On the Death of Siegfried Lenz ? ?You have to justify your life?

Siegfried Lenz, one of the great writers of German post-war literature is dead. He died on 7 October 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old.... more more

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18/04/2005

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 18 April, 2005

Die Tageszeitung, 18.04.2005


Alexander Cammann describes the "summit meeting of German lyric poetry", admitting he finds the title rather embarrassing. At the collective reading of Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Günter Grass and Peter Rühmkorf at the Lübeck Academy of Music, Cammann finds himself longing for new faces in place of the "seemingly eternal dinosaurs". But each country has the poets it deserves, he says. "Perhaps Enzensberger best summed up the situation many years ago with his elegy to mediocrity, 'Mittelmaß und Wahn' (mediocrity and delusion). The literature and poetry of the three writers simply provided the appropriate tone for the average mawkishness of the German Federal Republic. Even the mythic stature of the town of Lübeck (home of Thomas Mann, ed.) could do nothing to mask this on the night of the three poets." Before the event, Günter Grass led the others through the Günter Grass-Haus, a museum and cultural centre dedicated to the 77 year old writer and sculptor.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 18.04.2005

The latest and untitled Asian-(un)inspired dance piece from choreographer Pina Bausch in the Schauspielhaus Wuppertal leaves the critics luke warm to stone cold. "The piece is like a bad copy of her earlier work", writes Wiebke Hüster. "Everything is the same as ever, but without the originality." The piece was "wobbly" throughout and even the end was bad: "The dancers went around hugging each other for a while, then started scuttling aimlessly about the stage and through the audience. And by the time they came to bow, they looked completely exhausted and disheartened. How was it that one of them, punching his feather pillow, described his nightmare? He was kneading and kneading some dough, all the while thinking: 'What is it I've forgotten? The yeast!' A desperate joke which scarcely raised a smile in the audience." For Hüster, the dance theatre in Wuppertal is like the Lido in Paris: "One goes there because it has the most beautiful dancers and the most extravagant pieces. But it's not really enough to change the decor, lights and costumes once a year".


Die Welt, 18.04.2005


On the forum page, God's biographer Jack Miles makes an original suggestion for the next Pope: "If the Church had the courage to repeat its triumphant ecclesiastical geo-policy of 1978, then it would nominate Hong Kong's Zen Zekiun as the next Pope, the Bishop whom John Paul II allegedly Cardinalised in secret. By choosing him, the Church would send out a signal that it is not prepared to abandon millions of East Asian Catholics to Chinese communism."


Saturday 16 April, 2005


Die Welt, 16.04.2005


The literature section features an excerpt from the forthcoming book by author Stephan Wackwitz, who goes in search of his mother's past and finds out more about his son. His mother had studied fashion design in the "Lette Haus" school for the applied arts, where among others Helmut Newton learned his trade. "It was a gloomy day. The square lay under a low overcast sky. It was not yet 3 pm and already almost dark. Post-holiday depression permeated the entire surroundings. Old leaves lay rotting in the round fountain in the middle of the square. Graffiti covered the columns of the rotunda where my mother probably ate her sandwiches as a young girl. But the solemn, historical feeling I had been expecting from this visit remained absent." The reason: his son has just covered his brand new hip-hop running shoes in dog excrement. The day's research into his mother's history is sacrificed to his son's fashion obsession: "My aunt, realistic and calming as only retired doctors can be in such moments, effortlessly re-established the narcissistic balance concentrated in the young ghetto warrior's shoes with the help of a toothbrush and running water. Soon her living room was once more shaking under the syncopated sliding, hopping and stamping of my manic son, jerking his shoulders and staring raptly into nothingness."
Click here for an English version of Stephan Wackwitz' article "What have I done to deserve this?"


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 16.04.2005

On 24 April, the Centre Dürrenmatt in Neuchatel will inaugurate an exhibition documenting the "exceptional artistic friendship" between writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Swiss painter Varlin. Accompanying the paper's account of the exhibition is a text by Dürrenmatt describing several of Varlin's paintings that hung in his house: "When I come down the stairs, I see the painting of a Neapolitan woman on the back wall of my study, behind my writing table. On the side wall there's a large 'Guitar-Brigade Central Zurich' picture featuring the Salvation Army musicians, and across from my desk is the portrait of a couple, 'Ella and Juan'. Varlin said about the Neapolitan woman with the black hair and oblong earrings that she would have slept with him if he had been Catholic. Maybe he was taking his revenge. Otherwise I can't explain the shit-coloured sienna earth he used to ground the canvas, and I frankly doubt that her blouse, if that's what it is, was actually such a hideous colour of pink."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 16.04.2005

On the media page, Jürg Altwegg reports on a French TV show in which Jacques Chirac attempted to list the merits of the European constitution to a group of young people. Naturally the invited youngsters had been carefully hand-picked: "The Trotskyists and Attac sympathisers were well represented; the unemployed were not. And political opponents weren't even invited. The direction was entrusted to a talented sports show director. There were no journalists to act as presenters, just popular and clueless talk-show masters." But surprise, surprise, the propaganda event backfired after all! "The teenage participants, who had been put up in a 5-star hotel beforehand in an obviously unsuccessful attempt to impress them and tell them what to do, did not mince their words. They asked cheeky questions and made pert remarks. Never in the media monarchy was a president of the republic questioned so directly and candidly. Chirac was interrupted on numerous occasions spontaneously and politely. And they wouldn't take no for an answer. More than anything, the programme was a lesson for the journalists and this was visible in the faces of the befuddled presenters."

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