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Magazine Roundup

Perfil  10.03.2012 (Argentina)Martin Kohan thinks about the Falkland Islands conflict which has flared up again. "We Argentinians feel most like Argentinians when we see or sense that we have been robbed. This allows us to explain to ourselves why we are what we are and why we didn't become anything else. What defines us is that we were robbed. To this extent the Falkland Islands or rather the Malvines are Argentinian - but not because we should win them back and also not if we indeed win them back. They are Argentinian because they are lost and out of reach. The slab of stone that makes up the Malvines memorial in Ushuaia at the tip of Patagonia has a hole cut out of in the form of the islands. This is very effective because it is filled with the view of the dark sea behind it. But the point of monument is the hole and the point of the hole is the absence. If the Malvines were won back one day, they would become slightly more Argentinian. And we Argentinians would become slightly less Argentinian

Il Sole 24 Ore  11.03.2012 (Italy)

The Italian media is deep in thought about the end of an epoch, with the onset of the euro crisis and the exit of Berlusconi. This is encouraging if bitter at times. In Il sole 24ore Armando Massarenti waxes melancholy about two parallel phenomena: on the one hand, he writes, Italy is still seen as a country with a fabulous culture, that stretches from the works of the Renaissance to its still vital design scene. On the other hand, he points out, there is no country in Europe with a higher rate of "functional illiterates" than Italy: "What is the future for the country that has the most art treasures in the world, what future can it devise for its youth, how can it reboot the circulus virtuosus of knowledge, research, art and engagement if its human capital is so miserably equipped? When I think of this double image – of Italy as a land of culture and illiteracy – it reminds me of a fable about the modern Italians by the German Enlightenment thinker Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. He compared them with wasps which hatched out of the cadaver of a horse saying: 'Our origins are in this noble horse.'"

HVG 12.03.2012 (Hungary)

The EU is stepping up pressure on Hungary to adhere to its democratic value system. Political theorist Ervin Csizmadia describes this as a paradigm shift within the EU, away from the "minimalist" concept of democracy of the 1990s. In those days all that was expected of the post-socialist countries was to don the trappings of democracy; suddenly they have to be seen to be in effect. "Europe wants to bring this change of view to bear in Hungary, its most strident member. Its belligerence only strengthens the EU's resolve to call Hungary to account about the quality of its democracy. This is what is behind Europe's tougher rhetoric, and not some attempt at a 'new colonisation'. The West does not want to repeat its mistake from 1990 and content itself with formal achievements. This is a cardinal shift, one which the Hungarian government finds shocking and inexplicable."

Elet es Irodalom  12.03.2012 (Hungary)

At a conference held by the Hungarian Europe Society (MET) at the beginning of March there was a debate whether there was a life for Hungary outside the European Union. This prospect no longer seems as absurd as it did only a few years ago, according to sociologist and MET chairman István Hegedüs in an interview with Eszter Rádai. The danger, however, is that the country would completely isolate itself and degenerate into a provincial blot on the European map, which no longer has a say in debates about Europe's future. "Ten or fifteen years ago no one would have entertained any real thoughts about the sort of European Union we might want to join and why. We were also not interested in how the EU functioned and or what exciting issues affected Europe as whole that we could think about, in order to participate in debates about the future of the continent. But back then Hungarian intellectuals were already caught up in in-fighting and domestic and polarised political battles, and this mistake is having coming back to haunt us most ferociously in the current crisis. We are not involved in major European debates that revolve around the arguments, thoughts and problems which, should want to get involved in them, would change our ideas about the world. But EU membership was also an invitation to join the debating society."

L'Express 12.03.2012

In a reportage on the Japanese book market Tristan Savin asks about the state of Japanese literature after the tsunami catastrophe last year. According to Yutaka Yano, whose literary journal Shincho has largely been printing texts about the disaster since it happened, many writers have no idea how to even begin writing again in the aftermath. "The novel attempts to stitch reality back together again when changes happen - but many writers have no faith in their profession to describe reality, they think it has been rendered useless. The real, the imaginary, the symbolic, all this has been destroyed. It is the end of modern literature in Japan. But in a way, this is also an opportunity for them."

Polityka  09.03.2012 (Poland)

Danuta Walesa's autobiography has sold 320,000 copies in Poland since December 2011, outstripping even the Pope's, Ryszarda Socha reports (here in German). And who is interested in the life of the wife of the Solidarnosc fighter and ex-president of Poland? The grey women, the fifty-plus generation who did everything for their husbands and children and feel unloved today: "The second reading tour took place in the jangling February frost. Poznan, Wroclaw,
Katowice, Bydgoszcz. They came in hordes, the middle-aged and older generation in particular. Piotr Adamowicz, who accompanied Danuta on the tour, estimates that 90 percent of the audience were women. Most of them were well over 50. Probably all with similar memories of a youth spent at the stove cooking an eternal soup for their husbands and children. Many of them were given 'Dreams and Secrets' by their daughters for Christmas. One question came up again and again: How had Danuta managed it? Washing and feeding the kids, getting them ready for school, thinking tenderly about each one. The women brought their photos which looked like the ones in the book: Danuta climbing on the window ledge to clean the windows. They left little mementos and crocheted doilies. They said they were moved by the truth because Danuta never minced her words, never sugarcoated the children issue, she was not fanatically religious, and she was not even afraid of provoking priests. They asked her for more. Would she write about what became of them, of their love? They are as eager for this as if it were the next episode in a TV series. Now they will be giving their husbands 'Dreams and Secrets' to read. Perhaps that will encourage them to buy them flowers for once?"

More stories from the Anglophone press:

The Economist introduces Japanese guerrilla art group ChimPom and its radical responses to the nuclear disaster. With an eye on the Washington Post, Vanity Fair declares that caution is no virtue in revolutionary times. The New York Times runs away to Krakow with Radiohead's guitarist Johnny Greenwood. And Forbes meets Clare O'Connor, who has made a billion keeping women tightly wrapped. - let's talk european