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GoetheInstitute

20/03/2006

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 March 20, 2006

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 20.03.06

There is no question who stole the show at the Leipzig book fair: Clemens Meyer, who also happens to be Leipzig born and bred. Felicitas von Lovenberg says the readings from his novel, "Als wir träumten" (Whilst we were dreaming) were rather like being at a rock concert. "That's not really a surprise because German literature hasn't experienced such a powerful, determined debut for a long time. The book is full of rage, mourning, pathos and madness. It's a novel about a gang of petty criminals from Leipzig who aren't just lashing out against the police, their parents and rival gangs but also against their own existence. That the author just turned 29 and lives in Leipzig and the fact that his appearance and demeanour show that personal experience has had a hand in the novel, makes it all the more thrilling, in a sort of unsettling way.“


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 20.03.06

At the end of the Leipzig book fair, Ijoma Mangold asks herself, "Doesn't it get a bit tiresome for writers from Eastern Europe to always be forced to talk about Europe?" The book fair has traditionally been seen as a platform for Eastern European authors. The very ironical Slovakian author with the razor-sharp intellect, Michal Hvorecky was here. The Berlin-based publishing house 'Tropen' has just published his book, 'City: Der unwahrscheinlichste aller Orte' (City: The most unlikely of all places). Born in 1976, he belongs to the young generation. 'These writers from Eastern Europe,' he says, 'who are always participating in conferences about Europe. I find them unbearable.' His freakish, anti-utopian novel about new capitalism is itself highly politically charged. Because Hvorecky speaks excellent German, he is well acquainted with the literature of his German colleagues. 'I had expected more from them. For me there's too much realism and too much Ego. Literature for me is more about the imagination. I want something a little more wild.'"


Saturday 18 March, 2006

Berliner Zeitung, 18.03.2006


Do we want immigrants or not? The questionnaire that the state of Hesse has proposed will even turn a dog away from Germany. Arno Widmann finds the questions simply absurd. "Can Germans to-be answer question 88 (Explain the meaning of the freedom of opinion and freedom of the press) the way Paul Sethe (former publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung) did, namely the freedom of 200 rich people to spread their opinion, or do they have to express it more politically correctly in order to be let into the country of Germans? The trick of the democratic constitution of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland lies in the fact that traditions, claims and convictions can be questioned by any citizen. This questionnaire assumes that there is only one correct (and decisive) answer to each question or at least no more answers than the bureaucrat knows. That is the authoritarian, undemocratic and at the same time absurd aspect of this undertaking."
(read our feature "Taking the immigrant test" here)


Die Welt, 18.03.2006

The Book Fair in Leipzig is celebrating a "Debutant's Ball," the star of which, Tilman Krause reports, is Clemens Meyer. "The entry of the local matador was greeted with roaring applause. And Clemens Meyer, a gentle Saxon giant, is just as happy talking about his extraordinarily colourful tattoos as his texts ('I have a great skin colour! And every time I earn 100 Euros, my green dragon gets another wing"), as he is 'serving' his friends, as though he learnt this from Mick Jagger or Robbie Williams. Before he gets down to the reading, he's generous enough to show us a bit of his decorated flesh. His debut novel 'Als wir träumten' (Whilst we were dreaming) about disoriented but very lively young working class Leipzigers has become a cult book in this neck of the woods."

Thea Dorn visited Turkish German author Necla Kelek and learned that she was a member of the metal-workers union IG Metall by the age of 17 and was keen on Marxist-Leninist teachings. "The inequality between man and women which Marxist Leninism likes to consider a 'marginal contradiction' became a central point of Kelek's thinking and work. Is this why today, so many 'Lefties' pull faces when they hear the name 'Kelek'? Because she threw off the Marxist Leninist mantle for good? Because she calls so adamantly for the responsibility of the individual, as though it was just discovered – and not something that the rational Westerner has learned to defame as 'neo-liberal'? Because she demands a second and comprehensive enlightenment of the enlightenment for both sexes?" (see our feature by Thea Dorn here)


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 18.03.2006


Johannes Willms considers the youth protests in France to be the symptom of a very deep uncertainty in many social classes, which is related to their professional ambitions: "According to a survey, 75 % of those under 30 say that their greatest wish is to become a bureaucrat. The existential uncertainty that this expresses can no longer be quelled with well-intended words and promises or retrospective explanations of a law which seems to be of no relevance to them. (...) The result of this malaise, in which youth feel that all their diplomas and certificates don't guarantee them anything professionally or socially, is shared by many in the older generation."

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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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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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