From the Feuilletons


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.08.2007

Given the resurfacing of the GDR order to shoot illegal border crossers (more here), Hubert Spiegel has asked writers from the former GDR whether the Workers and Farmers' State is still relevant to their writing: "For Katja Lange-Müller, the GDR past is at best interesting as a literary 'foil'. She goes by Heiner Müller's saying that to write only about the GDR is also a waste of time. Lange-Müller has difficulty imagining that her former home will play an important role in German literature in the next years, and finds the idea of a decidedly political GDR novel just as hard to conceive: 'Probably only Reinhard Jirgl could write that novel.' 'No', says Reinhard Jirgl, 'I find a decidedly political novel inconceivable today. It would only be possible if GDR propaganda about progress in history were true. But the GDR was not the future; on the contrary, it was deeply rooted in the 19th century.'"

Julia Spinola has been to the Salzburg Festival to hear Daniel Barenboim's West-Eastern Divan orchestra, composed of young musicians from Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Syria and many other Arab countries. "Often enough, the musicians from enemy states get into heated discussion. It's not uncommon for them to join the orchestra against the will of their family and friends. Politically, consensus reigns on only one fundamental point: all members are convinced that war and violence offer no solution for the Middle East. Music, Barenboim is convinced, teaches the real essentials. To play in an orchestra you have to express yourself whole-heardedly while listening to the others." Spinola is thrilled with the orchestra's performance of Arnold Schönberg's Orchestra Variations Op. 31: "They give a stirring lesson in the richness of the variations' expressive spectrum, bringing out the music's pierrot-like fancifulness, manic bustle, recalcitrance and laconic wit. Seldom can you hear such a supple change from rhetorical litheness to apodictic austerity, or after the dolorous march tones, such skill as the music threatens at any moment to dissolve into sleepwalking."

Die Welt 15.08.2007

Hendrik Werner savours the debate raging among Swedish crime writers which pits young women against old men in a tone that is anything but cold-blooded: "It was G. W. Persson (62), author and professor of criminology, who made the fur fly. Speaking of Camilla Läckberg, a writer 30 years younger than he is, he described her works as 'kitsch novellas for equestrian magazines.' Läckberg was not at a loss for an answer, describing the accusation as 'the piss of a disgruntled old man.' Enter the seconds: Ernst Brunner, a writer in his mid-50s, who avoids the mystery genre and therefore perhaps has little success, compared the torrent of female Swedish thrillers to the 'shit of seagulls'."

Ralph Umard reports on the "Hallyu" wave of South Korean pop sweeping East Asia, and how fashion trends from the South are rapidly crossing the border to North Korea. One example: young North Koreans are starting to dye their hair yellow to emulate stars from the South. "Apart from the delightful stories and technical finesse, much of the success of the South Korean film industry - or 'Chungm uro' - comes from its star system, after Hollywood and Bollywood one of the world's most developed. Celebrated actors like Han Suk-kyu and Jang Dong-gun and ravishing actresses like Kang Soo-yeon are revered by North Korean fans. Snippets of dialogue by Lee Young-ae, the heroine of 'Sympathy for Lady Vengeance,' are said to be on everyone's lips in the North. By contrast, North Korean films are hardly shown in the South. Even a top hit like 'The Schoolgirl's Diary,' which reportedly attracted eight million viewers to North Korean cinemas and has been sold in France, has little chance of finding a South Korean distributor." See our feature "Yodelling for Asia" on the rise of Hallyu. - let's talk european