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GoetheInstitute

30/03/2006

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.

Die Zeit, 30.03.2006

Rome-based German writer Friedrich Christian Delius groans about Europe's blind love for Italy, and about the fatal indulgence shown to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: "Europeans are only too happy to credit Italians with a little crookedness. That just makes them all the more loveable. But what they don't realise is how insulting that is to the majority of Italians. These include the conservative President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who is fighting a courageous if uphill battle against the dismantling of democracy. It includes the vast majority of judges, state prosecutors and intellectuals. It includes trade and business associations and the hard-working little people, who feel cheated like never before. Ironically, the strongest criticism of the 'Cavaliere' Berlusconi doesn't come from the Left, but from the distinguished fat cats of the liberal-conservative bourgeoisie. Instead of backing Ciampi and taking the cries for help seriously, Brussels has put up with Berlusconi for five years as a kind of folklore figure. People have got used to seeing in him a Harlequin type figure from the Commedia dell'Arte. A Punchinello, is what Roberto Benigni calls him. But in fact he's a boss. A puppeteer who only appears to be a Punchinello."

Thomas Groß travelled to Mali, to the region of Bamako where he reports on some of the fantastic music the country has to offer, that of Toumani Diabate for example, one of the country's greatest stars: "The dance floor is writhing with bodies possessed by the music, and in the middle Mangala Camar, one of the singers who is gripping his microphone tightly. He seems to be in a trance, apparently he likes a drink, and is generally going through a difficult patch. He gets more and more heavily into his performance, stuttering, paddling with his arms. It's as if he were singing under the hypnotic effect of his own self, his daily life, his dreams... Only later, back in Germany, when I take the booklet out of the CD, that I discover what it was all about: namely a hippopotamus which had befriended the inhabitants of a town."


Die Welt, 30.03.2006

Berthold Seewald reports in bewilderment from a discussion deep in East Berlin about whether communist East Germany can be called a 'communist dictatorship' on four information panels at a museum in a former high-security prison. The museum is now a memorial to victims of the Stasi, or secret police. "People here compared the memorial under director Hubertus Knabe to a 'chamber of horrors.' The words 'communist dictatorship' were taken by some as an ideological battle cry against the majority of Eastern German citizens. The last director of the Stasi prison where the memorial is now located praised the humane conditions in his establishment, and complained that regrettably, the prison was 'continuously discredited by the directors of the so-called museum, who now see fit to portray themselves as victims,' while former Stasi employees, of all people, were being discredited as perpetrators. Berlin's cultural senator Thomas Flierl of the PDS, the successor party to the former East German communist party, finally advised the directors of the museum that they should jolly well work out their representation of the establishment in concert with the former Stasi employees."

Johnny Erling introduces the latest business idea in China: "Wer Shu" – fake books, which are being sold under the names of famous authors. "Often the publishers are actually real. One publisher paid ten thousand Yuan to good authors for these fake books. He found them via the Internet, a Peking newspaper revealed. They had to write sequels for the South Korean book and TV series "House Full of Romance" which is hugely popular in China at the moment. In the Guizhou publishing house eight fake episodes were published. This spared the publishers licensing and translation fees. The majority of readers were oblivious to the fraud. Clearly because the writing style was so in line with the tastes of young Chinese readers."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 30.03.2006

Martina Meister has seen Christoph Marthaler's staging of the Mozart opera "Le nozze di Figaro" , conducted by Sylvain Cambreling, which premiered in Paris on March 11. "Marthaler has introduced small but not insignificant changes to the opera. He had already showed it with a similar cast at the Salzburg Festspiele, where it was booed by audiences but acclaimed by the critics. The new staging in the Opera Garnier in Paris comes as a timely contribution to the debate raging in Germany about the quality of stage productions. But it's not blood-and-sperm that angered the crowd at the premiere, it's was Berlin Volksbühne aesthetic that got under their skin. Transplanted from Berlin's Rosa-Luxemburg Platz (seat of the Volksbühne) where it's now taken for granted, it regains all its provocative power here in the magnificent Paris Opera."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 30.03.2006

Nanni Moretti's Berlusconi film "Il Caimano" (the cayman) premiered in Italian cinemas last Friday and "never before has the Italian media been so strongly polarised ... with state TV keeping grimly silent ... and the newspapers lavishing so much attention on it, you'd think Moretti had won all the Oscars, Palms, Bears and Lions of this world." Franz Haas, however felt a bit let down: "The film is as confused and desolate as Italy today, it is a perfect reflection of all the bleakness which, nevertheless, does not make it a work of art." The film however "is not lacking in fantastically scary moments showing the intellectual devastation" of the country.

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