Committee on Intellectual Correspondence
Issue No. 1 Fall/Winter 1997-1998 An International Project sponsored by the Suntory Foundation (Japan), the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Who We Are—What We Hope For
here is a paradox in the international cultural world today. Architecture is visible everywhere; Sir Norman Foster is rebuilding the Reichstag in Berlin; I. M. Pei is designing a glass-and-limestone museum built into a mountain, the Miho Museum, in Shiga, Japan, near Kyoto; Frank Gehry has created a postmodern museum in Bilbao, Spain, for the Guggenheim Museum of New York. In painting there have always been key world centers, as with Paris in the seventy-five years before World War II, and New York in the fifty years after the war. And while there may no longer be a single center, Richter, Baselitz, Kiefer, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns are bought and exhibited everywhere. National cuisines are ubiquitous: Korean Kimchi, Thai lemon grass, Japanese sushi (and even the Buddhist kaseki), in the United States and Europe. Sports are universal, though it is still a mystery why there is no soccer (like socialism) in the United States. Yet there is a blank spot, a hole in the fields of literature and the dramatic arts. Seventy years ago, T. S. Eliot’s Criterion was read everywhere. In the 1950s, Partisan Review would run a London Letter written by George Orwell, a Paris Letter written by Albert Camus, and an Italian letter written by Nicola Chiaramonte. The Congress for Cultural Freedom sponsored Encounter in London, Preuves in Paris, Tempo Presente in Italy, Transition in Africa, Quest in India. Today, every econometrician in the world—there are 980 of them—knows or knows of every other econometrician. Yet before they received the Nobel Prize, who among the cultural figures in the world had heard of Wislawa Szymborska of Poland, Naguib Mafouz of Egypt, Kenzaburo Oe of Japan, or Wole Soyinka of Nigeria? Today, we find parochialism and specialization. English has become an international language in business and in the sciences (and to some extent in diplomacy). But literature and the dramatic arts depend on language and tradition, and even when many persons learn a “foreign language,” it is primarily for utilitarian purposes, with little carry-over into the areas of novels or theatre. More than that, in the post-ideological age, there has been a thinning of intellectual debate. Passions are fuelled by ethnic or religious attachments, which further divide discourse between intellectuals. Or “discourse” has become a fashion runway for a post-modern sensibility which jumbles all culture into an amorphic ragbag. We wish to re-take the common terrain. We wish to contribute, if possible, to the renaissance of a cultural milieu where intellectuals and serious teachers and writers, as well as curious scientists and public figures, can learn about the cultural and intellectual issues of other countries, and read (if only in translation) the novels and poems of writers in other languages. This is particularly necessary in the United States, the fourth Rome, which plays a major role in military technology and economic power, whose graduate schools become the training fields for world leaders, and whose achievements in science lead the way in various fields. Yet the United States increasingly remains woefully ignorant of cultural developments in other countries, its foreign-news reporting is shrinking (see page 27), and trade publishers concentrate on “celebrity publishing” (see page 3). This is the situation which prompts the Committee on Intellectual Correspon-


In This Issue
The Printed Word
U.S. Publishing— Change and Disarray3 Samuelson’s Economics 5 Million Dollar Economics Textbook 6

Literary Disagreements
Nádas vs. Nádas Don DeLillo’s Underworld 7 8

Art, Philosophy, and Memory
The Impasse of the French Avant-Garde? 9

The Turn in Continental Philosophy 9 Furet vs. Hobsbawm 10 Memory and Resistance: The Aubrac Affair 11 Does the European Past Have a Future? Euroblues 12 12 13 14 14 16

Literature: Future and Past
Who are the French Writers? The Unknown Greeks Yiddish Finds a Home

