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21/08/2006

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.

Monday 21 August, 2006

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 21.08.2006

American author and attorney Louis Begley (homepage) had this to say about Günter Grass and the Waffen-SS: "One would have hoped that during his humiliating avowal, Grass might have cast off the role of the moral apostle for which he is all too famous. I have to think about the shockingly absurd anecdote he told about the first time he was confronted with direct racism, when he heard a white American soldier calling his black comrade 'nigger'. Was Grass seriously expecting that anyone who might have heard mention of German racist propaganda before and during the war and who possessed a glimmer of common sense would have believed him?"


Die Welt, 21.08.2006

Manuel Brug spoke with Croatian star pianist Ivo Pogorelich, who will soon release his first recordings after an eleven-year silence. Asked how he responded to the death a decade ago of his wife and teacher Aliza Kezeradze, 21 years his senior, Pogorelich answers: "I had to reinvent myself. She was so demanding. She clothed herself in art, she absorbed it, imbibed it. She was so universal. She had it all: a good birth, education, beauty, talent, friendliness. She outshone everything like a comet. Sure, you could never relax around her, she was always active. Even in death she remained the princess she was by birth. She had cancer of the liver. Her liver exploded when she died, and with her last kiss she showered me with black blood. I looked like the phantom of the opera. My hair was completely clotted. I didn't want to wash it off. And while we were being condoled with champagne, there I was still covered with her blood. But everyone understood. It was like Jackie Kennedy, who didn't want to change the suit that was covered with her husband's brain. I was happy so early in life, I knew that now it was time to get active. It just took a long time."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 21.08.2006


District libraries are now called "Idea Stores" in London's Tower Hamlets, as Lilo Weber learns from David Adjaye's latest creation in shining green, blue and white. "The snaking bookshelves are an Adjaye signature, and they also feature in the Idea Store Whitechapel. It's all about getting away from librariness. Visitor numbers give credence to the concept. While libraries throughout the country are complaining about shrinking user numbers, Idea Stores are booming. According to Sergio Dogliani, head of the Idea Stores, the smaller outlet in Chrisp Street has an average of 1,400 visitors daily, and the larger one in Whitechapel as many as 1,800. The latter is worth visiting purely for the view. From the cafe on the fourth floor you can see right out over the city to the Swiss Re Tower in the West, the supermarket and the council estates in the North and the chaotic mix of warehouses and service companies in the South."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 21.08.2006


Alex Rühle sends home a breathless report from Mumbai on the city's beauty, confusion, injustice – and on the tourists who are always looking for the wrong thing. "The only place you can find tourists at all is in Colabar, the hugely expensive southern tip of the peninsula. And as punishment you're immediately surrounded by street hawkers: 'Balloons? Drums? Or do you want a nice woman, very spicy?' Two Dutch men recovering from the day's hubbub in front of the 'Strand Hotel' are slightly horrified. They want to leave and head north to the Himalayas, in search of the 'spiritual beauty of this country,' as one of them actually says. This is in itself one of the biggest mysteries: why Europeans come to India, of all places, this cultural hybrid machine, this country where cultures have intermeshed for 3,000 years, to look for purity. And why they then tramp through this wonderful Moloch feeling piqued, even personally offended, because the people don't joggle down tow-paths on ox-carts, but sit instead along the wall on Marine Drive discussing whether there shouldn't finally be a helicopter shuttle service from the airport to the city centre."

Christiane Schlötzer reports that the Greek Cypriot government wants to prevent "Akamas", the first Cypriot film ever to be chosen for the Venice Film Festival, from being shown there. In the film director Panicos Chrysanthou tells the tale of a romance between a Turk Cypriot and a Greek Cypriot and takes a critical view of the EOKA resistance movement. "Basically the whole story doesn't fit in with a heroic picture of the island's history where it's always those on the other side of the dividing line who are to blame for the division of the island. Moreover, Chrysanthou has a Turkish co-producer, Dervis Zaim, with whom he has done several other projects. For him, the island's conflict is like a prism through which he observes the world. The terms 'Hybris', with their original Greek meaning (injured honour) and 'Metro' (measure) are his leitmotifs. He says: 'I'm interested in the question of how far an individual can go to free his country or defend his honour. Is it permissible for him to blow himself and others up to achieve this?'."


Saturday 19 August, 2006


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19.08.2006


Political scientist Herfried Münkler reflects on the "awkwardly asymmetrical constellation" in the Middle East conflict: "No sooner had the recent Lebanon war started than the Israelis were confronted by demands for a proportionate armed response. That this demand was not also directed at the Hizbullah could mean two things. One, that as the attacker Hizbullah was already acting 'disproportionately'. Or two, that it was Israel's military superiority that made a 'disproportionate' response possible in the first place, while no one expected Hizbullah – considered militarily weak – of being capable of a 'proportional' response at all. And so as soon as they arose, the demands for proportionality were caught up in an asymmetrical confrontation. In concrete terms: calling for proportionality meant taking sides against those of whom proportionality was being demanded."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 19.08.2006

Author Thomas Pynchon (more) is famous for his books and his invisibility. And now this: according to Slate, Pynchon "has personally posted a precis of his new book 'Against A Day' on Amazon.com" Andrea Köhler reports. "At least the synopsis of his novel, which until that point had been untitled, was signed with author's name. But who was this person calling himself Thomas Pynchon ? A phantom, with the aura that comes only from a combination of hearsay and retreat, the master of self-mystification appeared last January on the American TV series 'The Simpsons' with a sack over his head. And, like so much in Pynchon's vicinity, the text soon had a sack thrown over it and disappeared from Amazon's list – only to reappear soon after. What happened?"

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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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