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28/11/2008

From the Feuilletons

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 22.11.2008

Putinism has bought citizens' loyalty, by giving them freedom to design their private lives, writes Viktor Erofeev. "We can basically teach our children anything we want to, bring them up as Christians or Buddhists – as we so choose. And if we have the money, we can travel to Italy or even Easter Island. This is what you call authoritarianism with a human face." But Erofeev stills holds out out hope that somehow middle-class values will be able to sneak in through the back door: "Private life is Russia's salvation."


Frankfurter Rundschau
25.11.2008

The paper prints David Grossman's acceptance speech for the Scholl Siblings Prize. In it the Israeli writer talks about how he is still profoundly mortified by the Shoah, but also about the way writing helps him to create room to manoeuvre in the face of arbitrariness. "Not that I could ever really understand how a person could eradicate themselves to such an extent that they could become part of an annihilation machine. Not that I believed the military occupation would come to an end if I only I could describe its crimes in enough detail. Yet my inner approach to the irrevocable changed. In the moment when I began to write, I no longer faced arbitrariness in the frozen state that gripped me before starting to write. In situations which had seemed to me eternal, absolute and monolithic, I now saw nuances. I created a certain freedom of movement. Confronted with the irrevocable, which before had frozen me in fear and desperation, I was free. I was no longer a victim."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 25.11.2008

Jörg Königsdorf witnesses a performance by the conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the German Symphony orchestra in Berlin. Nezet-Seguin is one of the new generation of conductors: "They have just turned 30 and they are already so good that their older colleagues have to fear for their jobs. ... The new champions of the baton, the Norwegian Eivind Gullberg, the Ossetian Tugan Sokhiev or the Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel (to name but the most famous) couldn't care less about ideologies. They come to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Puccini over the surface of the music, through the most beautiful, the most saturated, and often the loudest sounds. Their interpretations do not speak of agonised artistic navel gazing but of the brilliant self-assurance of the music itself - and of its conductors who, you might say, get the highest possible returns from the score."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 26.11.2008

With the approach of Knut Hamsun's 150th birthday, the Norwegians are starting to shed some of their reservations about their great author and his regrettable Nazi sympathies, as Aldo Keel reports. Next year will finally see the inauguration of long-planned Hamsun Tower designed by the New York architect Steven Holl in Hamaroy, 200 km north of the Arctic circle, where Hamsun grew up as "a child of the poor". "The old ideological misgivings against Hamsun are starting to fade. This August, when a right-wing regional politician called for work on the tower to be stopped, saying it was waste of money in such a remote region, at the same time in Oslo, local left-wing politicians were fighting to have a square named in his honour. In line with the designs of the Social Democrat Helge Winsvold, the piazza near the opera which will be formed as soon as the new Munch Museum and other cultural buildings have been built, should carry Hamsun's name. 'There's no question that Hamsun was a scoundrel" the politician told the paper Aftenposten. "But we want his name because of his work.'"


Die Tageszeitung 27.11.2008

Klaus-Helge Donath talks to Dmitri Muratov, editor-in-chief of the Novaya Gazeta, the paper where the murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya once worked. Her ongoing murder trial is not exactly observing rule of law, but Muratov is impressed by the unusual courage of the jury. "A legal clerk hands the jury a piece of paper to sign. It says that the trial would be conducted in camera at the express wish of the jury, due to fear of reprisals. Although 19 of the 20 jury members refused to sign it, the judge announced that the decision had been passed. One member of the jury then decided to speak out in the name of the other 19 and informed radio Echo Moskvy about the irregularity."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 27.11.2008

Christopher Schmidt explains why the Berlin Volksbühne blood and sperm theatre has died a death but is refusing to give up the ghost, while the rest of Germany's theatre has moved on. "Transgression was the name of the game for many,many years and it involved pushing beyond the boundaries of the stage and destroying anything that was pure aesthetics. But the vapid ego-boosting, the cheap dogmatism which came with it propelled the theatre into a loop, which is why Frank Castorf's productions ultimately became so predictable. Theatre is currently going through a period of self-reflection, which does not mean turning the clocks back, but simply that it is rediscovering pleasure in a long-neglected task: intelligent literary mediation.


Frankfurter Rundschau
28.11.2008

The ethnologist Thomas Reinhardt celebrates the 100th birthday of his eminent colleague Claude Levi-Strauss, but he also points to some problems in his thought. "Unlike his great opponent, Sartre, Levi-Strauss attaches little meaning to the role of human beings as active subjects. Which is why he was often accused, and not entirely without justification, of epistemological anti-humanism. To a great extent his main scientific work, the analysis of myth, served to show 'how myths operated in men's minds without their being aware of the fact.' In the end, for Levi-Strauss, man is little more than a location where things happen without him being able to influence them much."


Perlentaucher 28.11.2008

In her acceptance speech (documented by Perlentaucher) for the "Women of Europe Prize", Necla Kelek calls for a more empathetic understanding of freedom in the Islamic world because, until now, "'being free' has meant being defenceless. When it comes to the crunch the women are at the mercy of men's violence, because the men in the family protect the women from the violence of other men. If their own husbands are violent, then it's kismet, fate. In the lives of many Islamic women, the men are their protectors and their guards. The men exist in public and the women in private."

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From the Feuilletons

Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
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Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
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From the feuilletons

Saturday 27 November - Friday 3 December

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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