From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Die Tageszeitung 30.01.2010

In an obituary to J.D. Salinger, Ulf Ermann Ziegler tries to explain what made the writer so singular. "He was against the city and for the countryside, against marriage and for experimentation. Of course, there would have been no J. D. Salinger without Rousseau or Thoreau, without Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman, but his synthesis of the reveries of the day was unique. In his books you could almost hear him breathing, he could transfix, bewitch, leave you in a daze. His prose was a sanctuary for gender ambiguity. Salinger was an androgynous stylist. His characters were weightless as ice skaters in Central Park, with ten-tonne troubles around their necks."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 30.01.2010

Joachim Kaiser was on cloud nine throughout the Munich concert - Schumann and Chopin - of the pianist Maurizio Pollini: He never resorts to mystification to make things more interesting. He has no interest in playing to the gallery, or inflating the unspectacular. Or in disarming with exaggerated slowness. Instead he does everything "right". This adjective might seem a little sparse for some Pollini admirers, paltry even. Yet it is a superlative in the realm of interpretation. How, for example, did the conductors of yore, who witnessed Gustav Mahler's legendary opera performances in Vienna, describe his incomparable conducting? By remarking that with Mahler, everything was so wonderfully "right".

Jungle World 01.02.2010

Jörg Sundermeier, himself a publisher and author, examines the state of literary criticism. In the media, he says there is a lack of literary debate: "The reviews pile up but there is no recognisable criteria behind them. So much seems utterly arbitrary. But this arbitrariness cannot be explained by market pressure alone. After all, journalists offer themselves up as slaves to the publishing PR and marketing departments, they are falling over themselves to review any potentially successful book on its first day in the shops. But this is not just about landing a scoop. It's more as if the journalists have internalised the marketing mechanisms of the publishing industry. When unplugged from the market, literature is largely ignored these days."

Die Welt 03.02.2010

It is to Turkey that we should turn if we are looking for a modern face of Islam, writes Zafer Senocak. "Yet when people debate Islam in Europe, Turkey is never mentioned. Europe has turned in on itself and increasingly regards Islam and the Islamic world as a homogeneous construction in its own head. The image of Islam in the European mind is not the Turkish business woman or academic, but a woman under the burqa in France. A wall has gone up in people's minds which is blinding them to anything but the image of the suppressed Muslimah."

Frankfurter Rundschau 03.02.2010

Amin Farzanefar reports from the Fajr Film Festival in Tehran, which is being boycotted this year by a string of filmmakers. "The Fajr Film Festival is haemorrhaging jurors: Asghar Farhadi, whose social drama "About Elly" won the silver bear at last year's Berlinale, pulled out on the grounds that he was travelling, others said they were sick or denied ever having agreed to take part. Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian cinema's most enigmatic director, didn't even bother to give a reason for his refusal. And so the festival opened last week without a jury - it was meeting in secret, the festival's organisers said, 'to better protect itself'. Not until the end of the week would the names be made public."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The paper prints an edited version of Hans Magnus Enzensberger's acceptance speech for the Danish Sonning Prize. The speech was less about gratitude than ridicule - which was directed towards the EU's regulatory excesses. The prime example being the Union's Acquis communautaire: "No human being has ever read this collection of agreements, directives and acts in full. Anno 2004 it was already 85,000 pages long; today it will be well in excess of one hundred and fifty thousand. In 2005 the official EU journal weighed more than a tonne, as much as a young rhinoceros. The French constitution has now made it to 62 million words. The Acquis is legally binding for all membership states. It is estimated that over eighty percent of all laws are not made by parliaments at all, but by the authorities in Brussels. No one knows exactly."

Frankfurter Rundschau 05.02.2010

"We are the ones who are unwilling to integrate. Not the foreigners," writes Arno Widmann, without wanting to get sucked into the burqa debate. "Anyone who lives here should have a say in what life here is like. This hits as the very heart of our western values. Yet on 29 May 2009 politicians from the CDU/CSU, SPD and FDP all voted in the Bundestag against a proposal to give immigrants the vote. For more than a quarter of a century we have denied the non-Germans living in our midst their basic democratic rights. We should be ashamed of ourselves. We should pull ourselves together. We should start practising the values that we preach. This is the best way of making them seem more attractive."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05.02.2010

"So much stupidity in a land of such beauty"  - so said Heribert Prantl in his guest column in the Vienna Standard. Dirk Schümer can only confirm this view, in his article on the state of Austrian xenophobia and self-hatred. "Austria, a land that has been so reduced and cut up, so undervalued, its honour slighted for so long, is putting up a bitter fight for its last shreds of sovereignty - even if this is only for a medal in a Kitzbühl skiing competition Or, like last week, an excruciating advert for the Austrian army about the pulling power of men in tanks, which was immediately withdrawn."  And:"Only in Austria could a man like Peter Hojac get anywhere in life - the former secretary of Jörg Haider changed his name to 'Westenthaler' and then tried to expel hundreds of thousands of foreigners from the country." - let's talk european