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05/09/2006

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.

Berliner Zeitung, 05.09.2006

Ömer Erzeren reports on new charges being brought against an author in Turkey. "After Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak, now the Istanbul journalist Ipek Calislar is being arraigned. Prosecutors are calling for four and a half years' imprisonment for 'crimes against Ataturk,' stipulated in a law dating back to 1951. Calislar is the author of 'Latife Hanim' (Mrs Latife), a biography of the wife of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. The trial is scheduled to start in October. The case rests on Calislar's portrayal of an incident from the early days of the Republic. During an attempted putsch, Latife organised Ataturk's escape by dressing him in a chador, while she fooled the putschists by dressing in men's clothing and impersonating her husband."


Die Welt, 05.09.2006

The new Russian architecture orients itself towards the pre-Soviet past, Philipp Meuser has observed. Historical correctness, however, is beside the point, as Moscow's stately block of flats "Patriach" illustrates. "The conspicuous variety of colour and form makes this house for the new elite a style mix nonpareil. The neo-baroque facade piles up towards a convoluted affair which looks like nothing on earth. And the finishing touch is provided by an edifying quote: on the roof a mini copy of the unrealised Tatlin tower from 1919 protrudes into the Moscow sky. That this incunabulum from the early years of Constructivism was in fact intended to be several hundred metres high seems to disturb neither the architects nor the inhabitants. Nor does the fact that the richly ornamental facade and the Utopian steel construction spring from utterly antithetical architectural notions."


Die Tageszeitung, 05.09.2006


Writer Klaus Modick criticises literary criticism in an interview with Frank Schäfer: "For a long time now I've been observing an increase in malice and slander in criticism, and even the major quality papers aren't free of it. The point is no longer to show why a book displeases, or why it is perhaps unsuccessful. That's a critic's right, and as far as I'm concerned even his duty. But what we're seeing now is the denigration of an author's very existence.... I think it's all a question of power. Even if criticism is losing its control over the book market, within the business it's still as important as ever, because it establishes a sort of ranking. This ranking is in turn hugely important for an author's reputation, and this reputation is important when it comes to grants and prizes. And here literary criticism is still enormously powerful. Writers can be excommunicated or ennobled, depending who they are and who's writing."

Harald Fricke introduces the Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, a "shooting star of the international art scene" who is currently showing at the Deutsche Guggenheim museum in Berlin. Fricke wouldn't mind a touch more depth of focus in the pyro-spectacles, as when Cai Guo-Qiang exploded a full-scale mock-up house in a cascade of fireworks in front of the ruins of Berlin's Anhalter Bahnhof station. "The result was breathtaking and created the shock effect of mindless destruction which hinted at war and expulsion."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 05.09.2006


Thomas David can't contain his enthusiasm for John Banville's new book "The Sea" which won this year's Booker Prize. "The Sea" is one of Banville's most beautiful books. A calm, utterly unpretentious masterpiece, weighed down by little external action, in which the author succeeds absolutely convincingly in assimilating the motif currents from his previous books into the inexorable, river of prose propelled solely by the fluctuating tides of memory. And in doing so Banville condenses the atmosphere of the novel so intensely that he seems almost to penetrate the 'membrane of pure consciousness', tranferring Morden's astounding monologue into another state of being."

Christina Thurner has seen the world premiere of Heinz Spoerli's ballet "moZART" (accentuating the word "zart" - tender) at Zurich's Opernhaus, with music by Mozart and Kaija Saariaho. "At first the pianist Alexey Botvinov plays the adagio from Mozart's piano sonata in F major, K. 332 for minutes in the dark, before the curtain rises just high enough to reveal four legs which tiptoe forward cautiously. The couple (Seh Yun Kim and Vahe Martirosyan) that then appear become so gingerly and kittenishly entwined, it's as if they were trying not to step on a single note.... Then Mozart is interrupted abruptly by cello pieces by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. Claudius Herrmann draws such a humming, screeching, buzzing and rhythmic panting from his instrument that a pleasant shiver runs through the audience. Yen Han steps into the light dressed as a vamp and manifestly confounds the senses of the dancer Dirk Segers, and then also of Jorge Garcia Perez." For Thurner, juxtaposing the two composers suggests that Mozart alone is too tender to depict today's hectic world.

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Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
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Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
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Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt explains how the Left got its culturist ideas. Slavenka Draculic writes about censoring Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film in Bosnia. Daniel Cohn-Bendit talks   about his friendship, falling out and reconciliation with Jean-Luc Godard. Wikileaks has caused an embarrassed silence in the Arab world, where not even al-Jazeera reported on the what the sheiks really think. Alan Posener calls for the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden to be shut down.
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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

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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