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11/05/2006

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.

Egypt's Sunken Treasures in Berlin

This evening a much awaited exhibition of "Egypt's Sunken Treasures" with over 2000 years of finds from the Egyptian Mediterranean will open in Berlin's Martin Gropius Bau.

Sonia Zekri reports in the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the exhibition will be opened by Hosny Mubarak and Horst Köhler. "For Mubarak it's a nice occasion. Egypt's image has deteriorated more than that of any other nation, to a crumbled centre of despotism, torture and fundamentalism that's also home to a bunch of brilliant antiques. In Alexandria, this contrast is particularly glaring. Today the city is a stronghold of Muslim brotherhoods; a few weeks ago, blood flowed again between Muslims and Copts. Generally speaking, cultural flexibility has been on the wane since the time of Ptolemy. The grand mufty Ali Gomaa recently issued a fatwa which made erecting statues a sin. Its exegetes explain that it only applies to non-Islamic idols in private homes, and not in museums and public spaces."

Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Dieter Bartetzko was particularly taken by a sexy female statue of polished green stone: "You stand in front of this high-breasted beauty, voluptuous and yet graceful as Aphrodite, posing with dignity like Isis, chief goddess of Egypt. Her body is draped with a gauzy robe, knotted over her breast as if sopping wet. From the style and details it can be identified as the Ptolemaic queen Arsinoe, shown as a combination of two figures, namely Aphrodite arising from the sea and the life-giving Isis. The Hellenistic and Egyptian art forms are so perfectly combined in this statue (image), the eternal pathos of the ancient Orient blends so matter-of-factly with the spontaneity of Mediterranean Antiquity that you can only look up in envy at this synthesis that makes our rag-tag endeavours at a 'multicultural' condition look like bungling incompetence."


Die Zeit, 11.05.2006

"Since April 27, the 46 year old philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo has found himself in the notorious Evin Prison in the Iranian capital. He wanted to go to a congress in Brussels but was arrested in Tehran's airport. What he has been charged with remains unclear. He was the first member of the opposition to have been arrested since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power," reports Jörg Lau and fears that "Jahanbegloo's arrest could be the beginning of a new wave of repression against the lively Iranian scene to which he contributed in tough times with books, lectures and essays." Here Jahanbegloo's website with his biography and numerous articles.


Die Welt, 11.05.2006

Perhaps it's too early to talk about a crisis, but the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle has clearly exhausted its potential for surprise, writes Manuel Brug: "Good feelings and no pain. Moments of true challenge or widened horizons are few and far between. Yes, Simon Rattle has brought the musicians of the Philharmoniker closer to musical praxis of the past. He programs much French music and keeps variety at a maximum. He has tuned the orchestra more transparently, but it also sounds more neutral. He enthuses the general public with standard patter and the education program, which is flourishing thanks to Deutsche Bank. But at the same time he gives experts cause for doubt because he doesn't develop, because he blithely diversifies without specialising at all. You get the feeling Berlin for him is still a little bit like Birmingham. He doesn't work on the great German symphonic works with this major orchestra – above all the work of Anton Bruckner – and he doesn't depart to new shores."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 11.05.2006


"You have to approach this building from above, like a bird. Or climb up the Eiffel Tower to look over it," suggests Martina Meister with reference to Jean Nouvel's most recent masterpiece, the Parisian museum for non-European art and civilisation. "Nouvel's colleagues are going to be jealous of the location alone: Quai Branly. Right on the Seine, almost at the foot of the Eiffel tower, the museum sits on a 2.5 hectare piece of land which – like a miracle – lay empty in the midst of Paris' densely built sea of stone. And more unusual is the urbanistic symmetry. Seen from the bird's eye perspective, the Quai Branly in the west of Paris looks like the mirrored correspondence to Nouvel's 'Institut du Monde Arabe' in the east, which took its highly visible place on the Seine almost two decades ago."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 11.05.2006

Axel Timor Purr reports that Microsoft has now also discovered the African continent as a market and – a year after OpenOffice – has come out with a Swahili version of Windows XP. "It's true, in East Africa computers are virtually unattainable luxury items owned by only around one percent of the population. But unlike the book, the computer - known in Swahili as both 'Kompyuta' and 'Tarakilishi' ('that which is fed numbers') - is now omnipresent. There are now Internet cafes with integrated office services and small IT schools even in areas not hooked up to the electricity network, or in others that often have week-long power outages. Here diesel generators are part of the standard set-up."

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Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

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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

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