?From the great beyond into the present? ? an interview with Jo Lendle

Hanser publisher Jo Lendle talks about gentle adjustments of languages and marketing strategies.... more more

GoetheInstitute

04/10/2006

Magazine Roundup

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

Literaturen | Elet es Irodalom | Heti Vilaggazdasag | The New York Review of Books | Outlook India | Il Foglio | The Times Literary Supplement | Lettre International | Folio | L`Espresso | Al Ahram Weekly | Gazeta Wyborcza | L`Express | Polityka | The New York Times Book Review


Literaturen, 01.10.2006 (Germany)


The article entitled "Ich ist ein Roman" (I is a novel) takes a closer look at the genre of autobiography on the basis of 3 recently published books, Günther Grass' "Beim Häuten der Zwiebel" (Peeling the onion) Imre Kertesz's "Dossier K. Eine Ermittlung" (Dossier on K. An investigation) and Joachim Fest's "Ich nicht" (Not I). Jens Bisky's review of Fest's memoirs can be read online. In the vein of other reviewers, Jens Bisky is deeply impressed by Joachim Fest's father, who was a member of the 'Zentrumspartei' (Centre party) and the principal of an elementary school in Berlin. He was dismissed from the school in 1933 due to his defence of the Weimar republic. "In early 1936 Joachim Fest and his older brother eavesdrop on their parents arguing. Demoralised by years of deprivation and despair, the mother asks her husband to consider joining the Nazi party, arguing that it wouldn't change anything. Pretense and falsehood have always been 'the small man's tools to fight the powerful.' The father will not budge, refusing to feign assimilation: 'We aren't small people. Not when it comes to that!'"



Elet es Irodalom, 29.09.2006 (Hungary)

Prominent intellectuals who were involved in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 – among them the actor Ivan Darvas, filmmaker Judit Ember and writer Ferenc Fejtö – have jointly published an essay denying any parallels between the current demonstrations and the revolt against the Stalinist dictatorship. Two weeks ago "right-wing radicals and football hooligans ran riot in a mockery of the revolution and struggle for freedom of 1956. The symbols of 1956 were misused in the riots to camouflage anti-democratic violence. The damage of the Soviet war memorials to the victims of WWII, comparisons between today's police force and the secret police of the Stalinist dictatorship, the violation of the 50th anniversary of 1956 should serve to throw into question a legitimate, democratically voted government."

The ES magazine prints a wonderful essay by filmmaker Bela Tarr written to coincide with a major exhibition in the Budapest Ludwig Museum on the legendary filmmaker Gabor Body who died in 1985. That Body was a Stasi informer goes unmentioned. For him, only the artist counts. Body saw "people not only as social creatures, but as natural beings, as part of the cosmos... He put the world back on the rails again. He was considered 'different' a 'marginal artist' (mostly as a drunken pig even if he'd not touched a drop for weeks. It was wonderful to watch how the state-decorated directors and their studio brigades froze in terror when Body entered the studio cafe in his yellow-buttoned smoking jacket.) From the damp warmth of their sheep stalls they sneered at him and never noticed themselves slipping into marginality. They were being overtaken, their audiences were turning into sensible adults, free-thinking people, aware of their situation, who had grown out of school-masterly, indoctrinating primitive 'feature films' by mediocre, endlessly overbearing and arrogant directors."


Heti Vilaggazdasag, 28.09.2006 (Hungary)


The Grand Dame of Hungarian Literature Magda Szabo (born 1917) explains in an interview that the unrest in Budapest, in which radical right-wing groups and football hooligans participated, reminded her of the Second World World. "I had the same feeling back then as I do now: the nation is caught in a spasm and I can't stand there watching, unfeelingly. I experienced Hitler's speech from the balcony of the Hotel Imperial in Vienna in 1938 and I was slapped in the face by a German soldier on my way home for having allegedly given him a 'cheeky look.' There is nothing new for me on the political stage."


