Features » Magazine Roundup


Magazine Roundup

Outlook India | Il Foglio | Die Weltwoche | Gazeta Wyborcza | L'Express | Polityka | Elet es Irodalom | The Economist | Nepszabadsag | The New York Times Book Review

Outlook India, 23.01.2006 (India)

Hindu girls in Pakistan live dangerously, according to the cover article by Mariana Baabar. She traveled to Sindh, where many Hindus still live and abductions are common. 13 year old girls are forced to convert to Islam and take a Muslim husband. "Wherever I go, and whoever I meet, the Hindus talk about 'missing girls' in disconsolate voices; their stories resemble Mashu's—the theme of abduction, conversion, often followed by marriage, is common to most narrations. The girls then appear in courts to issue statements declaring their conversion was voluntary. All links to the natal family and the community are severed; they are lost to the family forever."

Il Foglio, 14.01.2006 (Italy)

Who is afraid of Mozart? asks Siegmund Ginzberg. Probably the Mullahs in Teheran! "The most successful film in Iranian cinema is a comedy with musical features. It's called 'Max'. It's about an Iranian musician who returns to Iran after emigrating to the USA and is received with highest honours. He does rap music but is mistakenly understood to be a classical musician. After a few gags he is able to bring even the revolutionary garde to appreciate 'Satan's music'. Everyone who sees it laughs themselves blue in the face, from start to finish. Alas, laughter is not enough to bring the regime down. But one can hardly imagine a situation that would be more to Mozart's liking; making fun of something, the delight of seeing the most serious questions desecrated by the laughter of an enfant terrible. What distinguishes Mozart from the rest, even from the passionate, militant and very serious Beethoven, is his humour, his ability to remain both optimistic and magically mischievous." (the article can be read as pdf 1 and 2)

Die Weltwoche, 12.01.2006 (Switzerland)

Thomas Buomberger hopes that the Cultural Property Transfer Act (CPTA) will abate the trade in stolen art in Switzerland, where until very recently the world's major art smugglers were based. "The major tremor in the antiques scene was set off by an Italian dealer also located in Switzerland: Giacomo Medici. Ten years ago the authorities confiscated around 10,000 objects worth 50 million francs from his warehouse in Geneva. The objects have now been shipped to Italy 'as evidence', in full knowledge that in this way such undesirable wares could be removed from Swiss soil. In addition thousands of polaroid photos were found on Medici's property, some of which showed objects later identified in museums in Europe and the USA. Medici, who was sentenced by an Italian court to ten years in prison, was the biggest fish in the sea of art smugglers. His clients included auction houses like Sotheby's, as well as top collectors and museums." Buomberger foresees a wave of lawsuits facing the museums in the years to come.

Gazeta Wyborcza, 14.01.2006 (Poland)

The third part of Maciej Zaremba's series of articles on nomadic labour in Europe focuses on Poland – and not just the famed "Polish plumber." Zaremba spoke with Polish families in which all siblings work in different European countries. "There's work in Poland but if I don't have to, I don't work for the money. If I can earn 1,100 euros here, I have to earn twice as much to do business abroad," says one of the many construction workers who earn their money in Sweden. Zaremba accuses the Swedish construction unions, which are going after eastern European workers particularly aggressively, of selective amnesia. "In the 1970s, thousands of Swedes worked in the Eastern Bloc countries. They weren't 'guest workers', they were 'delegates' like the Latvians in the North are today. At the time, they were earning twenty times as much as the local workers, they paid no taxes, they went to the best restaurants and the most expensive brothels. Some even took cheap Polish 'replacements' to do their work for them. That these were risking their own lives when they stood up for their employee's rights didn't seem to interest the 'delegates' at all, much as it doesn't interest the Swedish unions today."

L'Express, 12.01.2006 (France)

French lawyer and essayist Nicolas Baverez, author of the hotly discussed polemic "La France qui tombe: un constat clinique du declin francais" (Perrin), has presented his next book, "Vieux pays, siecle jeune" (Perrin, with the title "Nouveau monde vieille France"). Speaking in an interview, he explains his idea that the end of the Cold War set off a "historical big bang" at the start of the 21st century, and that the disappearance of enemies led democracies to become "lulled" into turning the world onto "autopilot". "The awakening was brutal: the stock market crash in 2000, terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid and London, one war after the next in Afghanistan and Iraq.... We refused to admit that the planet was continually being shaken by violence, crises and revolutionary uprisings. At the end of World War II the governments attempted to give the world new structures, with the UN and the Bretton Woods Agreements. A comparable move should have been undertaken at the end of the Cold War, but the democracies were content to share the dividends of peace among themselves. At the threshold of the 21st century they were defenceless against the shock of history: their institutions were disenfranchised, their citizens helpless and their values shaken to the core."

