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GoetheInstitute

10/09/2007

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 10 September, 2007

Frankfurter Rundschau 10.09.2007

It is good and cheap, writes Daniel Kothenschulte, that Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution" won the Golden Lion, but he is more excited about the special prize going to Nikita Mikhalkov's "12", a new version of Sidney Lumet's courtroom drama "12 Angry Men" in Russian. "Criminologically speaking, Mikhalkov follows the original 1957 film almost exactly. But the young defendant whose fate seems sealed as soon as the jury convenes is a Chechen. Every member of the jury represents a different class or section of the population. Next to the aggressive taxi driver sits a big industrialist and the Georgian doctor meets the Jewish academic. What we do not encounter are women, who even Tarkovsky believed were almost incapable of having deeper feelings. The last image shows a bird which has made itself at home in the warm conference room among all the leftover food. Outside in the free world a snow storm is raging and yet the brave little bird flies out into it, as soon as someone opens a window. These are the clearest words on the beleaguered Russian democracy that we will ever be able to hear from Nikita Mikhalkov."

Cristina Nord in the taz was all for Ang Lee winning but her enthusiasm for the festival as a whole was measured. "The competition consisted of 23 films and some promising names. Many of the contributions offered the attractions of well-crafted Hollywood cinema (like Paul Haggis' 'In the Valley of Elah' and Tony Gilroy's 'Michael Clayton') and some came from auteur film makers looking back over a long career, such as Eric Rohmer, Ken Loach and Youssef Chahine. I have nothing against the individual films, but as a whole it was rather lacking in variety."

Michael Althen in the FAZ sees dark clouds ahead for the festival and asks. "Why in Venice when all the arts are united under one roof, does the film festival not make more of the dialogue with the art and architecture biennials that take place at the same time. That would really offer a future for the cinema."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 10.09.2007

For Peter Laudenbach, Dimiter Gotscheff's staging of Heiner Müller's "Hamletmaschine" at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin in which he also played the lead role is a furious exercise in driving out old ghosts. "Curiously, the fact that Gotscheff is not a trained actor, and that he is as far from the art of fine nuance as Hamlet is from Hecuba, doesn't harm this unabashed self-experiment one bit. Nor does Gotscheff's strong Bulgarian accent. A non-actor plays a non-play: a textual scree slope in which Hamlet and Ophelia, Charles Manson, Ulrike Meinhof and Inge Müller - the dramatist's wife who committed suicide - haunt the stage, as does, behind many masks, the author himself."


Berliner Zeitung 10.09.2007

Since the foiling last Tuesday of a terrorist attack on US military installations in Germany in which two of the perpetrators were German converts to Islam, the feuilletons have been probing the mindset of the Islamic convert. Today Christian H. Hoffmann explains in an interview the reasons for his conversion. "I had real problems with one aspect of the Protestantism so deeply rooted in my family. The idea of original sin, that God's son is already sinful when he comes into the world, that was really hard for me to accept.... Islam has no concept of original sin, and at one point I realised that this religion suits me perfectly." Society had a different view of his conversion, however. "Your entire life you believe you live in a society of human rights, free speech and tolerance. Then all of a sudden you're on the side of the minority and you have to learn that society does not treat its minorities as it claims to do - and as you yourself thought it did. You're literally catapulted out of society. That was certainly an interesting discovery."


Saturday 8 September, 2007


Süddeutsche Zeitung 08.09.2007

Writer and Islamic scholar Stefan Weidner sees nothing mysterious about the seductive power of Islam: "People who read the Koran often feel like they're being addressed personally, as if they too were prophets. That's both beguiling and eerie. And the appeal is correspondingly greater - like the promise of security - when you relent and profess the faith. You could compare Islam with the marriage proposal of an exceptionally promising, extremely authoritarian man. Of course the temptation to say yes to such proposals is great, even when your rational mind makes a few shy objections. This is basic to every personally motivated conversion. Religious studies and sociology don't have much to say in the matter, to say nothing of protecting the constitution."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
08.09.2007

The day before writers gathered around the world to give readings in a literary protest against Robert Mugabe on Sunday, Zimbabwean poet and writer Chenjerai Hove writes a swan song to his country which once was once a beacon of hope for the entire continent. "President Mugabe has been in power since 1980, and soon afterwards he declared his commitment to 'controlled democracy'. His vice president at that time, the now deceased Simon Muzenda had the decency to explain this concept more precisely. 'If we tell you to vote for a baboon, you vote for a baboon,' he told listeners at a public event. The principle of 'controlled democracy' obviously involves declaring that the people are idiots incapable of defining their own wishes and aspirations."


Der Tagesspiegel
08.09.2007

Hans Werner Henze's new opera "Phaedra" may not be revolutionary, but the world premiere at Berlin's Staatsoper last Thursday was wonderfully lucid, writes Christine Lemke-Matwey. "The orchestration sparkles wondrously, almost weightlessly, and the cast speaks volumes. The instruments adhere to the diverse constellations of singers like sylphs, ever ready to fan Phaedra's lust, Theseus' hysterical horror or Hyppolyte's lamentation. Tubular bells signal his death in a droning knell. And it's not only at moments of such classical, apocalyptic tumult that Henze, the genuine musical dramatist, remains true to both himself and a gentle twelve-tone melodiousness. Beautifully shrill, by contrast, is Phaedra's malice at Hippolyte's salvation, while the final dancing apotheosis ('Wir dringen zur Sterblichkeit vor' - 'We're all advancing toward mortality') is filled with magical, silvery blackness."







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Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt explains how the Left got its culturist ideas. Slavenka Draculic writes about censoring Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film in Bosnia. Daniel Cohn-Bendit talks   about his friendship, falling out and reconciliation with Jean-Luc Godard. Wikileaks has caused an embarrassed silence in the Arab world, where not even al-Jazeera reported on the what the sheiks really think. Alan Posener calls for the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden to be shut down.
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Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

The theatre event of the week came in a twin pack: Roland Schimmelpfennig's new play, a post-colonial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opened at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and the Thalia in Hamburg. The anarchist pamphlet "The Coming Insurrection" has at last been translated into German and has ignited the revolutionary sympathies of at least two leading German broadsheets, the FAZ and the SZ. But the taz, Germany's left-wing daily, says the pamphlet is strongly right-wing. What's left and right anyway? came the reply.
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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

A new book chronicles the revolt of revolting "third persons" at Suhrkamp publishers in the wild days of 1968. Necla Kelek is appalled by the speech of the very Christian Christian Wulff, the German president, in Turkey. The taz met a new faction of hardcore Palestinians who are fighting for separate sex hairdressing in Gaza. Sinologist Andreas Schlieker reports on the new Chinese willingness to restructure the heart. And the Cologne band Erdmöbel celebrate the famous halo around the frying pan.
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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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Saturday 4 - Friday 10 September, 2010

Thilo Sarrazin has buckled under the stress of the past two weeks and resigned from the board of the Central Bank. His book, "Germany is abolishing itself", however, continues to keep Germany locked in a debate about education and immigration and intelligence. Also this week, Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been awarded the M100 prize for defending freedom of opinion. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech at the award ceremony: "The secret of freedom is courage". The FAZ interviewed Westergaard, who expressed his disappointment that the only people who had shown him no support were those of his own class.
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