16/10/2006

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.

Monday 16 October, 2006

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 16.10.2006

Ellen Kohlhaas was at the first concert given by Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi as head of the Symphony Orchestra of Hessische Rundfunk. Järvi chose to perform Jean Sibelius' "Kullervo", based on the Finnish epic "Kalavala". "This unusual choice can be explained by Järvi's aversion for celebratory music, but also by the ethnic and linguistic affinity between Finland and the conductor's homeland of Estonia. And as he avowed in a conference, Järvi stands unflinchingly behind this unwieldy yet powerfully dramatic early work by the Finnish composer. It tells of the unhappy life of Kullervo, who grows up an orphan in captivity when his country is defeated in battle. Once freed he becomes an adventurer, but on his return home by sleigh he unwittingly seduces his own sister, who kills herself in shame. Kullervo, unable to rid himself of his feelings of guilt in battle, finally hurls himself upon his own sword."


Die Welt 15.10.2006

Ralph Giordano is delighted that Orhan Pamuk has won the Nobel Prize in Literature (more here) in the time of the global clash of cultures: "The whole world is cowering in this highly precarious situation, which will no doubt continue to escalate. I see no better mediator, no more fitting mitigator than the new Nobel Prize laureate Orhan Pamuk. It's marvellous when he says: 'I'm completely fed up with big ideas. In my over-politicised country I've been exposed to them far too much'.... That reminds me of Salman Rushdie. When asked how he defines Western values, Rushdie answered in a casual, aphoristic way: 'Kissing in public, ham sandwiches, public disputes, sexy clothes, cinema, music, freedom of thought, beauty, love.' Wonderful!"


Die Welt
16.10.2006

Uwe Wittstock reports from an exhibition of works by Andreas Slominski in the Frankfurt Museum of Modern Art. For Wittstock, Slominski is "the trap-maker of German contemporary art" whose work, "in the spirit of Schiller, signalises that precisely because life is such a serious thing, art has the right to approach it with a smile.... The man has sense of humour, that's for sure. And because handicapped people should be catered for in erotic affairs, and because traditionally a leap into the wardrobe saves the red-handed lover from discovery, Andreas Slominski has built a special 'Cupboard for Lovers in Wheelchairs'. The construction is white, somewhat roomier than the average bedroom wardrobe and equipped with a fold-away hoisting apparatus for wheelchairs.(...) Life as a trap that is inevitably going to get you? In Slominski's oeuvre the net not only features repeadtely in his countless, slightly surreal trap constructions, it also serves a net of references with which he connects each of his installations with his own work and that of other artists. The 'Cupboard for Lovers in Wheelchairs' references his 'Wheelchair for Crossing the Steps in Odessa' which is designed for uneven terrain, and which in turn refers to the famous scene in Sergei Eisenstein's fiilm 'Battleship Potemkin'."


Saturday 14 October, 2006

Die Tageszeitung
14.10.2006

Hannah Arendt would have been one hundred years old today, and the papers are full of praise. In Israel however, controversy still rages over her works. Tsafrir Cohen interviews Israeli historian Idith Zertal on Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem": "The outcry in Israel had to do with her criticising the 'Judenräte', or Jewish councils set up by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Arendt does stress that the Judenräte were acting under conditions of total terror, and sought above all to save lives. But she also says they unwittingly helped the Nazi machinery of destruction. Zionism viewed the Diaspora Jewry in a very negative light, but the Eichmann Trial was meant to defuse this conflict. Then along came a refugee, a woman and not a Zionist, who brought everything that had been suppressed to light with exceptional trenchancy."


Berliner Zeitung 14.10.2006

Arno Widmann tells how he fell victim to the sex appeal of Hannah Arendt's intelligence: "It was the night of October 28, 1964. Günter Gaus was interviewing Hannah Arendt. She corrected him from the first question on. No, she wasn't a philosopher: 'My vocation – if you can call it that – is political theory.' In a matter of minutes Günter Gaus, the clearest, coolest, most intellectual mind in West German journalism seemed like a poorly-prepared schoolboy in an exam. He failed, and with him my teachers, all my acquaintances and of course myself as well, who had hardly read a line of her works. For all my uncertainty, until that point I had been very much convinced of my superiority over everyone and everything, as only an eighteen-year-old can be. Never had I seen someone even remotely as intelligent – and above all who took such pleasure in their intelligence – as this woman who smoked like a chimney, with her thick glasses and fleshy face. I can't remember when it happened. But after just a couple of minutes of this interview I had fallen in love with Hannah Arendt. I wanted to be like her, and as having her was an unrealisable dream, I wanted at least to find a woman like her. But having both together doesn't work. It took me years to understand that."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
14.10.2006

Jan Keetman perused the Turkish papers for reactions to the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Orhan Pamuk and concludes: "It is mostly writers of middling prominence, who write for a Turkish audience and do not profit from the reputation of Turkish literature abroad, who have given cagey or spiteful commentaries. The poet Özdemir Ince said that Orhan Pamuk received the prize for his comments on the Turkish massacre of the Armenians. ... The ultra nationalist party, MHP, came down harder still. Its second chairman, Mehmet Sandir, demanded that Orhan Pamuk should be denationalised if didn't refuse the prize. This calls to mind that Turkey is still debating whether it should posthumously return the citizenship, taken away by a cabinet decision, to its greatest 20th century poet, Nazim Hikmet. And Nazim Hikmet never even breathed a word about the Armenians. The crime he committed was that he was a communist, for which he served a 13-year prison sentence and was eventually exiled from Turkey for the rest of his life."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 14.10.2006

Thomas Steinfeld paid a visit to Orhan Pamuk in his summer house on the island of Heybeli outside Istanbul – and wrote an atmospheric article with observations about Turkey past and present, and about class and religious questions. "The poorly and less well-educated are more strongly rooted in Islamic traditions, which does not necessarily mean that they are more pious. 'In Islam, it is impossible to leave the Church,' Pamuk explains. What there is, however, is a secular Islam to which, in Istanbul at least, the majority of the population belongs and which also has plenty of adherents in the countryside. At the nearby beach, bikinis are worn for bathing."

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Saturday 13 - Friday 19 November, 2010

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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