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28/11/2005

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 28 November, 2005

Die Tageszeitung, 28.11.2005


Gabriele Goettle has visited Barbara Duden (book), who does research into how bodies and sicknesses were treated in times past. Duden tells, for example, how she came across "Observationes clinicae", etiologies written by the physician Johannes Pelargus Storch in the middle of the 18th century. "At the beginning I couldn't make head or tail of the reports. Women's experiences of their bodies seemed entirely beyond the pale of research. Everything they complained of was totally foreign to me, what they meant by bloods and fruit, open feet and deadness, flow and stagnancy. The women complained to the doctor of heart commotion, a rip in the heart, a chill in the womb, an obdurate stomach."


Die Welt, 28.11.2005


The author Georg M. Oswald rants against the latest trends in literature, embodied by such authors as Michel Houellebecq and Bret Easton Ellis: "What's new is that authors who are considered to write serious literature tune their novels in such a way that they look better than the flossy best sellers. For a long time, an engagement with science fiction or transcendentalism was frowned upon in serious literature, but since pop has been accepted as a literary theme, it has become tres chic to take up these forms which – and this is the problem – by no means guarantee good results." As therapy, Oswald recommends the authors Martin Mosebach and Bernd Cailloux.


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 28.11.2005


Barbara Lehmann travelled to Kiev and Kharkov in Ukraine with the director Andrey Zholdak to find out why existential rage ignites in Ukraine but not in the West. "Planet Earth is a plague that cannot be steered, a black chaos," says Zholdak in the train to Kharkov. 'Many artists in the world are sounding alarm. I would like to do a performance about all people. But my antennae, the signals that I am receiving, don't allow for that.' From the train window, one could see leached out fields, dilapidated factories and decaying houses. It was as if an angry god with a poisonous plough had driven over the rich black soil."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 28.11.2005

Peter Iden highly recommends an exhibition in the Städel Museum in Frankfurt "whose attractiveness is unparalleled in the current offering of German museums." The exhibition deals with the reciprocal influence of the art scenes in antique Egypt, Greece and Rome. "An especially graceful example of the adaptation of Egyptian styles is a spoon that was found in Etruria, shaped like the slender body of a swimmer who appears to be drifting in a bowl of water with flat outstretched arms. In the earlier Egyptian version, the swimming woman seems relatively stiff; a thousand years later, she is refashioned by the Etruscan hand-workers in such a way that one feels one can see how perfect her kick is."


Saturday 26 November, 2005

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 26.11.2005

A good read! Saturday's literature and arts supplement sheds light on the relationship between Turkey and Europe from different perspectives.

Nilufer Göle, sociologist at the EHESS in Paris, describes how arguments for and against Turkey's entry in the EU have changed. "In Turkey, 'Europeanness' is by no means taken for granted as a historical legacy. There, it has been adopted voluntarily – as a political project, as a democratic framework that would allow a new definition of commonality and difference. For the European countries there doesn't seem to be a difference between the European identity and the European project. The EU is, in a way, the latest expression of the European identity, including the Christian faith. With such premisses, Turkey's candidature is seen as a threat that aggravates concerns about how to preserve European identity and borders. But the increasing fixation on European identity stands in the way of a 'common dream'. And so the richness of the European heritage turns against itself – and against the universality attributed to European ideas and values."

Seyla Benhabib, professor of political science at Yale University, sees Turkey as a country that "is gradually becoming aware of its own multiculturalism", while the Europeans are suddenly reflecting on a "Core Europe". "But we live in an epoch where all categories of identity are essentially instable. The Turkish nation cannot afford to deny its multicultural and multi-religious origins, just as the European Union cannot draw its borders solely with an eye to religion and culture."

Turkish-German author Feridun Zaimoglu tells his own story of immigration, in which a certain Petra plays an important role: "Petra came from the middle class, her father was a very tall, artistically inclined man with metal-rimmed glasses. Petra saw in me a sort of lower-class visionary. She wanted to know what my life was like, and I too had a whole lot of questions for her. We made a deal: she would give me a hitch-up into her world, and in exchange I would tell her stories about the immigrant barbarians. 'What is it,' she asked, 'that characterises you and your kind?' I didn't have to think for long. 'Martial arts and a true soul,' I said, 'pathos and discipline, kitsch and romanticism, and of course a touch of German circumspection.' 'We're not in the army here,' she said, 'you've got to scrutinise yourself, that's the only way you'll make it.' But what did she mean by that?"


Frankfurter Rundschau, 26.11.2005


Jörn Klare reports that there is more to Syria than the bad press it got recently over the UN Mehlis Report, for example in Damascus. "Behind the cheap hotels with the prostitutes from the former Soviet Union are the suqs of the old city. The suqs are a labyrinth of narrow, twisting alleyways lined with crooked buildings, Internet cafés and carpet dealers, water pipes and cheap Chinese textiles. The trademark counterfeiters favour Puma, as if Nike and Adidas didn't exist. The last hakawati, or story teller, reads stories each night in a café. He wants 40 dollars for an interview, a fifth of the average Syrian monthly wage. Women dressed entirely in black cross paths with perfectly made up teenies in very tight jeans and t-shirts."

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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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