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18/12/2009

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 12.12.2009

Thomas Schmid remembers the bloody Romanian revolution twenty years ago – if it really was such a thing: "Over a thousand people were killed during the Romanian revolution. But was it actually a revolution? By now there is much to suggest that high-ranking army officers were pushing to get rid of the Conducator and that some of demonstrations were Securitate-driven. We are still in the dark about much of what happened. Pastor (now Bishop) Laszlo Tökes, who gave the starting signal for the overthrow of the dictatorship, is now a member of the European parliament, and the poet Mircea Dinescu, who preached the overthrow of the tyrants, is now living a Romanian village on the Danube – as a winemaker."


Frankfurter Rundschau 14.12.2009

Peter Michalzik was enthralled by Oliver Reese's "Phaedra" in the Schauspiel Frankfurt: "Reese has created an entire performance layer out of the act of touching. From who - bound up in their misfortune - touches whom, and where and when. As when Oenone, Phaedra's confidante, played as wonderfully selfish, anxious and alert by Franziska Junge, strokes the length of Phaedra's naked evening-dress arm without touching it once, lost in thought, calculating, and tender all at the same time. It is a magnificent moment of minimal gesture, a surprising and convincing translation of Racine in a contemporary art form."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 14.12.2009

Hubert Spiegel met the Romanian poet Werner Söllner and asked him why he kept silent for so long about his involvement with the Securitate (more here). "For over thirty years, Werner Söllner never talked about the three or four years in the Seventies, when the Securitate forced him to cooperate and interrogated him about friends and colleagues. For over thirty years he kept silent about it, out of 'guilt and shame', not because he wanted to keep quiet about what happened, but because he didn't have the courage or power to confess his involvement: 'I simply couldn't do it.'"


Frankfurter Rundschau
16.12.2009

Although the new German translation of Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure" contains a few hideous blunders - "the page numbers listed in the notes are persistently wrong" - Peter Michalzig is absolutely delighted by (the former East German stage director) B. K. Tragelehn's translation. "Tragelehn's language is saturated with the traditions and layers that precede it. Shakespeare's of course, earthy and celebratory, course and fine. Then the dry, world-opening language of Brecht with its close proximity to thought and fact. And then the development of this language through Heiner Müller, the reinforcement of the grave and classical elements, the bold and mythological, the passion for concentrated language games."


Die Zeit 17.12.2009

Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht (1919-1999) who, alongside Carl Dahlaus, was the most influential musicologist in West Germany, was involved in the mass shootings of Jews in Crimea during the Second World War, reports the musicologist and historian Boris von Haken. Eggebrecht was in the Field Gendarmerie (military police), whose two companies "lined up in their entirety" to execute 14.000 Jews in Crimea. "There was not a single refusal to obey orders, or a single sick note. The Field Gendararmes served various functions in this mass murder: they were on guard as the victims were rounded up and loaded into trucks in the city, they organised the transport and formed blockades at the place of execution. Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht was standing, on at least one occasion, in the so-called guard of honour through which the victims were forced to walk through on the way to their execution. This took place under extremely violent circumstances: the Jews were beaten with whips and iron rods, and Field Gendarmerie also used German shepherd dogs. Anyone who tried to escape or who put up any resistance killed immediately." Hakens's book "Holocaust and Musicology" is published in Spring 2010.


Jungle World 18.12.2009

Ivo Bozic provides some hope of an end in sight to the desperate scramble for clicks on news sites, which rarely generate any money anyway. "Simply by including the following sentence in this article: 'Sex with Britney thanks to CIA route finder: porno lesbians with swine flu castrate young Hitler aliens in Tokio Hotel' - will send the number of Google and Yahoo search results rocketing."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 18.12.2009

Nicola Spinosa
, the long-term head of the arts council of the city of Naples, is bidding farewell with a series of exhibitions on "The Return of Baroque". Having visited all of them, Kia Vahland finds them all too close to the bone, in a city which has capitulated in its fight against the Camorra: "In Museo Duca di Martina stands the wax bust of a disintegrating plague corpse from the 17th century: the mouth still gaping in a scream and worms crawling out of its chest. You couldn't accuse this age of escapism. The meditation with the scull is one of the most popular motifs and features so heavily, that the artist Roni Horn is now using it in her installation in the contemporary art Museum Madre. The death cult is as much a part of this city as the old lady who kisses the coffin of the miracle-healer in the church of Il Gesu Nuovo. There are just too many deaths here to ignore them."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
18.12.2009

Peter Richter reports that Hamburgs's artist-run anti-gentrification initiative "Not in our name" (read our translation of their manifesto here) has saved the city's Gängeviertel, with its old artisan houses, from being torn down by the Dutch investment company Hanzevast.

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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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