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05/11/2010

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 30.10.2010

Konrad Schuller sends chilling reportage from Ukraine, where following the sorry demise of the Orange revolution, the powers of darkness are reclaiming territory. He was also followed in the course of his investigations, Schuller reports, and introduces the man responsible: oligarch, media tycoon and now head of the Secret Service, Valeriy Khoroshkovsky is locking up high-ranking civil servants from the Timoshenko administration. Anatoliy Makarenko, the former Head of Customs, for example, who " is now sitting in Isolator No.1, a prison that dates back to the days of the Czar. His lawyer Juriy Suchov describes the cell: 14 square metres for four men, water tap, toilet with no privacy. The showers still have gaping bullet holes from executions carried out under Stalin, and when the guards put the food on the floor in the hallway, out come the rats. Families are allowed to visit once a month – which, due to the tuberculosis in the prison, is not without risk. Prison is once again a political category."


Die Welt 01.11.2010

The German public TV channel das Erste is screening a two-part biopic about Pope Pius XII. The production company has close ties to the Vatican and the film is intended to smooth the way to the beatification of the former pope by Benedikt XVI. Alan Posener talks to Rolf Hochhut, the author of "The Deputy" which indicted Pius XII for failing to talk out against the Holocaust. Events in the film he says, have been given a thick sugar coating. In the light of recent revelations about the role the German Foreign Ministry in the Holocaust, his answer to the question about what inspired him to write his play is particularly illuminating: "It was because of Hitler's last ambassador to the Holy See, Ernst von Weizsäcker, father of the later Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker, who in an almost triumphant letter wrote from the Vatican to the Foreign Ministry, and I quote: 'The Pope, despite being assailed from all sides, has not allowed himself to be drawn into making any demonstrative statements against the evacuation of Jews from Rome.' And with that, Weizsäcker said, the unpleasant problem, was 'liquidated'."


Frankfurter Rundschau 01.11.2010

Peter Michalzik was thoroughly entertained at the Elfriede Jelinek evening in Cologne's Schauspielhaus theatre where, he says, director Karin Beier "remained faithful to the text" in the premiere of three new pieces "Das Werk", "Im Bus" and "Ein Sturz". The latter, which means "collapse", is a "brilliantly malicious" local farce about the collapse of the Cologne City Archive: "The cast is strong but the show was stolen by Kathrin Welisch who flits through 'Ein Sturz' as a naked imp: she is the Earth, wet, oppressed, intangible. Until the Water comes. Earth and Water, in Jelinek's world, get it on. When Karin Beier brings together choreography, violence and a tank of water, she creates the hottest sex scene ever seen on stage."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
02.11.2010

In France, the Bettencourt Affair reached new heights when the offices of Le Monde, Le Point and Mediapart were broken into and computers, recordings of phone calls, and evidence stolen. Jürg Altwegg's doesn't scrimp with the sarcasm in his commentary: "A Secret Service official has actually confirmed that the government used its agents illegally against the newspapers. Anywhere else, heads would be rolling now. But not in France, where not a single politician in a position of power has uttered a word of protest against the proceedings. Nor have they made a statement about the threat to the press freedom – in the Reporters without Borders Press Freedom index, France dropped to 44th place."


Die Welt 03.11.2010

In an interview with Peter Praschl, director Olivier Assayas talks about his film "Carlos" and makes it very clear that the man was a marionette. "As far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as terrorism which is not some form of state terrorism. The idea of the revolting individual who throws bombs because he hates the state is a 19th century idea. Of course the foot soldiers are sold a narrative which allows them to think of themselves as autonomous revolutionaries. But the people who make the theories and finance the operations are interested in geopolitics. Every terrorist act is a message sent from one state to another."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 04.11.2010

Gottfried Knapp was at the Shanghai Expo – which despite the millions of vistors, offered a stomach-churning vision of the future. "In the history of the world exhibition, Shanghai marks a return to the days when world exhibitions were like Olympic Games in which countries competed to get the most medals.... The nations of the world gathered here to compete for the favours of the world's most important business partner and the Chinese population as nascent tourists. ... But when pavilions from around the world offer nothing but young people miming happiness in front of beautiful landscapes and cites, the individual impressions soon merge into a sea so sweet and sour that it's impossible not to feel queasy."


Die Tageszeitung 04.11.2010

Georg Seeßlen found Angela Schanelec's new film "Orly" "tender, relaxed and ironic". The film observes two hours in the Parisian airport and tells four fragments of people's lives. "You could imagine God sitting in an airport waiting area, dolefully observing the people spending a peculiar in-between period of their lives. But he cannot exert any influence on the life of his creations. Or he doesn't choose to, which is probably the same thing where God is concerned. At any rate the God of sitting about and watching does make an appearance in Angela Shanelec's 'Orly', in a letter that is read as a voiceover at the end of the film, while the airport is being cleared after a handbag is discovered in a rubbish bin. Perhaps you could substitute 'art' for 'God'."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 05.11.2010

If China is to democratise, says literary historian Wang Hui in an interview, it will have to happen from inside. And people in China are able to talk about most things by now: "Every province and every major city has its own newspaper and TV programmes. And it's not so easy to control that many media outlets. European intellectuals have not always had this much freedom. Overcoming hurdles to make yourself heard in public is a major part of what it means to be an intellectual. This is why I believe that the qualitative question is the one that should be asked in China now: whether intellectuals are sufficiently capable of posing critical questions."

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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 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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