On the Death of Siegfried Lenz ? ?You have to justify your life?

Siegfried Lenz, one of the great writers of German post-war literature is dead. He died on 7 October 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old.... more more

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In the valley of the wolves

Wednesday 1 March, 2006

Since it hit the German screens in February, Serdar Akar's Turkish secret agent film "Valley of the Wolves" has been widely touted as an anti-Western hate film. But for all the talk of a "clash of civilisations", isn't it much like any Western thriller - with the roles reversed? By Alexandra Stäheli.
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Magazine Roundup

Tuesday 28 February, 2006

In Literaturen, Friedrich Kittler reflects on the Ancient Greeks' love of their gods. For Prospect, Aatish Taseer spent a few months at the Abu Nour University in Damascus, getting to know foreign students who have elected to study Islam. In Nouvel Obs, Jacques Derrida tries to figure out why he feels embarassed standing naked before his cat. The New Statesman offers a portrait of the Chinese artist Song Dong, who builds cities out of cookies. In Merkur, Jan Philipp Reemtsma deals with the matter of freedom of the will. In Elet es Irodalom, the writer Krisztian Grecso tells the story of a Hungarian Jew who was nearly lynched for ritual murder in 1948. The New York Times visits a former Taliban spokesman at Yale.
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Holiday from the Enlightenment

Monday 27 February, 2006

Religion is en vogue today, while the Enlightenment suffers from a major shortcoming: it has a stock of efficient ideas, but no impressive images. In a word, it is not television-compatible. Yet the enlightened world we live in is one where even those opposed to it would like to live. By Heinz Schlaffer
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Moscow revisited

Thursday 23 February, 2006

Russian poet Olga Martynova returns to Moscow after 15 years away and discovers that the city has lost its grey communist pallor. In fact, it's a pleasant, busy, contented metropolis, whose buildings and memorials, while kitschy at times, actually have a certain charm.
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Magazine Roundup

Tuesday 21 Febraury, 2006

In the New Republic, Amartya Sen warns against confusing multiculturalism and plural monoculturalism. In Espresso, film director Luc Besson talks about blond angels and Paris. The Gazeta Wyborcza reports on a Swedish insult to Polish honour. The New York Review of Books tells how election defeat is hampering Hamas. Nepszabadsag critices the Berlin Film Festival for showcasing German cinema. In the TLS, Christopher Hitchens recommends a book on the failures of intellectuals. And Al Ahram calls the Danish film "1:1" a gesture of reconciliation to the Arab world.
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Dismay at the Arthouse

Monday 20 February, 2006

This year's Berlin Film Festival proved that director Dieter Kosslick is honouring his committment to be political, proportional and popular. Ekkerhard Knörer only regrets that aesthetic criteria got left by the wayside.
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Breathless 7: a Berlinale diary

Friday 17 February, 2006

Jafar Panahi's "Offside" blows the whistle on female football fans in Iran. In Claude Chabrol's "Comedy of Power", a muck-raking Isabelle Huppert comes up against the fattest cats of all. And Amir Muhammad's "The Last Communist" portrays over 80 people before finding just that.
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Spooky action and beyond

Thursday 16 February, 2006

Viennese physicist Anton Zeilinger thinks about things that are impossible to imagine and so random even God wouldn't understand. His is the world of quantum teleportation. An interview by Mathias Plüss and Regina Hügli (Photo: Jacqueline Godany)
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Breathless 6: a Berlinale diary

Thursday 16 February, 2006

A terribly simple tragedy: Valeska Griesebach's film with non-actors, "Longing". A nymphomaniac cop meets his match in Pang Ho-cheung's well-manicured "Isabella". And Mani Haghighi's "Men at Work" asks how many middle-aged Iranian men it takes to budge a rock.
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Muhammad Cartoon Special

Thursday 16 February, 2006

Since they were published in September last year, the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons have excited responses from every corner. We've translated a daily press review, a distinction between truth and belief by French philosopher Andre Glucksmann, a balanced appraisal by Islamic scholar Navid Kermani, an interview with the Lebanese poet Abbas Beydoun, an open letter by eleven French writers, a statement of indignation by Sonia Mikich and a piece on how it all began by Jörg Lau.
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Rousing the lethargic bull

Wednesday 15 February, 2006

Anyone familiar with Middle Eastern literature knows it abounds with jesters who heap scorn on God, the mullahs, and rulers. But if Western media show endless stereotypes of Muslims - hooded men with machine guns and faces distorted with rage - you should not be surprised when hatred escalates and turns violent. By Navid Kermani
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Breathless 5: a Berlinale diary

Wednesday 15 February, 2006

Rafi Pitt's "Zemestan" starts in bleakness and ends in despair. John Hillcoat brings Nick Cave's sweaty outback epic "The Propostition" seamlessly to the big screen. Matthew Barney has a whale of a time with Björk in "Drawing Restraint 9". Michael Winterbottom's "Road to Guantanamo" is 95 minutes of collateral damage.
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The right to blaspheme

