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29/04/2008

Magazine Roundup

Outlook India | Literaturen | Rue89 | Nepszabadsag | The Times Literary Supplement | L'Espresso | The Economist | Le Monde des livres | Die Weltwoche | The New York Times |
New York Review of Books



Outlook India
05.05.2008 (India)

Over and out: the West can wave farewell to economic cultural dominance. "The East is the new West" Arun Maira learns from reading "The New Asian Hemisphere - The Irresistible Shift of Global Power to the East" by political scientist Kishore Mahbubani. Mahbubani sees India as a bridge between East and West. And in his view, China is developing an effective counter-model to western values. Maira recapitulates: "China is greatly misunderstood by the West. But this does not mean that its views are wrong. In fact, as Mahbubani explains, the Chinese have a deep understanding of the meaning of human freedom and of basic human wants. What they are bringing about is a huge improvement in the condition of a mass of humanity in their own way, which may not appeal to Western liberals, but which, therefore, should not be judged to be wrong."


Literaturen 01.05.2008 (Germany)

The focus of the magazine is 1968. For the cover story Rene Aguigah trawled through the entire new output of '68 books, from Götz Aly to Rainer Langhans, from Wolfgang Kraushaar to Peter Schneider. Jens Balzer addresses the pop-culture aspect and Ronald Düker looks into body styling.

Jutta Person plumps for an issue which was omitted not only by the feuilletons in their debates on '68: "Indeed there is not a single book in the current literature frenzy that addresses 1968 as the nucleus of the most wide-reaching event which rocked a millennia-old legacy: the equal rights of men and women. We might be dealing with a project that is seeing a backlash right now, but the reality is that all the high falutin world-changing theories from Maoism to anti-Imperialism are cast into shadow by the real-life revolution in gender relations." All we get to see are "Uschi Obermaier's breasts. Kommune 1 in the nude. The harem of Rainer Langhans. The female political activists are absent from the repertoire, or were seen as mere bodies." Person recommends an out of print book: Ute Kätzel's "Die 68erinnen" (the (women activists of '68) which was published 5 years ago and contains 14 portraits.


Rue89 28.04.2008 (France)

Hubert Artus portrays the Italian writers' collective Wu Ming, which is dedicated to the abolition of intellectual copyright and campaigns for free access and free distribution of literature, or copyleft. In an accompanying interview they explain their concept. "We have proved that the things (sales and copyleft) are not incompatible and have in fact mutually upgraded each another. Every day people download books onto their computers for free. And then? Then they buy them in a form of activist subscription. This works from a strictly strategic angle." The group is not overly bothered by Berlusconi's election victory, after all no victory is final. "No country is immune to becoming a little Italian."


Nepszabadsag 26.04.2008 (Hungary)

Communications expert Andras Göllner recommends that anyone who is concerned about democracy in Hungary should look at the rest of the world. They will see that everywhere parliamentary democracy is surrendering to an "Eastern current" which carries a politico-economic virus from China and Russia known as "capitocracy". And the discrete charm of capitocracy is starting to numb Central Europe: "The only way to avoid the virus involves transnational cooperation, using clear words and deeds. We should not let ourselves be deceived by a false dream that democracy is unassailable, that the EU's acquis communautaire, the stated rights and duties of the EU members, can neutralise heretics. As if! Under the banner of the aquis communautaire in Hungary, it's quite possible to publicly and freely incite anti-Jewish and anti-Roma sentiment, hound down homosexuals, and run papers and TV channels which denounce freedom of speech. If this is possible, anything is possible. ... Parliamentary democracy can only be saved by people who have the courage for clear words and deeds. Their time is now."


The Times Literary Supplement 26.04.2008 (UK)

The collected works of Thomas Middleton have just been published, prompting Jonathan Bate to sing the praises of this widely unknown Jacobean playwright who "sexed the language and languaged the sex" more comprehensively than any other writer in English. "Middleton must be acknowledged as our great bard of incest, pimping, transvestism, stalking, sexual blackmail, castration, priestly sexual abuse, marital rape, impotence, masochism, necrophilia, paedophilia, fornication, masturbation and 'lesbianation'. "


L'Espresso 25.04.2008 (Italy)

There is hope yet for relations between Christians and Muslims, emphasises Sandro Magister, who reports that in Bangladesh, a dialogue between the two religious groups is already underway. At the University of Dhaka last week, Kazi Nurul Islam, head of the faculty for World Religions brought together 35 Muslims and 35 Christians to discuss the letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars. Magister cites Nurul Islam, who hopes that this will pave the way for a new union: "In Bangladesh we need a forum where Christians and Muslims can meet and eventually sign a joint agreement. I hope that this will be achieved before the year is out. This joint agreement will be the basis for a peaceful cohabitation of Christians and Muslims in Bangladesh and perhaps the whole world."


