From the Feuilletons


Monday 24 July, 2006

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24.07.2006

Historian Moshe Zimmermann attempts to explain the structure of the Middle East conflict, in which the State of Israel is pitted against non-state entities such as Hamas and Hizbullah. "Europeans and the United Nations question the proportionality of the Israeli reaction. But is it possible to objectively decide about the correct dimensions? Europe shakes it head about the war in our region, and wonders not only about the harshness of the retaliation but also about Israel's old-fashioned nationalism. After all, Europe supposedly has overcome nationalism and the concept of the state, and has managed to create a trans-sovereign European Union. But Israelis wonder whether this really is the case. What is the source of the new slogans coming out of Poland? Why does Germany insist on emphasizing the German language, rather than a European language, in its citizenship regulations?"

Frankfurter Rundschau, 24.07.2006

An exhibition of works by Arno Breker, Hitler's favourite sculptor, opened in the Schleswig Holstein Haus in Schwerin on Saturday. This is by no means a rehabilitation, writes Harry Nutt, who was not particularly taken with the show. "The exhibition in Schwerin is entitled 'Zur Diskussion gestellt: der Bildhauer Arno Breker' (a discussion: the sculptor Arno Breker). But in fact it is less a discussion than a mindless blathering. Evidence is collected that is supposed to show younger generations that Breker did not succumb to Nazi ideology right from the start, and that after his fall he didn't remain enduringly under its spell.... In the exhibition Nazism seems like a very bad infectious disease, of which the genius was Breker gradually cured without the world taking any notice."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 24.07.2006

Joachim Güntner received a phone call late in the evening from a delighted law professor, calling his attention to the website On it, students assess German university professors and their courses countrywide. Of course there are a few legal problems, dealt with by Berlin's commissioner for data protection, Alexander Dix. "Numerous complaints from spoil-sport professors have forced him to take action. Professors who appear in the flop list fear for their research funds and promotion prospects." Günter sees things differently, however: "This is doubtless the fitting reaction to the capitalist spirit of the campaign to introduce students' fees on a national level."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 24.07.2006

Three years ago writer Maxim Biller's novel "Esra" was prohibited shortly after its release. His former girlfriend had obtained a court order against the novel because she claimed to see herself reflected too accurately in the main character of the book. Now she plans to sue Biller for 100,000 euros in damages. 100 prominent cultural figures have signed an appeal in protest, including author Daniel Kehlmann (bio in German), who comments: "The saddest thing about this case is that anything you say about it becomes a platitude even as you say it: that all writers, no matter how great their powers of imagination, use life as a basis for their work; that had such standards applied in the past, some of the greatest books ever written – 'The Sorrows of young Werther', 'Vanity Fair', 'A la recherche du temps perdu', 'Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family' – would never have been published; that it should not be up to a court to decide the value of a book and to forbid Biller something that Proust and Mann were allowed to do; that it's not acceptable that we introduce a censorship based on personal injury and hurt feelings in a country which, in the not-too-distant past, witnessed so many types of political censorship."

Saturday 22 July, 2006

Die Welt, 22.07.2006

Israeli historian Benny Morris – once counted among the left-wing historians critical of traditional historiography – has presented the literary world with an essay about Hamas and Hizbullah, emphasizing that neither of them are liberation organizations, but rather are part of the Islamist movement: "In this sense, the attack of Hamas from the Gaza Strip on Kerem Shalom, where the young Israeli soldier was abducted, is nothing but a link in the chain of events connecting the attack on the Twin Towers in New York with the murder of the film director Theo van Gogh in the streets of Amsterdam and the commuter trains in Madrid, London and most recently in Mumbai."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 22.07.2006

Felicitas von Lovenberg writes a glowing review of German writer Martin Walser's 18th novel, "Angstblüte" (Blossoms of Fear): "The blossoms of fear denote a tree's last, rapid production of fruit before it dies, a kind of final protest against age, illness, death. The title is well chosen. But to call 'Angstblüte' a late work would be to view the vitality and furore that have always marked Martin Walser's best books with a mildness and serenity they neither require, deserve nor display themselves. Considering the hits of this 79-year-old writer, many younger German authors must ask themselves whether they don't seem dead in comparison."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 22.07.2006

The Croatian writer Dubravka Ugresic describes her visit to Goli Otok, the Tito regime's former prison camp. "It was late afternoon when we left the island. The heat still hung in the air. I pinched my heart, so as to release an appropriate emotion, but it remained astonishingly cold. The single painful stab that pierced me was the sight of the pines on Goli Otok. One of the torture methods was the following: The prisoners had to cast a shadow with their bodies, so that the newly planted pine saplings would not dry out. Water was spared. But people were not."

Frankfurter Rundschau, 22.07.2006

Art critic Peter Iden is thrilled by the "The Guggenheim Collection" exhibition in Bonn's Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle: "The unique advantage of the Guggenheim collection is that it does not show just one example of the various developments in abstract art. Almost all of the major figures are represented in entire series of works, by means of which they can be seen as part of a process taking place step by step. For example, the collection has 150 paintings by Kandinsky alone. That allows a more in-depth presentation far surpassing the possibilities of the MoMA, which recently caused such a furore in Berlin." - let's talk european