Polityka, 14.01.2006 (Poland)

The Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky ("Runaway Train") expresses in an interview his respect for the KGB and his contempt of democracy. "Under Yeltsin, we had a lesson in democracy – for ten years, the nation collapsed into alcoholism, three million children were thrown out on the streets, 40,000 murders were committed annually and a hundred billionaires were produced. That was the balance sheet of this pathetic democracy." Konchalovsky, who is working on a new staging of "King Lear" in Warsaw, does not favour political interpretations of art. "Art cannot replace the revolution, it doesn't improve anyone. It can change a person for five minutes. Then he puts on his coat and leaves the cinema or theatre."

Elet es Irodalom, 13.01.2006 (Hungary)

"They didn't want to blow up museums like the futurists or redeem humanity like the expressionists. They didn't even torment their public with abstruse ideas like the surrealists," writes art theorist Laszlo Földenyi about Dadaism, on the occasion of a major exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. "Dada has the same effect now as it did nine decades ago. No matter what happens, no matter what unexpected and unplanned events may come about, the power of Dadaism can still be felt. Dada lives, even if people maintain the opposite. It lives in us, even today, perhaps most powerfully in moments we aren't even aware of.... For me Dada is the most important, most topical artistic movement of the 20th century. When I'm near it I feel a prodigious freedom that renders weightless all ideologies and sobre-mindedness. Dada is a distorting mirror for smooth-talkers, an icy smile for know-it-alls."

Miklos Haraszti, co-founder of the democratic opposition in Hungary and currently OSCE Representative on the Freedom of the Media, analyses in an interview the situation of the independent press in post-Soviet countries. "In these new democracies, diversity of opinion is often only possible in the print media and the internet... However, the print media is under pressure from the authorities. The penal codes of these countries give the authorities 'constitutional instruments' for punishing freedom of speech and journalistic research by calling them libel, defamation, breach of honour or betrayal of state secrets. Oppositional non-governmental organisations have the right to criticise this practice, and we must give them our support.... But then we must not use political arguments, but ones based purely in media law."

The Economist, 13.01.2006 (UK)

What did (and do) the Israelis see in Ariel Sharon, for them to give him their unconditional support? asks The Economist in view of the continuing popularity of the Kadima Party founded by Sharon. "What made him credible, if not actually lovable, to mainstream Israeli Jews was that he reconciled their belief in the need to give up occupied territory with their deep suspicion of the Palestinians since the violent collapse of the Oslo peace process in 2000. They felt that, as a father of the settlement movement, he would give up settlements, as in Gaza, only when truly necessary, and in a unilateral process that Israel could control."

In its lead story, The Economist looks at the legacy of Alan Greenspan, the departing head of the Federal Reserve: "Mr Greenspan's departure could well mark a high point for America's economy, with a period of sluggish growth ahead. This is not so much because he is leaving, but because of what he is leaving behind: the biggest economic imbalances in American history."

Nepszabadsag, 14.01.2006 (Hungary)

Between 1989 and 1992, tens of thousands of Chinese moved to the Hungarian capital Budapest. The journalist Li Tschung-Tschiang has written a book about Chinese immigrants in Hungary. Here an excerpt from the review of the first Hungarian translation: "Li recognises the liberation of Hungary by the Soviet army but he doesn't see why it had to settle in Hungary after the victory and build so many memorials for itself. There are an extraordinary number of churches in Hungary. The 'tiny country' has more than three thousand houses of God, which always occupy the best locations... Most aggravating, he found, is that the Hungarians name a very ugly kind of dog the 'Pekinese'; for Li, this amounts to a maligning of China! We shouldn't take this!' The translator Peter Polonyi comments that while the dog type is relatively rare in Li's country, it does originally come from China."

The New York Times Book Review, 15.01.2006 (USA)

Julian Barnes is not as easy to characterise as his countrymen Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie or Kazuo Ishiguro, writes Terrence Rafferty. Barnes' new book "Arthur and George" is about the meeting between Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji. Edalji, the son of a Persian father and an English mother, was wrongly convicted of maiming horses. Conan Doyle ensured that he was rehabilitated – a sort of English Dreyfus Affair (more here). Like other stories by Barnes, "Arthur and George" is hard to describe, but Rafferty gives it his best shot: "To clarify: Julian Barnes has written a deeply English novel, in the grand manner, about the sorts of existential questions the English on the whole prefer to leave to the French. 'Arthur and George' conceals its contemplation of the imponderables slyly, discreetly hiding it behind the curtains while scenes of Dickensian force and colour play out in firelit rooms." - let's talk european