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GoetheInstitute

02/03/2005

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.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 02.02.2005

Michael Braun is very taken by the latest collection of poems by Thomas Kling, one of Germany's leading contemporary poets, "Auswertung der Flugdaten" (Evaluation of the Flight Data). "This fascinating book opens with 'Song of the Bronchoscopy', a gripping cycle of poems based on inklings of death in which the lyrical subject reflects on his situation 'at the edge of the grave'. The verse deals with cool medical investigations and X-rays of the human body. These are the poems of a man casting his accustomed cultural archaeological gaze on himself. The body of the lyrical subject is not merely the physical object of a medical visit, but material for a story where medical interventions become a sort of geological experiment."

On the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the death of French baroque author Louis de Rouvroy, Duke de Saint-Simon (1675-1755), Mark Zitzmann draws a portrait of the author, whose autobiographical "Memoires" blend real life elements into an "autofiction" that inspired Stendhal, Flaubert and Proust. Arguing for Saint-Simon's relevance today, Zitzmann calls him both voyeur and visionary. "A voyeur, because Saint-Simon continually takes up the posture of the observer, whose Argus' eyes greedily register every gesture, down to the tiniest movement." A visionary because in peering into the darkest corners of the courtly life, he paints the weaknesses that would bring about its downfall. "The image Saint-Simon's 'Memoires' give of bygone times is in reality a blackened, distorting mirror full of twisted faces. The stormy, idiosyncratic style, the eerily accurate, bitter power and the sometimes timid lyricism of his so un-French, and yet so deeply French prose distills pessimism, pride, disdain, even hatred and acid humour into a drug that has earned its place in the poison cabinet of world literature."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 02.03.2005

The orange revolution was Ukraine's first step towards becoming a modern nation, comment Claudia and Uwe Dathe, of the DAAD in Kiev. The "deciding factor" is "the sweeping institutional changes which Yushchenko's victory has made possible." A victory which "was won not only through pressure from the masses, but also through institutional channels. His aim was not to storm the institutions, but to strengthen them. Evening after evening he explained the duties of the parliament and the courts to the freezing crowds. By emphasising the importance of these institutions for the reorganisation of the country, he channelled the political energy of his supporters. Once the Ukrainians started to realise that institutions which for 14 years had served only to maintain the power of a political elite could be changed from the roots up, many began to accept his ideas on modernisation. This became clear on December 26 not only from the presence of hordes of foreign election observers, but also from the tens of thousands of Ukrainians who worked in the electoral commissions and controlled the vote count."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 02.03.2005

In the wake of the most recent suicide bombing in Irak that killed over one hundred people, Iraqi author Hussain al-Mozany comments bitterly on Arab intellectuals, who in his view do not reflect critically enough on the violence in their own culture. "Instead of thinking about the brutality of the present they prefer to rehash the good old anti-Americanism with European fellow intellectuals and poets, reciting Palestinian poet Mamoud Darwish's credo: 'I urinate on the Americans'. This leaves the Islamic fundamentalists free to go on dreaming about their paradisical brothel."

Ellen Kohlhaas writes an interesting report on the heroic work of the Zagreb Opera, which has to survive on a shoestring. "Opera seats are filled to 85 percent, and the ballet is always sold out. Although opera tickets are very expensive in comparison with the average income, amazingly it is the elderly who regularly go to the opera. And they pay for it by saving on basic needs. For them high culture is simply a part of life - this is a leftover of the Habsburg era. Middle aged audiences are dwindling and this is a result of the sheer fight for survival in Croatia today. But part of this trend can also be attributed to the communist regime, which frowned on the opera as a feudal relic."

An ongoing debate is raging in Germany about the pros and cons of daycare for children. Some argue they should be more heavily subsidised to allow parents to work, while others insist mothers should stay at home and care for their children themselves. Gabriele Dietrich advises against putting very small children in nurseries, arguing that an early separation from the mother could traumatise the tots. "When children are separated from their mothers, they suffer psychic pains that can damage the psyche irreparably. This fact can no longer be dismissed as an outdated myth, because brain researchers are now confirming what experience has always taught us. A neurobiological study on mammals at the University of Magdeburg shows that 'socio-emotional and intellectual abilities' depend on the quality of the parent-child relationship in early years. Interrupting this contact leads to synaptic modifications in the brain, which play a fundamental role in the development of 'emotional behaviour, learning ability and memory'."

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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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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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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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