Features » Magazine Roundup


Magazine Roundup

The Guardian | L'Express | Outlook India | Die Weltwoche | Merkur | Der Spiegel | Literaturen | Elsevier | The New York Times Book Review | Gazeta Wyborcza | The Economist | Al Ahram Weekly | The New Yorker

The Guardian, 29.04.2006 (UK)

To mark the announcement of the shortlist for the Orange Prize for women's fiction, The Guardian asked women writers to describe their favourite pictures of women reading. A.L Kennedy chose Theodore Roussel's "The Reading Girl" (1886-87): "You shouldn't risk reading naked. You don't want someone else's words getting on your skin, lodged in those little crannies where they'll stick and pray on your mind, your sense. Certainly, don't get your naked self mixed up with a second-hand book - all those strangers' fingers touching the pages before you. Worse still would be a book that you've been given - known fingers on your pages. Even worse would be a letter. But this girl wants risk. Why else read as if she'd like a broken neck? It's tricky enough to read and write at all - our bodies evolving more slowly than our minds and still designed for action, tree swinging, sex - our heads are heavy, dangerous if held in place. Do you have any idea what she's doing to her cervical vertebrae? Her trapezius, her levator anguli scapulae, her splenius and scaleni muscles, they're all screwed and you can bet she has a bitch of a headache."

L'Express, 27.04.2006 (France)

The philosopher Tzvetan Todorov has put together an exhibition for the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris about the Enlightenment - "Lumieres! Un heritage pour demain" – which showcases, among other things, an original edition of Kant's "The Critique of Judgement". Eric Conan marks the occasion with an essay outlining some of the key considerations of the Enlightenment which, says Todorov, have come under threat since 9/11. Unlike the protagonists of the Enlightenment who knew how to recognise their enemies, Europe believes: "It is enough to assert that one has no enemies, for them to disappear. The texts and letters by the champions of the Enlightenment testify to their anxiety and alertness towards anything that went against their convictions. The real weakness of European societies, who live with this legacy, is that they regularly project their own vested values (negotiation, liberation, rationality and democracy) onto those who negate them. Whether this means the politics of conciliation against Nazism or of pacifism against the Soviet Bloc, the tendency to be blind in the face of the reality or towards the threat of the enemy, seems to produce the opposite of European self-confidence, which consists of a combination of universal arrogance and naive thoughtlessness."

Outlook India, 08.05.2006 (India)

As "Midnight's Children" celebrates its 25th anniversary, Salman Rushdie recalls its long and painful birth - and the day Indira Gandhi tried (unsuccessfully) to sue him for one sentence she claimed was defamatory about her relationship with her son. "The only defence we had was a high-risk route: we would have had to argue that her actions during the Emergency were so heinous that she could no longer be considered a person of good character, and could therefore not be defamed. In other words, we would have had, in effect, to put her on trial for her misdeeds. But if, in the end, a British court refused to accept that the Prime Minister of India was not a woman of good character, then we would be, not to put too fine a point upon it, royally screwed."

Die Weltwoche, 27.04.2006 (Switzerland)

In an interview with Andre Müller, Salman Rushdie explains why he'd rather be a sex symbol than a symbol in the clash of cultures, and why despite this he believes it would be mistaken to surrender in the battle for freedom of expression – like in the Muhammed cartoons case. "You have to make a clear distinction between expressing an opinion and defamation. In free societies it is my good right, to express my opinion about a religion or a person. When I say, you are an idiot, you have to cope with it. When, however, I say, you are a murderer, although you are not, you can take me to court. There was a famous case in England where a newspaper wrote that the actress Charlotte Cornwell, the sister of John le Carre, had a big arse. She sued the paper and lost. Because there can be different perspectives about the size of an arse."

Merkur, 01.05.2006 (Germany)

Wolfgang Fuhrmann turns his thoughts to the "hopeless and forlorn" state of new music: the discrepancy between the mental, musical, not to mention financial effort that goes into a premiere and the resonance that it finds with the audience is grotesque and would be intolerable had we not grown accustomed to it over a period of decades." Fuhrmann believes that new music has overly distanced itself from the listener – become too specialised – to such an extent that the listener now has barely any chance of being let in. "If new music even wants to reach an audience, it has to start making forays into spaces of experience and feeling that open into the world in which we live. There are plenty of them."

Der Spiegel, 01.05.2006 (Germany)

Sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf explains to Erich Follath and Hans-Jürgen Schlamp why he finds all the talk of a clash of cultures so abhorrent and why the current conflicts do not indicate an increase in self-confidence in the Islamic world. "If you were to offer American visas to a crowd of 10,000 demonstrators who are raging against the USA somewhere or another, they would all come running. We are dealing with a part of the world which has not really progressed in recent years – unlike India and China, say. Which is why there are plenty of people there whose frustration can be exploited. This is not a clash of cultures."

