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22/05/2009

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 16.05.2009

Marco Schmidt visited the crime film festival in Beaune, Burgundy. The highlight for him was the moment when the second jury, which consisted solely of policemen, announced their winner. "On stage you had four strong men and one diminutive but imposing woman announcing their decision to award their prize to the Danish thriller 'Terribly Happy'. In the film a policeman from Copenhagen is sent into the countryside where he falls into the clutches of a mysterious woman. The president of the jury, Danielle Thierry, the police director of Dijon, explained with a smile that spoke volumes. 'We were seduced by the film's amorality!'"


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 16.05.2009

Novelist David Lodge talks in an interview about contemporary British literature and the hazards of writing bestsellers. "If you become a bestselling writer your ego stirs – you have to stay on the ball. And the literary bestseller is not such a rare specimen as it was before the last world war. Which is why I always say that you must approach the work as an artist and turn into a businessman as soon as the novel is published. Of course we get paid much better than writers of earlier generations. Think of Virginia Woolf, George Orwell: compared with Rushdie and his ilk, they earned peanuts, a trifle."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
18.05.2009

Barbara Villiger Heilig returned exhausted but contented from the premiere of poet and playwright Albert Ostermaier's "Blue Mirror" at the Berliner Ensemble. The director was Andrea Breth. The text that these two collaborated on is "as easy to grasp as it is hard to digest", Villerger Heilig explains. "It's all subtext. If they talk, they talk in their dreams (...) Corinna Kirchhoff and Wolfgang Michael are a couple who are going through was one calls a crisis. In the few 'normal everyday scenes' they battle it out on the treacherous search for mutual understanding and there is even a flash of humour a la Yasmina Reza: Corinna Kirchhoff is trying to convince Wolfgang Michael to enter into a therapeutic role play with her – 'Just do it!' - but he's had enough of this sort of provocative 'self awareness' with his partner, who goes at him like a bulldozer despite the screeching protestations about being 'soooo fragile'."


Die Welt
18.05.2009

Despite all arguments to the contrary, author Rolf Schneider is in favour of the trial of the 89 year old Ukrainian alleged SS murderer John Demjanjuk – for one thing it would shed light on previously little-known aspects of the Holocaust. "Few people know about the vast numbers of Ukrainian personnel in the Nazi death camp Sobibor, or about the army of Andrey Andreyevich Vlasov, who was first Stalin's then Hitler's general and in both roles, ruled over countless Ukrainians, but whose existence in WWII history is little more than shadowy. Perhaps the congruence of Stalinism and Hitler fascism that Vlasov embodied was just too oppressive?"


Die Tageszeitung
18.05.2009

Historian Tom Segev talks in an interview about how much Israel has changed in recent years. Hatred of the Arabs has become "legitimate and socially-acceptable." And it is "also accepted when a company hires only Jewish workers and no Arab Israelis. Many street signs are trilingual in Israel: Hebrew, Russian and Arabic. The Arabic is often blacked out. In the past the local authorities would remove the offending graffiti. But at some point they just stopped. (...) Then you have the Russians who can't stand the Ethiopians and vice versa. I have an adopted son who is Ethiopian. When his friends want to wind him up they call him Boris. There are lots of clubs in Tel Aviv which don't admit Ethiopians. Israeli society is becoming more fragmented all the time."


Frankfurter Rundschau 22.05.2009

Peter Michalzik brought together two of Germany's leading theatre directors Claus Peymann and Rene Pollesch. The two men, who had never met before, engaged in a conversation that started respectfully and ended with sparks flying. Halfway through they discovered they had very different ideas about literature. Peymann says. "I hold onto immanent values like in Truffaut's 'Farenheit 541', where you see people who are permanently chanting great literary works under their breath to prevent their disappearance."To which Pollesch replies: "They are only preserving an order to respect literature." Later he says: "I think literature is a pose which is now obsolete."


Cannes

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 18.05.2009

Verena Lueken reports back positively from the first few days in Cannes. She singled out the competition entry "Kinatay" by Filipino director Brillante Mendoza - not exactly cheering fare but worthy of respect nevertheless. "After the prologue in the chaos of downtown Manila, all that happens in the film is that a woman is dragged, kicked and beaten into a car and driven in what feels like an endless journey by night to a house where she is raped, murdered, chopped into bits and put into bags. Then comes the return journey where the various bits of her are thrown out of the car in different places... There is no way to like this film. But the director's energy and seriousness certainly deserve respect."


Die Tageszeitung 19.05.2009

"A catalogue of shocks" writes Christina Nord in her Cannes column on Lars von Trier's "Antichrist". And she divulges more specifics than most of her colleages: "The prologue, which is filmed in a slo-mo black-and-white coffee table aesthetic is punctuated by a split-second hardcore penetration shot. Later we see an erect penis spurting blood instead of sperm, and later still, a close up of a woman cutting off her clitoris with a blunt pair of scissors."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
22.05.2009

Tobias Kniebe watched Quentin Taratino's film "Inglourious Basterds" and found it not lacking in profundity in spite of initial appearances. But it was also lots of fun. Tarantino "just wants to create glorious set-ups and take his sweet time about it. And as a devoted cinemaniac, he just wants to watch actors at word. And this is exactly what he does. In 'Inglourious Basterds' he has created a feel-good movie, as born out by the friendly applause at the end and the absence of political reaction. Is this possible with Nazis? Obviously it is."

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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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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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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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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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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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