Reports from Germany
Euro-Skepticism: Three Views
(continued on next page)

dence. The initiative was taken by Professor Masakazu Yamazaki, a leading playwright in Japan and a councilor of the Suntory Foundation. Japan today is emerging from its fifty-year diplomatic quietude and beginning to debate what role it can or should play in a world where Asia has become a major center of economic attention, and claims of “Asian values” challenge Western thought. After the war, Japanese culture (novels and movies) became an attraction (sometimes read as exotic) because of the role of sympathetic critics such as Donald Keene and Edward Seidensticker, who had learned Japanese in the Army, and who brought writers such as Tanazaki and Kawabata (who won a Nobel Prize) to American audiences. Yet today there is, paradoxically, less knowledge of or interest in Japanese culture in the United States. Professor Yamazaki began discussions with Wolf Lepenies, the director of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and Daniel Bell of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Professor Lepenies has been heading for more than a decade a major intellectual center for scholars in Berlin, and has been active in setting up similar centers in Budapest, Bucharest, and St. Petersburg. Daniel Bell has had a long history of involvement in international cultural movements, and had become the President of The Tocqueville Society, a French-American institution, based in Paris. The name Committee on Intellectual Correspondence arose in discussion among the three. Bell recalled the Committees of Correspondence that existed before the American Revolution to exchange views on liberty and a new political order. During the Vietnam War, David Riesman, at Harvard, had organized a committee of correspondence to exchange views on the war. Wolf Lepenies seized on these examples to suggest the name for this project. We have no political or ideological agenda. Our concern is with the reduction of intellectual interest among the educated publics in various countries of the world. Our primary focus is the leading cultural and intellectual periodicals in the world. We now have more than sixty periodicals that have signalled their cooperation in this venture. We begin with this Newsletter, and our format is still evolving. In reading the major cultural periodicals, we are seeking to report significant or interesting developments in the various countries. In many instances, these are synopses of articles. In other instances, these are syntheses of reports on publishing, education, and the like. Our primary audience is the leading periodicals that have signalled their cooperation, as well as others to whom this Newsletter will be sent. We would hope that these periodicals might pick up any of the stories that interest the editors, and reprint them. In other instances, a synopsis or story might prompt an editor to use the entire article, and in those cases he or she would have to obtain the permission of the original source. Otherwise, any material in this Newsletter can be freely used, with attribution to the original periodical. And we welcome and encourage editors of cooperating periodicals to send us suggestions or call our attention to articles they deem important, It is in this fashion that we seek to build a common intellectual terrain. This Newsletter is produced in English. But the Suntory Foundation will translate the Newsletter into Japanese and distribute it to the major Japanese newspapers and magazines. The Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin will distribute the Newsletter in Germany and Eastern Europe. In addition, we have assembled a roster of several hundred writers and intellectuals around the world to whom the Newsletter will be sent, and we invite their cooperation as well. This project is sponsored by the three primary institutions: the Suntory Foundation of Japan (which has provided the initial financial support); the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, an independent affiliate of the Free University of Berlin; and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which has housed the project and is producing this Newsletter. And we gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation of Japan, which has underx written the major financial costs of this venture and of the Newsletter.

Bourdieu on the Economic Myths Todd on the Economic Mismatches Chevènement on the Need to Wait German Unification: A Success? Gunter Grass Günter de Bruyn Klaus Hartung English Speed, German Placidity Turkey: Islamism as Avant-Garde

16 16 17 18 18 19 19 20

England: Education and Class
The Future of Higher Education: From Class to Mass A Labour Plan to Abolish the Underclass 21 22

Reports from Japan
Japan’s Textbook Debate: Who Controls History? The Feminist Tradition in Japanese Literature The Japanese Way of Thinking Cloning and Ethics as Viewed from Japan Ryotaro Shiba: Japan’s Storyteller 23 23 24 25 25

A Miscellany
The Intellectual Disciplines Should Suicide be Assisted? Should Art be Moral? Eating People is Wrong—or Is It? Octavio Paz on Love The Shrinking of Foreign News Tourism: Second Largest Economy Lest We Forget—Srebrenica Africa and the Black Intellectual A Society Without Husbands or Fathers A New Canonade 6 11 15 22 26 27 27 27 28 28 29

Necrology: Placing a Stone
Bohumil Hrabal Amos Tutola Fela Kuti Masao Murayama Andrei Sinyavsky 30 30 30 31 31 32

Who’s Who in the C.I.C.


