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11/10/2011

Magazine Roundup

Magazine Roundup, which appears every Tuesday at 12 p.m., is originally published by Perlentaucher.

L'Espresso 03.10.2011 (Italy)

After the Italian Wikipedia shut down in a sensational online-protest against the planned changes in legislation (more here), Umberto Eco jauntily continues to taunt the government. He draws his ammunition from the catalogue of a second-hand bookshop, which contains a number of curiosities, and places Silvio Berlusconi in close comparison to Napoleon, not only in terms of height. "The book title that really struck me, because it seems so current, is 'The Weather Vane Dictionary' by Aymery Alexis. The complete title of the second edition from 1815 reads: 'The Lexicon of Turncoats...A work containing discussions, statements, songs, and excerpts from published texts on the rulers of the last 25 years and noting the positions, favours and titles received under a variety of circumstances by politicians, authors, generals, artists, bishops, prefects, journalists, ministers and so forth.' It is an immense biographical lexicon extending from Fouche to Murat (who swore loyalty to the Republic only later to become king of Naples under Napoleon), Chateaubriand and other famous opportunists, who had no problems whatsoever in shifting their loyalties in the period from Napoleon to the Restoration. In other words, nothing new under the sun."


Berliner Zeitung
07.10.2011 (Germany)
"A courageous, wise and definitely welcome decision" is how Dirk Pilz lauds the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. In praising the temerity of this choice he falls right into a list of negative affirmations: "Giving a poet the Nobel Prize? This poet, who makes no literary compromises? Who has never once written a coquettish verse, nor a narcissistic, inflated, pain-dulled or crudely romantic line? Poetry has hardly any lobby and it still remains under the inane suspicion of being vainly unworldly, errantly abstract or cheaply romantic."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
08.10.2011 (Switzerland)

Why have Icelanders been writing books since the 12th century, at a time when the rest of Europe was just about able to scrawl letters onto gravestones? Author Einar Karason has two answers: First they had nothing better to do. And second, they wanted to counter the prejudices of their neighbors that "the first Icelandic settlers were nothing more than thieves, criminals, ne'er do wells, traitors and the like, who could not show their faces in the rest of Europe."


Magyar Narancs 29.09.2011 (Hungary)

"If we want to reinstate democratic rule of law, consolidate the free market and reestablish social solidarity, we have to take a look at when and why the developments in the first 20 years after the end of Soviet rule got off track," says Hungarian philosopher Janos Kis in an interview with Istvan Bundula. Kis, an emblematic figure of the political transformations of 1989, is convinced that there is still a way out of this impasse - even if Viktor Orban's positions currently only seem to be threatened by the radical right, to whom he regularly makes concessions: "Let's face it, it is costing the country dearly that the majority of Hungarians gave Orban a free hand to strip the constitution bare and ruin the economy...But we have gained one thing in the process: in the last few years the proponents of the end of Soviet rule were forced into the defensive and were only able to defend the democratic rule of law and capitalistic economy with circuitous explanations - if at all. Now the situation could change fundamentally. After the horrible adventure of the 'Voting Booth Revolution' the ideas of the political shift of 1989 can now again be formulated in simple, easy-to-understand slogans: No wealth without freedom. No protection of the law without independent courts. No justice without observance of the law. No democracy without the freedom of the press. It's that simple."


Babelia 08.10.2011 (Spain)

The Spanish philosopher Javier Goma Lanzon (more here) has good advice, not only for the Social Democrats and the Greens: "For centuries people were expected not to be honest, but virtuous. In the 18th century, however, these people, Rousseau and Goethe among them, decided that their only duty was to be 'themselves'. Since then the most shameless and impertinent individuals enjoy almost complete impunity by openly advertising that they simply are what they are, and the rest of us are forced to patiently endure the consequences of their eager confessions. Moliere made fun of the excesses of this stance in "Misanthrope". I agree with him, today more than ever. We need therapeutic dissimulation, the occasional buckling and relenting, the pious lies that make life endearing, because they let us believe that both sides face each other benevolently. I certainly prefer the philanthropic lie to misanthropic honesty. If in the future some unsympathetic person addresses me with the words "Look, Javier, speaking honestly..." I will cut him off there and say: "Stop! If you want to know the truth, I would prefer you lie to me."


