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06/03/2006

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 6 March, 2006

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 06.03.2006

The media page features an interview with poet Robert Gernhardt on the cartoon controversy. What most annoyed Gernhardt was the timidity of the Western media: "For me the worst thing was that I was never shown the cartoons. (...) All the Western papers should have printed them to keep their readers informed about the cause of the conflict. Instead we're being kept in the dark. I personally only saw the caricatures once, when they flashed by one evening on the news." (The cartoons can be seen on the Internet, however, for example here.)


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 06.03.2006

On March 19 the Belarusian president will be (re) elected. Ingo Petz takes the opportunity to present the more likeable side of "Europe's North Korea." "By far the most important intellectuals were Wassil Bykau and the Belarusian writer Vladimir Korotkevich. Bykau was widely called the Belarusian Dostoevsky, because he believed his countrymen really enjoyed their suffering. Unfortunately he is now dead. But there is no cause to worry about the next generation, as the quality of the magazine Arche demonstrates. As the poet Andrei Chadanovich wrote in the periodical: 'the depressed Belarusian poet writes and sings about his unhappiness, then he strikes out with 500 lines in which he annihilates his fellow Belarusians – and finally starts feeling better again.'"

The Egyptian filmmaker Ahmed Khaled has made a small film about furtive caresses in a bus, but it has little or no chance of being shown, reports Sonja Zekri. Even shooting the film was difficult. "Khaled lied to the director of the transport firm, saying he was making a movie about a couple who were going on holiday. 'Oh, he said. I just hope you're not making a film about sex in our buses. I answered: Sex in a bus? Never heard of that...', he said. That was the most provocative thing. Everyone has heard of it. 'The stretch between Giza and the airport was famous'. Friends are now telling him however that they have to find another place for their rendezvous."


Die Welt, 06.03.2006

Arnulf Baring, who himself lived through the bombing of Dresden in 1945, finds the two-part "Dresden" film being shown on German television a "cowardly compromise." Instead of showing the downfall of bourgeois culture and its consequences for Germany, the director was driven by political correctness to make "an English pilot with a German mother the central figure of this film. (...) A world, representative of Germany's middle class, is destroyed, a Baroque city, 'Florence on the Elbe' likewise and this is related to the birth of a German-English child! The entire film slides under the unclear and foozled feelings behind such crooked thoughts."


Der Tagesspiegel, 06.03.2006

Rüdiger Schaüer was not exactly impressed by Thomas Ostermeier's staging of Eugene O'Neill's "Mourning becomes Electra": "It's rare that one sees such an awkward and wooden staging that consistently betrays itself." But the failure does have a good side, proving that the ongoing debate in Germany about anti-classic, experimental theatre (prompted by the so-called Stadelmaier affair, in which an eminent German critic had his notebook snatched by an actor who overstepped his bounds - more here) only tells part of the story. "At the Schaubühne, we're witnessing a well-intended but entirely failed attempt to work with actors and roles, to take texts seriously. Exactly what the notebook-carriers are demanding. Ostermeier uses sex and body fluids in limited doses. He just murdered his O'Neill. That's the worst thing about it." (read an interview with Ostermeier here)



Die Tageszeitung, 06.03.2006


"Tarts of darkness" is what Katrin Kruse saw at John Galliano's Dior ready-to-wear show in Paris: "It began black, very short and very tight, dresses with short jackets, then it moved into off-white and then red and long, before finishing with an abundance of material: latexed linen, lurexed organza, snake leather and strips of fur. 'Ugly clothes for dumb rich women,' said a colleague."


Saturday 4 March, 2006

Berliner Zeitung, 04.03.2006

Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda turned 80 on Saturday. In an interview with Dirk Brauns, he tells about his memories of Warsaw during the Second World War and one of his first encounters with a German after that, which put him in conciliatory mood: "In 1960 I went to the film festival in Mar del Plata in Argentina, where the film 'Die Brücke' was also being shown. Suddenly I saw a German film that I would have shot in exactly the same way! I was so thrilled that I went straight up to Bernhard Wicki and kissed his hand. He was totally taken aback."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 04.03.2006

In an interview, Ang Lee, director of "Brokeback Mountain" compares the different reactions in Taiwan and the USA to his film "The Wedding Banquet" which featured one kiss between men: "I did in fact win the Golden Bear in Berlin. Only after that was the film given a general rating in Taiwan. Of course everyone held their breath when the first gay kiss came. But then I came to the USA and got an even stricter rating, which perplexed me and then I realised: Taiwan is much more open, while the USA is getting more and more conservative. In Taiwan, the Oscars are called the 'Golden Horse Awards', the host is often gay, transvestites always win something or other and then flip out on the stage."

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Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

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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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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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