?From the great beyond into the present? ? an interview with Jo Lendle

Hanser publisher Jo Lendle talks about gentle adjustments of languages and marketing strategies.... more more

GoetheInstitute

18/09/2009

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.

The China Symposium

Last weekend, as part of the lead-up to the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 14-18), a symposium on "China and the World: Perceptions and Realities" was held. The book fair had invited dissidents, including the US-based poet Bei Ling and the China-based environmental activist Dai Qing, to attend. Following protests of the Chinese delegation, however, these guests were dis-invited. This unleashed massive protests in the German media (more here). In the end, it was agreed that the dissidents could come, but could not be part of the podium.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau, Dai Qing talks about the book fair debacle and Beijing's allergy to freedom of opinion. "Anyone trying to understand today's China has to know what changes the country has undergone. In the first twenty years of the People's Republic, there was basically no literature, only propaganda. The revolution was important, not the individual. After 1978, there was a phase that I call the time of 'bound feet.' China's cultural life looked like the liberated feet of a girl whose feet had been broken and bound at birth. That wasn't pretty, but it was better than the original crippling."

The exiled author Bei Ling writes an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, containing a wonderful homage to Paul Celan, about how he felt about the symposium from which he, like Dai Qing, was initially dis-invited. "When we saw how the discussion had to be ended 'given time constraints' but how, to everyone's astonishment, a representative of the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences was given endless time to plea for more understanding for China in the West, it was hard not to think that the symposium had become a propaganda platform for the Chinese success story."

Writing in der Frankfurter Rundschau, Arno Widmann calls the China symposium a "complete disaster" which ended in tumult: "At the end, when things were getting serious in the symposium, which is supposed to launch the Frankfurt Book Fair, things fell apart; not only did the fair's director Jürgen Boos falter, the scandal of the day was that Herbert Wiesner, the secretary general of German PEN, refused to answer questions from the audience. For instance the most glaring: why he hadn't used this event to discuss the situation of authors sitting in Chinese jails."

The Sinologist Helwig Schmidt-Glintzer pleas in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung for understanding for China: "China wanted to and will move mountains and change the course of rivers, like the ancient emperor Yugong. It wants to bring a fifth of mankind into modernity -- and is seeing the first fruits of its labours. The heart's impatience turns to disgust, when these efforts are not acknowledged by the outside world."


Other Stories

Süddeutsche Zeitung 16.09.2009


During his visit to Germany, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been operated on for a brain hemorrhage, which he attributes to the beating he received from Chinese police last month. Henrik Bork reports that Weiwei was attacked for "insisting on an investigation into the 'tofu school' scandal. During the earthquake in the central Chinese province of Sichuan on May 12 of last year, thousands of school children died in poorly-constructed schools." Ai Weiwei has documented his operation with photos that he's put on Twitter. Art critic Holger Liebs adds that, "What seems at first like exhibitionism is in fact not only his artistic strategy, but also part of his logic, that countering the censorship, despotism and physical violence of the Chinese authorities involves the use of concrete evidence."


Die Zeit 17.09.2009

"Pacifism aimed at feathering one's own nest is a moral sleight of hand," writes author Thea Dorn in response to the prominent German writers who demanded in Freitag a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan (more here). She's particularly incensed by philosopher Richard David Precht (in the Spiegel) and author Martin Walser (in the Zeit), who argue that the mission "negligently" endangers Germany's security. "On the one hand, the West as a whole is considered such a dubious culture, that we deny it the right to defend itself with force against those attacking it with out any scruples whatsoever. At the same time, we in Berlin, Cologne and on Lake Constance would like to be able to enjoy our red wine in peace. And I wonder why the current brand of pacifism is always flanked by its flipside, anti-Americanism. Precht, for example, characterises the American Way of Life as 'the 20th century's most successful weapon of mass destruction'."


Frankfurter Rundschau 18.09.2009

While visiting the exhibition of Impressionists in Vienna's Albertina, Arno Widmann has a revelation about the importance of technology and progress in art history: "In 1850 in Paris, there were 276 paint dealers. Impressionism was not born in the academy. It's the product of a new class of producers and consumers. But it's not just painting's new social role that paves the way to Impressionism. It's the new colours. The glory of Impressionistic gardens is unthinkable without the discovery of Schweinfurt green in 1822, the brilliant shine of clothing and clouds would not have been possible without zinc white."

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more