20/06/2007

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.06.2007

Author Katharina Hacker writes a very personal congratulation to historian Saul Friedländer, winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, who she has known since her studies in Jerusalem. "The successful historiographical work seems ...to eliminate the temporal distance and forces one to consider the history of the 'Third Reich' and its destruction as one's own history, without retreating to the distance of later generations. The reading is all the more painful given the respect, caution and concern with which Friedländer treats the people that he's writing about, that he quotes and names – a humanistic attitude that was missing from Germany and Europe generally, that would have prevented what happened."


Die Tageszeitung
20.06.2007

Writer Ilija Trojanow is horrified at the positive reaction in the Swiss press to the deregulation of book prices in Switzerland. "Not only are the consequences catastrophic, they spread quicker than the plague in the middle ages. The number of bookshops decreases dramatically, with fewer new publications. Book prices rise (in the USA 62 percent within just five years), the wholesale book business dies out, and with it the possibility of ordering books quickly and reliably. The major stores, on the other hand, have unlimited growth, and soon the market is entirely dominated by just a few chains. This development is well-known and has been sufficiently documented. So why are fixed book prices always put in question in the EU, among our German-language neighbours and even by a few zealots here in Germany? The answer is depressingly simple: on the one hand, belief in the free market is a dogma, and on the other hand, doing away with fixed book prices makes a few people immensely rich. It's rather as if bank robbery were allowed in certain exceptional cases.


Frankfurter Rundschau
20.06.2007

Turkish author Elif Shafak knows four Istanbuls, and the fifth she's invented herself: "The Istanbul of poetry. The Istanbul of literature and fantasy. In the fifth Istanbul, colours and categories mix constantly. For me, 'East' and 'West' are very closely related. They are neither independent, nor do they exclude each other. I think there's one city in the world where you learn immediately not to trust the division between 'East' and 'West'." See our interview with Shafak, "I like being several people."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 20.06.2007

Burkhard Müller characterises the current relationship between Germany and France as "tension zero." His summary: "They sit peevishly with their backs to each other on the Rhine, on whose banks they once fought so vigorously face to face. Who in Germany cares what kinds of debates are going on in France? Name three contemporary French writers! Hmm: Houellebeq – Beigbeder – and? That's it. It's probably not much better on the other side.... That's how it looks, the deepest peace that Europe has ever known."

Jan Brachmann was in the Frauenkirche in Dresden on Saturday to hear the posthumous world premiere of composer Alfred Schnittke's Ninth Symphony (news story). The score is practically illegible, as Schnittke wrote it with his left hand after suffering a stroke. Moscow composer Alexander Raskatov was commissioned to come up with a playable version. The concert also featured Raskatov's "Nunc dimittis" in memory of Alfred Schnittke, for orchestra, male chorus and mezzo-soprano, with texts by Joseph Brodsky and Staretz Siluan, an early 20th century Orthodox saint. "Strangely," comments Brachmann, "Raskatov's jagged work sounds more like Schnittke than Schnittke himself. Raskatov has the Hilliard Ensemble sing the saint's text in brittle polyphony reminiscent of 16th century Russian church music. Jelena Wassiljewa sings Brodsky's words, her voice rising to a whelp-like bark. The Dresdner Philharmonie, accompanied by Dennis Russel Davies, accompanies with images firmly anchored in the Russian Orthodox tradition: distant, polyphonous bells hark back to the high holidays and the liturgy, blending in with the last words like a dry, archaic music of the spheres."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 20.06.2007

Manfred Schwarz visits an exhibition of 18th century portraits of English children at Frankfurt's Städel Museum, where he encounters "the flesh and blood fruits of the new ideal of humanity and education as propagated by Rousseau or Shaftesbury: carefree, frolicking, untroubled children stripped of decoration and adornments. Pretty, well-fed children in idyllic country scenes. Nothing, in fact, other than children. Children amongst themselves, playing cricket, shooting arrows or holding a kite or a bird in their hands.... The artists are the best English painters of the time, Reynolds and Gainsborough, George Romney, William Beechey and Henry Raeburn, who show them without parents, teachers or pressure of any kind. Yet they are always, it must not be overlooked, on their own territory, on English soil, on their estates, in their parents' country gardens. Little lords with long, curly hair and fresh, healthy, lively faces."

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