up to be decorated also includes FIFA president Sepp Blater, Secretary General of the European Council Terry Davis, Austrian EU politician Erhard Busek, Bulgaria's president Gheorghi Pirvanov and the Croatian president Stjepan Mesic.

And the USA-based Romanian writer Norman Manea, Susan Harris from "words without borders" the American translator Susan Bernofsky and the publisher Chad Post discuss the market for literary translations and translation itself.


Standpoint 01.07.2009 (UK)

The far-right British National Party has just won two seats in the European parliament. Standpoint hosts a conversation about its founder, with historian Raymond Carr and Oswald Mosley's son and biographer Nicholas. They cannot agree on whether Oswald Mosley was actually anti-semitic but they do agree that he was a fascist, but not a dangerous one. Nicholas Mosley says for example: "He wasn't a democratic politician, there's no doubt about that. He used to say, 'What's the point of parliament? You have 300 people on one side who are trying to get something done, and you have 350 on the other side trying to stop doing it.' When I was old enough to say these sorts of things, I would say, 'But that's the whole bloody point!' All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. The point of democracy is it stops things getting done. He couldn't understand that. He said, 'But that's appalling, I want to get things done." So the only way you can try and get things done is you can go and stand on top of a barrel.'"


Dawn 04.07.2009 (Pakistan)

Arundhati Roy also has her problems with democracy. In an essay, which forms the foreword to her new book, "Listening to Grasshoppers" she asks whether there is life after democracy. And don't even think about asking if she'd prefer the Somalian option. The question, she says, "isn't meant to suggest that we lapse into older, discredited models of totalitarian or authoritarian governance. It's meant to suggest that the system of representative democracy - too much representation, too little democracy - needs some structural adjustment. The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasised into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximising profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be?"

Tut-tut, the Jews have beaten the pious Muslims to it yet again, Tazeen Javed informs us. "A new 'kosher' search engine called Koogle has been launched for orthodox Jews living in Israel, which will allow them to surf cyberspace without ever encountering unbecoming images or faith wavering text and keep the dangers of subversion and temptation at bay. Koogle will follow the religious standards set by the rabbis and is aimed at helping orthodox Jews stay on the stipulated path. Apparently a jibe at Google, Koogle will filter out forbidden material and provide its consumers kosher bits and pieces from the net. This provides an impetus to our more religious-minded Muslim brothers to come up with a halal search engine or perhaps something even better: a halal browser. The halal browser could scan the web and act all big brotherly for the benefit of its devout and virtuous users.


Nepszabadsag 04.07.2009 (Hungary)

Hungary's government has failed to solve the country's problems with neo-liberal models, writes cultural studies academic Eszter Babarczy. Why? Their ideas don't wash with Hungarians, who are more subjective (also in their intolerance). The government should simply answer two questions: what hurts? and what helps?, using a contemporary Hungarian frame of reference. "Behind every major – political or philosophical – idea is the fact that competent and well-travelled people can answer these questions in their own small communities, and guide the small, divergent ideas onto a track that heads towards solutions. Any answer is only valid in one particular place at one particular time, and then never again. The Hungarian Liberal government, I believe, should declare fewer American freedom rights and should focus on answering what helps when faced with the painful fact that we are becoming ever more uncivilised, ever more explicit in our brutality towards one another, and that we are ever more incapable of making rules for ourselves to which we actually adhere. The Hungarian Left should answer the question of what helps when its hurts that people barely feel human because they have to make do with little money and little hope of improving their situation, because family and job are more important that having an ambitious career and therefore there's not enough money for either a jeep or a holiday to Spain. The social democratic (indeed the democratic) movement in France was so successful because it managed to restore the dignity and self-respect of the man in the street, which had been ravaged by turbo capitalism. Which is why my suggestion to the democrats is to read Victor Hugo and forget about publicity."


Le Monde 06.07.2009 (France)

It's time for radical change, declares former US cyclist, Greg LeMond, in his column on this year's Tour de France. The three-time winner of the Tour expresses his heartfeld need "to be able to watch the Tour without having to ask myself who's clean and who's cheating, which part is sportsman and which is down to the drugs of some famous Italian or Spanish doctor. ... Why does no one just say stop! Professional cycling has haemorrhaged credibility in the last few years, something it worked years to achieve. It is not too late to turn things around and win it back again. But this is not the job of the media. It is up to the cyclists, the sport management, the organisers and the fans to ensure this change happens."