The Printed Word

U.S. Publishing—Change and Disarray


he U.S. publishing industry, by every indicator, is in disarray. Net sales of hardcover books have fallen by ten percent, continuing a decline of a year ago. The number of books published was 58,000 (half of these popular fiction; a large portion of the non-fiction were “celebrity books”), as against 62,000 in 1995 (which had been a 20 percent increase over the year before). Retailers (including the large chains), who can return unsold books at purchase price, returned 45 percent of books ordered (as against 15 to 25 percent ten years ago), with celebrity books reaching 60 percent—
40,000 to 50,000 copies. Few serious books do. The consequence is that publishing imprints that fail to do so get into trouble. The case in point is Basic Books, which was the leading intellectual house in the U.S., publishing such works as Clifford Geertz’s The Interpretation of Cultures, Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia, Daniel Bell’s The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars, and Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism. Basic Books had been sold to Harper Collins, which brought in the management consulting firm, Booz, Allen & Hamilton. It pointed out that the house had twenty-five editors and had revenues of about $12 million, but reached only half its budgeted level of 12 percent financial return. Pointing out that celebrity titles were the source of big hits, the consultants recommended the dissolution of the imprint and the use of those moneys for financial advances to celebrities. Basic Books was dissolved (though afterwards sold to a new house, Perseus Books), thirty-six titles in its pipeline; many of these comConglomerates, Domestic and Foreign pleted manuscripts were cancelled, as were seventy books Every major trade publishing house in the U.S. today, with scheduled for later completion. the exception of W.W. Norton, is owned by a conglomerate, The plunge into celebrity books and million-dollar domestic or foreign. Simon & Schuster is owned by the media advances has been the undoing of the industry. Random conglomerate Viacom (cable House paid former Clinton television and movies); advisor Dick Morris $2.5 milBook Purchases in 1995 Harper Collins, one of lion for his book, Behind the Category Percent Purchased America’s biggest and most Oval Office, but with 175,000 venerable houses, is owned copies in print it fell far short Popular fiction 50% by Rupert Murdoch’s News of earning its advance. General Non-fiction 9 Corporation; Random House President Clinton’s Between Cooking/crafts 11 (which now includes Alfred Hope and History, was one of Psychology/recovery 6 A. Knopf, once America’s publishing’s biggest disasmost distinguished firm) is ters last year. It sold more Religion 7 owned by the Newhouse famthan 125,000 copies, but Technology/science education 6 ily, which also owns The New Times Books had printed Art/literature/poetry 4 Yorker, Vanity Fair, and a almost half a million. Harper Reference 3 string of newspapers. Norton Collins has paid Jay Leno, a Other (includes cats) 3 is independent because it is nighttime celebrity host, $5 owned by editors who, when million for his chatty book, Source: The New York Times, August 24, 1997. they leave, have to sell their and the lawyers in the O.J. shares back to the company. Simpson trial reputedly The major factor is the profit margins demanded by the ownreceived $4 million advances. Even established Washington ers. Twenty or so years ago, Knopf could prosper on a four perfigures such as Robert Woodward, who uncovered the Nixon cent profit margin. Today, with large advertising budgets, Watergate scandal and whose previous books were bestsellers, administrative staffs, and a 40 percent overhead, conglomerwrote The Choice, on the 1996 presidential campaign, of which ates aim for a 12 to 16 percent profit. To do so, titles must sell Simon & Schuster printed 600,000 copies, only to see two-

resulting in large losses for the publishers, who either have to “pulp” these books or send them to “remainder houses” at steep discount prices. Behind these sorry figures is a set of “structural changes” which are reshaping American publishing and the intellectual climate of the U.S. These are: • The concentration of trade publishing into a half-dozen conglomerates owned by media companies. • The purchase of many publishing houses by foreign publishers, principally British and German. (see box next page) • The growth of huge retail chains with megastores, which now dominate distribution. The decline of the independent bookseller. • The rise of the Internet as a medium for sales and distribution of books. Beyond these structural changes, already in place, is the role of electronic publishing, either for books or scholarly communication and journals.


The Printed Word
thirds come back as returns. As a result of the misadventures, Simon & Schuster wrote off about $35 million’s worth of unearned advances in 1996. Random House, with thirty-five imprints in the U.S., wrote off more than $55 million, and Harper Collins announced a write-off of $270 million—the largest known write-off in the history of English-language publishing. And yet, foreign-based publishing companies have steadily bought and taken over more than twenty-five U.S. imprints in recent years (see box), and last year ten foreign-based book publishers accounted for more than 35 percent of American sales, or $7.5 billion, according to Subtext, a trade newsletter. More recently, Holtzbrinck, one of Germany’s largest media companies, which owns the American houses, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, St. Martin’s Press, and Henry Holt, announced the construction of a $30 million new automated distribution warehouse near Charlottesville, Virginia. The reason for the foreign “invasions” is simple. English has become the worldwide language, and U.S. publishing generates the most books in the world. And U.S. publishing leads in certain profitable sectors, such as business books, which have world-wide markets. ing to the publisher-supported Book Industry Study Group (New York Times, August 12, 1997). Today, the independent bookstores sell only 18.6 percent of books, a figure surpassed by book clubs and food and drugstores. (The superstores accounted for about 40 percent of adult hardcover trade books).

