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GoetheInstitute

04/06/2007

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.

Monday 4 June, 2007

Die Tageszeitung 04.06.2007

The trial begins today in Den Haag of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who stands charged of war crimes and crimes against humanity. "And some people are already warning about a 'judicial recolonisation' of Africa. What sort of Africanism is it that presumes to stand above the law?" asks Camaroonian writer Patrice Nganang. "At the end of a long list of folly and wilful African blindness he is standing before the court of justice. The trial of Charles Taylor before the special tribunal for Sierra Leone in Den Haag can be seen as an historical event. At last a former African president has been brought before a court in a process which enforces rule of law, where he will be obliged to answer publicly for his actions! Who would have thought such a thing possible?"

For her monthly reportage, Gabriele Goettle visits translator Dr. Na Ding who lives in Munich. Na Ding looks back to 1973, when as a 17-year-old, she was teaching German in a Chinese secondary school. "When I started working there, as the Cultural Revolution was drawing to a close, things were not as bad as they had been but antagonism was still in the air: we, the teachers, were stinking intellectuals, and they were the revolutionary pupils. They simply wouldn't listen to us. The school director said to us younger teachers: 'If you can remain in the classrooms for the duration of the lessons, without running away, you can consider that a major victory.' At the time, I also taught German and my pupils asked me: 'Can you tell us why we are learning German? If we learned English, we could at least read the advertising text on cans of food. But German? We won't meet a single German as long as we live.'"


Frankfurter Rundschau 04.06.2007

In an interview with Harry Nutt, Chinese sociologist Wang Hui (more here) sees a certain convergence of Chinese and Western positions: "Particularly in recent times, numerous protests have been heard from rural areas. These give cause for hope that China can become a more open, transparent society. In any event, there are indications that people are following intellectual debates more attentively than before. By contrast, one gets the impression that the Western world is increasingly orienting itself along the lines of Asian authoritarianism, and thereby compromising the accomplishments of the old democracies. The fixation with security at the G8 meeting in Heiligendamm also seems to point in that direction."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 04.06.2007

Eastern German author Ingo Schulze (more) writes an obituary for his late colleague Wolfgang Hilbig, who died on Saturday in Berlin: "Horror and beauty are always present in Hilbig's writing. Hilbig was a toolmaker and stoker, born in Meuselwitz in 1941. His father fell at Stalingrad and his grandfather was illiterate. As a worker and writer he took the GDR at its word, and whether he wanted to or not, he led it into a reductio ad absurdum. Hilbig mucks around in the dregs of his soul and of our society. To be able to bear that at all, he has to use a language that has the German Romantics and (especially) William Faulkner as a point of reference. And no one can elude its magic, if they're not hard of hearing, that is."


Die Welt 04.06.2007

Eckhard Fuhr was relieved to witness at the Berlin "Perspective Europe" forum that Imre Kertesz, Wole Soyinka, Carlos Fuentes, Andrzej Stasiuk, Ilija Trojanow and Mario Adorf were unable to agree on European identity. "Debates on European identity will never bring conclusive results. But this does not make them redundant. They shed light on Europe's Europeanness. Europe has many voices. There is no other way to picture the unity of the continent than as a perpetual thronging humming and cacophony of voices. Someone always calls out loudly for silence, for everyone to pull themselves together, to gather together around the holy fundamental values, but there will always be someone who immediately pokes fun and deflates this European pathos with a good dose of irony."


Saturday 2 June, 2007

Süddeutsche Zeitung
02.06.2007

The newspaper prints the speech given by Nobel Prizewinner Imre Kertesz at the start of the congress "Perspective Europe." For Kertesz, Europe must accept the legacy of the 20th century and the experience of totalitarianism if it wants to survive the 21st. "We live with an omnipresent, demoralising totalitarian history that's enough to strip us of our every last hope. In times like these, knowledge is the one dignified salvation, the only thing left to cling to. Only in the light of this knowledge may we ask ourselves if we can use our suffering to create values. To put a point on it: only by using our experience can we ascribe a value to our own life rather than forgetting it like amnesiacs, or even tossing it away like suicides. Because the radical spirit that makes scandal, ignominy and shame the genotype of human knowledge is also a liberator. It exposes the plague of nihilism not so as to abandon the field to these powers, but because in so doing its own vital powers are enriched."


Die Welt 02.06.2007

Artist Anself Kiefer explains why he is only mildly happy with the glass dome of the Grand Palais in Paris, where his solo show "Monumenta 2007" opened on Saturday. "The dome here is like the firmament. That's all well and good, but art must be protected. Art needs an aura, a threshold. That's why I've built seven buildings - like the one in the French town of Barjac, for example. It always depresses me when I see my paintings stuck together with other objects by insensitive museum curators, or in private collections beside a potted palm."

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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

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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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