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12/03/2010

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.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 06.03.2010

Jörg Plath talked to the Romanian writer Mircea Cartarescu who, as a visiting lecturer at the Free University, is living in the area of Berlin with the highest concentration of cakes. He is obviously struggling to come to terms with his transition from poet to a more journalistic-philosophical type of writer. "Is it not just a question of age? 'Of maturity,' Cartarescu corrects me. 'Earlier in life it is normal to be a poet. As you grow older you move on to prose, essays, philosophy, to understanding the world rather that just reacting emotionally to it. This is what happened when I turned fifty. In other words I was hugely lucky as well as having' – a contented smile spreads over his face - 'a monstrous adolescence!"


Süddeutsche Zeitung 06.03.2010

Gottfried Knapp could hardly believe his eyes when he entered the newly opened "Turkish Chamber" in Dresden's Residential Palace. The exhibits are not only magnificent and exquisitely beautiful; only a small percentage of them are spoils of war. "This is not just some conqueror's museum which flaunts the treasures stolen after bloody battles, and this is also not a collection of Islamic art. This is a treasury in which ... the most persistent political enemy of the peoples of Europe, the Turks, against whom endless wars were fought with the utmost fanaticism, are met with unashamed admiration."


Die Tageszeitung
10.03.2010

Beate Seel reports on the renewed reprisals against the Iranian poet and human rights activist Simin Behbahan, who was prevented from travelling to Paris to hold a speech. The 82-year old was interrogated for several hours at the airport and ordered to appear in court. This was the regime's response to Behbahan's engagement for the opposition following the elections in June. "You may wish to burn me or decide to stone me," writes the "lion of Iran" in one of her poems. "But in your hand the match or the stone will lose its power to harm me."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
10.03.2010

The Iranian author Shahriar Mandanipur describes his country as caught in an endless loop of revolt and repression, and he blames censorship: "Each new regime was determined to erase the past from the minds of the people and ordered for history books in schools and universities to be rewritten. Books which were still valid were issued with printing bans and streets and squares that were names after important events were frequently renamed."


Frankfurter Rundschau 11.03.2010

In an interview, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei explains why he regards himself as a member of the post-eighties generation: "Because in China the post-eighties is the first generation to actively use the internet, and therefore to live 'like humans'. My definition of a human is someone who has free access to information, who can construct his own knowledge structure, and express his opinions. The older generations were prevented from doing so by the worst means possible. I now spend most of my time online, at least eight hours a day, sometimes 24. Because the internet age is changing the entire power structure and this is something I must be aware of an as artist."


Die Welt 11.03.2010

Lucas Wiegelmann writes an instructive report on the early mashup of Jewish and Christian motifs, ancient Arabic poetry and inspired pieces of original writing that is the Koran. In Potsdam outside Berlin, a team of researchers from the Academy of Sciences is working on a project knows as the "Corpus Coranicum" to produce the first-ever critical edition of the holy book. Wiegelmann talked to a number of the scholars involved, including the prominent Arabist Michael Marx. He serves Mocca, while "next door his assistants and helpers sit in front of their computers typing up ancient manuscripts. The walls are lined with photocopies of ancient codices in the Arabic script. The researchers are analysing around 12,000 photos of the most important Koran manuscripts dating from the 7th to the 12th centuries, copying out the different versions of the verses for comparison before putting them online. A Sisyphean but important task; only when this has been completed can phase two of the project begin, in which the authentic version of the Koran is reconstructed."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12.03.2010

Charlotte Knobloch, the president of the Central Council of Jews, wants to ban Oscar Roehler's film "Jud Süß – A Film Without a Conscience", Michael Althen reports. The film tells the story behind the notorious Nazi propaganda film of the same title which is still kept under lock and key in the German film archives today (more here). Knobloch accuses Roeler's film, which premiered at the Berlinale, of having antisemitic tendencies. Althen, however, argues the case for artistic freedom. "Of course art will always regard the darkest chapter in history as a challenge and there is therefore nothing suspect in an attempt to tackle the subject. There is always the possibility that such an undertaking will fail but this neither makes it frivolous, nor does it mean it has antisemitic tendencies. Of course 'Jud Süß' should be screened."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 12.03.2010

The writer Hans Maarten van den Brink attempts to explain the Geert Wilders phenomenon, the Dutch "demagogue with the bleached and back-combed Mozart hairdo", whose ongoing battle against "Islamisation" has the Netherlands on tenterhooks: "His standpoints do not follow the usual left/right guidelines. A self-proclaimed admirer of Ariel Sharon and Margaret Thatcher, Wilders is also taking on the world banks, the liberalisation of the job market and the rising retirement age. He wants to close borders, he disputes EU jurisdictions, and believes (like the Social Democrats) that the Netherlands has done enough in Afghanistan. At the same time, he tirelessly beats a drum for universal human rights, particularly for women and homosexuals. He thinks Dutch culture should be protected from foreign influences and that cultural and social subsides should be cut, and more state money handed out to pensioners, animals, the disabled and the police."

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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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