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12/08/2005

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.

Der Tagesspiegel, 12.08.2005

Jörg Plath talks to Orhan Pamuk, who again appeals for Turkish accession to the EU. "Of course I'm for Turkey joining the EU. But it's too simple to say that will make us all well-off and solve all our problems. Since the referendums in France and the Netherlands, Europe is preoccupied with itself. Various ideas are competing with one another about the character of the Union. Will Europe define itself exclusively through the past? This is a conservative view and can ultimately be reduced to discussions on agricultural policy and the distribution of funds. This is always the case with short-term politics. But in the long term Europe needs an all-encompassing vision of itself and for that reason I recommend that Turkey joins."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12.08.2005

In an interview with Werner Bloch, Canadian journalist and "Muslim refusenik" Irshad Manji talks of the role of women in Islam, and what she calls Islam's "secret abdomen". "The secret abdomen of Islam is Arab cultural imperialism. Today people find it chic to condemn American cultural imperialism. But there is also an Arab variation. Over the centuries, Arab culture has become so intermingled with the practise of Islam that the terms are often equated. But in fact Islam and Arab culture are not the same at all."


Die tageszeitung, 12.08.2005

Germany has adopted a new national author, writes Dirk Knipphals sceptically on the 50th anniversary of Thomas Mann's death. "German president Horst Köhler recently encouraged theatres to stage entire works of classic drama, regardless if they last five hours or more. Presumably he is just as keen about Thomas Mann. Conservative politicians have traditionally linked modern economic policy with traditional tastes in culture, in order that culture help compensate for the deficit of meaning left by today's economy." For Knipphals, Thomas Mann is the natural choice as representative of German letters: "Even today he is required reading in the schools, however so is Franz Kafka. But as Kafka was from Prague, he can't be monopolised by German politicians. Robert Musil is Austrian, and like Friedrich Hölderlin he's considered too difficult. Bertolt Brecht is too tied up with socialism. Heinrich Heine's books aren't long enough. And as for Goethe, the occasion is lacking. The 200th anniversary of his death is in 2032."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 12.08.2005

For an occasion like the 50th anniversary of the death of Thomas Mann, the publisher himself, Frank Schirrmacher, takes up the pen. He is not surprised when today's writers say they weren't influenced by Mann: "Tiny Liechtenstein would probably answer the question whether it was influenced by the USA with a no." But all readers of Schirrmacher's generation are deeply influenced by the author of "Buddenbrooks" and "The Magic Mountain", he claims. "Mann is the major point of reference not only, as people rightly point out, as far as eduction is concerned, but also for the entire history of German thinking."

Zhou Derong writes an illuminating report on the competition between the search machines Google and Baidu in China. Baidu has been quicker to meet the government's censorship restrictions and is profiting accordingly. But Google is also toeing the line. "Google has met with much criticism for this and rightly so. But even today one has to credit the search machine that, unlike Yahoo and Microsoft, it has not prostrated itself before the government. Not only did Google insist right from the start on presenting all links in a concrete search result, but in the meantime 'subversive and damaging' websites also appear every now and then on their news site. This makes it unpopular with the Communist leadership." But it has boosted Google's profits.


Neue Zürchner Zeitung, 12.08.2005

Elisabeth Wellershaus visited the Czech theatre director Dusan Parizek, the first of his countrymen to participate in the Young Director's Project at the Salzburg Festspiele. Parizek heads the Prague chamber theatre, and is rehearsing a work based on Robert Musil's "The Confusions of Young Törless" (premiere August 15), "one of many works in which he attempts to provoke a better understanding within Central Europe." Parizek's future in his home country looks uncertain however. He says, "the Czech Republic is not in a good state at the moment. There is a new political establishment, new elections are approaching and the Right is making enormous gains. ... In the meantime Prague has no cultural department, which means my theatre company is being administered by the association for historical buildings. Absurd."

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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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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

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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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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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