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GoetheInstitute

21/03/2005

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.

Saturday 19 March, 2005

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 19.03.2005


The
Bavarian State Opera is the biggest in Germany. For many it is also the best, and it is certainly the best-equipped. Christoph Albrecht, who was set to replace Peter Jonas as artistic director in autumn 2006, will not take up the office. Richard J. Brembeck is delighted, holding Albrecht's candidacy as a "daft idea" of former Bavarian culture minister Hans Zehetmair. For Brembeck, Albrecht "brought attention to himself mostly through unhappy incidents and negative headlines: Musical director Semyon Bychkov's refusal to complete his production of Richard Wagner's 'Ring Cycle', the dismissal of stage director Joachim Herz and the dispute with director Peter Konwitschny over 'The Czardas Princess', both of which wound up in the courts. None of this paints a picture of a modern, innovative, charismatic and motivating manager." Brembeck sets out his demands for the successor. The person should be "young and active, team-friendly, artistically and financially innovative, and able to attract audiences beyond the usual cultural bourgeoisie."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 19.03.2005


A series starts today in the Literature and Arts section looking at the theme of liberalism from a variety of perspectives. The first contribution comes from British-German sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf, who challenges Isaiah Berlin's concept of liberty. "A word on Berlin's mistakes: He speaks of 'two concepts of liberty'. These he calls 'negative' and 'positive' liberty. 'Negative liberty' is the liberty from constraints. This liberty ranges from the inviolability of the person to the freedom of expression and association." Positive liberty, on the contrary, is "conditioned by something that stands, so to speak, above everyday activity. The moral instance meant here is, in most cases, rapidly transformed by sleight of hand into a real power.... Yet this raising of the concrete individual to a moral entity is an outright invitation to usurpers to act as its representative, to ignore the real wishes of people in the name of the whole, even to oppress them in the name of 'true liberty'."



Frankfurter Rundschau, 19.03.2005


"The principle of state robbery": Götz Aly's "Hitlers Volkstaat" is certainly the most controversial book in Germany today. The historian once again lays out his findings on the precarious and criminal financial basis of the National Socialist dictatorship. "It was a large scale pan-European money-laundering machine for the benefit of Germany." The destination of all expropriations was "the German war treasury. That is how certain peak loads could be covered. Exact figures are difficult to assess, because the Germans bundled the nationalisations of Jewish property in many cases with the widespread expropriation of other groups." You will find Götz Aly's essay on state robbery during the Nazi era in English here, in German here.


Monday 21 March, 2005

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 21.03.2005


Jens Bisky welcomes the debate surrounding the exhibition in Leipzig's Modern Art Museum on Bernhard Heisig (see In Today's Feuilletons from 17 March 2005) who was defamed as an East German state artist. "This exhibition signals a new epoch in the handling of East German art. It was denounced as historical trash in Weimar in 1999 at the "Aufstieg und Fall der Moderne" exhibition (Rise and Fall of Modernism); in the same year in the Kunsthaus Apolda it was combed through for traces of "Westness". The 2003 exhibition in Berlin's Neue Nationalgalerie "Kunst in der DDR" (Art in the GDR) opted out, chosing the path of historicism and aestheticism. Political condemnation and praise in the name of art seem to be two sides of one coin representing a schoolmasterly avoidance of the issue. Now in Leipzig and soon in Dusseldorf and Berlin, we will have to survey the contradictions, the interweaving of greatness and smallness. And it's about time."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 21.03.2005


Gerhard Stadelmaier, the renowned theatre critic is despairing again. 2005 is the Schiller bicentennial but the German theatre is producing only flippant updates. Stadelmaier would like to see a new "Wilhelm Tell" for example. "This great, solitary man, a man alone with himself, his rage, his powerlessness, his world. This Tell, this lone wolf, forced to shoot at his own child, is loathe to take part in politics. But he is forced to become an assassin so that others who mean nothing to him can be free. This man who makes poetry of his world and his mountains like a pastoral lyricist, transforms the most beautiful poetic meter into an arrow with which to kill a tyrant. He is suddenly cleft in two between feelings and obligations, history and the individual, this divided modern man..."


Die Tageszeitung, 21.03.2005

"Unreal, senseless and as breathtakingly beautiful as a chord from Richard Wagner." To his astonishment, Niklaus Hablützel is unable to squeeze out any meaning from "The Downfall" director Bernd Eichinger's version of "Parsifal" at the Berlin Staatsoper, and abandons himself solely to the music and images. "Chief conductor Daniel Barenboim has no inhibitions about savouring the most trivial charms of this score, and Bernd Eichinger at least has a similar understanding of the essence of the piece. He seeks no deeper meaning in all the nonsense of knights and holy grails, he concentrates on finding the right images for this endless music. And he finds them in his own background, in Hollywood, in the big cinema of the big studios. What he does is very good, but systematically disappoints all expectations of the Wagner community, both fans and enemies alike. No scandal, nowhere, no Nazis, no gays and not even a bit of critical deconstruction."

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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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