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GoetheInstitute

21/11/2006

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.

Die Tageszeitung 21.11.2006

Brigitta Bragin reports on preparations in the Romanian city of Sibiu for the role of European Capital of Culture in 2007, which it will share with Luxembourg. The event is being seen in Romania as a "dress rehearsal for full EU membership." How did it all come about? "Transylvania and Luxembourg have close historical ties – the first settlers in the 12th century came from Luxembourg – and that played a key role in the decision of the Council of Ministers of the EU. But in addition to that, Sibiu is considered the 'economic miracle of the Carpathians,' thanks not least to mayor Klaus Johannis, an ethnic German, who has brought about a five-fold increase in the city's budget over the last six years."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 21.11.2006

Russian film director Andrei Nekrasov explains why extreme nationalism is now seen as "cool, even modern" on both the Left and the Right in Russia, and why that is so dangerous. "The bumbling democratisation of Russia in the 1990s was a historical disappointment for most Russians. Not only because it led to unprecedented social inequality, but also because the West tossed its humanist principles out the window and uncritically welcomed the new oligarchy.... Putin continues his balancing act, humanist democracy has no followers and nationalism has very many. One things is clear, however: even more courageous, innocent people will die. People like Anna Politkovskaya or Alexander Litvinenko (news story), who escaped death by a hair. The fascists kill, and their spectacular impunity makes Putin their accomplice. They kill to see him avoid all semblance of shame. They kill to test a comrade before the going gets tough. And everything points to Putin having passed the test."

In an interview reprinted from Le Monde (original here), American author Jonathan Littell talks in detail about his novel "Les bienveillantes," the fictitious memoirs of an SS officer which created a sensation in France but has also been cause for critique. Littell recounts that Claude Lanzmann feared "that most people would only see the Holocaust through the lens of my book. The opposite is the case. Since my book has appeared, the standard works by Raoul Hilberg und Lanzmann have been selling better." (See our feature on Littell here.)


Frankfurter Rundschau 21.11.2006

In an elegy to this year's recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Iraqi writer Najem Wali sees Orhan Pamuk's new book "Istanbul" as retrospective proof that the committee made the right decision in "honouring the creative achievement and political engagement all in one. (...) Every word that he writes is drenched in the light of this city, every story that he tells contains the history of the entire country, every book that he publishes contains the store of knowledge of an entire continent and every bit of knowledge that he passes on paints for us a historic miniature of the entire world in all its beauty, its entanglements, its pain and its sorrow, that cannot be reduced to 'typically oriental' or 'typically Western.' Anyone who has read Pamuk's works will feel the need to go searching beyond Europe, on the other side of the Bosporus."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 21.11.2006

Religious studies professor Karl-Heinz Ohlig calls for a historical and critical approach to Islamic research, which he believes is only in its beginning stages. Ohlig himself uses ancient coins to argue that Islam started as a Christian sect: "Muhammad means 'the blessed one' (benedictus), and what the coins show is Jesus.... Muhammad was, following this, originally a Christological title, like the predicate God's servant ('abd-allah'), prophet, messenger, messiah. The predicate muhammad then broke free of its original reference to Jesus, and was historicised in the figure of an Arab prophet with the name Muhammad, while the second title, 'abd-allah', became the name of the Prophet's father. This historicisation of the Christological predicate took place in the first half of the eighth century. Toward the end of the eighth century and the beginning of the ninth, as the Koranic movement established itself as the independent religion of Islam, Muhammad evolved into the founder of this religion, and the events were relocated to the Arabs' homeland."


Die Welt 21.11.2006

Uwe Schmitt gathers the first critical responses to Thomas Pynchon's new 1,185 page novel "Against the Day," which came out today. The general feeling seems to be one of confusion. "The Washington Post sees the spirit of the Marx Brothers hovering over the novel. Time compares its weight 'three pounds, six ounces', to that of a toaster, which at least makes toast, while it's not at all clear what will come out of 'Against The Day'. The Newsweek critic admits that after 400 pages, he had already made enough notes to write a book and threfore decides to review it serially. He wanted to be the faithful sherpa of the reader 'but even I have not yet been to the summit of this novel's mountain'." The Newsday critic says, on the other hand, the book is "brilliant, and in some ways stupid, 'very few people are going to read it to the end'. He devoured the novel, which he found 'arousing, enervating, and exhausting, like all his other novels taken together,' in a few days and would not recommend the experience. Around page 800 he had the feeling that 'my brain was trying to scratch its way out of my skull'."

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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 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

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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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