What’s New

“It was hardly the first time that Berlin had been blindsided, disappointed, or just plain confused by the messages coming out of Washington since Trump took office two years ago.”  (The Atlantic, 2/14/19; The New York Times, 2/15/19)

The Gropius Bau is free at last: “This is an important architectural monument for Berlin and I didn’t feel it’s right to restrict it to people who could buy tickets.”  (artnet, 2/14/19)

The documentary short A Night at the Garden depicts the 1939 German American Bund rally in Madison Square Garden. It’s nominated for an Oscar—but it can’t be advertised on Fox News.  (The Washington Post, 2/11/19; Slate, 2/14/19)

Beyond der, die, and das—changing attitudes toward gender are transforming the German language.  (The Local, 2/12/19)

Industrial designer Dieter Rams introduces his ten timeless principles of good design (from the 2018 documentary Rams).  (Open Culture, 2/11/19)

“It’s no problem at all for a man to wear a dark blue suit a hundred days in a row,” Angela Merkel tells Die Zeit, “but if I wear the same blazer four times within two weeks, the letters start pouring in.”  (Zeit Online, 1/28/19; The New York Times, 1/30/19)

Arts

Let the Bauhaus commemorations begin! Architect Charles Jencks gets this party started, asking about the movement’s legacy 100 years on.  (Financial Times, 1/4/19)

Blue particles in fossilized dental plaque, unearthed on the grounds of a Dalheim convent, suggest that women, too, were producers of illuminated manuscripts.  (The Atlantic, 1/9/19; The Conversation, 1/11/19)

“In retrospect, the Bauhaus invested a particular concept, ‘design,’ with such a quantity of meaning that it overwhelmed the word.”  (The New York Times, 2/4/19)

“‘Less is more,’ Mies van der Rohe, he of the towering, steel-ribbed black-glass boxes, once famously proclaimed, though no one seems to have told Harvard Art Museums.”  (The Boston Globe, 2/10/19)

“Sticking exactly to every fact and chronology tends to weaken something,” says director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck ‘Citizen Kane’ would be a lesser film if it were called ‘Citizen Hearst.” Never Look Away (Werk ohne Autor), about an artist with a more than passing resemblance to Gerhard Richter, has just been nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film.  (The New Yorker, 1/21/19)

Baritone Christian Gerhaher and pianist Gerold Huber “have become bywords for sensitivity, cerebral depth and seeming perfection in a lieder repertory that they have made their own.” (The New York Times, 11/23/18)

 

 

A new staging of The Sound of Music (in Salzburg!) is blessedly free of the schlock that has accumulated on the musical like edelweiss over the past 60 years.”  (The New York Times, 1/10/19)

From the Thirty Years’ War to recent efforts to promote interreligious understanding—the Oberammergau Passion Play continues to reinvent itself.  (Standpoint, 12/18 and 1/19)

Berlin Regietheater goes to the movies—and Visconti, Bergman, and Polanski are what’s showing.  (The New York Times, 12/14/18)

 

 

Industrial designer Dieter Rams introduces his ten timeless principles of good design (from the 2018 documentary Rams).  (Open Culture, 2/11/19)

Director Franz Osten filmed the 1929 spectacle Shiraz: A Romance of India in and around Jaipur, with an all-Indian cast.  (The New York Times, 1/16/19)

“Sticking exactly to every fact and chronology tends to weaken something,” says director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck ‘Citizen Kane’ would be a lesser film if it were called ‘Citizen Hearst.” Never Look Away (Werk ohne Autor), about an artist with a more than passing resemblance to Gerhard Richter, has just been nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film.  (The New Yorker, 1/21/19)

 

 

 

History

The documentary short A Night at the Garden depicts the 1939 German American Bund rally in Madison Square Garden. It’s nominated for an Oscar—but it can’t be advertised on Fox News.  (The Washington Post, 2/11/19; Slate, 2/14/19)

“It’s been 100 years since the Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg was brutally murdered in Germany.” She was one of many women who played an active role in the turbulent events following the end of WWI.  (The Conversation, 1/14/19; The Guardian, 1/15/19)

