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04/10/2005

Magazine Roundup

Literaturen | The Economist | Holmi | L'Express | The Guardian | Gazeta Wyborcza | Heti Vilaggazdasag | The Spectator | The New York Times Book Review


Literaturen, 01.10.2005 (Germany)

Reading, or to be more specific, "the big read" is the focus of Literaturen's birthday issue. Under the motto" My Reading Life", 22 authors from around the world talk about their reading of biographies, which, as one would expect, vary greatly. Whilst Peter Esterhazy began with Heine's poem "Hoheleid" and says he doesn't like to miss any opportunity to read ("when the first swallow emerges, on Wednesday, at half past one, at half past two, half three, at Christmas"...), playwright Michael Frayn confesses his lazy reading habits. "You are asking me to comment on something which you call my 'love affair with reading'. I have to say up front that this is an assumption and a completely untrue one at that. Reading and I are just good friends."


The Economist, 30.09.2005 (UK)

From a distance you can take a more objective stance on it – the Economist has nothing against a grand coalition in Germany, especially in the positive light of historical precedent. "Much will depend on the chemistry between coalition leaders. If the first grand coalition was a partial success, it was mainly because Karl Schiller, the SPD economics minister, and Franz Josef Strauss, the CSU finance minister, got on well, gaining the nickname 'Plisch and Plum', after two dogs in a famous poem."


Holmi, 01.08.2005 (Hungary)

Hungarian literature critics are unable to contain their enthusiasm for the drama "The Nibelung Subdivision. A Fantasy based on Richard Wagner" by the young author Janos Terey (more about him here). The writer Laszlo Marton analyses the novel's references to Richard Wagner. "Based on his experience of the revolution, Wagner leads his German audience of the (middling to upper) middle classes of the Gründerzeit (Wilhelminian Germany -ed.) towards Valhalla as well as into the Germanic wilderness on the Rhine, so that they might take rest from the frenzy of German foundation, give themselves over to the fantasies of the mystery of blood and love, and shudder at the heralded lights of the twilight of the gods. ... Terey too, who wintnessed the turn of the millenia, and experineced the catastrophes of the 20th century indirectly but with increadible intensity, leads the reader into a mythical zone, into the heart of the EU, to Worms on the Rhein which really stands for Frankfurt am Rhein." In this mythical landscape he shows us the leading businessmen of our time.


L`Express, 03.10.2005 (France)

In an interview Salman Rushdie talks about his new book, "Shalimar the Clown" which he has dedicated to his Kashmiri grandparents. He talks about the current situation in Kashmir and Pakistan and India's role in the country's conflict. "The present tragedy consists of the fact that both sides are behaving badly and this heightens the atrocities. My sympathies lie with India, but I have sensed the population's hostility towards anyone who is regarded as part of the Indian occupying force. Nevertheless, even India's left-wing intellectuals refuse to hear this. Because I represent them, I am called a Islamic separatist. Kashmiri Islam is fundamentally sophistic, mystical, not dogmatic and well-tempered. The sudden emergence of the Pakistanis has enabled the jihadists to terrorise the inhabitants until they accept this extreme branch of Islam."


The Guardian, 02.10.2005 (UK)

The British playwright Tom Stoppard travelled to Belarus to visit fellow writers. His impressions of Europe's last dictatorship make for depressing reading. His account of discussions on the aesthetic and content of plays is interesting. For Stoppard, literary form is important while his colleagues believe what one writes in present day Belarus is more important than how one writes. "A young man put in: 'I had ten friends at school. Now only three are alive. The rest died from overdoses. Should I not write about it?' Later he said: 'I am listening to you, and I feel there is a vast gulf between us. My mother is 51. My father is 52. They have never been abroad and probably never will. They live on 100 dollars a month. Everything they earn goes towards food. They don't go to the theatre or cinema. They have worked all their lives only to feed themselves and us children. I wanted to describe their life. When my mother read my play she told me she didn't like it, because she has enough darkness in her life. But I wanted to show her how bad her life was."


Gazeta Wyborcza, 01.10.2005 (Poland)

Soli Özel, Professor for international Relations at Istanbul's Bilgi University is absolutely certain: "even though no sensible person in Turkey would claim that we are ready for entry into the EU today, we will quickly change and make ourselves ready in time for it". In the interview, Özel explains how the possibility of EU entry has accelerated change in the country. "There is an internal pressure to change the system, just as there was in Poland with the 'Solidarity' movement." He warns that: "the EU and Turkey have a common interest in integration. No-one will profit if this process is interrupted and the consequences of that could be catastrophic."


Heti Vilaggazdasag, 01.10.2005 (Hungary)

On the occasion of the conference "RE:activism" held by the Central European University in Budapest, the publicist Tamas Vajna analyses the structural shift in the public arena triggered by the Internet. On the Net, political interest groups often spring up independently of the traditional media. "The new media refuted the theory of the spiral of silence which opinion pollster Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann coined in the 70s. ... Today, thanks to the cost effectiveness of Internet presence, movements of all stripes articulate their opinions on the Internet: homosexuals, radical anti-globalisation activists, environmentalists, feminists, anti-abortionists and animal-rights activists. (...) The online writers differ from the traditional media not only in the way their opinions are circulated, but in terms of content. They write against the mainstream, against the online mutations of the good old print media world or the online constructed bastions of the state, the church or science."


The Spectator, 30.09.2005 (UK)

Andrew Gilmour, the UN advisor to West Africa, replies to Mark Steyn's polemic directed towards the United Nations, those "sewers of transnationalism", by defending the achievements of the latest round of reforms. "In one of the most radical restatements of international law of the past century, the entire UN membership went along with a declaration accepting the right of the world community to take military action in the case of governments failing to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. Prime Minister Tony Blair was right when he said, 'For the first time at this summit we are agreed that states do not have the right to do what they will within their own borders' ... This is a reform as profound as it gets. No wonder Steyn is angry and wants the US out of the UN."


The New York Times Book Review, 03.10.2005 (USA)

In 1936, Max Schmeling succeeded in knocking out his arch-rival Joe Louis; in 1938 he had to throw in the towel himself after just 122 seconds and three knockdowns. Joye Carol Oates extols David Margolick's historic coverage of the two fights, "Beyond Glory", as a heavyweight of a book and probably the definitive work on this sporting and political world event. "When the second fight, of June 1938, pitting the 24-year-old American Negro titleholder, Louis, against the 32-year-old Schmeling, the Nazis' star athlete, was fought at Yankee Stadium, the contest was as much between the United States and Nazi Germany as between two superbly skilled athletes. There were almost 70,000 spectators and an estimated 100 million radio listeners throughout the world: 'the largest audience in history for anything.'" To get you in the mood, read the original articles on the 1936 and 1938 fights in the New York Times.
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