London Review of Books 09.07.2009 (UK)

Christopher Caldwell introduces a book which has scandalised political France: "Le monde selon K." by France's celebrated investigative journalist, Pierre Pean. It is an expose which accuses foreign minister Bernard Kouchner of a series of financial, political and financial misdeeds. "The book hit Paris like a bomb," writes Caldwell. "Kouchner accused Pean of anti-semitism and rallied celebrity friends to defend him, from Bernard-Henri Levy at home to Hillary Clinton and Kofi Annan abroad. Newspapers of the left – notably Liberation – opened their columns to Pean, while Le Monde attacked his book. The news weekly Le Point conducted an independent investigation of Pean's allegations and generally corroborated them. 'Le Monde selon K.' is a brave and important book: though intemperate, frequently unfair and sometimes slapdash, it levels charges against Kouchner's militarised humanitarianism that demand an answer – and neither Kouchner nor any of his defenders has yet provided one."


L'Espresso 03.07.2009 (Italy)

Espresso and Silvio Berlusconi have entered into open combat. The Italian premier recently called for all advertisers to stop advertising in Repubblica-owned papers – Espresso being one of them. "An absolute classic," comments Jean-Marie Colombani, former editor-in-chief of Le Monde, now for Slate.fr, in an interview with Gigi Riva. "This has already happened in Spain and France. The interesting thing is that Berlusconi reacted like a corporate boss rather than a politician. This is how any less shrewd boss reacts when cornered by a hostile press. If for example I write in a car magazine that a certain model is unreliable in curves, the car company boss will not be interested in the truth, but will instead threaten to retract his advertisements. Politicians who turn against the press never get very far - as recent European history has shown."


Le Nouvel Observateur 02.07.2009 (France)

Under the headline "Netayanhu's Shemozzle", the paper prints a translation of Israeli writer David Grossman's critical article on the Israeli premier (here the original article in the Haaretz). In his proposal for a two-state solution, for Israel and the Palestinians, writes Grossman, Netanyahu did not speak, "honestly and courageously" as promised about the destructive role of the settlements as an obstacle to peace, but avoided saying what he knows so well: that the map of the settlements contradicts the map of peace. "Netanyahu's speech, which should have aspired to the new global spirit that U.S. President Barack Obama has generated, tells us between its contorted lines that there will be no peace here if it is not forced upon us. It is not easy to admit it, but it seems increasingly that this is the choice Israelis and Palestinians face: a just and secure peace - forced on the parties through firm international involvement, led by the United States - or war, possibly more difficult and bitter than those that came before it."


The Economist 03.07.2009 (UK)

In their book "The Smell of the Continent", Richard Mullen and James Muson take a romp through a hundred years of Victorian tourism. They show how numbers of people travelling to the continent swelled from 10,000 travellers in 1814 to 250,000 in the 1860s. It was all down to travel times: "At the beginning of the century the journey from London to Paris took three or four gruelling days and nights; by mid-century mechanisation had reduced this to less than 11 hours, making a day out to the French capital feasible. In place of the months-long tours of the Rhineland and Switzerland undertaken by early 19th-century travellers, tourism became all about speed and brevity. Well before 1914 a Londoner could leave home in the early morning, lunch in Paris, cram in some shopping, and still be home in time for dinner."

The reviews cover: Vladislav Zubok's "Zhivago's Children" (website) a book about the generation of Soviet intelligentsia in the "silver age" between Stalin's death and the start the Brezhnev chill; and historian Archie Brown's book on why Communism took root (publisher's website). A further article looks at the victory of comedian Al Franken who, 238 days after the US elections, is now officially senator of Minnesota. Not everyone was amused by the tug of war in the courts: "One town was so bored that it planned to choose a winner by staging a race between two piglets named after the candidates." Finally, of course, an obituary for Michael Jackson.


Outlook India 13.07.2009 (India)

The Bollywood special deals with the issue at the heart of almost every Bollywood film: love and longing. But do not be deceived, writes Prasoon Joshi: "Since romance has been the backbone of filmi geet, one might conclude that Indians are a very romantic people. In fact, the opposite is true. The intricate social and moral fabric of Indian society has always made a simple man-woman relationship into a kind of participative sport, played by society in the arena of restriction and sanction. Implicit in this is the fear that an unbridled man-woman relationship has the power to shake up and threaten established social codes and structures, like the joint family system and the sub-units of relationships.

Further articles address the fading memory of famous lovers from the past, the rise of mythology-based romances in contemporary cinema, the macho heroes of Tamil cinema, and with taboo relationships in Bollywood. There is also a long interview with heart-throb actor Saif Ali Khan (star of "Kal Ho Naa Ho").

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