“For here on either side of the wall are God’s children,” Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. told Berliners in 1964, “and no man-made barrier can obliterate that fact.”  (Time, 1/18/19)

In Munich 1919: Diary of a Revolution (translated by Jessica Spengler), Viktor Klemperer “reports on the revolution first as an eyewitness and later as a memoirist who already knows how things will unfold.”  (The Nation, 1/10/19)

Blue particles in fossilized dental plaque, unearthed on the grounds of a Dalheim convent, suggest that women, too, were producers of illuminated manuscripts.  (The Atlantic, 1/9/19; The Conversation, 1/11/19)

“Archivists are working to digitize thousands of old audio recordings of the Nuremberg trials, which will then be released to the public, likely in 2020.”  (PRI, 2/4/19)

Teds, Heavies, New Romantics, and more—here’s a circa-1985 Stasi guide used to identify the “types of negative decadent youth cultures in the German Democratic Republic.”  (Open Culture, 2/7/19)

 

 

 

Books & Ideas

Decades after Isherwood said goodbye to Berlin, the city’s expat lit is still going strong—read up on some of the newest voices in a durable genre.  (Electric Literature, 1/3/19)

In Munich 1919: Diary of a Revolution (translated by Jessica Spengler), Viktor Klemperer “reports on the revolution first as an eyewitness and later as a memoirist who already knows how things will unfold.”  (The Nation, 1/10/19)

In memoriam: Mirjam Pressler (1940–2019), award-winning children’s author, literary translator, advocate for Christian-Jewish understanding.  (Deutsche Welle, 1/16/19)

“Can you be realistic and radical at the same time?” Max Weber’s “Politics as a Vocation” still has important lessons for us, 100 years on.  (The Economist, 1/26/19)

In memoriam: Anthea Bell (1936–2018), literary translator extraordinaire. She brought the words of W.G. Sebald, Stefan Zweig, Otfried Preussler—and the Asterix and Obelix comics!—to life in English translation.  (The Guardian, 10/18/18; The New York Times, 10/19/18; Translationista, 10/21/18; Financial Times, 10/26/18)

“History is everywhere, as is mankind’s bad behavior, in Walter Kempowski’s Homeland (Mark und Bein), newly translated by Charlotte Collins.  (The Guardian, 12/20/18; Financial Times, 1/4/19; Granta, 2/5/19)

 

 

Et Cetera

“In a tenderly written missive to Britons, more than two dozen leading figures in Germany—including Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the favorite to become the country’s next chancellor—described their admiration for many things British, including its tea and beer, and their sorrow over the impending divorce.”  (The New York Times, 1/18/19)

Happy New Year, Germany—George Will is in your corner: “as has been truly said, today’s Germany is the best Germany the world has seen since it became Germany in 1871.”  (The Washington Post, 1/4/19)

“F.C. St. Pauli is an avowed anti-fascist soccer team based in Hamburg that plays in Germany’s second division and hasn’t won the title in more than 40 years, though it runs a kindergarten inside the stadium, which displays signs proclaiming ‘no person is illegal.'”  (The New York Times, 2/7/19)

There’s a new Spiegel affair in 2018. Reporter Claas Relotius fabricated multiple stories over several years, including a misleading portrait of Fergus Falls, Minnesota.  (Medium, 12/19/18; Spiegel International, 12/20/18; Spiegel International, 12/23/18; The Atlantic, 1/3/19; The New Yorker, 1/30/19)

About me

 

I’m a German-English translator with years of professional experience as a writer, teacher, and historian. To learn more about my work, please visit translatorplease.com.

I started kulturplease.com in 2009, when I was in between careers and craving a little more Kultur in my daily life. My life—and the world at large—has changed a lot since then. But I’m just as enthusiastic about following the latest developments in the German arts and culture, and celebrating the talented people who write about them.

I aspire to keep this site as up-to-date as possible, but sometimes life intervenes. If it looks like I haven’t updated things in awhile, stay tuned! I’ll be back. You can also look for me on Twitter.

Elizabeth Janik