The New York Review of Books, 02.10.2006 (USA)

Jason Epstein takes a look at some of the new releases on GoogleBooks and decides the site lends itself better to handbooks and dictionaries than literary works. However, he does wax lyrical about Espresso Printing which is currently running as a pilot project in the World Bank bookstore: "(It) receives a digital file and automatically prints and binds on demand a library-quality paperback at low cost, within minutes and with minimal human intervention—an ATM for books. A second experimental machine has been sent to the Alexandrina Library in Egypt and will soon be printing books in Arabic. A newer version will be installed later this year or early next year in the New York Public Library."

If the USA really starts drilling for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska as the Congress as agreed, Peter Matthiessen fears for the future of invaluable wildlife in the US: "The earth's last sanctuary of the great Ice Age fauna that includes all three North American bears, gray wolves and wolverines, musk ox, moose, and, in the summer, the Porcupine River herd of caribou, 120,000 strong. Everywhere fly sandhill cranes and seabirds, myriad waterfowl and shorebirds, eagles, hawks, owls, shrikes and larks and longspurs, as well as a sprinkling of far-flung birds that migrate to the Arctic slope to breed and nest from every continent on earth. Yet we Americans, its caretakers, are still debating whether or not to destroy this precious place by turning it over to the oil industry for development."


Outlook India, 09.10.2006 (India)


Amir Mir is thoroughly unamused by the autobiography of Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf (snippets from "In the Line of Fire" here). B. Raman even draws analogies with "Mein Kampf." Like Hitler's autobiography, "Musharraf's is significant and worrisome not for what it contains, but for what it indicates about the sick mind of a self-obsessed individual, living in a make-believe world of his own creation. Adolf Hitler convinced himself that he would be the saviour of the German people and of the world. Musharraf has convinced himself that he would be the saviour of the Pakistani people and of the world."

Sandeep Pandey is critical of "Postmodern Ghandi" by Lloyd I. Rudolph and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph for its over-estimation of Western influence on Gandhi's thinking. Ranjit Lal recommends a fascinating book on elephants and in an interview with Paromita Mukhopadhyay, star chef Anthony Bourdain tells of his biggest culinary challenge: eating live Korean octopus. "It grabs your tongue and clings to it."


Il Foglio, 30.09.2006 (Italy)


Adriano Sofri detects a tendency towards nostalgia in the four books published to date by Rome's exemplary mayor, Walter Veltroni, the last of which is an autobiography. In his eyes this makes Veltroni the prototype of a new race. "The devaluation of the present where every object has a sell-by date and intrinsic redundancy arouses certain feelings in humans. We are incapable of keeping up with progress. Not even Bill Gates nor Veltroni can do that. Günther Anders says this is because the world is modern and humans antiquated. These objects reawaken nostalgia, excite collectors, antiquarians and beyond that, modernarians. The modernarian is passionate about personal antiques. I'm talking about the bakelite telephone in the middle of Walter's room."

Further articles: Giulio Meotti appears very impressed (first here and then here) with his conservative counterpart Mark Steyn who has an article in the Spectator and has also written a new book criticising the demographic collapse in Europe and Islamism. Meotti describes him as follows: "A pinch of Jerry, a pinch of Bernard Lewis, a whiff of the bible belt, the kick of a prankster who imitates a Nazi officer in a ghetto and a touch of Irving Berlin, the author of 'God Bless America'. Mix them together, shake and serve."


The Times Literary Supplement, 29.09.2006 (U.K.)