La regle du jeu 10.10.2011 (France)

The magazine continues with its five-week-long ode to meat, in which every day self-professed meat aficionados have their say. More contributions have been added to those of last week: Jean-Louis Oliver describes, in a contribution titled "The Three Days of the Pig", how sows used to be slaughtered in the countryside. The Breton poultry farmer Paul Renault sings the praises of Coucou de Rennes chickens, which he began raising at the encouragement of three top French chefs. "Together with the people from Eco Musee Rennes we researched in the archive how to raise Coucou de Rennes hens, how to prevent the degeneration of the breed through inappropriate cross breeding and how to maintain its beautiful grey speckled feathers that resemble the breast of a cuckoo that is its namesake. We were able to preserve its morphology and breeding. The cockerel should weigh three kilos, the hen two and a half."


Die Zeit
06.10.2011 (Germany)

In an interview with Katja Nicodemus, Jean-Luc Godard speaks out against capitalism and the technology craze, but also, interestingly, against intellectual property: "Artists have no rights, only responsibilities. And I am against artistic rights as private property, which allow someone to decide whether a film may be shown or not. For example, the grandchildren of Matisse are allowed to decide whether a picture may be viewed or not."


And here Chaos Computer Club's English press release on its sensational find of a German government spyware.


Highlights from the Anglo-American Press

The New York Review of Books features the first publication of Saul Bellow's 1988 lecture "A Jewish Writer in America". Smithsonian magazine celebrates MoMa's retrospective of Willem de Koonig. And The New York Times tells the story of the 388 days during which the British couple Rachel and Paul Chandler were held hostage by Somali pirates in a Sunday Magazine report illustrated by comic book artist Wesley Allsbrook.

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Tuesday 27 March, 2012

The Republicans are waging a war against women, the New York Magazine declares. Perhaps it's because women are so unabashed about reading porn in public - that's according to publisher Beatriz de Moura in El Pais Semanal, at least. Polityka remembers Operation Reinhard. Tensions are growing between Poland and Hungary as Victor Orban spreads his influence, prompting ruminations on East European absurdity from both Elet es Irodalom and salon.eu.sk. Wired is keeping its eyes peeled on the only unassuming sounding Utah Data Center.
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Tuesday 20 March, 2012

In Telerama, Benjamin Stora grabs hold of the Algerian boomerang. In Eurozine, Slavenka Drakulic tells the Venetians that they should be very scared of Chinese money. Bela Tarr tells the Frankfurter Rundschau and the Berliner Zeitung that his "Turin Horse", which ends in total darkness was not intended to depress. In die Welt, historian Dan Diner cannot agree with Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands": National Socialism was not like Communism - because of Auschwitz.
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Tuesday 13 March, 2012

In Perfil author Martin Kohn explains why Argentina would be less Argentinian if it won back the Falklands. In Il sole 24 ore, Armando Massarenti describes the Italians as a pack of illiterates sitting atop a treasure trove. Polityka introduces the Polish bestseller of the season: Danuta Walesa's autobiography. L'Express looks into the state of Japanese literature one year after Fukushima.
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Tuesday 6 March, 2012

In Merkur, Stephan Wackwitz muses on poetry and absurdity in Tiflis. Outlook India happens on the 1980s Indian answer to "The Artist". Bloomberg Businessweek climbs into the cuckoo's nest with the German Samwar brothers. Salon.eu.sk learns how to line the pockets of a Slovenian politician. In the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Navid Kermani reports back impressed from the Karachi Literature Festival.
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Tuesday 28 February, 2012

In La Vie des idees, historian Anastassios Anastassiadis explains why we should go easy on Greece. Author Aleksandar Hemon describes in Guernica how ethnic identity is indoctrinated in the classroom in Bosnia and Herzogovina. In Eurozine, Klaus-Michael Bogdal examines how Europe invented the Gypsies. Elet es Irodalon praises the hygiene obsession of German journalists. And Polityka pinpoints Polish schizophrenia.

