09/02/2006

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.

The Berlinale Dream Girls retrospective

The Berlinale, Berlin's international film festival, starts today. This year the retrospective section is dedicated to "Dream Girls".

Katja Nicodemus visited one dream girl for Die Zeit. The door is opened by Bernard d'Ormale, companion of the right-wing French extremist politician Jean-Marie Le Pen. "He sticks out his hand and opens with: 'Do you work for a newspaper worthy of the name?' A tense silence ensues. Bardot takes a drag on her cigarette." Later she says that "nobody, no human, is as close to her as her dogs. Not even her husband? The answer is astonishing: 'You know what? I was always the man in my life.'"

Writing in die tageszeitung, Elisabeth Bronfen looks beneath the dream girls' glamorous surface and sees rumblings of the oncoming societal shake-up of the 60s. "One detail shows in retrospect how the cinema in particular set the course for the upheavals of the following decade. At the beginning of 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' Monroe sings about how she left Little Rock to realise her dreams of happiness, glamour and money. Four years later, the capital of Arkansas was back in the public eye in connection with a young woman. Dignified and courageous at the same time, Elizabeth Eckford (more here) walked past an abuse-hurling white mob in her dapper petticoat with her school books clamped under her left arm. She was one of the nine black school children that the governor, aided by the National Guard, was trying to prevent from entering the school."


Die Tageszeitung, 09.02.2006


Christian Semler interviews Daniel Cohn-Bendit on the cartoon controversy. The former revolutionary and current Green Party member of the European Parliament says that if the German newspaper Die Welt printed the cartoons (more here), it had little to do with defending freedom of expression. "If the caricatures had been insulting to Christianity or Judaism, the paper would never have printed them. A paper like Charlie Hebdo (which printed the caricatures yesterday – ed), that showed Christ on the cross with an erection and a condom saying 'I only fuck with condoms' as part of its anti-Aids campaign, a paper like that can print the cartoons. This whole chest thumping in the name of the freedom of opinion reeks of hypocrisy."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 09.02.2006


Author Daniel Kehlmann acknowledges in an interview that he is gobsmacked at the success of his recent novel "Die Vermessung der Welt" (The surveying of the world), which has topped German bestseller lists for months: "Half in joke I could say 'Ich und Kaminski' (Kaminsk and I – an earlier novel of Kehlmann's – ed.) was a very aggressive satire of the world of media and journalism, and then I saw that journalists and media people loved it. 'Die Vermessung der Welt' is a very aggressive satire about the Germans, and I now see that all Germany loves it. It seems really very difficult to be unpopular."


Die Welt, 09.02.2006


The 2006 Winter Olympics open tomorrow in Turin. Trieste-born author Claudio Magris declares his love for the city: "Turin is the other city of my life. Without Turin I would hardly, or never, have grown up. Without Turin I could never have begun to write... In Turin I came to know freedom; here I learned how to think, and here I also learned to develop a strong, straightforward relationship with Trieste. Because really, without the experience I gained in Turin I could never have started to write. In those years Turin was an absolute antipode to Trieste. Trieste was a place of decadence. Turin, on the other hand, doubled its population in the fifties and sixties."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 09.02.2006

Frank Wittmann provides a brief introduction to the latest African pop music from Paris, Couper-Decaler-Travailler or Coupe-Decale for short. "The interesting thing is that it was developed by young musicians from the Ivory Coast diaspora. Although Western and Central African pop music has always been a complex mixture of different sound and rhythmic traditions, until now it was the continent rather than the diaspora that set the pace in musical innovation. But Coupe-Decale is making this hierarchy teeter." Douk Saga is one of the best-known musicians, while Shanaka Yakuza is the man responsible for the "drogbacite" dance, inspired by the moves of footballer Didier Drogba.

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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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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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