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GoetheInstitute

21/09/2006

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.

Der Tagesspiegel, 21.09.2006

In an interview with Christiane Peitz, Hungarian writer György Konrad had this to say about the riots in Budapest: "The self-criticism of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, who accused himself of lying during his election campaign, was just the spark, which was then instrumentalised. In my opinion Gyurcsany is a sharp-witted, responsible politician who wants to push through reforms that will reduce state involvement – and make the people take on more responsibility themselves. The principle reason for the unrest is the lack of moderate right-wingers. In Hungary there are no conservatives like the CDU in Germany, Chirac's people in France or the Tories in Britain. This has traditionally been the case in Hungary. Even before WWII, the right was so weak here that it allowed itself to be coopted by the extreme right. Many conservatives don't like the skinheads at all and see themselves as a normal middle-class party. And yet a latent alliance between the right and the radical right still exists today."


Die Zeit, 21.09.2006


Claus Spahn senses a tidal wave of conservatism flowing over the opera world. "The arguments outlined by Elke Heidenreich (see our feature "Opera without angst") to Christian Thielemann (see our interview with the conductor "Everyone will think you're insane!") suggest that the path to true operatic bliss would open again if only we were to reverse the catastrophic developments of modern times. The endless reflection! The hair-splitting! The intellectual palaver! ... As a discourse-weary warrior, the opera goer takes his seat before the great curtain: this is where the heart should open, the rest of the world stay outside and the slippers remain firmly on. But bear in mind: there is no return to the cosy old days. The impulse to tone down the production, avoid directorial ideas and concentrate on literalness leads nowhere."

The weekly paper focuses on the reactions to the Pope's Regensburg speech (more here, article here) in several sections. In an interview with Michael Mönninger, French-Tunisian writer Abdelwahab Meddeb does not want to draw a veil over Islam's belligerent side. But he says, "only when the Muslim subject is sick, does it choose the bellicose part of the revelations." Hope lies with Turkey. "All claims that a new Islamic republic is emerging in Turkey are false. I know only one other country whose people are as ready as the Turks to defend their republican achievements to the death – France. A democratic Islam is just as possible as a democratic Christendom."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 21.09.2006


Ueli Bernays has met the Polish jazz trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, and discovered that a personal sound has less to do with musical education than with a musician's character and experience. "Is melancholy also a question of personality? Melancholy is rather a disposition, dependent on the wind and the weather. 'It's no coincidence that in northern countries you can encounter a similar kind of dejection as among the Slavs. On the other hand, the blues are also sad. Beautiful music practically never sounds happy. It's just prejudice to think that everything has to be happy. Vegetables are happy, Faulkner said.'"


Die Welt, 21.09.2006


"What, is there now a speed limit for writing?" asks Austrian author Christoph Ransmayr, reputedly the world's slowest writer. In an interview with Ulrich Weinzierl, Ransmayr explains why in his fourth novel "Der fliegende Berg" (the flying mountain) he is still attracted by extremes. "For me the new is almost an obsession, for example in astronomy or computer technology. But on the other hand I try not to lose perspective of where things come from, and where they're going. What's really valuable about a civilisation can best be seen it you look at it from the end. And the transformation from one world to the next takes place very quickly for someone who's moving vertically. The fact that if you want to, you can move upward from the most comfortable corner of this world to the coldest or emptiest gives me the feeling of being able to move on from here at any time at all."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 21.09.2006

The paper interviews the Indian artists' group Raqs Media Collective on their exhibition "The KD Vyas Correspondence" in Frankfurt's Museum for Communication. The show coincides with the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair, where India is guest of honour. The exhibition is based on a series of letters to the group purportedly written by the ancient Indian seer Vyasa, a sort of Indian Homer: "In the old Indian tradition, Vyasa is regarded as one of seven immortals. You could say he was to a certain extent damned to live, and to witness the times and the worldly goings on. Now and then he has to deal directly with the mortals, when things get too lonely for him. Time drags on a lot slower for him than for us. Our KD Vyas installation is based on one letter addressed to us, found in the Delhi office for undeliverable letters. Altogether there are 18 letters, corresponding to the 18 books of the 'Mahabharata'."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 21.09.2006

Rainer Hörig visited the writer Kristof Magnusson, who is living in Pune in India on a Goethe Institute grant. Magnusson has talked to a number of Indian playwrights and "was interested to find that particularly in theatre, few people write as their main profession. I met a pharmacologist who has his own company and whose second play has just had a huge success, and a dentist who is also a theatre critic. There are all sorts of professionals who write on the side. I find this very impressive because it makes for a very different kind of literature."

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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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