From the Feuilletons


Die Zeit 15.02.2007

Thomas Assheuer picks up on the "thrilling debate" kicked off by Pascal Bruckner in and on freedom, multiculturalism and Ian Buruma's book "Murder in Amsterdam" (more here). Bruckner's "breathless invective" against multiculturalism is off target, he writes: "In fact, in the field of theory, multiculturalism was the attempt to undo the Gordian knot of how a society must be constituted which respects the rights of cultural minorities and at the same time protects its own civil liberties. Put another way: how does society treat people who interpret these liberties as an attack on their religion? That is the question of questions. Perhaps, two hundred years after Voltaire, a second major dispute will arise in Europe on the relationship between reason, democracy and religion under the heading: multiculturalism."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

For the last two years, German translators have been battling with publishing houses for more euros per page. Having listened to a string of arguments outlined recently in various newspapers, for example that being in the culture industry she should be happy to work for less, and that if she wants to earn more, she should work more, translator Barbara Kleiner hits back with some number crunching. "The new translation of Ippolito Nievo's novel "Confessions of an Italian" (Manesse, 2005) is 1,400 standard pages long. With a fee per page of 18,50 euro this comes to a total of 26,000 euros. The work took me 24 months to complete, including the extensive notes section for which I was paid another 1,500 euros. This historical book is written in a very particular style which was the whole raison d'etre for the new translation. And this demanded a vast amount of historical research, which was sometimes necessary just understand what was being written. Under these conditions I was not able to complete more than three pages per day. My monthly income during this time therefore worked out at 570 euros. ... That this level of reimbursement for labour creating cultural value deserves neither to be called fair nor fitting is, I believe, a statement of the obvious."

Berliner Zeitung

Bernhard Bartsch has paid a visit to nine year old piano wunderkind Niu Niu (more here) from Shanghai. Roughly half a billion people will watch the boy play Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' on the state television's Chinese New Year gala this Sunday. "Niu Niu inspects his visitor's arm hair, and measures his nose. 'Bigger than Leslie's,' he concludes, and flips to a photo showing Australian star pianist Leslie Howard, one of Niu Niu's international patrons, with whom he performed at London's Wigmore Hall last August. He's also played in Hamburg, and Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall are the programme for the next two years. 'And hopefully Olympia 2008 in Beijing,' he says, 'that would be the biggest thing of all.' Only an appearance with the Berliner Philharmoniker or the Wiener Philharmoniker could top that, not that he doubts that will happen one day. 'I'm patient,' he says."

Der Tagesspiegel

A book by the Israeli historian Ariel Toaff has sparked a furore in Italy, writes Giulio Busi. "The title alone "Pasque di Sangue" (Easter of blood) is a kick in the face to political correctness. (...) Toaff paints a picture of a Jewish society which was violent, bigoted and riddled with superstition, whose members, traumatised by the Christian persecutions wreaked a most bloody revenge. At the end of almost 400 pages of this self-contained documentation, the reader is made to believe that a group (albeit marginal) of Jews of German descent may very well have bloodied their hands by murdering Christians to give expression to their feelings of religious hatred." And Toaff is being accused of having treated "the confessions listed in files from the court hearings as evidence" without problematicising them in the least.

Die Tageszeitung

"The media and trend scouts are tripping over themselves to compare interactive Web 2.0 with the market places of ancient Greece as a form of communication," writes IT expert Arno Rolf, and proceeds immediately to put a dampener on all the euphoria, by pointing out that the Internet and Web 2.0 also represent a threat to a large chunk of the job market. "Web 2.0 communities are only being set up by companies to better probe the acceptance of their products without resorting to expensive and extensive market research. This puts them in the position, and Lego is a good example of this, to rationalise their development, by including the consumer in product development. Why employ designers, creatives, idea makers or programmers when there are freaks the world over who will volunteer their services for a song!"

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.02.2007

Erna Lackner fills us in on plans for tonight's Vienna Opera Ball, where ball director Ioan Holender hopes to steal the limelight from construction magnate Richard Lugner. Lugner's partners in past years have included Pamela Anderson, Andie MacDowell, Geri Halliwell, Grace Jones and Carmen Elektra (photos here). And tonight he will be accompanied by Paris Hilton. "The host, the eternal director of the State Opera Ioan Holender, has been in his post for fifteen years already, and will remain there for another five. But this time, with Paris Hilton flying in, he wants to steal the show from Richard Lugner. He's bringing 'a guest that not even Lugner would have thought of inviting: a horse!' Holender will ride around the room in a carriage, from which opera star Anna Netrebko will then descend and sing three arias as 'Manon'. And in contrast to Paris Hilton, she won't be appearing for a fee. The horse dung danger is the talk of the town. The gelding could take fright, warns the 'Four Paws' animal protection society. No, we are told, he's got stage experience (in 'Wiener Blut') he's fifteen years old and will retire soon." - let's talk european