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15/01/2010

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.

Die Welt 09.01.2010

Have Eastern Europeans actually arrived in the West, die Welt asks, in a series of articles following the anti-Semitic backlash to Imre Kertesz's critique of contemporary Hungary on its pages in November. This week it's Poland's turn. The author Stefan Chwin finds the question insulting. After all, the Poles have "always considered themselves European". The real question is "when this country will at last receive recognition in Western societies. When these societies are prepared to say, loud and clear: 'You are one of us', also in the sense of shared values. 'You' are like 'us' and can count on us, even in the most difficult situations. But many Poles today believe that very little of their love for Europe is reciprocated."


Die Welt 11.01.2010

Die Welt prints the "Green Manifesto", which was written by five Iranian intellectuals living in exile. One of them, philosopher Abdolkarim Soroush explains in an interview, what motivated him to write it. "It will better define, articulate and clarify the aims and intentions of today's opposition. This is what we need at this stage. For many years now I have been saying that the revolution had no theory. It was a revolution against the Shah – a negative rather than positive theory. I was insistent that the new movement should have a theory. The people should know what they want, not only what they don't want. That is why we are trying – in our modest way – to create a theory for this movement."


Frankfurter Rundschau 12.01.2010

The author Peter Schneider demands more transparency in matters of airport security, clearer and less contradictory information (such as the different routines for shoe checks in Europe and the US). "Clear information would put an end to the well-established practice of treating air travellers like minors, using a constant state of extreme threat to deprive us of our right to question issues related to our own security and obliging us to simply follow orders. Security services now enjoy a false, and nigh on absolute authority – and have adopted a tone of voice to match. Flying citizens, for whose protection the security measures are there in the first place, should have at least some say in how many of our rights we are prepared to sacrifice for our security."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 12.01.2010

Under Berlusconi, Italian fascism has become socially-acceptable again, writes historian Aram Mattioli, whose book on the subject is about to be published by Schöningh. "In contrast to other Western European countries, revisionist ideas in Italy are not only voiced by arch-conservatives and right-wing extremists, but also by middle-class dignitaries. Since 1994, leading politicians who emphasise the positive aspects of the Mussolini dictatorship, streets named after "heroes" of the regime or the 'good fascists', who flicker as film heroes across the nation's TVs, have been as much part of everyday life in the Second Republic as the legislative initiatives that try to equate Mussolini's last-ditch stand and the collaborators of Sala with the fighters of the Resistenza."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 13.01.2010

Eleonore Büning was in Rome for the premiere of Hans Werner Henze's new opera "Immolazione" ("The Sacrifice"), which is based on Franz Werfel's 1919 poem. She found it hard to gauge whether the piece was intended to provoke laughter or tears. But it was sensationally beautiful, singing dog included. "Since Kater Murr, we have known that cats write novels, but never in the history of music has a dog sung in a pious tenor. The sinister story is conveyed with unbelievable lightness, and floats by on fairytale feet, however rich and painterly the orchestral underpinnings – it is solace and promise in one. The musical composition is complex, but in keeping with all of Henze's late work, it remains unwaveringly transparent, the words clear as a bell."


Die Welt 14.01.2010

Berlin's Museum for Islamic Art has decided to shift from an art-historical to a cultural-historical approach, reports Gabriela Walde. She interviews the museum director, Stefan Weber, who explains that unlike the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Berlin will be exhibiting its paintings of Mohammed. "In past centuries, Mohammed was often depicted by Muslim miniature painters – although his face is always veiled. We have miniatures like this in our collection. We should not start censoring the past."


Die Tageszeitung 14.01.2010

Ekkehard Knörer recommends the DVD box "Abecedaire", 453 minutes of Gilles Deleuze answering questions on philosophical issues (all 8 hrs can also be watched for free at Google video). At W for Wittgenstein, for example, you learn that Deleuze utterly detested this philosopher and his followers who, he considered to be the "embodiment of everything that is wrong" with the field. "'Abecedaire is not about the inevitability of the alphabet, but about enjoying the random things it throws up... One of the quirkiest being Deleuze's attitude to food, which he has no time for. With the exception of the edible trinity: brain, tongue, marrow. Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Here, as in plenty of other occasions, it is extremely difficult to to tell whether Deleuze is being deadly serious or roguishly ironic."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
14.01.2010

Günter Seufert has harsh words for the Cultural Capital Istanbul, and its promise to "serve as a showcase of living together" in the spirit of the Ottoman tradition. "The focus on the culture of minorities has not given these groups any real say. And the 85-year-old practice of simply ignoring their culture, or at least not mentioning it, has never once been discussed or attracted criticism. None of the events included in the Cultural Capital programme has addressed this cultural marginalisation or discussed culture as an instrument of an authoritarian state."


Der Tagesspiegel
15.01.2010

Apocalypse hit Haiti long before the earthquake, says author Hans Christoph Buch, who has been writing about the island for many years. In an interview with Philipp Lichterbeck, he explains why an earthquake will have a more catastrophic impact on Haiti than elsewhere. "Haiti has been broken for a long time. Its forests have been felled for charcoal. The once green countryside is nothing but barren mountains today. There is no rain, and when it does rain, the fertile earth is washed into the sea. The coral reefs which protect the coastline are dying. The roads are unusable and there is no functioning network for electricity or water."

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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