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GoetheInstitute

16/10/2009

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.

Frankfurter Rundschau 10.10.2009

Bernhard Bartsch introduces Beijing's next generation of writers, who meet in private book shops and are now keeping blogs. Han Han, a star among literary bloggers, explains in an interview: "I always try to go to the limits and push them out a little further every time (...) In my opinion, the most critical issue in China today is freedom of the press, because I believe in the power of information. A lot of people in China are proud that things are so much better there here than in North Korea, but if it weren't for North Korea, we'd look pretty goddam old."


Die Welt
10.10.2009

Uta Baier was at the opening of the Ai Weiwei exhibition in Munich's Haus der Kunst: "Everything that made him famous is here on show, and most of it has been discussed and written about extensively. But all these words cannot explain Ai's work. The vast hall in the Haus der Kunst are only just big enough to house the hundreds of tree stumps, the temple columns and the multitude of photos that Ai has taken of himself and his people. Here is a man baring his soul, here is a man mourning for the destruction of his own culture."


Die Tageszeitung
10.10.2009

Kirsten Küppers and Dirk Knipphals tell the story of how Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" was translated into German. The two paid a visit to both the translator, Jürgen Brocan, and the editor and publisher, Michael Krüger: "By the time Brocan sent the last version to Munich, it was already April, four months later than planned. But the job was done. He says: 'I was absolutely exhausted, completely destroyed. A mental and physical wreck.' And Michael Krüger: "'When the book arrived I was beaming with joy, at being able to see this day!' He had been wondering how much his work would stand the test of time. This translation would certainly outlive him. The publisher lights a cigarette, stands up and sits down again. Then he says: 'The pride I felt about the book was greater than the pain I felt about the money we lost making it."


From the blogs 13.10.2009

Herta Müller's ex-husband, Richard Wagner, vents his spleen about an op-Ed piece in the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, which opined that the Nobel prize for Herta Müller was another brushstroke in the portrayal of history that featured the Germans as WWII victims. "It is just plain cynical to suggest that Herta Müller is a revanchist. There is probably no other German writer of her generation who has done more to work through the Nazi past, that of the Banat-Swabians and of her own father as well. And with such relentlessness that her own people have accused her of 'fouling the nest' or of being a 'communist agent'. This information, by the way, is all available in her books. Seven of Herta Müller's works have been translated into Polish, but the Rzeczpospolita commentator has evidently read none of them."


Berliner Zeitung 13.10.2009

"This is the most outrageous, beautiful and fantastic film to have come out of German-language cinema in a long time," writes Anke Westphal about Michael Haneke's "The White Ribbon" (trailer). It recounts a series of strange and terrible occurrences which take place just before the outbreak of WWI in a Northern German village. The spectacular photography reminds the critic of August Sander, and it depicts the brutality typical of the day in matters of child raising. "Punishment, here, is regarded as the basis for respect and 'cleansing through chastisement" is the order of the day. This is all executed as if it were the most rational thing in the world, and it is impossible to resist – it is a closed system of repression, which believes itself to be the best system. And what gets under your skin most is the systematic production of internal distress, which finds expression in maliciousness, envy and apathy. Everything is overlaid with taboo, and even the smallest things are met with heavy punishment."


Perlentaucher
14.10.2009

Ekkehard Knörer, by contrast, couldn't stand the film. "As a director, Haneke is incredibly authoritarian. That and the fact that he wants complete control over every last detail of his stories and images so that nothing is left open. So when, at the beginning of a Haneke film, there is a voice-over, it has only one function: it is the needle and thread which stitches the film so tightly together that nothing can fall out, so that anything that might possibly contradict the entirely unequivocal morality of its auteur, is forced to the margins."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
13.10.2009

This year's German Book Prize was won by Katrin Schmidt for her novel "You're Not Going to Die", about a woman who survives a stroke and has to relearn everything from scratch (excerpt). Thomas Steinfeld celebrates the book's language, "which is what makes the book so good. With never a hint of pathos, or the least flirtation with dismay and pity, the events are presented in a spartan language that so befits the recovery of speech."


Die Tageszeitung
15.10.2009

Beijing author Wang Xiaoshan had obviously been hoping for rather more dialogue at the Frankfurt Book Fair: "The Germans are probably not entirely aware of the extent of the tragedy that the Chinese are saddled with. Germany made its mistakes with the First and Second World War. But China has been making the wrong decisions on almost every key issue for the last 150 years. The Chinese need neither sympathy nor empathy, what they really need is to be helped to reflect on why this happened and why they have always got it wrong."


From the blogs 15.10.2009

In her blog, the writer Jagoda Marinic comments on the ignorant reaction of the New York Times to Herta Müller's Nobel award ("Herta WHO?"): "Ok, so Germany plays no major role on the US book market, we've known that for ages. But Romania? How is it possible that Herta Müller has received zero attention until now, despite her being a Nobel candidate? After all, her publishers (Hanser Verlag) have good contacts in the US, and they publish Nobel candidates from the US, bringing them fame, honour and a huge readership. Even the least well-read bookseller in Germany has heard of the mountains of Philip Roth books."


Die Welt 16.10.2009

The Tibetan blogger Tsering Woeser (more here) explains in an interview, why she is unable to fly to Frankfurt to introduce her new book. "I can't get a passport. That was the case when I was editor of the Tibetan Literature magazine in Lhasa. Despite being a member of the writers' association, the authorities ignored my application. It's not that simple for Tibetans to get passports. In 2003, I lost my job because of a number of critical essays published in the magazine. I moved to Beijing with my husband Wang Lixiong. Since then I have been trying to get a passport. I had to travel to Changchun in North-East China, which is where my husband was originally registered to live. I have put in a application three times now. But I haven't managed to get a passport, or even an answer as to why."

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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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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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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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