Literaturen, 01.05.02

"Freud didn't invent psychoanalysis; women did", proclaims Manfred Schneider in the current edition of Literaturen, which nonetheless focusses on Sigmund Freud's 150th birthday. "Psychoanalysis seems to be little more than the result of letting women talk about everything that goes through their heads, and so extensively, successfully and even lucratively that it became a worldwide movement. Those eternally feminine 'Oohs and Ahs' that Goethe's Mephistopheles explained to the confused student can no longer be 'cured thousandfold at a single point', but are channelled, filtered and conducted off. Of course hoards of men have laid on the couch to have themselves healed of fears, compulsions, madnesses and perversions, but men cannot be cured just by letting them talk. No catharthis flows from all their faltering and associating. They are certainly not going to let the secret be ripped from them as to why Nature wanted them in the first place."

Elsevier, 26.04.2006 (Netherlands)

"Beat Bin Laden – fill your tank with ethanol!" writes Leon de Winter. The Dutch writer fulminates in his weblog against his country's energy policy, warning: "In their visions of the upcoming fight against the West, both the radical Iranian mullahs and the Al-Qaida leaders are pinning their hopes on the weapon of oil. Thanks to its nuclear programme, Iran will soon be in a position to put this weapon to use. Protected by the atomic mushroom, the country will be able to dominate the entire Gulf Region – which like Iran has a Shiite majority – and so control the flow of oil to the West. And on top of that, the danger now presented by Iran is being funded by Western oil imports." De Winter calls on Europe to increase funding for alternate energy sources: "If the EU needs a reason to exist, it should look for it in the energy sector."

The New York Times Book Review, 30.04.2006 (USA)

Walter Kirn is very taken by Gary Shteyngart's novel "Absurdistan", about a young exiled oligarch who is prevented from emigrating to America by the St. Petersburg authorities: "Shteyngart and his hero Misha, exuberant depressives, don't stint on the syntax or the verbiage when objects huge and rotten hulk into view. Their thick, overloaded style is what happens, though, when socialist realism decays into black comedy. This is the prose of heroic disappointment, faintly labored at moments but fitted to the task of shoveling up mountains of cultural debris. Hemingway's clean sentences wouldn't do here. A man needs commas, semicolons, adjectives. He requires linguistic heavy machinery."

Gazeta Wyborcza, 29.04.2006 (Poland)

Jacek Pawlicki analyses the state of things two years after the European expansion, coming to the conclusion: "The major expansion of 2004 was Europe's last courageous step. The next will be long in coming. In its third year of membership, Poland must in turn do all it can to prove to doubters that membership is worth it. Somehow or other Poland will get by in the EU. But for a country of its size, 'somehow or other' is too little. We must actively cooperate in shaping European policy, instead of just sticking out our hands for money."

The Economist, 28.04.2006 (UK)

The Economist tells the story of the late South Korean film director Shin Sang-Ok, who was abducted to North Korea to shoot non-propagandistic films for the "Dear Leader". "Mr Kim was worried that films produced in decadent, capitalist South Korea were better than those produced in the North. Perceptively, he explained to Mr Shin that this was because North Korean film workers knew the state would feed them regardless of the quality of their output. In the South, by contrast, actors and directors had to sweat to make films the public would pay to see. Mr Kim wasn't saying that there was anything wrong with socialism, of course, but he gave Mr Shin millions of dollars, a fancy marble-lined office and more artistic freedom than any North Korean director had ever enjoyed before."

Al Ahram Weekly, 27.04.2006 (Egypt)

Political scientist Sharif Elmusa imagines a Palestine in the pre-1922 borders, a tri-ethnic Greater Palestine for Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians initiated above all by Palestinians: "The vision of a single state in Greater Palestine could only come to fruition through Palestinian mass mobilisation. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) needs to reconstitute itself as a non-corrupt Palestine Reunification Organisation (PRO). The PLO, even though it had earned the support of the majority of Palestinians, was never able to harness Palestinian energies." In Elmusa's view, "Israel needs to choose between demographic advantage and state size; to insist on having both is to invite strife."

The New Yorker, 08.05.2006 (USA)

In an essay that is as funny as it is ambiguous, David Sedaris reflects on gifts, which in his case can become "memento mori" that follow him around. "For the past ten years or so, I’ve made it a habit to carry a small notebook in my front pocket. The model I favour is called the Europa, and I pull it out an average of ten times a day, jotting down grocery lists, observations, and little thoughts on how to make money, or torment people. The last page is always reserved for phone numbers, and the second to last I use for gift ideas. These are not things I might give to other people, but things that they might give to me: a shoehorn, for instance—always wanted one. The same goes for a pencil case, which, on the low end, probably costs no more than a doughnut. I’ve also got ideas in the five-hundred-to-two-thousand-dollar range, though those tend to be more specific." - let's talk european