From the Feuilletons


Der Tagesspiegel, 21.09.2006

In an interview with Christiane Peitz, Hungarian writer György Konrad had this to say about the riots in Budapest: "The self-criticism of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, who accused himself of lying during his election campaign, was just the spark, which was then instrumentalised. In my opinion Gyurcsany is a sharp-witted, responsible politician who wants to push through reforms that will reduce state involvement – and make the people take on more responsibility themselves. The principle reason for the unrest is the lack of moderate right-wingers. In Hungary there are no conservatives like the CDU in Germany, Chirac's people in France or the Tories in Britain. This has traditionally been the case in Hungary. Even before WWII, the right was so weak here that it allowed itself to be coopted by the extreme right. Many conservatives don't like the skinheads at all and see themselves as a normal middle-class party. And yet a latent alliance between the right and the radical right still exists today."

Die Zeit, 21.09.2006

Claus Spahn senses a tidal wave of conservatism flowing over the opera world. "The arguments outlined by Elke Heidenreich (see our feature "Opera without angst") to Christian Thielemann (see our interview with the conductor "Everyone will think you're insane!") suggest that the path to true operatic bliss would open again if only we were to reverse the catastrophic developments of modern times. The endless reflection! The hair-splitting! The intellectual palaver! ... As a discourse-weary warrior, the opera goer takes his seat before the great curtain: this is where the heart should open, the rest of the world stay outside and the slippers remain firmly on. But bear in mind: there is no return to the cosy old days. The impulse to tone down the production, avoid directorial ideas and concentrate on literalness leads nowhere."

The weekly paper focuses on the reactions to the Pope's Regensburg speech (more here, article here) in several sections. In an interview with Michael Mönninger, French-Tunisian writer Abdelwahab Meddeb does not want to draw a veil over Islam's belligerent side. But he says, "only when the Muslim subject is sick, does it choose the bellicose part of the revelations." Hope lies with Turkey. "All claims that a new Islamic republic is emerging in Turkey are false. I know only one other country whose people are as ready as the Turks to defend their republican achievements to the death – France. A democratic Islam is just as possible as a democratic Christendom."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 21.09.2006

Ueli Bernays has met the Polish jazz trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, and discovered that a personal sound has less to do with musical education than with a musician's character and experience. "Is melancholy also a question of personality? Melancholy is rather a disposition, dependent on the wind and the weather. 'It's no coincidence that in northern countries you can encounter a similar kind of dejection as among the Slavs. On the other hand, the blues are also sad. Beautiful music practically never sounds happy. It's just prejudice to think that everything has to be happy. Vegetables are happy, Faulkner said.'"

Die Welt, 21.09.2006

"What, is there now a speed limit for writing?" asks Austrian author Christoph Ransmayr, reputedly the world's slowest writer. In an interview with Ulrich Weinzierl, Ransmayr explains why in his fourth novel "Der fliegende Berg" (the flying mountain) he is still attracted by extremes. "For me the new is almost an obsession, for example in astronomy or computer technology. But on the other hand I try not to lose perspective of where things come from, and where they're going. What's really valuable about a civilisation can best be seen it you look at it from the end. And the transformation from one world to the next takes place very quickly for someone who's moving vertically. The fact that if you want to, you can move upward from the most comfortable corner of this world to the coldest or emptiest gives me the feeling of being able to move on from here at any time at all."

Frankfurter Rundschau, 21.09.2006

The paper interviews the Indian artists' group Raqs Media Collective on their exhibition "The KD Vyas Correspondence" in Frankfurt's Museum for Communication. The show coincides with the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair, where India is guest of honour. The exhibition is based on a series of letters to the group purportedly written by the ancient Indian seer Vyasa, a sort of Indian Homer: "In the old Indian tradition, Vyasa is regarded as one of seven immortals. You could say he was to a certain extent damned to live, and to witness the times and the worldly goings on. Now and then he has to deal directly with the mortals, when things get too lonely for him. Time drags on a lot slower for him than for us. Our KD Vyas installation is based on one letter addressed to us, found in the Delhi office for undeliverable letters. Altogether there are 18 letters, corresponding to the 18 books of the 'Mahabharata'."

Frankfurter Rundschau, 21.09.2006

Rainer Hörig visited the writer Kristof Magnusson, who is living in Pune in India on a Goethe Institute grant. Magnusson has talked to a number of Indian playwrights and "was interested to find that particularly in theatre, few people write as their main profession. I met a pharmacologist who has his own company and whose second play has just had a huge success, and a dentist who is also a theatre critic. There are all sorts of professionals who write on the side. I find this very impressive because it makes for a very different kind of literature." - let's talk european