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22/08/2005

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.

Monday 22 August, 2005

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 22.08.2005


Claudia Kramatschek gives a very instructive insight into Pakistani literature - pardon, into Urdu, Sindhi, Pashto, Punjabi and Balochi literature. "In general, the situation seems to be just as paradoxical as the country itself, combining vitality and stagnation. That also goes for the key question of censorship under General Musharraf, who occasionally hosts large banquets for writers. Some authors who were once critical of the regime now say there was never as much literary freedom as under Musharraf. Like Fahmida Riaz they once fought the regime, but now they count among the current government's supporters. Some of their former readers feel they have betrayed their ideals and those of Leftist authors, many of whom now have to write under the protection of an NGO. That leads Ajmal Kamal to take a rather bleak view of contemporary Urdu literature: 'A type of literature is emerging that is just as predictable in its form as in its content, because it toes the political line that will further its author's career."

Urs Schoettli compares his impressions of Shanghai and New York. The Chinese prima donna only gets the better of the comparison at first glance. "A real cosmopolitan city, a real culturally animated, forward-looking metropolis needs more than just concrete, steel and glass. Far more important is its spirit, and here Shanghai can only look at New York with envy. The Yankees were once considered new-rich upstarts by Europeans. Today Shanghai's cultural life is second-rate and modest compared with the 'Big Apple'... Despite all the excitement, modernisation and unconventional vitality of its youthful populace, what is missing in Shanghai is freedom."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 22.08.2005

Reinhard Schulz is enthralled with Austrian composer Peter Jan Marthe's new arrangement of Bruckner's third symphony, performed on Friday in St. Florian near Linz. "Marthe has put Bruckner's material together in a new way. He has expanded the finale, which has always been seen as problematic, to a flabbergasting dimension. The grandiose finale which takes up the initial theme in the major key is now delayed. It is as if the sound had to squeeze between perilous straights and avoid precarious last-minute obstacles before coming out into the open. At first it is only a premonition, then it mounts and crescendos with resounding energy. The piece abounds with psychic development, at times unhurried, at times exhilarated.... The last movement takes the listeners down to purgatory before culminating in deliverance. After the last note faded away, the audience was still, shaken to the core. The applause started up only after a breathless silence, at first timidly, so as not to destroy the effect, before mounting to a frenzy."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22.08.05

Dirk Schümer reports that Nanni Moretti is planning a film about Silvio Berlusconi. "The title..., 'Il caimano' (the cayman) is not only a play on words on one of the favourite nicknames for the snappy media entrepreneur, but also a reference to the cayman islands, the chic financial paradise where Italy's rich like to divert their more inscrutable incomes. (...) The director has spent four years on the project, most of the time engaged in political activities. The conclusion: a political film through and through. No coincidence, then, that 'Il caimano' is set for release early next year, the same time as the general election."


Saturday 20 August, 2005

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 20.08.2005

Claus Leggewie and Erik Meyer sum up the controversy surrounding a proposed centre against expulsion, deportation and forced settlement in Berlin. The creation of the centre is arduously supported by Erika Steinbach, CDU politician and president German League of Expellees, and has now become part of the CDU campaign in the upcoming elections. Steinbach had established a foundation together with Peter Glozt in 2002, and exhibited a "screenplay" for the planned permanent exhibit. "The details published on the Internet reflect a design that visitors to the information centre in the Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe are already familiar with. Both memorials, as contrary as they may appear to potential visitors, are compared in certain respects, at the expense of the Holocaust Memorial... Whether enough will be done with this initiative to shed light on the complex story of 'ethnic cleansing' in the 20th century, remains questionable."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 20.08.2005

In Berlin, Julia Encke listened in awe as the eminent sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf cheerily answered the question "What is Germany actually missing?" "According to Lord Dahrendorf, what Germany lacks above all is a decisive political language. 'I guarantee,' he said, 'that terms like Hartz IV or one euro jobs would not have survived a single day in Great Britain.' According to Dahrendorf, Tony Blair would have never spoken of 'reforms', but of 'modernisation'. What Germany has dubbed 'deregulation', England would term more positively, as 'better regulation'. That is no coincidence, Dahrendorf argued. There is a whole attitude behind it. Germany's political language is so full of ill-tempered political concepts, it's no wonder that the entire country is in a bad mood."

"Video games increasingly satisfy the task film critic Siegfried Kracauer attributed to photography," observes Andreas Rosenfelder following a trip round Leipzig's "Games Convention": namely, the escape from external reality. "In 'True Crime – New York City', for example, players take on the role of a cop turned gangster. Their beat is a breathtakingly accurate Manhattan – every street, every subway station, every subway line. 'True Crime' belongs to the growing number of games which transcend the Manichaeism of earlier incarnations, leaving the choice of good or evil entirely up to the player: If the policeman stays 'clean', restaurants spring up like mushrooms, even in the city's more objectionable neighbourhoods. If he becomes corrupt and sells guns on the black market, soon enough every wall becomes littered with graffiti."

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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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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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