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09/04/2010

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 01.04.2010

The writer Cora Stephan still has her reservations about the Internet, but she embraces the digital future of books. It just might be a way to break the power of book megastores: "It will be Amazon, the online shopping giant, which could shatter the alliance between book retailers, publishers and authors. Recently, Amazon launched a platform for writers to publish their books themselves - bypassing the publishing companies. The authors will get 70 percent of the sales price (compared with the usual 50 in the book business). Apple is also discussing similar conditions with the six largest US publishers. A revolution? Absolutely. In Europe, though, we are trying to sleep through it."


Die Welt 03.04.2010

The situation in Hungary looks very sinister indeed. Viktor Orban's right-wing populist Fidesz Party is expected to win 60 percent in the general election on April 11th - with the far-right Jobbik party scooping a further 20. Hatred is constantly being stirred up against Jews, homosexuals, Roma and prominent intellectuals, the literary academic and writer Lazlo F. Földenyi tells Paul Jandl: "Not long ago a weekly paper published an article calling on the population to destroy the works of Imre Kertesz, Peter Esterhazy, Peter Nadas and György Konrad, to borrow their books from the libraries and destroy them. It was meant as some sort of book burning. This paper has close ties to Victor Orban. It is symptomatic of the mood in the country in general. Anyone who speaks critically about Hungary is branded a 'nest fouler'. People know that these writers are held in high regard abroad and this makes them nervous. Even Orban recently made a speech in which he railed against the 'star intellectuals'."


Die Welt 07.04.2010

Gerhard Gnauk is cautiously optimistic about the memorial ceremony for the Katyn massacre which Vladimir Putin attended. But this gesture of reconciliation is a one-off. "Moscow continues to dig in its heels on a number of issues. At the European Court of Human Rights, in response to the accusations by the families of the victims of the Katyn massacre, the Russians handed in a 17-page document: no rehabilitation for the victims, no compensation, not even access to Russian files. "


Der Freitag 08.04.2010

"The child desires, but it does not desire adults" writes sexologist Volkmar Sigusch, and adults can do very little about their desires: "A person with paedophile tendencies can do as little about them as someone who desires adult women. Moreover, in psychoanalytical terms, their desires have the psychological function of curbing or warding off a subconscious conflict which threatens the cohesion of the self, for example through heavy depressions. In a truly liberal society, even the paedophile could admit to his desires without sanction; but to live them would still not be tolerated."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08.04.2010

For the writer Thomas Hettche our society's literary culture has come to an end after 200 years. No one wants intensive debate about literary works anymore, no one really wants to read, all everyone wants is author-reader communication. But Hettche is not interested in starting a blog: "Why are people so keen to convince writers to use new media formats? We don't write novels, poems, plays, essays due to a lack of imagination about what other forms are out there; to the contrary, we do it because we are convinced of being able to communicate in precisely that way something that can only be communicated in that way, and that is something which will silence the racket across all the media channels. Literature is about beauty, which language only reveals when, in rigour, passion, rage or ardour,  you place yourself completely at its mercy as a writer or reader. If you do this, you have nothing to gain from the attention scattered across so many channels."


Die Zeit 08.04.2010

The great days of creative football are over," explains the literary critic Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht in an instructive interview. Even exceptional players like Messi or Ribery can only create highlights in a tactically over-regulated game. "For a long time we all hoped that African football would breathe new life into the game in all sorts of ways. That countries like Ghana or Nigeria, who play a very different game, would usher in a new epoch. We have been waiting in vain for this for ten years at least. It probably has something to do with talented African players being bought by European clubs as early as 15, where they are processed through the European system and lose their edge. It seems unlikely that African football will triumph at the next World Cup. The strongest African team is Chelsea, and it is not playing."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 09.04.2010

The Japanese are exhausted, writes Japanologist Florian Coulams: the mood in the country is flat. More than anything, the Japanese are suffering from their excessively high life expectancy: "'Courage to Live', 'The Power of Age', ''91. Happy and No Regrets', 'Conversations about Happy Old Age', 'Advice from a Centenarian' These are just a handful of new publications in Tokyo's bookshops now."

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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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