From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Süddeutsche Zeitung 09.10.2010

With the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for Liu Xiaobo, Alex Rühle describes how China silences its writers. Locking them up in prison is an exception to the rule. The censors generally refer other means: "Newspaper editors are punished, publishing companies and media outlets are closed. This has the handy side effect of closing communication channels to the writers, if the media obeys orders. It was for this reason that a few years ago Liu Xiaobo described the Internet as 'a gift from God to China'. His Charta 08 which earned him the Nobel Prize is still circulating online."

Frankfurter Rundschau 09.10.2010

Eyes wide in pure delight, Arno Widman walked through the huge exhibition of Michelangelo drawings in Vienna's Albertina. He saw plenty of penises and bellies but no ephebes. "On display are the most exquisite drawings from right across his creative career from the – probably – earliest drawing of 1490- 1492, which is a copy of a section of a Giotto painting, to the three drawings from 1555 to 1564. In the early copy of the male Giotto figure, it looks as if Michelangelo had been drawing from a stone sculpture. But he corrects Giotto's original, putting the man's left foot forward, so the weight of the body becomes more apparent. There could be no better way to observe the contradictions of representing ideals, copying nature and failing."

Die Welt 11.10.2010

The Peace Prize which was awarded to Israeli writer David Grossman at the end of the Frankfurt Book Fair reminded Tilman Krause that literature plays an existential role. Krause cites what he describes as a beautiful and archly humanistic thought from Grossman's acceptance speech: "I believe that the most important things in the history of mankind take place neither on the battlefield, nor in the halls of palaces, nor in the corridors of parliaments, they happen in the kitchens, bedrooms and children's rooms."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 12.10.2010

Marta Kijowska describes the publication of the diary of the Polish writer and satirist Slawomir Mrozek as the sensation of the Polish literary autumn: "This diary is unparalleled in its profound and unsparing self-analysis. You cannot even really compare it with the diary of the great Witold Gombrowicz, who knew and admired Mrozek deeply. Because while Gombrowicz stubbornly recreated himself anew, Mrozek aimed unswervingly at self-demolition."

From the blogs 12.10.2010

In Achse des Guten, Marko Martin expresses his annoyance about the "old-fashioned objurgatory judgements" passed by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the taz and the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Mario Varga Llosa after the announcement of his Nobel Prize win, criticising his "swing to the right" and his "market liberalism". What are the terrible things this man wants anyway? "Legalised small and large street markets instead of authoritarian state bans: one of his programmes from the presidential race in 1990, was precisely not tailored to the interests of the rich, who are the natural allies of state bureaucracy, but placed emphasis on the economic participation of the poorest of the poor. Vargas Llosa's ideas were similar to those of his Peruvian compatriot the economist Hernando de Soto, whose recommendation for the shattered Latin America was a form of grass roots capitalism."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 13.10.2010

In an interview with Johan Schloemann, the theologian Friedrich Wilhelm Graf sends out a warning to culturists of all political stripes. Western values (which mostly kept inside quotation marks in the SZ) are not simply the expression of "Judaeo-Christian culture" as the new President Christian Wulff insisted in his speech (here in German) on the twentieth anniversary of German reunification. "The modern constitutional state and the German constitutional state in particular was largely pushed through against the Church. Far into the 1950's, for instance, in the discourses of both major Churches, the concept of 'human rights' was regarded critically as the liberalist confusion of modern man."

Die Zeit 14.10.2010

Ina Hartwig is overwhelmingly positive about the state of German literature in the post-ideological vacuum that followed the end of the old world order. Her survey takes in the work of Lutz Seiler, Clemens Meyer, Herta Müller, Ulrich Peltzer and Marlene Streeruwitz. "When the Romanian-German Herta Müller won the Nobel Prize for literature it suddenly became very clear how far German contemporary literature reaches Eastwards; mentally, geographically, historically. Herta Müller's German conserves the melodies of the old Austro-Hungarian empire and introduces metaphors like "breathswing" ('Atemschaukel' being the German title of her book 'Everything I Own I Carry With Me') and "hungerangel" into the German literary landscape; metaphors which, seen as images of their time, function like protective capsules against the experiences of communist persecution and threats. At the same time, however, the old Bundesrepulik ceased to exist, and there is much to suggest that the interpretations of what the German West was - or could have been – are only now beginning to gather pace."

Frankfurter Rundschau 15.10.2010

Arno Widmann emerged furious from the exhibition "Hitler and the Germans" in the German Historical Museum in Berlin: it shows nothing, it names no names and runs away from the topic instead of grabbing it by the horns. "We have kept a distance from Hitler's bizarre personality,' Hans Ottomeyer, the director general of the museum explained at a press conference. He is right. But why is the exhibition then called 'Hitler and the Germans'? The historian may love or hate his subject, but he must take it seriously. The curators show almost no interest in Hitler's personality. One thing they are are interested in, though, is his name: Hitler sells. That is what makes this exhibition so unsavoury. It pretends to be frivolous and offers nothing frivolous. But the exhibition is also just plain cowardly."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.10.2010

Mario Vargas Llosa
reports on his own surprise at the news that he had won the Nobel Prize for literature: "Suddenly I noticed Patricia. She was walking towards me, telephone in hand, with an expression on her face that fillled me with panic. 'Something terrible has happened in the family,' I thought. I took the telephone and tried to make out a voice that was talking in English between whistling noises, echoes and electronic crackling. At the moment I heard the words 'Swedish Academy' the connection cut out." - let's talk european