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GoetheInstitute

20/11/2009

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 Rundschau 14.11.2009

Peter Michalzik seems to be the only critic with anything positive to say about Frank Castorf's new play, Friedrich von Gagern's "Ozean", which has just opened a new season at the Volksbühne in Berlin, after months of renovation. "Once you get settled into it, there is plenty of enjoyment amidst four and a half hours of hard work. Next to the tarpaulins, a few pallets, boxes and pillows (from Bert Neumann): we're in a vast steerage area in the belly of a ship - our metaphorical home - no light, no air, eventually nothing to eat and no water – but endless amounts of time. Naturally the situation breeds dreams of Utopia and revolution. The play is about exactly that: an incredibly eccentric but not unappealing collection of journalists, writers, revolutionaries, intellectuals, Silesian weavers, all holed up in steerage, heading for the new world."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 14.11.2009

Kia Vahland was not impressed by Arno Widmann's article in the Frankfurter Rundschau last week, that cast Sandro Botticelli's paintings of women (in an exhibition in Frankfurt's Städel Museum) as modern-day "pin-ups". Quite apart from the fact that it is Botticelli's paintings of men that are far more interesting. "You could say that Botticelli did more for the male eros than he did for the female. He gave men the gift of vulnerability, as we see in the London painting - sadly not included in this exhibition – of Venus and Mars, where the two gods are depicted lying in the grass: she, immaculately styled, dressed to go, looking watchfully in the direction of her lover, very much in control of the situation even directly after sex. The warrior on the other hand is naked, fast asleep, completely lost to the world; powerless against the child satyrs who are making a mockery of his weapon."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 16.11.2009

Angela Schader talks to the writer Alaa al-Aswany, whose book of short stories, "Friendly Fire", has just been published in Germany, about the tight corner in which Egyptian intellectuals find themselves, between political suppression, religious pressure and social poverty. "This is why I write a weekly column in an Egyptian newspaper, that always ends with the sentence: 'Democracy is the solution.' We have countless problems in Egypt and all of them are symptoms of one disease. Doctors know that it makes no sense at all to treat the symptoms, if you are not trying to get to the root of the disease – and our disease is dictatorship. The primary duty of writers and intellectuals is to free this country of the dictatorship."


Die Welt 17.11.2009

Imre Kertesz's sharp sharp criticism of Hungary in Die Welt last week stirred up a hornet's nest. "The old vices of the Hungarians, their dishonesty and their tendency to live in denial, are flourishing as ever," the Nobel laureate said in an interview. Now the Right in Hungary is seething, as Paul Lendvai reports. "This week the Magyar Demokrata (Hungarian Democrat) newspaper called for the "formation of a cultural police force", consisting of three to four special commandos. These would be assigned to remove the works of "left-wing liberal traitors" (György Spiro, György Konrad, Peter Esterhazy and Peter Nadas) from the libraries, and failing this, to at least tear them them or spray them with paint. "We should have no qualms. These people are murderers, we must purge their poison from our organism,' the editor of the paper wrote, and issued a "call to arms, to holy war'. When faced with the furious reaction that this tirade provoked in and outside Hungary, the editor-in-chief tried to play down his attack on the – with the exception of Esterhazy - Jewish authors, as a 'humorous observation'. This is just the tip of the iceberg. In the words of Gyögy Konrad. "Freedom appears to be the freedom of neo-fascism.' Jews in Hungary live in fear (again)."


Die Zeit 19.11.2009

The writer Jonathan Littell reports back from a trip to Chechnya, where there has been a terrifying resurgence of violence, and where Memorial journalist Natalia Estemirova was murdered in July: "When Alexander Cherkassov told me in June: 'It's cosy in Hell now, but it's still Hell', or when Oleg Orlov assured me: 'This endless war, the appalling levels of blood and violence, is causing a totalitarian system to form down there', I thought to myself: yes, maybe, but they're probably exaggerating a little, they've been wrapped up in it too long, they can't see things objectively. Of course everyone is trapped in their own ideas, I know this very well. But my mistake was to think that my own view was closer to the truth than theirs. And who knows what reality is? Reality is two bullets in the head."


Die Welt 20.11.2009

British and American theatre is riddled with plays about problematic German biographies – from Wilhelm Furtwängler, Hanna Arendt and Heidegger to Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. Why do we never see this in German theatres? asks Matthias Heine: "German-language theatre is biography-shy. Most contemporary playwrights are repelled by the lives of others, at least if they are famous. Either they don't feel up to the job of tackling the stuff that famous people are made of, or they think it below them. But why? For historical reasons mainly. On the stage, biography always stands suspiciously close to propaganda."


Spiegel Online 20.11.2009

The director Claude Lanzmann told Der Spiegel that he was "shocked" to hear that a violent left-wing mob had intervened to stop his film "Why Israel" from being shown in a Hamburg cinema on 25 October. Cinema-goers were prevented from entering the building, some were even beaten and spat at, amid shouts of "Jewish pigs". The cinema was eventually forced to cancel the screening. "Claude Lanzmann is amazed that the scandal was not picked up by the media: 'How can it be that the Germans essentially ignored a thing like this?"

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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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