The TLS has a somewhat delayed response to Günter Grass' autobiography "Beim Häuten der Zwiebel" (Peeling the Onion) and his admission that he was in the Waffen SS. For Ian Brunskill, it may not be such a bad thing, not even for Grass, that his reputation, as conscience of the nation, Praeceptor Germaniae, has been dented. "When Grass saw Willy Brandt (for whom he had campaigned) as Federal Chancellor in 1970 kneel in atonement at the memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto, there is no doubt that he knew what real moral authority was, and where it came from; and that he knew he could never claim anything quite like that himself. Brandt was a living embodiment of heroic resistance to Hitler; Grass owed such influence as he had acquired to the eloquence and energy with which he exploited his literary fame. Perhaps that is why, in involving himself in the social and political questions of the day, Grass was generally at pains to make clear that – unlike many of his predecessors in a land that has sometimes taken its authors more seriously than they may have deserved – he spoke and acted not as Dichter or Denker, looking down from the cultural heights, but as concerned, committed Bürger: Citizen Grass." (more reactions to the controversy here)


Lettre International, 02.10.2006 (German)


On Saturday, the Lettre Ulysses Award for literary reportage was presented in Berlin. The magazine's current edition publishes excerpts from the finalists texts, among them, Linda Grant's exploration of Jewish identity and its relationship with the state of Israel which won first prize. The excerpt comes from OpenDemocracy.com

Writer Manjushree Thapa reports on the civil war in Nepal and from her travels on foot through country's poorest provinces. "The next morning we asked a man who was drinking tea in the lodge, whether it was true that two female state security employees had been killed here. He nodded. One of them had been a teacher at a local school and the other a pupil, he said. 'Their names were Laxmi Shahi und Laxmi Rizal.' A teenage girl sitting nearby interrupted and said that the two Laxmis had been arrested here and held in the in the Dailekh Bazaar garrison. Then they had been brought into fields outside the village and shot. 'I heard the shots myself,' she said. 'I saw the army. There were lots of soldiers and only two of them. ... Other people in the village also saw them being shot.' After a pause she added, 'They weren't Maoists.' 'It wouldn't have been legal either, if they had been,' I countered."


Folio, 02.10.2006 (Switzerland)

Folio focusses on TV series. Kristina Bergmann introduces Egyptian soaps which are produced for the Arab market as a whole. The favourite at the moment is a series that takes place during the Six Days War, "I'll be back, Alexandria." In the leading roles: the smart, sexy Egyptian Abduh and a cruel, miserable Israeli called Oliver. "To western eyes this sort of series seems not only unrealistic but also paranoid. But the Arab can't get enough. 'They prove that the Israelis are our enemies,' says a young Egyptian Marwa laconically. Marwa is doing media studies at university and wants to become a newsreader. She knows that the conflict is more complex than the soaps present it. 'But I like it that the main Israli character is evil and cowardly and that he is punished for his ignominy,' says Marwa. At 20, she's pretty streetwise."


L`Espresso, 29.09.2006 (Italy)

6000 kilometres, 600 litres of petrol. Andrzej Stasiuk has been on the road through Slovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Serbia, Macedonia and Albania. "We reach the Ionian Sea, on the outermost point of this continent. The road outside Himara is like a shelf in the cliffs. It was so narrow that you had to keep stopping to let the oncoming vehicles pass. On one side was the rock face, on the other a drop of several hundred metres and the sea. Sometimes the road became unreal. It led along the edge of the cliff on the edge of an endless blue. I thought to myself that this was the kind of street that is filled with the wandering souls of people killed in car accidents."


Al Ahram Weekly, 28.09.2006
(Egypt)

In a long interview with Ezzat Ibrahim, British historian Paul Kennedy gives the Bush administration a crash course in spreading democracy. "If by democracy Americans mean 'one person, one vote' without considering the other elements (a good commercial foundation backed by a system of order and law) it could be chaotic. ... That is exactly what happened in the former Yugoslavia 10 years ago." He has also thought up a way to avoid the perils of majority voting: "The Swiss model might work in Iraq and Israel, because in Switzerland there are 18 cantons with powers of self- government and taxation. Nine of 18 cantons are German speaking. Seven are French speaking. The rest are Italian speaking... With respect to Iraq, I wonder whether the country will not eventually have to go back to something similar to what existed under the Ottoman Empire: the three separate 'velayate' of Basra, Mosul and Baghdad. Each of them would have to have regulations against prejudice, enjoy the rule of law and have incorruptible judges. Iraq may only attain long-term stability with local self- government, just like Switzerland."


