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10/12/2010

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 Rundschau 04.12.2010

Hong Kong
continues to enjoy considerable freedoms by Chinese standards. The China Free Press publisher Bao Pu is making the most of these by publishing the memoirs of former, often high-ranking politicians that often paint a picture of recent history that radically departs from official versions. Bernhard Bartsch profiles the publisher: "There is no shortage of retired cadres who are prepared to violate Bejing's rule of silence in the interests of the truth. 'The party is certainly not some homogeneous apparatus in which all the parts keep quiet to the same extent,' Bao says. 'I get sent twenty times more offers than I can print.' Many of the manuscripts are sent to him secretly, and he then publishes the ones that shake Bejing's historical constructs the most. 'The party has its own version of every event and just has to hope that living survivors die before they can contest them,' adds the publisher. 'We are just trying to prevent the government from having its way."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
04.12.2010

Peter Glaser shakes his head in despair over Germany's Internet pessimists, among them the FAZ editor and publisher Frank Schirrmacher. "With his polemic pamphlet 'Payback' (more at the Edge) our FAZ prophet has delivered the script for an intellectual B-movie, in which brain-eating machine systems, linked to the Internet, are taking over our consciousness and powers of concentration... There are many ways to describe a walk in the woods. You can feel overwhelmed by the millions of leaves and pine needles and demand a return to humanistic woods-perception technology. Or you can take a walk in the woods and come home refreshed."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 06.12.2010

An exhibition of child nudes by die Brücke artists in Hanover's Sprengel museum was not to Christian Saehrendt's liking. Even if he had to admit that it was not in the least voyeuristic, he writes sourly: "The 'Brücke' artists, and above all Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, have become untouchable icons of German art historiography, thanks to their fight for artistic freedom, against Wilhelmian ossification, and their persecution by the Nazis. It's high time they were removed from the pedestal, although not everyone would agree. Dealers and collectors, for example, are allergic to any form of criticism which might damage the 'Brücke' or 'Kirchner' brand. Kirchner's verbal nationalism or anti-Jewish tirades, for example, would not wash well with the highly sought-after international customers."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07.12.2010

At the Beethoven Symphony cycle performed by the Viennese philharmonic orchestra under Christian Thielemann in Berlin, Jan Brachman was not only overwhelmed by interpretive triumphs, as successful as the cycle was in its entirety. In the final movement of the Fifth and Sixth, there were a few problems: "These turbulent, radiant movements are of course designed to produce a triumphant effect and should be allowed to unfold as such. But for this to happen, you need a stable tempo which allows the harmonic accents to come to the fore. Thielemann, however, is constantly readjusting the speed, particularly in the Fifth: spurring on – reining in – spurring on! The effects get lost in all this toing and froing. Some of the audience in the packed auditorium sprang from their seats shouting 'Bravo!', while the rest – half-amused, half distressed - lowered their heads in a silent devastation."


Perlentaucher 08.12.2010

Perlentaucher's Anja Seeliger firmly sides with Wikileaks. "Initially I thought, ok, the finger is being pointed at the American bogeyman yet again, but in the meantime it has become clear that the leaked diplomatic cables have made the whole world a more transparent place. All of a suddenly there is some room for negotiation in the intractable Middle East problem now that, in what feels like the first time in a hundred years, not Israel but Iran is the focus of attention. Sweden suddenly looks a lot less liberal and more like a US lap dog, the role usually reserved for the British. In Turkey, Necla Kelek informed me, Wikileaks has prompted discussions no one would have dreamed were possible. In Germany and France the governments are having to explain themselves. Almost every country has been shamed by these cables. And this is a good thing! If for every finger pointed, one is pointed right back, people will have to come up with entirely new ways of talking. But there's some tidying up at home to be done first." And after Paypal and Amazon buckled under pressure from the US government Seeliger tells people to cancel their Amazon, PayPal, Visa Mastercard or Post Finance accounts. "Or write them a mail: I am writing to protest against your treatment of Wikileaks. If you don't reverse your decision, I'll start shopping locally again and pay in cash."


Der Freitag 09.12.2010

German Wikileaks defector Daniel Domscheit-Berg is also on Assange's side, although he does criticise Wikileaks' new publication policies: The diplomatic cables, he says "are not being published bit by bit for everyone to access. Instead Wikileaks handed over the data to a limited number of newspapers exclusively in advance. This now gives them a competitive edge over the other media – who, of course, are trying to access the complete databank through any means possible. This creates a market where data is traded for cash."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 10.12.2010

In a furious text, Colombian writer Hector Abad explains why Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, who always goes at everything full throttle, is so important in both literary and political terms. And why the European Left should stop projecting their Utopias onto Latin America. "As far as Europe is concerned, the followers of these leftists are liberals; for Latin America, they are utopian Bolsheviks. Things that are unacceptable in the old world (authoritarian exercise of power, radical nationalism, shutting down radio and TV programmes, banning newspapers, single party rule) is considered okay for poor countries. This is exactly why the old European Left cannot forgive Vargas Llosa, who has strongly criticised and continues to criticise the governments of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro for their total claim to power, and defends political, religious or economic freedom. Because he behaves like a liberal in the USA, Europeans like to describe him, in an incomprehensible logical somersault , as an opportunist, turncoat or reactionary."

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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 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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