From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 01.04.2010

The writer Cora Stephan still has her reservations about the Internet, but she embraces the digital future of books. It just might be a way to break the power of book megastores: "It will be Amazon, the online shopping giant, which could shatter the alliance between book retailers, publishers and authors. Recently, Amazon launched a platform for writers to publish their books themselves - bypassing the publishing companies. The authors will get 70 percent of the sales price (compared with the usual 50 in the book business). Apple is also discussing similar conditions with the six largest US publishers. A revolution? Absolutely. In Europe, though, we are trying to sleep through it."

Die Welt 03.04.2010

The situation in Hungary looks very sinister indeed. Viktor Orban's right-wing populist Fidesz Party is expected to win 60 percent in the general election on April 11th - with the far-right Jobbik party scooping a further 20. Hatred is constantly being stirred up against Jews, homosexuals, Roma and prominent intellectuals, the literary academic and writer Lazlo F. Földenyi tells Paul Jandl: "Not long ago a weekly paper published an article calling on the population to destroy the works of Imre Kertesz, Peter Esterhazy, Peter Nadas and György Konrad, to borrow their books from the libraries and destroy them. It was meant as some sort of book burning. This paper has close ties to Victor Orban. It is symptomatic of the mood in the country in general. Anyone who speaks critically about Hungary is branded a 'nest fouler'. People know that these writers are held in high regard abroad and this makes them nervous. Even Orban recently made a speech in which he railed against the 'star intellectuals'."

Die Welt 07.04.2010

Gerhard Gnauk is cautiously optimistic about the memorial ceremony for the Katyn massacre which Vladimir Putin attended. But this gesture of reconciliation is a one-off. "Moscow continues to dig in its heels on a number of issues. At the European Court of Human Rights, in response to the accusations by the families of the victims of the Katyn massacre, the Russians handed in a 17-page document: no rehabilitation for the victims, no compensation, not even access to Russian files. "

Der Freitag 08.04.2010

"The child desires, but it does not desire adults" writes sexologist Volkmar Sigusch, and adults can do very little about their desires: "A person with paedophile tendencies can do as little about them as someone who desires adult women. Moreover, in psychoanalytical terms, their desires have the psychological function of curbing or warding off a subconscious conflict which threatens the cohesion of the self, for example through heavy depressions. In a truly liberal society, even the paedophile could admit to his desires without sanction; but to live them would still not be tolerated."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08.04.2010

For the writer Thomas Hettche our society's literary culture has come to an end after 200 years. No one wants intensive debate about literary works anymore, no one really wants to read, all everyone wants is author-reader communication. But Hettche is not interested in starting a blog: "Why are people so keen to convince writers to use new media formats? We don't write novels, poems, plays, essays due to a lack of imagination about what other forms are out there; to the contrary, we do it because we are convinced of being able to communicate in precisely that way something that can only be communicated in that way, and that is something which will silence the racket across all the media channels. Literature is about beauty, which language only reveals when, in rigour, passion, rage or ardour,  you place yourself completely at its mercy as a writer or reader. If you do this, you have nothing to gain from the attention scattered across so many channels."

Die Zeit 08.04.2010

The great days of creative football are over," explains the literary critic Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht in an instructive interview. Even exceptional players like Messi or Ribery can only create highlights in a tactically over-regulated game. "For a long time we all hoped that African football would breathe new life into the game in all sorts of ways. That countries like Ghana or Nigeria, who play a very different game, would usher in a new epoch. We have been waiting in vain for this for ten years at least. It probably has something to do with talented African players being bought by European clubs as early as 15, where they are processed through the European system and lose their edge. It seems unlikely that African football will triumph at the next World Cup. The strongest African team is Chelsea, and it is not playing."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 09.04.2010

The Japanese are exhausted, writes Japanologist Florian Coulams: the mood in the country is flat. More than anything, the Japanese are suffering from their excessively high life expectancy: "'Courage to Live', 'The Power of Age', ''91. Happy and No Regrets', 'Conversations about Happy Old Age', 'Advice from a Centenarian' These are just a handful of new publications in Tokyo's bookshops now." - let's talk european