From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Die Tageszeitung 25.10.2008

In an interview with Ambros Waibel, Italian crime writer Massimo Carlotto describes the lack of culture, the ideology and the racism of the Lega Nord. "The Lega is not interested in culture. Wherever it gets into power, the first thing it does is to slash money for culture. They have cooked up a completely unreal ideology about homeland and history that never existed. And this homeland is all about economics. Because it was foreigners who made the North-East rich, predominantly through illegal labour. But now, when the crisis hits, they are being told to leave. This is the guiding principle behind the Lega's racism."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

In an interview with Angela Schader, South African writer Ivan Vladislavic talks about literature in his country and the sorry state of culture in Africa. "African countries are still haemorrhaging university graduates, and lots of writers also live abroad. A few years ago I was invited to a literature festival in Mali and of the thirty or so writers participating, exactly three lived in Africa. The situation is crazy."

Frankfurter Rundschau

Arno Widmann was in Liblice at the conference about Kafka and the Liblice Kafka Conference of 1963, which was monopolised by the Communist Party. "Jiri Hajek, who went on to become one of the leading spokesmen of Charter 77, put his finger on it back in 1963: "The difference between us and Kafka and is not, as some Marxist critics maintain, that Kafka did not recognise the revolutionary historic role of the working class, and we do. No the overwhelming difference is that we have power, while he and his heroes were powerless.' The Kafka Conference of 1963 was a moment of self-reflection for those in power. No, it was the moment, when intellectuals, who believed they had a hand in power, began to reflect on their powerlessness within the Communist regime they were supporting. There was no better author better suited to this than Kafka." More than anything else, says Widmann, Kafka could teach them "that there are no victims who are not perpetrators as well."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 28.10.2008

The paper features a wonderful interview with the cellist Anner Bylsma. He talks about the loss of language in the music of Wagner and Strauss, about young virtuosos and the plague of the prolonged vibrato: "One movement of Brahms's violin concert is enough to kill the listener with vibrato emotion. But Brahms is so much about landscape too – the heavy air near Hamburg! We Dutch think of him as an uncle from beyond Groningen. You shouldn't take his music so personally, just let it happen. What's missing is the variety in differentiation, also in the movement of the bow, which is overly geared towards uniformity. Long tones shouldn't remain 'stiff'. There have to be dynamic changes within them. If someone holds the tones uniformly, it drowns out the small lively notes of the others. Then all you have is a competition for volume. It's a shame. Sadly it's often the experts who ruin things. (Here an article about Bylsma in Freitag, here an interview with Bylsma on and here Bylsma plays Bach's Prelude in G-major.)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 29.10.2008

Verena Leueken was not overly impressed by Ewin Wagenhofer's documentary "Let's Make Money". But the film shines in the bits when Wagenhofer doesn't have an answer waiting. For example in an episode with cotton pickers in Burkina Faso: "We will come to Europe when our country has collapsed," says agrarian economist Yves Delisle 'however high you build your walls.' Then comes Gerhard Schwarz, the head of the financial editorial staff at the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, who sees things rather differently. While money and commodities travel freely through the world, people on the run from poverty, should pay entrance. Like in a tennis club, as he puts it. The film is worth seeing, if only for sound bites like this."

Other papers

In the Lidove noviny, Bohumil Dolezal, a prominent Czech commentator, criticises the attacks on the Prague Institute for the Study of Totalitarianism (Ustr) and the weekly newspaper Respekt, which followed the publication of a document signed by Milan Kundera in which he allegedly denounced a western agent. The publication of a photocopy of the police report "naturally entails risk, firstly that the document might be a fake and the denunciation never took place. But there is another, much greater risk involved, and this is that the efforts to lie, keep quiet and to sweep the truth under the carpet prevail, when celebrities are involved." This is not only about the media assault on Ustr and Respekt, Dolezal says, but also about large-scale political intervention. "Democracy is based on trust in the public, in its ability to differentiate between truth and lies. And on its not needing a curator. In this country, as we are seeing, this sort of trust is struggling to get a foothold."

The New York Times reviews Ingo Shulze's latest novel about the collapse of the GDR, "New Lives": "This very long novel describes a moral, social and economic plundering by an invading capitalism - unrestrained in the absence of any countervailing force. Unlike Mr. Schulze's earlier work, the book has a tone of unalloyed bleakness. This bleakness colors not just the new situation but also the pre-wall society that he had previously treated with a measure of human complexity. 'New Lives' is all scorn, for the old as well as the new."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 30.10.2008

Novelist Slavenka Drakulic describes Croatia's dense network of politics and mafia, which has finally caught the attention of the media with the murder of the publisher Ivo Pukanic: "In recent years several mafia bosses have been murdered in the centre of the city, but perhaps they were not close enough to the centre of power. Not so with Ivo Pukanic, who was famous for his close ties with both organised crime and politics. While one of the mafia bosses was supposedly protecting his newspaper, he was also on first name terms with the head of state who turned up at his funeral. No wonder that the shockwaves from this crime have reached the highest levels of government and that it is being read as a political killing. For the first time it has become frighteningly clear that the state organs are not up to their job. The attack in the heart of Zagreb is the result of at least two decades in which capital crime has been diligently overlooked."

Jungle World 31.10.2008

Bernhard Schmid talks to the Turkologist Corry Guttstadt about Turkey's cowardly behaviour during the Holocaust. "Of the Turkish Jews who lived in Berlin, for example, many were expatriated in 1939 and then, as stateless individuals, were the first to be deported in 1941. It turned out to be particularly fatal that Ankara had carried out the expatriations, in Germany for example, with the cooperation of the local authorities. The Turkish consulate in Berlin asked the 'Ausländerpolizei' (foreigner police) to summon Turkish Jews and remove their passports." - let's talk european