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GoetheInstitute

03/05/2007

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 03.05.2007

Gunter Demnig's brick-sized "Stolpersteine" (tripping stones) have by now been embedded in many German sidewalks and pedestrian zones. They are meant as an unspectacular reminder of the Jews murdered in the city where they're placed. Attempts by the artist to install such stones in Poland have failed until now (as they have in Munich). Oliver Jungen writes that the first stones have now been inaugurated in Budapest. But he says that those present shouldn't deceive themselves "about the now acceptable anti-Semitic attitudes in Hungary. The Shoe Memorial for the Jews of Budapest who were murdered and thrown into the Danube has been the subject of repeated attacks. And the 'tripping stones' won't last long either, people warn. Certainly there's also a fair amount of paranoia at work here. But in fact the city's mayor cancelled his own participation at the last minute, and didn't send a replacement. And in the end even some of those present started griping. After all, they said, the Jews were the ones who supported Stalinism. Traumata quickly become intertwined in Hungary."


Die Tageszeitung 03.05.2007

Frank Schäfer portrays Croatian writer Edo Popovic, the foremost representative of Croatian "dirty realism," whose novel "Zagreb, Exit South" has just appeared in German. Instead of meeting, the two exchanged emails. "'The Zagreb you portray comes across as astonishingly familiar,' I mail to him, 'not at all exotic. Is life in artistic and intellectual circles now the same all over the world?' 'I don't know much at all about artistic or intellectual life, and I don't care much about it either,' he fires back. 'But whatever the case, it pisses me off to no end that in every damned corner of the world you find the same beers and the same restaurant menus, and see the same shiny wares and people in the same clothes. It's enough to put you right off travelling."


Die Welt 03.05.2007

Wim Wenders thinks back to twenty years ago when he shot "Wings of Desire," which is coming back to German cinemas. "'Wings of Desire' was the city at the front, the island, that we've all now forgotten. A universe unto itself, with the wall on both sides. Strangely grey and gloomy but astonishingly full of life. What other city would have dared lay its wounds so bare? The city that is now growing under the sky over Berlin had a hard time developing a relationship to itself. In the 90s, I felt Berlin was a place to get away from: grumpy and chronically in a bad mood. Now Berlin seems to be taking on real stature again."


Die Zeit
03.05.2007

Historian Tony Judt, who lives and teaches in New York, admits that he's going to miss France's outgoing President Jacques Chirac. "Neither Sarkozy nor any other candidate has Chirac's historical sense for why the European house is so important, for what is at risk and why those who want to divide or weaken Europe are in fact playing with fire. Some new EU member states want to have both – low taxes, guaranteed by allocations by the 'inefficient' tax-payers of West Europe. Poland and the Czech Republic are cashing in on subsidies from Brussels without even consulting their European neighbours on the question of the stationing of American defence systems (...) When Chirac explained to the Eastern Europeans, who supported the Iraq war, that they should hold their tongues, a lot of people were upset by his rough tone which didn't exactly help France's image. But Chirac was right."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 03.05.2007

The Swiss Bundesrat, or Federal Council, has done away with price fixing on books, rbl tells us. "It's following the argumentation of the competition authorities which claim that there is no causal relationship between the price agreement and its supposed cultural impact – the variety of choice, the concentration of book shops. In its decision, the Bundesrat asserts that cultural interests are better realised by other means. It lists the support structures that already exist without mentioning once that price fixing was a politically problematic but important instrument for the support of literature. It also fails to propose possible alternative measures."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 03.05.2007

Reinhard J. Brembeck defends the awarding of the Siemens Prize to composer Brian Ferneyhough (comment on the award here) against imaginary detractors. "Critics of new music often sound as if they were terribly insulted by its very presence. It's almost as if they were secretly upset that they can't react emotionally to the music. Because it's simply a matter of your take on life whether you can be enchanted by Ferneyhough's 'La chute d'Icare' for clarinet and chamber orchestra (1988) or not. Already the title referring to Icarus' fall gives listeners a helping hand, and makes the often extremely high tones and solo voice - with virtuoso moments bordering on the risky - understandable. In fact, this concerto for clarinet is no more complicated to listen to than Mozart's clarinet quintet, it's just less familiar, more idiosyncratic."

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