The Internet
The third major change in the character of publishing and distribution is the Internet. The leading bookseller is, which has a searchable 2.5 million title catalog, and has become the major source for those seeking specialized books. Amazon devotes a Web page to each book it offers. Many of the more popular offerings also include links to author interviews and reviews by professional critics. Amazon has returns of only two percent. The appeal of the Internet is obvious. In May, Barnes & Noble launched it own Web-site. Walmart, the food chain, announced it would go on-line and expand its current inventory to more than 300,000 titles, at discounts of 25 to 40 percent. And, to bypass the retail chains, Random House and Simon & Schuster are selling some titles directly through Web pages. The obvious question is whether electronic publishing and distribution will design the future of the book and of scholarly journals. This is a question that will be reviewed in the x next issue of the Newsletter.

If one moves from publishing to distribution, the major “structural” change in the publishing industry has been the rise of the megastores organized into large retail chains. Since 1990, about 800 superstores have opened in the U.S., with four chains—Barnes & Noble, the Borders Group, Crown Books, and Book-A-Million—as the dominant group. Barnes & Noble is the nation’s largest book retailer, with 450 superstores, 506 shopping-mall outlets, and sales of almost $2.5 billion. More recently, Barnes & Noble has been taking over a large number of college and university bookstores—at Columbia and Harvard—because of their efficiency. The Barnes & Noble innovation is to make their bookstores social centers, by serving coffee, having comfortable chairs, and making newspapers and magazines available for those who come in to browse and read, as well as selling the books at a discount. All of this may be no more than the belated rise of food supermarkets against the corner grocery store, a change made poignant by the stories of Bernard Malamud. But there may be different consequences for the effect on intellectual life. Inevitably, the superstores concentrate on the popular and celebrity books, though Barnes & Noble told The New Yorker that 59 percent of all trade books sold in their stores were backlisted books, published at least twelve months earlier. Yet as Lingua Franca reported earlier, in the account of Basic Books and the plight of publishing, Barnes & Noble makes a special note of every book that fails to sell at least 75 percent of its initial order after three months and such books are unlikely to be ordered again. Yet the character of many of the intellectual books is that it takes months and even years to accrue sales. In the past, the independent bookseller was likely to keep such books in stock for their specialized customers. As late as 1991, independent bookstores accounted for more than 32 percent of trade sales and the large chains 22 percent, accord-

Major Foreign Owners of U.S. Publishers
Company Thomson Pearson Bertelsmann News Corp. Wolters Kluwer Reed Elsevier Country Canada Britain Germany Australia Main U.S. Imprints South-Western,IDP, Delmar, West Addison-Wesley, Bantam Doubleday Dell,Doubleday Direct HarperCollins, Zondervan Categories Published Educational, professional,legal Trade,educational Penguin/Putnam Trade, book clubs Trade, religious Legal, tax, professional Educational, reference, legal,

Netherlands Lippincott/Raven, CCH, Little Brown Professional Britain Martindale-Hubbell, Butterworth-Heinemann Greenwood-Heinemann Rigby

Safra Group

Switzerland Encyclopedia Britannica, Merriam-Webster Grolier St. Martin’s, Henry Holt, Farrar Straus & Giroux Harlequin

Reference Reference Trade Trade, educational

Lagardére Groupe France Holtzbrinck Torstar Germany Canada

Source: The New York Times, August 10, 1997.


