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Gunter Grass


















In memoriam: Günter Grass (1927-2015)


                  What's New
"The stories the Brothers Grimm first collected are brusque, blunt, absurd, comical, and tragic, and are not, strictly speaking, 'fairy tales'"...rather, their first collection was shaped as an "archaeological excavation" and intended for adult readers.  (Humanities, March/April 2015) The Legacy is back! Sybille Bedford's 1956 novel about elite Imperial German society features "Prussian pride, political scandal, anti-Semitism, and moral negligence, which is the legacy, in a word, of the twentieth century." (The New York Review of Books, 3/5/15; The Quarterly Conversation, 3/16/15; The Wall Street Journal, 3/20/15) "The level of debate between Germany and Greece, protagonists in a drama that could make or break the euro zone, could hardly be called edifying."  (The New York Times, 3/19/15; The Economist, 3/21/15)


                  In memoriam: Günter Grass (1927-2015)
In memoriam: Günter Grass (1927-2015). "As a writer, he helped define postwar German literature. As a political activist, he helped shape the nation's conscience. For some 60 years, Günter Grass was one of the most influential figures in Germany."  (The Guardian, 4/13/15; The New York Times, 4/13/15; Spiegel Online - International, 4/13/15) Salman Rushdie remembers Günter Grass, "the great dancer of German literature, dancing across history’s horrors toward literature’s beauty, surviving evil because of his personal grace, and his comedian’s sense of the ridiculous as well."  (The New Yorker, 4/13/15) "World War II left Germany without a moral compass; writers like [Günter] Grass, Heinrich Böll and Siegfried Lenz provided it. The country needed intellectual leaders who epitomized certainty, however vain they came across." But times change, writes Jochen Bittner.  (The New York Times, 4/14/15)


                   Music
No new concert hall for Munich, Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer has announced, angering Mariss Jansons, Anne-Sophie Mutter, and many more.  (Forbes, 2/4/15; Deutsche Welle, 2/9/15; Forbes, 3/4/15) Better start warming up to "Black Smoke": There was a surprise twist at the end of Germany's Eurovision finals.  (The Local Germany, 3/6/15) "It's like a historical recovery project, with Schoenberg’s ‘voice’ and dissonant material being deployed by utility carts.” (USC News, 2/26/15)


                  Art & Design
Sounds like a terrific book waiting to be written: "A History of Berlin Told Through U-Bahn Typography".  (The Guardian, 3/11/15) In memoriam: Frei Otto (1925-2015). His groundbreaking lightweight architecture was inspired by postwar shortage.  (The New York Times, 3/10/15; The Guardian, 3/11/15; ArchDaily, 3/11/15; The Economist, 3/11/15) What to give the aficionado of East German visual culture on your holiday list? Here are two inspired suggestions.  (The New York Times, 12/5/14; Metropolis, 2/2015; The Atlantic, 2/19/15)


                  Books & Ideas
The Legacy is back! Sybille Bedford's 1956 novel about elite Imperial German society features "Prussian pride, political scandal, anti-Semitism, and moral negligence, which is the legacy, in a word, of the twentieth century." (The New York Review of Books, 3/5/15; The Quarterly Conversation, 3/16/15; The Wall Street Journal, 3/20/15) "The stories the Brothers Grimm first collected are brusque, blunt, absurd, comical, and tragic, and are not, strictly speaking, 'fairy tales'"...rather, their first collection was shaped as an "archaeological excavation" and intended for adult readers.  (Humanities, March/April 2015) Find out more about the "engaged democrats" of the immediate postwar era who helped lay the foundations of Germany's political culture today.  (New Books in History, 1/30/15)


                  Film
"No one had the intention to destroy the Wall. After all, it was the life insurance for West Berlin." B-Movie recalls the mid-1980s counterculture of a divided city.  (Dazed, 3/18/15) What if Georg Elser had succeeded in his attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1939? Oliver Hirschbiegel's 13 Minutes is "a meticulous contextualization of the increments by which an ordinary man may come to commit an extraordinary act." (Indiewire, 2/12/15; The Guardian, 2/15/15; The Economist, 2/18/15) "Blatantly stagy and inventively cinematic," The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is a Fassbenderian concoction you won't forget.  (The New York Times, 3/6/15)


                  Theater
"If there’s one thing about which I feel confidentdespite the radical contingencies that typify our worldit’s that there will be no rioting or disruption whatsoever at the Royal Opera’s production of Mahagonny." Good call, Will Self.  (The Guardian, 3/13/15) The Berliner Staatsoper celebrates Alban Berg, "one of the 20th century’s most innovative composers, a man who is paradoxically also one of its most nostalgic Romantics."  (The Economist, 3/11/15) "The frontcloth to ENO's new production of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg features a collage of 103 of the most famous cultural figures from the German-speaking world. How many can you name?"  (The Guardian, 2/5/15)


                  History
"Today, the construction and demolition of the Berlin Wall feels like a parenthesis in a text— whatever is written in between can be removed without fundamentally altering the course of the narrative," laments Reinier de Graaf.  (Metropolis, 2/2015) Elizabeth Kolbert on the Stolpersteine and the upcoming trial of Auschwitz bookkeeper Oskar Gröning: both are a "kind of public art on the theme of its inadequacy."  (The New Yorker, 2/16/15) "In the late 19th century, the German postal service was considered one of the great wonders of the modern world."  (Financial Times, 3/6/15)


                  Et Cetera
"The level of debate between Germany and Greece, protagonists in a drama that could make or break the euro zone, could hardly be called edifying."  (The New York Times, 3/19/15; The Economist, 3/21/15) Berlin still isn't as cool as it used to bebut now we can blame it on the "post-tourists".  (New York, 3/17/15) Hooray for the Tempelhof airfield! "Berlin will ultimately not further develop a hugely valuable piece of real estate, all because the people decided they didn’t trust big business not to mess up the park they loved."  (The Guardian, 3/5/15)