Tuesday 14 February, 2006

The disconcerting thing about the cartoon conflict is having to remind people that we have the right to commit blasphemy, that picking on the parish priest has long been a national sport. When we talk about anti-Muslim racism, we ask: what race are we talking about? Is Islam genetically transmittable? An open letter by eleven French writers.
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Breathless 4: a Berlinale diary

Tuesday 14 February, 2006

Storm Saxons and a shaved-headed Natalie Portman have people flocking to James McTeigue's "V for Vendetta". Cinema at its most despicable: Pen-ek Ratanaruang's "Invisible Waves", and loving a serial rapist: "Der Freie Wille" by Matthias Glasner.
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Magazine Roundup

Tuesday 14 February, 2006

The Spectator, Die Weltwoche, Il Foglio, Le Point, Al Ahram, the Nouvel Obs, Outlook India, and Gazeta Wyborcza are all caught up with the Muhammad cartoons. In The Nation, Walter Mosley prompts Afro-Americans to found their own political party. Folio looks at super nannies, career coaches, lifestyle experts, in short: consultants. Elet es Irodalom reports on the staged death of cancer-ridden theatre director Peter Halasz. And the New York Times presents a book of pronouncements by Osama bin Laden.
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The panic savers

Monday 13 February, 2006

There's a general feeling that the German economy is in the dumps, and that by refusing to spend their money, the Germans aren't exactly helping things. Author Peter Schneider muses on miserliness in one of the world's wealthiest countries.
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Breathless 3: a Berlinale diary

Monday 13 February, 2006

Detlev Buck's "Tough Enough" looks at the life of a rich boy in a rough area where the ultimate insult is "victim!" Terence Malick's "The New World" is little more than soft colonialist porn. Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion" is good, harmless family entertainment. Chen Kaige's "The Promise" desires to blockbuster. Stephen Gaghan's "Syriana" is an introductory seminar on the dirty ol' oil business. And Oskar Roehler's "Atomised" has taken the horrible out of Houellebecq.
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Breathless 2: a Berlinale diary

Friday 10 February, 2006

The festival got off on a gentle note with Marc Evans' "Snow Cake". Blood, sex and gore - but not for gore's sake - soon took audiences by storm, though, with Sono Sion's "Strange Circus". Pernille Fischer Christensen's "En Soap" was sadly just a washout. And "Close to Home" by Dalia Hager and Vidi Bilu shows 18-year-old girls struggling to sound authoritative in their army uniforms on the streets of Jerusalem.

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On the heels of the anti-Western reflex

Thursday 9 February, 2006

Lebanese poet and writer Abbas Beydoun talks to Bernhard Hillenkamp about the rioting in his country in response to the Danish Mohammed cartoons and the creation of a more general "Islamic" paranoia.
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Breathless: a Berlinale diary

Thursday 9 February, 2006

This evening, Marc Evans' film "Snow Cake" will open the Berlinale film festival 2006. Ekkehard Knörer is keeping his eyes peeled for the mad and the beautiful, the puzzling and the devasting, understatement and excess. Stay with us for a front-row seat.
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Under suspicion

Wednesday 8 February, 2006

Tariq Ramadan is the most important thinker in Switzerland, even if most Swiss have never heard of him. Who is this man that some consider to be a terrorist hero and others, a Muslim Martin Luther? By Martin Beglinger
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Magazine Roundup

Tuesday 7 February, 2006

The Hungarian ES magazine names more secret police informers: Cardinal Laszlo Paskai and filmmaker Zsolt Kezdi Kovacs. In Nepszabadsag, historian Robert Braun is amazed at the ensuing silence. In Der Spiegel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls on the West to show the Mohammed caricatures everywhere they can be shown. Outlook India reports on private clinic tourism. In Kommune, Sonja Margolina writes on the emergence of a xenophobic ethnocracy in Russia. In the Guardian, Pankaj Mishra remembers with a shudder his love for Brezhnev. In the Gazeta Wyborcza, Andrzej Stasiuk declares his love for the countries on the wrong side of the track.
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"What next, bearded one?"

Tuesday 7 February, 2006

We are offended. Our traditional values have been quashed. Freedom of speech and reason are sacred to us. And let's not forget, the world isn't flat. A wake-up call. By Sonia Mikich.
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The Stanislau Phenomenon

Monday 6 February, 2006

How the Western Ukrainian provincial nest of Ivano-Frankivsk turned into a thriving literary metropolis and multicultural frontier between East and West. By Holger Gemba
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Who's afraid of Muhammad?

Thursday 2 February, 2006

In September, the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Some Muslims were not amused. Jörg Lau explains how the seemingly innocent pictures caused an international crisis.
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The twelve Muhammad cartoons

Thursday 2 February, 2006

A new Rushdie affair? The European press is full of the heated debate over the Muhammad cartoons. A survey.
Updated on Friday, February 24.
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