17/07/2006

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 17 July, 2006

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 17.07.2006

Israeli author David Grossman explains why Israelis have lost their faith in the influence of the moderate Arabic world. "This current outbreak of violence demonstrates an extremely problematic similarity to the position of the Lebanese government and the Palestinian authority with respect to Israel. Both have two heads which contradict each other; one acts in a 'stately' way, meaning in a political framework and relatively moderately, the other considers itself free to act as it wishes. It is willing to use terror against civilians, engages a racist rhetoric and openly demands the elimination of Israel. This double game is one of the reasons it's so hard to reach a tenable agreement between Israel and its neighbours." Grossman recalls that Israel was attacked before it bombed Lebanon. "There is no justification for the attack that the Hezbollah launched last week from Lebanese territory on dozens of peaceful Israeli points. No state of the world can silently abandon its citizens when its neighbour stages such an attack without provocation."

The uprising of nationalist forces which led to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship of Franco began 70 years ago. Even today the Civil War separates the country in two camps, writes Paul Ingendaay, who puts that down to a strangely fictive aura "which has coloured reflection about the Civil War until the present. Seldom have victors written the history of their triumph in such high-handed tones. Seldom have losers lost sight of their joint responsibility for the outcome in such a consolatory Utopian fog. While the victors set up a lacklustre authoritarian state, the losers shifted fronts to the realm of dreams. Photography, cinema and literature all created the image of a heroic leftist struggle, but hardly anyone noticed that the flood of icons – from 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' to Robert Capa's photo of the 'Death of Loyalist militiaman Frederico Barell Garcia' – took on a representative function in supplanting historical analysis."


Die Tageszeitung, 17.07.2006

Birgit Rieger went to the opening party of "Ideal City – Invisible Cities" in Zamosc. The little city near the Ukrainian border was planned in the 16th century as an ideal city in the style of the Italian Renaissance; this summer the international art world will be enticed to visit it. Only one artist, Miroslaw Balka from Poland, had the courage to recall that Zamosc was the starting point for the Nazi's "Generalplan Ost." "He re-discovered the formal principles of the ideal city in the death camp Auschwitz. Balka builds on a piece of lawn at the New Lublin Gate – a former entry point to the city – a wood sculpture covered with mortar, which recalls a barrack wall. Whenever a person gets close to the wall, a German march plays."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 17.07.2006


Werner Koch talks to Congolese dancer and choreographer Faustin Linyekula (bio in French) about the situation in his country. "Europeans see the Congo as the home of the rumba, of lively, happy rhythms, as though these were at the heart of African dance. In reality, there's nothing happy about Congo and that's why the old African dances are of no use to me. When you see Africans dancing in their village, they form a circle – a large, comprehensive circle that symbolises the community to which they belong: as part of a family and a large cosmology which includes our ancestors, who find their way back to us through dance. The reality is different. If a Congolese calls me 'my brother' today – as is common practice in Africa - I have to say 'I'm not your brother.' Otherwise there would not have been four and a half million dead in five years. That's not how you treat your brothers. The harmonious circle is broken, everyone is trying to devour everyone else. I can't dance as though that circle still exists."


Saturday 15 July, 2006

Berliner Zeitung, 15.07.2006


In a very readable interview, Arno Widmann talks with Turkish author Elif Shafak, who is facing trial on charges of "insulting Turkishness" for her novel "The Bastard of Istanbul." "My book deals with two taboos of our society: the political taboo of the Armenian question and the social taboo of incest and sexual violence. Of course a lot of people find that hard to digest." But Shafak refuses to see her impending trial as an argument against Turkey's joining the EU. "There are many forces in Turkish civil society that support Turkey's entering the European Union. The majority of the population still believes this is the path to take. That's exactly why opponents of this option are resorting to ever more demented measures. They are trying to ban my book not because they really believe it harms Turkey's identity. They want to ban it so people in Europe will put their hands to their heads and exclaim: 'Look what they're doing in Turkey, they punish authors for what people say in their novels! There's no place in the European Union for barbarians like that!' These people are afraid of the EU. They know that when the borders fall they'll have the rug pulled out from under them." See our feature "I like being several people," an interview with Elif Shafak.


Die Welt, 15.07.2006

On the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt's birthday, the paper prints a speech delivered by the Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt in 1877: "What singles out Rembrandt from all the painters who preceded him? His subordination of objects, whatever they be, to two elementary powers: air and light. In his paintings these are the true rulers of the world, they are the ideal. Rembrandt is indifferent to the true shape of things, to him their appearance is all that matters."

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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

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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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