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GoetheInstitute

07/08/2007

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.

Der Tagesspiegel 07.08.2007

Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg died on August 4th. Walter Pehle, Hilberg's editor who published his seminal work, "Destruction of the European Jews", with the German publishers Fischer Verlag, remembers the historian and the time before his work joined the canon. "There was no form, not even a language to even attempt to lend expression to these appalling events. And on top of that, no one was interested in the subject, not even the publishing houses... As a student at the end of the seventies, I worked my way through 'Hilberg' which at the time was only available in American. It was frowned upon back then to quote from this book which had been published by a no-name publisher. No one could have predicted that one day it would be counted among the 50 classic works of contemporary history."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 07.08.2007

In his obituary to Raul Hilberg, Gustav Seibt writes: "Hilberg famously interpretated a piece of writing to which everyone can relate: the train timetable. Here the word Jew never once appears, only an ominous 'L' which signalised that the transport carriages that were so tightly packed on the outward journey would be 'leer' or empty on returning. This 'L' contains the precise amount of explicitness allowed by bureaucratic form of expression, but also guaranteed by it. Hilberg remained concrete to the last, obsessed by detail and relentlessly precise."


Frankfurter Rundschau
07.08.2007

Arno Widmann writes on the death of Raul Hilberg. "People continually accused Hilberg of being 'cold'. Only people that have never been deeply moved by the excitations of the mind could say such a thing. Hilberg's economical, dry style is the opposite of insensitivity. It is the style of a person who abhors the idea of warming up a description of the murder of millions through a skilfully placed adjective. Anyone who reads Hilberg's 'The Politics of Memory: The journey of a Holocaust historian' will understand that Hilberg was an artist who was expelled by Hitler into historical writing."

Turkish Islam needs a philosophy, claims Zafer Senocak, who puts his faith in the potential of art to modernise society. "The Turkish novel and the Turkish film are where the modernisation of Turkish society should manifest itself. That's not to say the point is to write a 'Muslim' novel. That would be just as futile as attempts to do art in the name of a religion or ideology. But the psychological topography of people faced with social and cultural change is an important theme. Spirituality in post-Muslim society, for example, still lacks an original voice. Nonetheless Orhan Pamuk and the authors that come after him are starting to portray a mood that goes far beyond the attempt to explain society in terms of polarisation between the modern Western and the Oriental tradition."

And Arno Widmann also writes frustratedly from documenta, where he sat through a mini interview marathon held by Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist, who seemed to be utterly disinterested in their interviewees. "It was the same with Karl Schlögel, the researcher from Moscow and Leningrad, the historian who rediscovered space. He talked about a North-West passage, new paths for world travel brought about by the Earth's warming. There was almost no one in the audience who did not make notes about the new route from Brest to Tokyo which is 6,000 kilometres shorter than through the Suez Canal. Only the two interviewers pulled out the next slip of paper with next questions. We all love zapping. But we want to do it ourselves. We don't like it when other people use the remote control to change channels just when it's getting interesting. But Koolhaas and Obrist seemed to think this was their main task."


Die Tageszeitung
07.08.2007

Dirk Knipphals has read "Der Mond und das Mädchen," (the moon and the girl) the new novel by this year's Georg Büchner Prizewinner Martin Mosebach (more here), and wonders why this author is being touted "as the central luminary of contemporary German literature." Nothing could be more boring, he writes. "Mosebach wallows in sought-after details and affected formulations. In a strange disparity with the banal situations he describes, the narrative is attuned to an overblown and stilted keynote: 'Hans had to persevere longer in the office, afterwards a drink with a young colleague could not be avoided.' The problem isn't the dandyish narrative style. On the contrary, it would be interesting to find out what happens in circles where invitations among neighbours are not simply insipid or tiresome, but where they can go seriously awry, or in which much ado is made when a man forgotten to pull up his trouser braces."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 07.08.2007

Aldo Keel reports from Scandinavia on the most recent focus of attention in the debate over Islam in Europe: "At centre stage is the 25 year old social worker Asmaa Abdol-Hamid, who grew up in Denmark. As a Muslim, she refuses to shake hands with men. Wrapped in a headscarf, she presented eight discussions about problems of understanding between the West and the Islamic World on the state television... Asked by the newspaper Nyhedsavisen whether she puts the Sharia above the constitution, she said: 'I don't see a difference.' Denmark is a 'Muslim country,' she says, 'because we have basic freedoms, human rights and a welfare society,' while in the Middle East tyranny and oppression rule. Even 'the taxation system is Islamic'."

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