From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Ernst Jünger exhibition

The literary archive in Marbach has just opened an exhibition on the controversial writer Ernst Jünger. His bellicose 1920 novel "The Storm of Steel" made him immensely popular in a post-Versailles Germany and in particular with the Nazi party which he refused to join. He fought in two world wars and both his steel helmet and that of an English soldier he shot are on display in Marbach. The exhibition has been greeted enthusiastically by the German literary establishment.

For die taz, Stephan Schlaf talks with literary academic Helmut Lethen about Ernst Jünger's famous "coldness", his resistance to morals and empathy and the WWI diaries which have just been published in their original form for the first time (more here) and which show a very different side to his character: "These notebooks are full of disgust. It is only later that he distances himself from everything. In Jünger's mammoth essay 'The Worker' (1932), no one sweats any more. There is no smell. The form has been galvanised, every organic substance removed."

In die Welt, Jünger biographer Heim Schwilk wanders through the Marbach exhibition where he detects a tendency for heroisation. "It will seem to the observant visitor of the exhibition that the curators wanted to exaggerate Jünger's much-maligned "coldness" by narrowing his ''militaristic' view even further – whereas Jünger himself was constantly countering the aggressively anti-bourgeois stance of "Total Mobilization', 'On Pain' and 'The Worker', by seeking refuge in the pronouncedly Biedermeier comforts of the family home."

Other stories this week:

Die Tageszeitung

Chinese programmer, blogger and journalist Michael Anti explains how rapidly news spread online about the Nobel Prize for his friend Liu Xiaobo and why the print media is looking to the Internet instead of journalism schools for fresh talent. "In our rapidly growing media world netizens have become a more reliable source of new talent. Their future employers can glean from their online work whether they will make good reporters and commentators. Thousands of Internet identities now appear in their lists of writers. Discussions which previously took place solely in online platforms have now become issues for the media. The Chinese media is now thoroughly "Internetized" and the net is a free branch of the traditional media, not its enemy, as in the USA and Europe."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 06.11.2010

Christian Saehrendt wonders why banks are so keen to have art on the walls. One reason, he concludes, is its function as an instrument of communication. "At UBS, for example, they have come across the problem that the often incredibly young investment consultants have nothing to say to wealthy older clients: football, golf and the weather would be too banal, talking about women, too indiscreet. But art, the exhibitions funded by the bank or the works hanging in the consultation rooms can fill help to fill this gap."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08.11.2010

Traditionally Russian Muslims, as Kerstin Holm writes in an instructive report, tend towards moderation and thus make natural allies of the conservatives in politics and Christian Orthodoxy. But as she learns from the Russian Islam critic Yelena Chudinova, the Muslimisation of the country could have very different consequences: "Chechnya's leader Kadyrov has already said publicly that he regards Sharia as more binding than Russian law. But the Moscow journalist Orchan Jemal is now also appealing for the introduction of Islamic law in regions of Russia with a majority Muslim population. When Yelena Chudinova spoke out in a debate with Jemal against stoning women or cutting off the hands of thieves, Jemal accused her of sympathising with criminals: Ms Chudinova obviously wants to spare thieves and adulteresses the punishment they deserve."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Bernard-Henri Levy
, who launched the international appeal to save the Iranian woman Sakineh Ashtiani from being stoned to death, explains what makes her case so unusual: "She has be made into a heroine against her will. But where does the global engagement for this simple woman stem from? Why has the French president – as he again assured me on the telephone – turned this woman's fate into a case which he is refusing to drop? Of course the Iranians are asking themselves the same question. It infuriates them. They cannot understand (or they understand only too well) that this case has become a test of our determination to stand up to this regime – and also a test of its ability to see, listen and change course."

Die Tageszeitung 10.11.2010

After dipping into the monumental 1530 page A3 typeset edition (more here) of Arno Schmidt's "Zettel's Traum" (Bottom's dream) published by Suhrkamp, writer Stephan Wackwitz was struck by the familiar sense of admiration and reluctance that he first experienced on reading the book back in the Eighties: "The more you read, the more uncertain you become as to whether this is a work of art or a symptom. The truth about Schmidt's late writing probably lies in the fact that more clearly than the most incommensurably great books, it is both: great art and a complex collection of loose screws. The difficulty and perhaps impossibility of choosing between these two modes of interpretation is the hallmark of monumental autistic works of "outsider art" such as the one created in Henry Darger's room in Chicago."

Die Tageszeitung

"A small step for mankind and a giant step for the 'Yugo palaver'". Doris Akrap cites Slovenian author Drago Jancar at the literary festival "Yugoslavia revisited" which took place in Vienna last weekend, and reports: "In this very particular case, asking writers to record and interpret history stems from the lack of trust in historians of the former Yugoslavia and the states that came out of it. Croatian novelist Slavenka Drakulic also confirmed that the lack of scholarly historiography is one of today's great problems. This is why the war crimes tribunal in Den Haag is so important, she said. Otherwise people would still have doubts about the massacre of 8,000 civilians in Bosnian Srebenica."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Dirk Schümer gazes in awe at Michaelangelo's cartoons in a huge exhibition in the Vienna Albertina. He was particularly impressed by the life drawings: "Half a dozen muscular legs, rippling soles, a torso resting on unnaturally stacked stomach muscles, just the way Michelangelo reputedly so loved this delicate part of the body. Michaelangelo twists his warriors like corkscrews, he hatches serial muscles masses into the palimpsest, creating body-builder highlights in white, as if was just already waiting to pile up the absurd fleshly turmoil of his Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel." - let's talk european