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GoetheInstitute

06/11/2006

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 6 November, 2006

Süddeutsche Zeitung 06.11.2006

Christine Dössel has seen the production "Karl Marx' Capital, First Volume," a piece of documentary theatre put on by the Rimini Protokoll theatre group in Dusseldorf. "The group has gathered eight people who know the work inside and out, or at least whose lives have been changed by it. Experts like economic historian and statistician Thomas Kuczynski, who has busied himself with 'Capital' for 40 years. During the performance he lectures knowledgeably - and nit-pickingly - on the various editions. Kuczynski was the last director of the Institute for Economic History at the Academy of Sciences in the GDR. In 1995 he put out a new edition of 'The Communist Manifesto,' with a commentary on previous versions. Or business consultant and China expert Jochen Noth, who had been a member of the SDS, or Socialist German Student Federation, and who co-founded the Central Committee of the Communist Federation of West Germany. Of course as an engaged ex-communist - even Maoist at times - he has a profound knowledge of the book. The production shows a film from 1968 with the young Marxist burning money on the street and shitting on an expensive carpet."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 06.11.2006

Journalist Lidija Klasic remembers the inconspicuous first signs of the collapse of Yugoslavia: "At the time I didn't understand how dangerous it was that no one in Yugoslavia had seriously faced up to the legacy of the Second World War. Not even when my actor husband told me about how he'd been shooting a television series in Zagreb dressed in a Ustasha uniform. An old woman came up to him and said: 'I'm so glad you're back'."


Die Tageszeitung
06.11.2006

With a crisis meeting on the cards between museum directors and legal experts concerning restitution claims of Jewish heirs to artworks in German museums, Brigitte Werneburg demands that the state intervene. "The art market and the legal profession profit from the Jewish heirs in Germany on a regular basis. Because after lawyers and auction houses have been paid, the heirs often end up with less that the museums offered them. Why do the museums not turn this situation to their advantage? Why do they not spring to side of those embroiled in the restitution claims and offer them some first aid? It is just the same as forced labour compensation and politics should take responsibility and organise a budget. They'd rather play dead. And if the museums don't get away with this, they will lose their art works. Political personnel seems to think it is acceptable to pay next to nothing for valuable art works in out of court settlements. So why do they wonder when Kirchner's 'Berliner Straßenszene' disappears as soon as a Putin-tame oligarch turns up?"


Saturday 4 November, 2006

Die Tageszeitung 04.11.2006

The paper reprints an essay from the November issue of Merkur in which the magazine's publisher indulges in some sweeping conclusions concerning the Günter Grass affair (more here), retrospectively highlighting how the leaders of the 68er generation would have made proper little Nazis under other circumstances: "One is taken by the suspicion – not at all sarcastically - that people with an urge for public life will bring this to bear under any regime. For example many leaders of the media and the committee-based universities would certainly have demonstrated back then the same blend of overattentive fussiness, obedience and reform they so obtrusively and intimidatingly displayed in their day. The idealism of the former leaders of the League of German Girls can still be seen in all those fed on greener grasses later on."


Die Welt 04.11.2006

Mario Vargas Llosa read with bated breath Ian Buruma's book "Murder in Amsterdam", about the killing of Theo van Gogh and its consequences. Yet, as he writes in the literature section, he has little sympathy for Buruma's criticism of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Afshin Ellian as "Enlightenment fundamentalists". "The people in the west have it good, they live in safety. And although newspapers and television tell them how terrible things are out there, they have forgotten that it is freedom, human rights and democracy – concepts that now sound like hollow phrases in their ears – that they have to thank for their standard of living and legal security. Which is why they are wallowing in self-pity and apathy, and why they get annoyed as soon as someone interferes with their comfortable life. If the culture of freedom survives the challenge of religious fundamentalism, it would not be going too far to say that it will mainly be thanks to new citizens like Afshin Ellian and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. They have first-hand experience of the horrors of religious obscurantism and political barbarity and they know the difference. Now they are rallying to the defence of the culture that they have made their own. They are convinced that threats and danger have a strengthening not a weakening influence."


Frankfurter Rundschau 04.11.2006

Writer György Dalos remembers the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 and laments that commemorations in Hungary are being overshadowed by the current political wrangling. "Now Hungary is commemorating that black Sunday fifty years ago and is feeling distinctly unwell. Not because of the sad events of the past, but because of vulgar domestic political tensions. The conservative opposition has being trying for a month and a half to put pressure on the social-liberal government. The right is campaigning against the election lies of the left, and will seemingly stoop to any means. For this Saturday they were planning a torch procession through the city centre; the recent strife does not bode well for the future. The brutal storming of the television station by the right-wing radicals on September 18 and the justified but inappropriately drastic reaction of the police have created a climate in the country that is relegating the commemorations to second place."

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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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Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

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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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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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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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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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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