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12/01/2006

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12.01.2006

"Rather than cultivate Utopias, Europeans should learn to live with their Union as something unfinished, provisional," suggest the Swedish authors Richard Swartz and Rolf Gustavsson. "Europe has no soul, no heart, no fixed form. It can't be defined by geography, nor by religion or language - not even by culture. Europe is made up of several minorities, some bigger, some smaller, and Europe can't offer much more than a very refined form of supra-national cooperation. No more and no less. Anything beyond that would be presumptuous and dangerous. Presumptuous because Europe should learn to practice a little modesty after all the self-instigated catastrophes of the 20th century and try to commemorate this misery properly. Dangerous because the notion of a single Europe – a sort of United States of Europe - is based on the idea of a perfect Utopia and such Utopias tend towards totalitarianism."


Die Zeit, 12.01.2006


Hanno Rauterberg interviews the artist Robert Rauschenberg, whose junk collages are among the original icons of Pop Art. Rauschenberg normally doesn't give interviews, and here he talks about the open-endedness of art and his long-time companion. "In fact the only eternal thing I own, my turtle Rocky, is a desert turtle. But he doesn't like it here in Florida. Once I brought him down here and he didn't eat a thing for two weeks, so I took him back up to New York. He likes it there with all the art. He likes art, really, it's no joke. Each time we rehang the paintings he crawls around, stretches out his neck and sooner or later finds his favourite work. Then he just sits around it like some art critic. In fact, he's the best one I know."

Gerhard Jörder calls the recent staging of Marivaux's comedy "The Dispute" by director David Bösch at the Schauspielhaus in Zürich a flop. But that doesn't stop Bösch, born in 1978, from being foremost among the young directors who have put the old trench wars of the preceding generation behind them. "Anyone who talks with David Bösch about theatre is in for no end of surprises. Almost everything that raised the hackles of most of his young colleagues just a short while ago he sees positively. Identification, empathy, catharsis: all important! Pathos, an elevated tone: no holds barred! His strongest impulse when directing? 'Curiosity about people'."


Die Welt, 12.01.2006

Dutch author Leon de Winter comments on the legal battle between columnist Henryk M. Broder (website) and concentration camp survivor Hajo Meyer. Broder attacked Meyer, whose book "Das Ende des Judentums" (the end of Jewry) puts the blame for anti-Semitism on Jews themselves. "Henryk Broder called Meyer a 'kosher anti-Semite'. I can understand that. If it looks like an anti-Semite, waggles like an anti-Semite, yaps like an anti-Semite – what on earth else can it be? The sad thing about all this is that Meyer is a sick old man who's fallen prey to Jews and non-Jews who all have their own reasons for demonising Jews, and Israel in particular. In my view, the one Jew can accuse the other of being the cause of anti-Semitism, and the other Jew has the right to call the first a 'kosher anti-Semite'."


Die Tageszeitung, 12.01.2006


Andreas Busche finds Fernando Meirelles' film adaptation of John Le Carre's "The Constant Gardener" illustrative of the paradigm change that has taken place in mainstream cinema in the last 15 years. "In the 80s, war reporter films and political thrillers were the standard form for expressing criticism of Western governments – mainly the American – in 'politically unstable' regions... Today one sees an intuitive guilt complex in Western film productions. Sympathetic white characters such as Angelina Jolie or Nick Nolte as a contrite commander of the Blue Helmets in 'Hotel Rwanda' embody this guilty conscience. Our guilty conscience is likewise embedded in 'The Constant Gardener' (the German press kit, a small tome of over 50 pages, reads like a UN report on the situation in Africa)."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 12.01.2006


Daniel Kothenschulte goes to bat for film piracy and argues for its significance in film history, referring to the preservation of silent films and the nitrate copies of old sound films. Even Henri Langlois' Cinematheque Francaise was initially attacked by the film industry for piracy, "but its founder saw his responsibility as not just the maintenance of film copies, which their legal owners would prefer to see destroyed, but also in the permanent presentation of the saved material. Pirates like him have saved films from being forgotten."

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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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From the Feuilletons

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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