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GoetheInstitute

18/08/2006

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.

Frankfurter Rundschau, 18.08.2006

Author John Irving, having initially refused to take a public position on the Günter Grass debate, has now written a letter to the FR. "My friend and one-time mentor Kurt Vonnegut would have called the nationalistic babble in the German press a 'shit storm'. What I read from all the lead editorials, the lofty comments of my colleagues, the critics and journalists from all political camps is the following: all this is a predictable, hypocritical stripping down of Grass' life and work, carried out from the oh so cowardly standpoint of hindsight. It is from this standpoint that many of the so-called intellectuals set their sights on their goal. Grass remains for me a hero - as a writer and a moral compass."


Die Welt, 18.08.2006


Tilman Krause has now peeled the onion and is particularly interested in Grass the teenager. "It was definitely logically consistent – and that is the thorn in his side that explains the long silence, more than anything written - it was logically consistent that this young man landed in the Waffen SS. It was created for people like him, full of sexual frustration, social envy, resentment and emotional blocks. The Taliban commandos probably drew from the same ranks. And we're not going to want to deny Grass respect for having presented everything so unadorned. Whether we admire the probing honesty of his unsparing peeling of the onion or denounce it as a lapse that we would have preferred not to know about, will depend on how we feel about the author, whether we wish him well or not."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 18.08.2006

Writer Ivan Nagel, who had to hide as a Jewish child in Hungary while Grass, his contemporary, was in the Waffen SS, expresses empathy for the belatedness the author's confession: "I myself had no reason to feel shame - after all, I was one of the persecuted - and nevertheless for 55 years I could not speak about it. I understand Günter Grass, who only now is able to talk about his shame, his disgrace. Life is not a reference book that you can flip through at will; it is no finished manuscript that you can publish at any time."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 18.08.2006

Swiss author Adolf Muschg has peeled Grass' onion "as a modern-day non-German, with the feeling of really being drawn into it," and concludes: "The shame of survivors is not uniquely German; and because it is accompanied by certain taboos, even respectable ones, I think I can understand why half a century can pass before one can speak with relief about having gotten out alive from the Führer's war... Only as representative of another Germany could the old man take the chance of returning to the simplicity of his name, which he had allowed to be stuffed into the calfskin of an SS uniform half century ago. The book is much more and much less than a confession. It has a lot to say."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 18.08.2006

There is no room in the Middle East conflict for morality or old European notions of conventional strategies, sociologist Natan Sznaider admonishes his readers from Old Europe. "It would behoove Europe to consider the point. It is not enough to believe in peace just because one is sure that it will come, that it simply must come - because it is reasonable and makes sense, because - of course - life wins out over death. It is not enough to believe in the rationality of history and then ultimately only listen to one's own lectures. Self-destructive barbarity and a murderous identity struggle are not part of a bygone world. The international troops in Lebanon will find out fast."


Die Tageszeitung, 18.08.2006


Mark Terkessides describes the current relationship between pornography and art with the aid of such relevant expressions as "mutual penetration," and this brings him to discuss "gonzo-pornography," in which bodily fluids play a large role. The usual suspect is to blame: "In these kinds of films, the female lead becomes the embodiment of capitalism today - a capitalism that no longer refers to exploitation of the body, but rather, one in which people sell their 'souls' and go to the limit for jobs and corporate profits."


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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

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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