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15/03/2007

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.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 15.03.2007

Amid loud public criticism, author and Nobel Prize winner Alexandr Solzhenitsyn has republished a postscript to his novel "The Red Wheel," in a Russian journal sympathetic to the government. In it, the author casts not the October Revolution, but the February Revolution and the abdication of the Czar as the beginning of the end for his country. Ulrich M. Schmid comments: "The pamphlet culminates with the claim that the February Revolution came as punishment to the Russian people for their godless lifestyle at the beginning of the 20th century. Solzhenitsyn sketches out an Old Testament image of history, painting historical cataclysms as the vengeful acts of a jealous God. The postscript contains a short new introduction, in which Solzhenitsyn argues that historical lessons from the February Revolution may be applied to Russia today. At heart, this oracular formulation comes down to support for Putin's political course."


International Papers, 15.03.2007

In The Guardian, Timothy Garton Ash makes a new contribution to the perlentaucher/signandsight.com multiculturalism debate. In his arguments he responds to Ulrike Ackermann's comparison between communist blog dissidents and critics of Islam such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ackermann had accused Garton Ash and Ian Buruma of showing no solidarity. "This charge is based on a misunderstanding of the principle of solidarity which prevailed in the struggle against communism and should do so now. That principle is: total solidarity in the defence of people unjustly persecuted, total freedom to disagree with their views."


Frankfurter Rundschau
, 15.03.2007

Christian Thomas has not lost hope following the court judgement in Dresden that obliges the city to build a controversial bridge over the Elbe. (more here) "There are, especially in Germany, one or two architects who take building seriously. One could express it so: part of our cultural legacy lies in the German art of bridge building. There are bridges that hang like a gentle vapour trail over the deep blue waters of a bay. And just as, in the most corrugated valleys of the Alps, bridges of cement, steel or wood are are spanned between the raw rocks, giving the panorama a natural passe-partout, some bridges seem like natural beauties, refining even further the stunning setting in which they stand."

Heidi Klum, one of the most successful German top models, is currently moderating the knock-out TV series "Germany's Next Topmodel", where one winner will be chosen from a pack of 16,421 competitors. Klum's career started when as a 19-year-old she won a similar TV competition, "Model '92." Christian Schlüter intersperses quotes from Klum's book "Natürlich erfolgreich" (naturally successful) with his own comments. Klum: "I was one of the ones who really, really wanted it. But wanted what? Fame? No, to be right at the top of my trade and live the fullest life I could possibly imagine." Schlüter: "In fact, in the next round this Thursday, the young women have entirely different concerns. Everything will focus on the fact that they can't walk right, that they don't have the right charisma, that they don't apply their make up carefully enough or don't make themselves up at all, that they keep forgetting the catwalk choreography, never smile, let their tongues hang out and get their hairstyles wrong... Things like that. They'll be under enormous time pressure, and the drill will be hard. Because that's what it's all about: how to work, and how to work right - also on themselves."


Die Tageszeitung, 15.03.2007

"If you want to update your image of Iran," Amin Fahanzadeh recommends, "you should check out a DVD shop here, where black market copies of 'Letters of Iwo Jima' and 'Rocky' sit next to 'The Lives of Others,' before these movies have even come to the cinemas. Despite the general political, economic and social depression, the number of enthusiastic movie-makers has increased, if anything. VCD copies, the Internet and portable digital technologies make it very difficult to control production; the number of short and documentary films is increasing and their subjects range from sex changes and the rock music scene in remote provinces to nose operation trends in Tehran. One thing's for sure: as little as things might be moving in Iran, they are moving."


Die Welt 15.03.2007

Author Victor Erofeyev returns from a visit to Taiwan full of melancholy: "For me, Taiwan was always an example of what could have happened in Russia or China if they hadn't been subjected to the communist experiment." But how long will it remain independent? "Germany was able to unify when East Germany rebelled against the communist government and voluntarily adopted the democratic principles of West Germany. In Taiwan's case things are different. The democratic island may be swallowed up by a state that's anything but democratic."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.03.2007

Rainer Hermann sees the Riyadh International Book Fair as a sign of hope: "Never before have so many people gathered in Saudi Arabia for a non-religious event. People crowded to see the eighteen lectures and symposiums. The former Lebanese culture minister Ghassan Salameh, for example, spoke to a crowd of seven hundred. Many publishers closed their stands early, because they'd sold all their books." Now the thing is to see how the officials will react: "The book fair documents a 'cultural opening,' says Yassir al Amru, a liberal journalist who works at the Saudi news broadcaster al Ikhbariya. We'll have to wait and see how the religious police reacts, he says, and how many protests to books exhibited at the fair it will address to the government. The coming weeks will be crucial in seeing how it reacts to the challenge posed by the fair."

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