The Printed Word

Samuelson’s Economics

Samuelson, the first Nobel Prize winner in economics, is clearly the most influential economist of the day. In the concluding pages of The General Theory, John Maynard Keynes wrote the prescient words: “…the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood….Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences are usually slaves of some defunct economist.” Paul Samuelson is not defunct. He transformed modern economic analysis by introducing mathematical modeling in his Foundations of Economic Analysis. His textbook has influenced several generations of students. In his introduction to the fourteenth edition, Samuelson wrote: “A historian of mainstream-economic doctrines, like a paleontologist who studies the bones and fossils in different layers of earth, could date the ebb and flow of ideas by analyzing how Edition 1 was revised to Edition 2 and, eventually to Edition 14.” In the Journal of Economic Perspectives Spring 1997, Mark Skousen, a conservative critic (of the libertarian variety) has attempted just that. The novelty of Samuelson’s text was that it emphasized macroeconomics—a term attributed to Samuelson, but which, says Samuelson, was first used by the Swedish economist Erik Lindahl—and introduced Keynsian ideas and diagrams to students. “Moreover, only John Maynard Keynes was honored with a biographical sketch in early editions and only Keynes, not Adam Smith nor Karl Marx, was labelled ‘a many-sided genius.’” In the first edition, Samuelson emphasized that “private enterprise” is afflicted with periodic “acute and chronic cycles” in unemployment, output, and prices which government had a responsibility to “alleviate.” “The private economy is not unlike a machine without an effective steering wheel or governor,” Samuelson wrote. “Compensatory fiscal policy tries to introduce such a governor or thermostatic control device.” By the seventh edition, Samuelson was no longer using the “steering wheel metaphor,” though he continues to emphasize that “a laissez-faire economy cannot guarantee the necessary amount of investment to ensure full employment.” In these early editions, Samuelson still taught the Keynsian theorem that savings do not pass over automatically into investment and the view held until the thirteenth edition in 1989, when “the paradox of thrift” metaphor was questioned


aul Samuelson’s Economics ranks with the most successful textbooks ever published in the field, including the works of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, and Alfred Marshall. His fifteen editions have sold over four million copies and have been translated into forty-one languages.
and then removed. This was paralleled by a shift in the view of budget deficits which in the early volumes argued that it need not be in balance, that counter-cyclical needs justified federal deficits. Samuelson used to emphasize fiscal policy over monetary policy as a tool for stabilization but in 1995 came to the view that monetary policies of the Federal Reserve would be the major tool. Looking back at Samuelson’s text, writes Mr. Skousen, is like looking into a mirror that reflects our past beliefs. In summary, Skousen writes: “Samuelson’s textbook has delivered a great deal of economic wisdom….Indeed his defenders might ask: Might the United States and the West have suffered another Great Depression if Samuelson had not emphasized the need for ‘automatic stabilizers.’ And yet: Would the U.S. economy…have been less volatile if [Samuelson] had given earlier credence to monetarism. Would the United States and developing countries be growing more rapidly if [Samuelson] had emphasized long-term growth (as characterized by West Germany, Japan and east Asian economic miracles) over macroeconomic stabilization policies (inflation-unemployment tradeoffs)?” In the end, Skousen faults Samuelson for being a product of a particular time—that of unemployment and the argument about the failure of investment—yet failing to anticipate the x economics of growth.

Samuelson Replies
In his elegant way, Samuelson sidesteps the issues somewhat :“When you read the novels of Jane Austen, never do you learn that the Napoleonic wars were going on while her characters are angling for life-cycle security with amiable spouses,” he writes. “I am pleading no alibi nor extenuation….My kind of Keynsianism was never a religion.” The crucial economic issue of his time, he wrote, was the fear of stagflation in a mixed-economy welfare state that strove for full employment while seeking to relieve unemployment. On the central issue of growth, Samuelson declares that from 1950 on, he was urging a policy “weighted toward capital formation and away from current consumption.” It is an issue, one might note, that is still present in the U.S. economy today where private savings are low and investment is made up of foreign money coming into the U.S. economy.