The Economist 25.04.2008 (UK)

The hard-won freedom of the press is being drastically restricted again in ex-communist countries. In Slovakia, for example, the newspapers are protesting against a new media law that will give anyone mentioned in an article sweeping rights to an equally prominent rebuttal. But this, as the Economist reports, is not an isolated case. "Slovakia's new law is the most conspicuous in the region. But arbitrary legal constraints on press freedom are worrisome elsewhere, too. In Bulgaria defamation of public figures ... is a crime that can be punished with a fine. ... In Romania the constitutional court last year restored a tough defamation law that criminalises 'insult', though the effect on press freedom pales beside the ownership of most of the mainstream media by three politically active tycoons, plus political interference in public broadcasting. ... And bad laws are only part of the picture. In the annual report of Freedom House, a New York-based lobby group, the ex-communist countries show the biggest relative decline in media freedom in the world, chiefly because of a perceived politicisation of public broadcasting."


Le Monde des livres 25.04.2008 (France)

A battle has broken out among French historians over the role of Islam in the Middle Ages. The bone of contention is the book "Aristote au Mont Saint-Michel - Les racines greques de L'Europe chretienne" (Seuil) by historian Sylvain Gouguenheim. His thesis: It is not, as previously believed, the Islamic Arabs whom the West has to thank for the discovery and circulation of Greek philosophy, but far more the Western Christians and their Latin translations. The book has provoked piqued reactions from his colleagues. Pierre Assouline summarises the book and the – in part factually based – criticism in his blog. In a brief interview from April 24, the author defends himself against the critical onslaught and accusations of right-wing bias, after excerpts of his book appeared on a right-wing extremist website. Gouguenheim: "In no way do I deny the existence of the Arab line of tradition, but I underline the existence of a direct line of translations from Greek into Latin by Jacques de Venise. I also do not dispute the adoption of countless elements of Greek culture by the Arabs."


Die Weltwoche 24.04.2008 (Switzerland)

Insurgent Tibetans are separatist troublemakers. Whoever supports them is an enemy of China and merits boycotting. This is not propaganda of the ruling party but the view of the new Chinese bourgeoisie, writes China correspondent Georg Blume. "They think that Beijing is doing its best to create more wealth for everyone. They hope that this wealth will one day lead to democracy. But they are not prepared to sacrifice what has already been achieved for democracy. Their homes and cars are more important to them than suffrage for 700 million farmers who still make up the majority of the population. They do not want this majority to steer policy in China. They are much more concerned that the government should secure their wealth, protect their new property. For them, democracy can wait. But this does not mean that they want to be treated as second-rate world citizens. Their opinions should count on the world's stage just as much as that of western citizens. This is another aspect of the conflict over Tibet and the Olympics."


The New York Times 28.04.2008 (USA)

In the Sunday magazine, Pankaj Mishra portrays Alaa Al Aswany, the Egyptian author of "The Yacoubian Building", a novel haunted by the figure of the Big Man, which takes on Murabak and corruption in Egypt. The novel was made into a film and Al Aswany, who is also a practising dentist, tells Mishra why he stayed away from the premiere in Cairo. "Remarkably, there is no Big Man in the movie version, which is otherwise faithful to the novel. When I saw Al Aswany in London last fall, he told me that he had not been invited to the movie's premiere in Cairo. Speaking freely one late night, he confirmed Cairo gossip that people involved in the production were close to Gamal Mubarak, who is being groomed to inherit power. He suspected that the authorities backed the film, which is the most expensive Egyptian production ever, because they saw its unflinching depiction of corruption as something that could prepare the public for the emergence of the next Big Man - who will sweep away everything, including the corrupt old guard."

Also in the Sunday magazine: Benoit Denizet-Lewis examines the significance of gay marriage among young homosexuals. And Roger Lowenstein explains how Moody's rating agency caused the current bank crisis with its over-optimistic evaluation of morgage securities.


New York Review of Books 15.05.2008 (USA)

Amy Knight assesses the situation in Russia at the close of Vladimir Putin's presidency which, according to the book by Boris Nemzov and Vladimir Milov, "Putin: The Results" is not looking good. (The publishers of the Novaya Gazeta have failed to find distributors for the book and it is only being sold on the paper's own kiosk on Pushkin Square.) "There has been some talk about Medvedev's relative liberalism, but it would be risky politically for him to attempt reforms such as weakening state controls on the press and on the economy or reining in the security police. Although such changes could hugely benefit Russia's future development, Medvedev would offend too many powerful people and interests. Nor is he likely to encourage a more flexible policy toward the West. As Milov told me: 'Medvedev is a representative of a new generation of Russian bureaucrats: they listen to Western rock music, speak foreign languages, wear Brioni suits. But deep inside they are strong Russian national conservatives... They buy the advantages of Western civilization but they do not buy its values.'"
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