From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Die Tageszeitung 18.04.2008

"It will be even worse this time around." Satirist Sabina Guzzanti's first reaction to the Berlusconi renaissance was to laugh, but she was soon crying like a baby. In an interview with Michael Braun she explains why: "As I see it, the problem is not just Berlusconi, and it's not only in Italy that the left should be worried. The only left-wing politician in the whole of Europe who is pursuing a path with perspective is Zapatero in Spain. He is jointly committed to citizens' rights and to the economic and social development of a laicist state. This sort of politics would be almost out of the question in Italy. Here we have the Vatican, we have the Mafia, a completely comatose cultural scene and nepotism at all levels. This in turn means that there is no turnover of the people in power. I don't mean only politicians, but also opinion makers in the media, film directors and producers."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In an interview with Katharina Narbutovic the Berlin and Paris-based French writer Cecile Wajsbrot talks about Sarkozy, the French cultural scene and the situation in France. Things are not looking too rosy: "The gap between the well-educated and those without perspective, like the young people in the banlieues, is getting wider all the time. Conditions are rapidly approaching those before the French Revolution or in the Middle Ages. And yet nothing is being done. Not under Sarkozy either. The situation is dangerous. I feel that something is brewing, and I am concerned that the radical right increase its foothold. The other problem is that France still likes to see itself as the Grande Nation, which it has not been for a long time. It's nothing but a medium-sized country. There is a disconnect between perception and reality in France."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 17.04.2008

In the recent elections in Italy the communists disappearsd from both chambers of the Italian parliament. Gustav Seibt is not concerned about this on a political level but he is sad about the loss of a cultural past. "Because communism in Italy was always an entire culture. There were the 'Feste dell'Unita' in summer, which were not only about sitting outside on long benches and drinking, singing and dancing; but there were always book stands selling tomes from Einaudi publishers and writers, actors and directors would always step up onto the podium to discuss things. Almost everything which Italy contributed - on an international level as well - to post-war culture, originated in this communist culture, which was an alternative world on Italian soil. Neorealism in film and literature, the tragic black and white epiphanies of Rossellini or De Sica, the return to dialect and local language traditions – none of this would have happened without the background of communist ideas."

Der Freitag 17.04.2008

The countries of Eastern Europe are at war over how to remember the 20th century, the Second World War and Soviet rule. The Russian Memorial organisation has launched an appeal to found an international discussion forum, as der Freitag documents. "We believe that the only way of overcoming the increasing divide between nations is free, unbiased and civilized exchange of opinions on all issues of our common history eliciting disagreements. The purpose of this exchange of opinions is not to fully eradicate differences, but merely to better learn and try to understand each other's point of view. If we reach a shared view of some painful issue linked with our past, that's wonderful. If we don't, no problem, each of us will remain with our own understanding, but we will learn to also see and understand the images of the past in the consciousness of our neighbours. The only conditions for dialogue must be the participants' shared willingness to respect the other's point of view, however 'incorrect' it may seem at first glance, genuine interest in this point of view and the sincere desire to understand it."

Berliner Zeitung 16.04.2008

In an interview, countertenor Philippe Jaroussky talks about the art of the castrati and about the different levels of freedom granted to singers by Baroque composers. "Hold a Vivaldi score next to a Haendel, or better still a Bach. The mere sight of a Bach score makes you feel completely castrated and you think: 'It would be enough it I can just sing what's written there.' In the Matthäus Passion, the aria 'Erbarme dich, mein Gott!' - is incredibly difficult. You have a constant feeling of inadequacy. But there's no way near as much pressure with Vivaldi. I compare Vivaldi with bottle of champagne and Haendel with a good red wine. You don't drink them in the same way. You can get very eccentric with Vivaldi. In fact he demands this of his singers. Haendel however forces his singers to listen closely to the orchestra. What is wind up to, or strings? How is the harmony developing?"

Frankfurter Rundschau 16.04.2008

Between the pages of Salman Rushdie's new book, Arno Widmann struggled to come up for air. "Everything in 'The Enchantress of Florence' is breathing, shivering and quaking. Every character grabs you. If the reader has a chance to draw breath for one moment, in the next he will be shaken again, grabbed aside and hurled into the next embroilment. Rushdie has written another book for drug addicts. If you like to keep your head above things, and you don't like having your buttons pressed by the oldest tricks in the book, then you will throw 'The Enchantress of Florence' at the wall in disgust. But if you love to huddle down in the sofa cushions and sink ever deeper into strange worlds and views, if you crave the chills that run down your spine when you discover the familiar in the strange, yourself in the murderers and their victims, then you will not let this book out of your hands until you are swallowed by a sleep in which you will continue to dream of the skeleton of the prostitute who was brought by the hero into Akbar's palace."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

After visiting the huge retrospective in the Centre Pompidou, Rose-Marie Gropp celebrates the artist Louise Bourgeois who is pushing 100. "Louise Bourgeois' art is like a Trojan horse. It stands around like a strange, suspicious-looking gift, underhand, only seemingly an offer of amiable meanings. But the insides of her body of work are as inscrutable as the caves and 'cells' which are so central to it. Part of the scandal is that a woman so blantantly helped herself to the work of her predecessors and contemporaries and yet created something new in the process."

Frankfurter Rundschau

Ukrainian German Studies academic Jurko Prochasko explains why he wants Ukraine to join the EU: "I don't only want to be able to be angry and jealous about the EU, but proud as well. And this only happens if you are a member. I don't want to miss out on the feeling about Europe which came so naturally to my grandparents. Birthplace East Galicia, holiday destinations the Adriatic and Norway, university Karsruhe, career Vienna, spa Bad Nauheim, burial East Galicia. On the other hand I would rather spare myself two places in my grandparents' European CV: the fighting on the Italian front in WWI and Siberia where they were sent in WWII. And I think joining the EU would make this less likely."

Berliner Zeitung 12.04.2008

In an interview writer and sinologist Tilman Spengler explains why the Chinese leaders will never publicly show themselves as susceptible to pressure. "They don this rigid, grimly Confucian expression, the face of the 'Chinese solution.' Some observers are surprised by this. Since the time of the war philosopher Sunzi, Chinese cultural history has experienced so many sophisticated strategy variations that the current reaction seems positively uninspired, almost familiarly Wilhelminian in its lack of remorse." (Read Tilman Spengler's article "Shadows of the East") - let's talk european