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30/10/2006

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 30.10.2006

The Berlin performance of "Idomeneo" is not to be cancelled after all. (more here) Heinrich Wefing interviews the German correspondent of Al Jazeera, Aktham Suliman, who explains why he didn't bother reporting on the affair at all. "My editor in chief would have asked immediately: 'Who was insulted? Where are the opera's critics?' I would have have to answer: 'Nobody is insulted but the police was assuming that somebody might be.' That's not news."


Die Welt 30.10.2006

In his series on the Berlin Philharmoniker, Eckhard Fuhr portrays conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, the central figure in classical music during the Third Reich whose complicity with the Nazi's was cause for a de-Nazification process by the Americans after the war and dismissal from his post with Berlin's renowned orchestra. "Well beyond the break from 1933 to 1945, he maintained the belief that the ideal of a cultural tradition could have survived the civilisational rupture. This conviction can be readily dismissed as an attempt by the German bourgeoisie to escape historical responsibility. Today, as the search for traditions that have defined the future becomes more pressing, one is more careful with such judgements. Furtwängler unsettles. Furtwängler makes us curious. And it's clear to anyone who has heard his recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic from those apocalyptic years, as the Germany that Furtwängler represented in all his greatness, crankiness and helplessness was turning to rubble and ashes, that he was fully aware that his music was the swan song of a culture in downfall. It was not the pathos of perseverance but rather a harking back, a taking leave."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 30.10.2006

With his staging in Hamburg, Nicolas Stemann (more) has turned Elfriede Jelinek's play "Ulrike Maria Stuart," into an "intelligent, scary revue," says Christopher Schmidt. "Following 'Das Werk' and 'Babel,' 'Ulrike Maria Stuart' is Jelinek's third dramatic text that Stemann simply ignores in order to give it new meaning. This conforms to Jelinek's dream of a director for her world premiere because she applies the renunciation of power typical of her texts on herself and enjoys the desecration as any martyr would. Stemann for his part says that he is not the junk-clearing commando for the sentimental detritus of an elderly lady. Instead of letting Stemann clear out her head, she left it to him entirely. A couple of revolutionary romanticisms remained of a salon lounge in retro-chic style. Stemann deconstructs Jelinek's deconstructions and it's true what the author-mother says about her director son, that her texts 'trigger' his creativity. Stemann loads up and leaves behind scorched landscapes of text, in the form of weapons, water bombs, paint bombs and toy pump guns."

Kent Nagano marks his debut as conductor of Munich's Staatsoper with a double bill: Richard Strauss' "Salome" followed by a world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm's "The Enclosure," which makes thematic and musical references to the Strauss opera. Reinhard J. Brembeck is deeply impressed. "Finally the conductor has arrived in Munich. His orchestra, which after years with Zubin Mehta had abandoned itself to great flowing feeling, suddenly sounds interesting down to the last detail. In Nagano, Munich finally has a conductor who is not only willing and able to revive great traditions but also to place them in a contemporary context, investing them with new meaning."


Die Tageszeitung
30.10.2006

In the opinion pages, Michael Kiefer does not think much of the survey conducted by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation of Muslim women who wear headscarves in Germany. One of the conclusions drawn from the survey is that the values and attitudes of these women hardly differ from those of their unscarved compatriots. Kiefer has his doubts about the choice of survey participants: "They were selected with the help of certain mosque associations. This approach inevitably leads to distortions. And this is clearly evident in the educational level of the participants: 43 percent of them have a high school or college degree, at the same time another 31 percent have access to an advanced technical college entrance qualification, to O-levels or secondary school certificates, or a high school certificate with an apprenticeship. And that is anything but typical. In a city like Berlin, there were 183 Turkish pupils among the 13,000 highschool graduates of last year; thus the number of graduates of Turkish background was well under 10 percent."

Saturday 28 October, 2006

Die Welt, 28.10.2006

In the literature pages, writer Georg M. Oswald looks at the memoirs of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (more) with reference to the first page of Rousseau's "Confessions": "Rousseau was not a man to think humbly of himself. In cited passages, he wrote: 'I am not made like any of those whom I have seen up to now, and I venture to guess that I am not fashioned like anyone else alive.' Gerhard Schröder is yet another who does not think modestly of himself – but unfortunately he is fashioned just like all those people who overrate themselves."

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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