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30/05/2005

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 30 May, 2005

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30.05.2005

The Allianz Arena, Munich's new soccer stadium designed by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron, officially opens its doors today. Under construction since 2003, the stadium looks like an inflated dinghy and is lit up by striking colours at night. Niklas Maak finds that unlike the city's old Olympic Stadium it is "no revolution in sports architecture", but he is otherwise impressed. "The visual-effects facade is for the 21st century what the lederhose was for the past: a memorable image of 'Bavarian-ness' and 'Munichification'."
Click here for Hanno Rauterberg's poetic description of the stadium, in "In Today's Feuilletons" of 21 April.


Die Welt, 30.05.2005

Some time ago "Metal Storm" conquered the Turkish book market. The best-seller is set in 2007, and tells of Turkish heroism in the face of US occupying troops in Iraq. The book was cheap and nationalistic. Esmahan Aykol fears this might establish itself as a new success formula. "The 304 pages of 'Metal Storm' cost approximately 3 euros. This is the same price of the new edition of 'Mein Kampf' which reached best-seller status as soon as it was published. And hot on the heels of 'Metal Storm' is the next bargain best-seller 'America belongs to us – the moustachioed hurricane'. Also written by a fast-lane duo, Erdogan Ekmekci und Adem Özyol's book plays to nationalists of all stripes. Because this time the Turks conquer the USA. With extraterrestrial intervention a Turkish 'idealist' and supporter of the nationalist movement devises a machine which makes child's play of conquest. The White House is painted to look like the Turkish flag, and the Oval Office is overrun by oriental revelries, Madonna practises belly dancing and the Statue of Liberty is given a moustache."


Saturday 28 May, 2005

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 28.05.2005

Slovakian writer Irena Brezna tells an engaging story of a trip through Eastern Europe, and how she got a lesson in dealing with the unexpected: "Once we'd crossed the Austrian-Slovakian border, the crumbling houses of Bratislava started to appear. The roadside ditches were full of garbage, bearing witness to the life of the local inhabitants like archaeological finds. From this point on my Western rational superstructure started to cringe. Here the 'Freudian act' is everywhere. Rifts and cracks make a mockery of the facades of the superego, and through them the eternal, uninhibited id breaks forth, forcing its way into the consciousness. The West in me wants to wall it all up, repair it, plaster it over with gloss, to repress the imperfect and keep it at bay."

Today's excellent arts section also has a Focus on China. Urs Schoettli wanders across Beijing's Tienanmen Square, detecting no sign that the pompous buildings overly impress the sightseers: "At least in the everyday tumult, the masses of visitors from all over the Middle Kingdom show no particular patriotic emotion in the presence of the imposing testimonials of state power. On their tours through the Great Hall of the People or the Imperial Palace, the groups make more noise and behave less respectfully than visitors in the Federal Assembly Building in Switzerland, for example."

Michael Ostheimer meets Chinese students, summing up their lifestyle with the words: "The walls of my campus are the boundaries of my world." The reason: "As a rule, China's young academics are insensitive to the charms of urban life, and not just for lack of money. Every now and then they stroll through a shopping centre. They celebrate special occasions like birthdays or passed exams by going to a restaurant or karaoke bar. But seldom do they see the inside of a museum or theatre, to say nothing of bars and discos."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28.05.2005

Fritz Göttler reports on the growing advantages of Europe as a film production location in the face of international competition. "The competition between European studios has become huge, and the film world is closing ranks. The flight from Hollywood has long been a cause for concern in the US, the costs there are too high, the unions too inflexible – all criticisms we constantly hear about Germany as a business location. But European cinema is becoming more proactive, more globally oriented – it's no longer possible to have a bird's eye view of all the international co-productions."

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (born 1925), Germany's greatest baritone and the most recorded singer of all time, ended his 45-year career in 1993. He now talks to the Süddeutsche Zeitung about his career. "Young people often have no idea about presence or charisma in a singer. It's something you either have or you don't. There's no one that that can teach them that."

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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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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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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 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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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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