Features » Magazine Roundup


Magazine Roundup

Gazeta Wyborcza | The New York Review of Books | Elet es Irodalom | Le Nouvel Observateur | Al Ahram Weekly | L'Espresso | Die Weltwoche | Polityka | DU

Gazeta Wyborcza, 04.03.2006 (Poland)

Five years ago, Poland began the "Jedwabne Debate," which threw the country's understanding of itself into question (more here). At issue is the murder of roughly 1,600 Jews that took place in the town of Jedwabne in 1941 – instigated by German soldiers of the occupying forces and carried out by Polish peasants. For a long time, Poland denied its involvement, not wanting to jeopardize its mythical historic status as a victimized nation. Journalist Anna Bikont, who covered the story for Gazeta, recounts what happened after the truth had been uncovered. "Only the perpetrators feel secure and talk proudly of their patriotism. Those who fought for the truth have to leave. In Jedwabne itself, there are no traces of the crime. Here there is no happy end."

The New York Review of Books, 23.03.2006 (U.S.A.)

The British author and avowed gambler Al Alvarez pays tribute to the best and canniest Poker player of all time, Stu Ungar, also known as "The Kid," whose biography "One of a Kind" has been written by Nolan Dalla and Peter Alson. "Stuey, reared by thugs, had no charm. 'He was an obnoxious winner and a poor sport,' his biographers write, 'a taunter and a braggart,' who had no 'understanding of the art of the hustle. Once he started playing, his competitive instincts took over and overwhelmed common sense. His mission wasn't to win money - it was to destroy people and be the best ever. As a result, he... scared away potential opponents." Here a picture of Ungar, on the right, in front of his third million dollar win in Las Vegas.

Elet es Irodalom, 03.03.2006 (Hungary)

A few weeks ago, the young historian Krisztian Ungvary revealed that Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, former head of the Hungarian Catholic church, used to spy for the Hungarian secret service. This unleashed a heated debate about the relationship between the Catholic church and the secret police, to which Ungarvy now responds: "In the course of the debate, it has been demanded, rightly, that not only the former spies be exposed but also the secret police officers. Preventing this are the bishops, who, for fear of being tarnished, are protecting their oppressors by still refusing to speak.(...) The Kadar regime is not yet over, contrary to appearances. Many still bear the burden of the dictatorship internally, still obeying the rules which once governed them. They could free themselves from the bondage of dictatorship if they would tell their stories openly. They don't need to be afraid. A series of spectacular cases shows that society wants to forgive them."

Le Nouvel Observateur, 02.03.2006 (France)

In a rather nasty birthday article marking "30 years of the Nouveaux Philosophes," Aude Lancelin analyzes the early success of Andre Glucksmann and Bernhard-Henri Levy with their anti-totalitarian books as the "definitively anti-progressive turn of an entire faction of the French intelligentsia." Lancelin recalls the furious attacks of Gilles Deleuze against the anti-totalitarian young thinkers and cites Glucksmann's response: "Yes, my dear Gilles, the Gulag is no comma in a text by Kant! The Gulag is a swearword, a bitter pill which we threw in the soup of the blinded French intelligentsia." (Read our feature "Separating truth and belief" by Glucksmann here.)

Al Ahram Weekly, 02.03.2006 (Egypt)

Nehad Selaiha is full of praise for the Arabic premiere of Jean Genet's brothel play "The Balcony" in the Al-Hanager Theatre in Cairo. "Though it has been around for half a century and lost its potential to shock or outrage in the West, staging 'The Balcony' in the Arab/Islamic world still remains a daunting challenge.... The costume designer, Sarah Enany, had a hellish time convincing some of the actresses that girls in a brothel, ministering to the weird, erotic fantasies of its patrons, could not possibly be dressed according to the traditional laws of 'chastity' in the East and, as she tells me, spent nerve-racking hours bargaining over an inch up and down in a dress..."

L'Espresso, 03.03.2006 (Italy)

Russia has little to offer other than gas and guns, writes Andrzej Stasiuk in his profile of the country. But that's more than enough. "Everyone needs both the Kalashnikov and the gas, it's that simple. Everyone needs cheap weapons to survive, everyone needs energy. Aggression and access to energy are Siamese twins. The aggression serves to guarantee the energy and with more energy, you can behave more aggressively and so it goes, to the bitter end. That's the essence of the Russian genius."
See our feature "Not a living soul around" by Andrzej Stasiuk.

Die Weltwoche, 02.03.2006 (Switzerland)

In an interview with Sacha Verna, 84-year-old American writer Kurt Vonnegut calls God a totem pole and every president an addlepate. "The tragic mistake of every democracy comes from the fact that only a harebrain would want to become president. My high school class was democratically organised. We elected a class president, a class vice-president, a secretary and so on. Everyone who went out for president was barmy in one way or another. All they wanted was to be elected. All George W. Bush wanted was to be elected. Aside from that he didn't have any plans at all. His friends, on the other hand, had all kinds of plans, and they're the ones now running the country."

Polityka, 04.03.2006 (Poland)

Political cinema of the type so popular at the Berlinale and other international festivals hardly has a chance in Poland, says the filmmaker Andrzej Wajda in an interview. "It's no wonder films with political or social themes hardly attract viewers in a country where only half the population goes to the polls. I hope my younger colleagues will make films about today's Poland, films that not only interest people at home and abroad, but also bear witness to our struggle for Poland's place in the new Europe." Wajda, who is now working on a film about the Katyn Massacre, is also amazed that what audiences really want is fables. "Is today's reality so abhorrent?"

DU, 01.03.2006 (Switzerland)

The Swiss magazine DU sets a counterpoint to the Mozart year with an issue on the "geometric composer" Johann Sebastian Bach. Travelling through Albania with an orchestra, violist Volker Hagedorn has a lot of time to think about Bach. "Eight-four time, up and down in a multitude of tiny steps like a diligent little wanderer, while far away we hear magnificence in five voices. There is something very mundane and touching about this dogged labour of the basses before the weightless vocal horizon. It develops softly, very much like the immobile horizon that gradually changes when seen from a moving bus. This music is like a panorama, with infinite room for views of the world. And while the violins play golden high tones, the violas listen for 45 bars, silent witnesses to this balance of worlds." - let's talk european