28/02/2006

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.

Der Tagesspiegel, 28.02.2006

Christine Lemke-Matwey is somewhat taken aback but in general impressed by Sebastian Baumgarten's modernisation of Georg Friedrich Handel's "Orest" at the Komische Oper in Berlin. "Rather than focussing on Orest's mortal danger and the madness raging in his head, and rather than focussing on the stength of sisterly and family love over any world-view, Baumgarten gets caught up in a thousand incoherent strands of discourse. He peppers the piece with Giorgio Agamben, Alexander Kluge and Georges Bataille, sometimes murmured into the music, sometimes whispered. In the end all the conceptual theatre and superstructure manage to overshadow the actors altogether. That's annoying, and unsettling in the long run. Perhaps Händel did simply stick one of his many conventional jubilating endings onto the 'pie'. Perhaps Baumgarten is right to show a world where love has long lost its sway. But: does anyone want to believe it, or should anyone believe it?"


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28.02.2006


The sadistic murder of the 23 year old telephone salesman Ilan Halimi has horrified France (news story). The act was committed by a band of suburban youth of African and Arabic origin whose motive was anti-Semitic. Johannes Willms sees the crime as evidence that integration politics have failed. "The more precise the investigator's picture gets, the clearer the danger of failed French integration politics becomes: creating a new type of sadistic criminals who are no longer contented with minor crimes and drug trading, and expanding their radius of activity beyond the urban 'problem areas.' These developments demonstrate the need to find solutions to problems that have been ignored far too long. Ilan Halimi is a victim of anti-Semitism, but also of this ignorance."

Alex Rühle visits Richard Sennett (more here) in a studio near Boston and describes the sociologist's conversational style: "To call Richard Sennett a pleasant conversationalist would be an understatement. Again and again in the course of the conversation, one is overcome with a sudden feeling of devotion. This gentle, circling speech, the way he sits with his ruffled-up silver hair in a cloud of pipe smoke, the way he tells of his Russian grandfather and Joseph Brodsky, his friend who 'is good enough to speak French with me.'" Sennett,we learn, is writing a cultural history of handwork.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 28.02.2006


Ingeborg Harms is escorted by Hubert de Givenchy through the Parisian exhibition "Perfection Partagee." The exhibition is a collection of all the clothing by Cristobal de Balenciaga which made Princess Mona von Bismarck the best dressed woman of the world. Givenchy can hardly bare to think about how pretty things used to be compared with today's fashion. "'Everything that I see today is horrible. The fashion is worse than ever. The mannequins look miserably poor, they're not taken care of, the clothes have no form. It's painful and not very encouraging, in fact, I'd prefer not to talk about it.'"

Edouard Beaucamp has visited an exhibition in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam featuring the two major Baroque artists Rembrandt and Caravaggio together for the first time: "Contrary to what you would expect, Caravaggio does not enhance Rembrandt, but Rembrandt does enhance Caravaggio. Caravaggio's existential force is so compelling that Rembrandt's expressions are often flattened to become painted accessories, while his figures volatilise into the realm of the dollish or the fantastical. Rembrandt is painting. Caravaggio is life."


Die Welt, 28.02.2006


Islamic scholar Ralph Ghadban points to a striking coincidence: the wave of protests against the Danish cartoons broke out in Saudi Arabia just two days after the country signed several economic agreements with China. "The connection between the two events cannot be overlooked. The heightened prosperity of Saudi Arabia as a result of rising oil prices and the appearance of two major customers, China and India, strengthened the independence of the country, and the West suffered a significant loss in importance. It's a handy opportunity to ease pressure from the West after September 11, an opportunity being brutally made use of by Iran and Syria."

Ulrich Weinzierl talks with author Daniel Kehlmann, whose novel "Die Vermessung der Welt" (The Surveying of the World) about the meeting between Alexander von Humboldt and Carl Friedrich Gauß has long topped the German best-seller lists. "Asked about his astonishing productivity, Kehlmann parries that measured against the standards of the 18th and 19th centuries, his creative output is not at all remarkable. It's only in the more recent past, he says, that the characteristic small oeuvre has been naturalised in the German-speaking world."

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more

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.
read more