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Tuesday 21 February, 2012

The New Republic sees a war being waged in the USA against women's rights. For Rue89, people who put naked women on the front page of a newspaper should not be surprised if they go to jail. In Elet es Irodalom, historian Mirta Nunez Daaz-Balart explains why the wounds of the Franco regime never healed. In Eurozine, Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev see little in common between the protests in Russia and those in the Arab world.
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Tuesday 14 February, 2012

In Letras Libras Enrique Krauze and Javier Sicilia fight over anarchy levels. In Elet es Irodalom Balint Kadar wants Budapest to jump on the Berlin bandwagon. In Le Monde Imre Kertesz has given up practically all hope for a democratic Hungary. Polityka ponders poetic inspiration and Wislawa Szymborska's "I don't know". In Espressso, Umberto Eco gets eschatological.
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Tuesday 7 February, 2012

Poland's youth have taken to the streets to protest against Acta and Donald Tusk has listened, Polityka explains. Himal and the Economist report on the repression of homosexuality in the Muslim world. Outlook India doesn't understand why there will be no "Dragon Tattoo" film in India. And in Eurozine, Slavenka Drakulic looks at how close the Serbs are to eating grass.
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Tuesday 31 January, 2012

In the French Huffington Post, philosopher Catherine Clement explains why the griot Youssou N'Dour had next to no chance of becoming Senegal's president. Peter Sloterdijk (in Le Monde) and Umberto Eco (in Espresso) share their thoughts about forgetting. Al Ahram examines the post-electoral depression of Egypt's young revolutionaries. And in Eurozine, Kenan Malik defends freedom of opinion against those who want the world to go to sleep.
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Tuesday 24 January, 2012

TeaserPicIl Sole Ore weeps at the death of a laughing Vincenzo Consolo. In Babelia, Javier Goma Lanzon cries: Praise me, please! Osteuropa asks: Hungaria, quo vadis? The newborn French Huffington Post heralds the birth of the individual in the wake of the Arab Spring. Outlook India is infuriated by the cowardliness of Indian politicians in the face of religious fanatics.
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Tuesday 17 January, 2012

TeaserPicIn Nepszabadsag the dramatist György Spiro recognises 19th century France in Hungary today. Peter Nadas, though, in Lettre International and salon.eu.sk, is holding out hope for his country's modernisation. In Open Democracy, Boris Akunin and Alexei Navalny wish Russia was as influential as America - or China. And in Lettras Libras, Peter Hamill compares Mexico with a mafia film by the Maquis de Sade.
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Tuesday 10 January, 2012

Are books about to become a sort of author-translator wiki, asks Il Sole 24 Ore. Rue 89 reports on the "Tango Wars" in downtown Buenos Aires. Elet es Irodalom posits a future for political poetry. In Merkur, Mikhail Shishkin encounters Russian pain in Switzerland. Die Welt discovers the terror of the new inside the collapse of the old in Andrea Breth's staging of Isaak Babel's "Maria". And Poetry Foundation waits for refugees in Lampedusa.
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Wednesday 4 January, 2012

TeaserPicTechnology Review sees Apple as the next Big Brother. In Eurozine, Per Wirten still fears the demons of the European project. Al Ahram Weekly features Youssef Rakha's sarcastic "The honourable citizen manifesto". Revista Piaui profiles Iraqi-Norwegian geologist Farouk Al-Kasim. Slate.fr comments on the free e-book versions of Celine's work. And Die Welt celebrates the return of Palais Schaumburg.
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Tuesday 13 December, 2011

TeaserPicAndre Glucksman in Tagesspiegel looks at the impact of the Putinist plague on Russia and Europe. In Letras Libras Martin Caparros celebrates the Kindle as book. György Dalos has little hope that Hungary's intellectuals can help get their country out of the doldrums. Le Monde finds Cioran with his head up the skirt of a young German woman. The NYT celebrates the spread of N'Ko, the West African text messaging alphabet.
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Tuesday 6 December, 2011

TeaserPicMicroMega cheers recent landmark Mafia convictions in Milan. Volltext champions Hermann Broch. Elet es Irodalom calls the Orban government’s attack on cultural heritage "Talibanisation". Magyar Narancs is ambiguous about new negotiations with the IMF. Telerama recommends the icon of anti-colonialism Frantz Fanon. Salon.eu.sk quips about the dubious election results in Russia, and voices in the German press mark the passing of Christa Wolf. And in the Anglophone press Wired profiles Jeff Bezos, while the Columbia Journalism Review polemicises the future of internet journalism.
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