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GoetheInstitute

02/01/2006

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 2 January, 2006

Frankfurter Rundschau, 02.01.2006

Karl Grobe presents a virtual museum about the Soviet gulags. The museum was founded because of the lack of real commemorative sites, while politicians prefer to mine history for stately symbols. "On the one hand the ruling elite swears by historical continuity. It falls back on symbols and traditions of the state prior to the revolution of 1917. One example being the advancement of the day in the early 17th century when citizen Kusma Minin and Prince Dmitri Poscharsky were supposed to have called for unity against foreign intervention, into a national holiday. (...) On the other hand the national anthem of the Soviet Union (mp3) whose words have been rewritten three times over, has been preserved as the Russian national anthem. And the 9th of May, the day of victory in 1945, is still a national holiday, Liberation Day, although this was no liberation from the Stalinist dictatorship. Soviet and Russian history correspond at some points but not at others. There is a conspicuous lack of rationality when it come to defining what Russia is.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 02.01.2006

When the former East German Palast der Republik in Berlin is torn down starting January 18, what is really being erased is a political symbol, says cabaret writer Peter Ensikat. "It has nothing to do with the beauty or unsightliness of a building. If that was the case the adjacent Berlin Cathedral (more), whose beauty was limited by the tastes of the last German Kaiser, would have to be torn down with it. As was the case with the ruins of the city palace after WWII, with the East German Palast (which was built on the same site -ed.) what is at stake here is an ideology seeking to remove all traces of what is foreign to it. What began as a tragedy with the Kaiser's palace is now continuing with the Palast der Republik as a farce."

In a reportage on the building, Willi Winkler quotes from the original construction plans. "'The architecture of Berlin's centre should bring optimism, courage and zeal to all workers', declare the otherwise cloudy specifications for the building holes in the centre of post-war Berlin. 'It should straighten up the weak-minded and be a thorn in the eye of the enemies of progress.' - they certainly got the thorn bit right."


Berliner Zeitung, 02.01.2006

"Throbbing Gristle was the most exciting, the most influential pop group of the 1970s, and shaped the music of their time like no other band. They took the music out of pop music, reducing it to its true core: a game of signs, codes and iconography. In their hands pop was about the destruction and the creation of identities," writes Jens Balzer. The band, which split up at the height of its fame in 1981, has come back together after 25 years and gave a New Year's Eve concert in Berlin's Volksbühne theatre. "Throbbing Gristle reunited in 2004 with a concert in London. The film documenting the event was premiered on Thursday in Berlin's Arsenal repertory cinema. On Friday an exhibition with documents and devotional objects from the band's history opened in Berlin's Kunst Werke gallery. And on New Year's Eve Throbbing Gristle presented their new album "Part Two" in the Volksbühne Theatre, which had been sold-out for months: a powerful, inspiring din."


Saturday 31 December, 2005


Berliner Zeitung, 31.12.2005

When he stepped down as chancellor, Gerhard Schröder had a military band play "My Way". This inspired Serbian author Bora Cosic to take a critical look at culture in Germany, his home in exile: "I now see how a very large country can degenerate to the point that it becomes its own province. It's as if the country's spirit welled up from the small cities and villages in which, understandably, an obsolescent taste reigns. The whole place strikes me as a kind of ethnological museum documenting a very well-ordered life, but what is it all for? Of course, in the laboratories and institutes, libraries and archives, smart people are driving the country forward. But everything that happens in the public sphere is influenced by the statesman who weeps to the sound of schlocky music when saying his goodbyes."
See our feature "Journey to the Alaska of my past" by Bora Cosic.


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 31.12.2005

Talking with Martin Meyer, pianist Alfred Brendel argues for faithful renditions of composers' works: "I get the feeling you have a certain predeliction for eccentric key-pounders. But what is worse: being true to the work or being true to yourself? Let's leave fairness out of this. The most exciting impulses must come from the works. The pianist should then blossom with their help. Of course young pianists must be trained to be independent. But on the other hand they also must be shown, down to the very last note, how meticulously a performance must be worked out beforehand. That can only be done with imagination, and with the help of your own personal experience: as an example, but not as the sole definitive truth."

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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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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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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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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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