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28/06/2007

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung 28.06.2007

Half a year after major objections were raised to British architect David Chipperfield's design (pictures) for a central entrance building to Berlin's Museum Island (more), a new plan was presented yesterday. Jens Bisky is having trouble getting enthused. "The door to the Pergamon Museum looks like a simple opening in the wall, the stairs lead into a kind of cage, a box that's hidden behind the colonnade. It blocks the view as little as possible but isn't worthy of an independent, well-proportioned building. Elements – inoffensive unto themselves – are placed next to one another but the visitor searches in vain for a rhythm that would direct him, propel him forward; the architectural logic of the space remains invisible."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 28.06.2007

Heinrich Wefing is absolutely content with David Chipperfield's new design for the Museum Island entrance building. "Everything is different: the basic idea of a central foyer for Prussia's treasure chest, the entryway leading into it, the sequence of rooms, the materials. And these efforts were not for nought. The new entrance building will fit much more harmoniously into the island's ensemble than the glass cubic plate of the first design. With unimagined public spaces and views, it promises be a real gift to the city."

Joseph Hanimann reports on French discussions questioning the limits of national literature, and gives examples: "The uncoupling of nationality, literature and language has shifted the coordinates of affiliation in unexpected ways. Alain Mabanckou, the Congolese author now living in California who won the Prix Renaudot last fall for his novel 'Memoires de porc-epic,' writes that being an African author doesn't mean he feels particularly close to other authors from the same continent. For example he feels a lot closer to Louis-Ferdinand Celine, who he reads in the original, than to the Nigerian author Wole Soyinka. In fact, a 'continental' understanding of literature has long harmed African writing by locking it into strange and unfriendly enclosures, Mabanckou says. For him the sole decisive boundary for literature is language."


Die Welt 28.06.2007

Jörg Taszman speaks with Paris-based Chinese author ("Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress") and filmmaker Dai Sijie about his newest film "The Chinese Botanist's Daughters," which has just come out in Germany. Asked if people in China are shocked by a theme like love between women, he answers: "Older people maybe. I shot the film because I liked the story. I even think I could shoot in China. But the lead actress from my last film, who I wrote the script for, wasn't allowed to act in it. She was subpoenaed by the film bureau, her future as an actress in China was at stake. I can understand her decision. Nobody wants to jeopardise their chances where China's concerned, not even a star like Wong Kar Wai. My film's just about love. The two women don't necessarily have an idea about what homosexuality means. I've been living in Europe for 20 years, and still I wouldn't be so happy if I had a son who was homosexual. I got angry with myself about my intolerance, so I shot the film to test my limits."


Die Tageszeitung 28.06.2007

Filmmaker Werner Herzog, to whom the Munich Film Festival is currently dedicating a retrospective, talks in an interview about the "unhinged characters" in his films. "It's really only when someone is under extreme pressure, because for example they have to fight for their life, that you recognise what they're made of. It's similar with materials that physicists analyse. You have to expose a metal alloy to extreme pressure and extreme heat to find out about its composition. The same's true of people who're put to the test. Just like an ore that's assayed and refined in the forge."


Die Zeit
28.06.2007

Journalist Adam Kzeminski writes that Polish conservatives regret that communism ended so bloodlessly. "The most serious example is a best seller that some critics have lauded as a great event. It's called 'The Hanging' and was written by Jaroslaw Rymkiewicz, a 72 year old poet who thus far has only written long-winded poems and subtle essays. In it, he has reconstructed in detail what happened in Warsaw during the Kosciuszko rebellion of 1794. Rymkiewicz laments that the Warsawers only put up ten pathetic gallows in the capital and not hundreds and thousands; had they hanged the Polish king, for instance, they would have more of a basis for self-respect and would be admired in Europe as king-killers." (more by Kzeminski here)

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