Gazeta Wyborcza, 30.09.2006 (Poland)


Pawel Smolenski talks to Salman Rushdie about the supposed war of civilisation, the cultural and social impasse in Muslim countries and the allure of radical Islam for young people in Gaza, Peshawar and London. Rushdie describes the lot of artists leaving in the East: "The West should pay them just as much attention as they once paid the dissidents in eastern Europe. They speak clearly and honestly about the problems in their countries and in doing so put their lives at risk. In their own countries they are considered blasphemous and revolutionary not only by the ruling elite but also by the radicals in opposition. I have a huge amount of respect for artists in the Far East. The need to make the truth known is greater than their fear. It is much simpler to be an open and tolerant author in California or London than it is in Baghdad."


L`Express, 02.10.2006 (France)


The colonial past is getting people all hot under the collar again in France. This time it's about the film "Indigenes" by Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb, whose five actors won the best actor prize in Cannes. The film is about the involvement of the soldiers from the colonies of North and Sub-Saharan Africa in the liberation of occupied France which to this day plays a significant role in the country's collective memory. However this involvement was kept silent for decades, and the soldiers even had their pensions cut "an injustice and scandal of the first order" in the eyes of many. L'Express devotes a full dossier to the subject.

Under the heading "Should one be ashamed to be French?" Eric Conan attempts to cover the full gamut of positions on the colonial past. Particular attention is given to the reaction of intellectuals who denounced the "constant Mea culpa." As a classic example of this, Conan cites the new book by novelist and essayist Pascal Bruckner in which he settles old scores with this "national masochism"("Tyrannie de la penitence", Grasset). "He wants to put an end to the tyranny of penitence... He sees it as a form of arrogance: De-colonialisation has long robbed us of our power and economic importance, but in a colossal over-estimation, we still see ourselves as the cataclysmic centre of the power field that holds the universe in its power."


Polityka, 30.09.2006 (Poland)

In a very interesting interview John Irving reveals the secret to his writing: "I don't believe in fate, but each time I start writing a book, I know how it will end. I've got the last paragraphs in my head, even the sentences themselves. Sometimes I carry this around with me a year before I've even started writing the book. It's a sort of portent." Irving also talks about regularly leaving messages for his former teacher, Kurt Vonnegut. They always say the same: Are you still alive?


The New York Times Book Review, 30.09.2006 (USA)

In the Sunday book review Gary Shteyngart delightfully eases the reader into his essay about receiving a new edition of Ivan Goncharov's novel, "Oblomov". "DAY 1: At 11 in the morning, while I am still savoring the last moments of a fruitful sleep, a messenger brings to my doorstep a new translation of 'Oblomov', the famous 19th-century slacker novel by Ivan Goncharov, whose eponymous hero, a member of Russia’s lazy landed gentry, spends most of his time luxuriating in bed. 'Looks like I came at the wrong time,' the courier says with a wink, mistaking my usual dishabille for interrupted coitus. I return to my bed and gaze unhappily at the thick tome in my hands. Right away I’m feeling sleepy."

Paul Berman also takes a look at two new books about the legendary US journalist, I.F Stone. David Orr reads Stephen Fry's plea for discipline in poetry in "The Ode Less Travelled". A.O Scott samples the gastronomical revolution in the USA as served up by David Kamp in his book, 'The United States of Arugula'.

In the Sunday Magazine, Arthur Lubow writes about the German Baritone, Thomas Quasthoff (with extra audio clips) and Matt Bai asks: 'Is Howard Dean willing to destroy the Democratic Party in order to save it?'





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