From the Feuilletons


Frankfurter Rundschau 05.04.2007

"We have no way of knowing if there ever was a historical Jesus," says Copenhagen archaeologist Thomas L. Thompson in discussion with Arno Widmann. "But we do know: the Gospels are not in the least interested in such a Jesus. All we know about Jesus comes from allegories and fictional stories that are firmly rooted in the ancient literary traditions of Asia Minor ... We haven't the first idea who Jesus was, if he did in fact live in the first century AD outside of stories that were told about him, that is. All we have are these stories, and all of them are considerably older than the first century."

Die Tageszeitung 05.04.2007

"There is a growing desire to feel angst about dangerous Muslims," writes Robert Misik in an opinion piece, with an eye to the recent Spiegel cover title "Mekka Deutschland." "What's so strange about all this is that the new xenophobes have substituted 'foreigners' with 'Islam', which means that modernisation tendencies enter the line of argument. Unlike the old German nationalists, the Islamophobes are not anti-Americans, instead they believe themselves to be united in a 'liberal' front against Islamic 'totalitarianism'. Because the anti-Semitism traditionally so virulent in right-wing circles has been replaced by an unconditional solidarity with Israel – after all Israel is completely surrounded by Muslims."

Die Welt 05.04.2007

Hendrik Werner joins a group of 80 mostly elderly Walter Kempowksi fans for the monthly literary afternoon with the writer in his home in Nartum, Lower Saxony. "The flock of pilgrims are seated in the so-called mirror room. The atmosphere is devotional, as if in expectation of some famous last words. The poet appears. At his side a black brief case containing the machine that guarantees that the cancer sufferer is continuously fed with liquids. Kempowski recently made onomatopoeic reference to the 'pftata pftata' of the motor at whose mercy he has been since his operation in 2006. On this afternoon he is as sarcastic as ever. His voice thin but powerful. He reads from 'Heile Welt' (ideal world). You must know it he says. He is the local Thomas Mann after all! He calls out after his wife, who is still sorting out the seating. 'Don't you think it's time you left. You're stealing the show.' And he takes a tough line on coughing: 'One can either cough or read."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 05.04.2007

Joachim Kaiser, the doyen of German music critics, looks at the legacy of conductor Herbert von Karajan, who was born 99 years ago today (more on the legacy here). "My erstwhile mentor Theodor Adorno admired Karajan, but at the same time couldn't stand him: 'This wonderful conductor has not understood the Hegel in Beethoven. One could say: his portrayal of the spirit in Beethoven's music doesn't do justice to the music's spiritual element.'... Karajan only shows the sensual side, Adorno admonished. Adorno's opponents, among them conductor Georg Solti, countered that when the sensual is present, the spiritual element must be there as well. The dispute went even further. Adorno's demand that true interpretations must make all relationships in the music visible, like an X-ray, was passed on to Karajan. He answered drily that if you fully portray the sensual side, the structure can't fail to make itself felt. 'When I love a woman,' he said, 'I want her body, not her X-ray.'" - let's talk european