From the Feuilletons


Monday 19 March, 2007

Die Welt

In an interview with Richard Herzinger, German author Peter Schneider criticises intellectuals who admire the "teutonic steadfastness" of former RAF terrorist Christian Klar. Klar is currently serving a life sentence, but has applied to President Horst Köhler for clemency (news story). "Intellectuals like theatre director Claus Peymann are verbal revolutionaries (more on Peymann's comments here). Peymann lives high on the hog from the subsidised cultural industry, but he likes to style himself as a lone wolf in the capitalist jungle - as the last of the radicals (with a manager's salary). There are still strange sympathies on the Left that come from people's cowardliness and feelings of powerlessness. What they can't do themselves, they project onto the RAF, who they then mythologise as action heroes." See our feature "The panic savers" by Peter Schneider.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 19.03.2007

Roman Bucheli writes a fantastic portrait of Volker Michels, publisher of the writer Hermann Hesse. Michels' obsession with Hesse has led him to create a private archive in Offenbach which is literally stuffed from floor to ceiling: "One can only look, and marvel, and fall silent. For more than thirty years Michels has published the works of Hermann Hesse, and he is almost bashful as he shows his life's work, unsure of whether he should justify it, apologise for it or try to explain it, because he has caught on to the fact that his visitor is overwhelmed, not to say flustered as he looks around, trying to maintain his composure."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 19.03.2007

Andreas Platthaus was at the final session of a 13-year reading of Marcel Proust's "Recherche": "Just like every third Friday of the month, Peter Heusch sits there holding the sheets of paper in his right hand and gesticulating wildly with his left, moving it to the rhythm of Proust's language, giving the long sentences and endless paragraphs an additional stress with a quick jerk or a soft wave, signalling a slowdown in pace even before it cuts in. Tonight only twenty pages are left to be read of the 4,588 comprising Proust's 'In Memory of Things Past.' It took Heusch thirteen years to get through it, accompanied every third Friday of the month by dozens of faithful listeners who gathered at 10 pm in Frankfurt's Literaturhaus to hear him do it."

Saturday 17 March, 2007

Die Tageszeitung 17.03.2007

Antje Korsmeier has read the books of four young German authors, all of whom are published by Suhrkamp Verlag. The writers, Paul Brodowsky, Kevin Vennemann, Thomas Melle and Ariane Breidenstein, show clear similarities, Korsmeier writes, for example an earnest disposition: "These authors see their work as a reflection on the art of writing, and not a competition to see who can publish the most feuilleton articles or post the most blogs. At a time when the tone is given by collective contemplation, sober reporting and a reduction to essentials - from praise for energy saving lights to accolades for discipline right through to applause for economical drivers - , isn't it only fitting when literature too concentrates on what it can purportedly do best?"

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Dirk Schümer is sceptical about the "floundering" hope for mutual understanding that pervades Ian Buruma's book "The Limits of Tolerance" on the murder of Theo van Gogh. The Netherlands that Schümer sees is headed for confrontation. "Is it really possible to prescribe immigrants a diet of pea soup and Rembrandt, Protestant ethics and Johan Cruijff when the majority of Dutch have long and happily put this all behind them, in favour of pasta and porn, Caribbean holidays and tennis clubs? And is it not incredibly hypocritical for Premier Balkenende to harp on about the path of non-violence while blankly refusing to take responsibility for the involvement of the Netherlands in Iraq, something he instigated? The eruptions of recent years have exploded the illusion of a tolerant and open Holland."

In an interview with Hubert Spiegel, authors Sybille Lewitscharoff and Felicitas Hoppe write off their their colleagues Martin Walser and Günter Grass, whose works are destroyed by their "permanent contemporariness." Lewitscharoff minces no words: "I believe it was this that really broke their backs, even if they are still so respected today, but that's what drew them into a trap, at least as far as their writing is concerned. The obligation always to comment, this sort of exposure to the zeitgeist, and the desire to be at the very forefront of the zeitgeist, this infiltrates the work. One is exposed to every form of vulgarity."

Frankfurter Rundschau 17.03.2007

Peter Michalzik explains "why theatre is doing better than everyone claims", namely that a new generation of actors and actresses from Sophie Rois to Joachim Meyerhoff, from Constanze Becker to Philipp Hochmair, have a new approach to their roles as actors. "The new actors quite literally have the potential to reinvent theatre. It is already happening, night for night, but however appreciative audiences might be, it is has yet to be perceived as a phenomenon. All these actors combine red-blooded anarchy, which has always been one of the most vital roots of their profession, with a deeply ingrained sense of form. They have the ability to keep going out of themselves without losing themselves in the process. And they never cease to take a risk that is one of the most sophisticated facets of their art. And in so doing they show on a nightly basis that the contradiction between truth to the text and stage freedom is illusory at most."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Germany-based Iraqi writer Najem Wali tells of his first trip to Jerusalem where he was probably the sole Arab guest at the Jerusalem Book Fair. "During the 'Voices from the Hilltop' meeting, Zev Birger, the Book Fair's august director, insisted on sitting next to me and holding my hand. Every now and then he lifted his head, smiled at me and patted my hand as if to say: 'Welcome, welcome! I still can't believe you are here!'" - let's talk european