The Printed Word

The Intellectual Disciplines
A panel of leading American professors assesses how their disciplines have developed over the past fifty years and where they are heading. t is little exaggeration to say that the American university as we know it today is a product of the Second World War. Before the war, the elite schools of the Ivy League and the liberal arts colleges were relatively small, focused on teaching, and were conservative in outlook. The larger state universities produced teachers and did practical research, mainly in agriculture. But the G.I. Bill sent tens of thousands of young soldiers into the university, opening it up to the forces of American society often in unexpected ways. And with the Cold War, the universities also became intimately linked with government research programs in the natural and social sciences, and later with business. In fifty years, the mission and profile of the university were utterly transformed, as were the disciplines it taught. Daedalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 1997 invited a panel of leading scholars in the social sciences and humanities to reflect on the changes their disciplines have undergone over this period. In the essay “How Did Economics Get that Way and What Way Did It Get?,” Robert Solow, emeritus professor of economics at M.I.T., traces the development of formal modeling in the economics profession and assesses its relative advantages over older approaches, which were more historical and institutional in focus. He sees the rise of modeling tied to new methods of statistics and data gathering, but also to the dominance of the Keynesian approach to macroeconomics. While welcome for their rigor, these new methods have trained professionals who are mathematically adept but who undervalue simple observation and insight as means of understanding economic phenomena, in Solow’s view. Rogers Smith, professor of political science at Yale, sees a similar development in his discipline since the war, but suggests that there are encouraging signs of a new focus on institutions and the values of democracy that is limited neither to the history of ideas or formal modeling. Among the humanities disciplines, philosophy and English studies are discussed in several longer essays. Hillary Putnam, professor of philosophy at Harvard, gives a personal account of how he and his discipline have moved over the past several decades from a rather ambitious “pan-scientific” conception of analytic philosophy to greater awareness of the limits of conceptual analysis. Putnam’s own work, which began in the philosophy of science and mathematics, and has lately moved closer to pragmatism and even questions of religion, is exemplary of this shift. Catherine Gallagher, professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, paints a darker picture of transformations in the study of literature. However, rather than simply condemning the new extra-literary interest in theory among literary scholars, she finds its roots in the development of the New Criticism, which was a postwar movement that tried to professionalize and systematize the criticism of literature, and stood against both traditional philology and amateur crit-

icism. Gallagher asserts that by raising the expectations for criticism, expectations they could not fulfill, the New Critics prepared the way for the current confusion in English departments, where fewer and fewer scholars have a sense of what x their subject is or ought to be.
Source: “American Academic Culture in Transformation: Fifty Years, Four Disciplines,” Daedalus, Winter 1997.



The Million Dollar Economics Textbook

ach year in the United States, some 900,000 college students take an introductory economics course, and 600,000 buy new books (the others presumably buy used copies). Publishers collect some $30 million in revenue split among thirty-five texts now in print. Harcourt Brace & Co. is now taking a big gamble. N. Gregory Mankiw, a thirty-nine year old “baby-faced” professor of Economics at Harvard has been advanced $1.4 million dollars, for a new textbook which it hopes will replace Samuelson. Mankiw is a leader of the new “Post-Keynsians,” a school that concentrates on “growth economics.” But the attraction here, as a sophomore at Utah State University said, is a “writing style so good that even a dunce like me can understand it.” The company’s goal is 180,000 copies a year, or 30 percent of the market. To do so, it has begun an aggressive marketing campaign targeted at the 3,500 teachers at universities, colleges and community colleges that teach economics. Professor Mankiw has gone on tours to universities and to Borders Book and Music stores during the course of the school year. The stores plan to set up displays of Professor Mankiw’s suggested summer reading of such items as: “Murder at the Margin,” and “A Random Walk Down Wall Street.” All that is missing, says the principal of one of the publicity firms promoting the book, are the movie rights. A review of the Mankiw text by Robert Heilbroner, the prominent institutional economist, in The Nation, October 20, 1997, chides Mankiw for mentioning “capitalism” only once in the book’s nearly 800 pages.


Literary Disagreements

Nádas vs. Nádas
ore than a decade after his novel appeared in his native Hungary and six years after it dazzled Germany’s reviewers, Péter Nádas’s Book of Memories arrived in the United States to extraordinary acclaim. The novel is autobiographical. “Communist parents were involved in such sins and injustices that they couldn’t explain to their children; it was natural their children would fall out with them,” he has said. But it is the technique that provoked the attention. His work,
said the New York Times, has evoked comparisons to the poetic traditions of Thomas Mann, the sexual explicitness of Jean Genet and the stream of consciousness of James Joyce. But there have been some dissenting voices. We print here excerpts from two contrasting views, one by Stanislaw Baranczak, the other by Michael Hoffmann. Hungarian writer, who serves as the novel’s chief protagonist as well as the chief among its three narrators. “The narrator’s coming of age is a complex process of discovering the truth about his once adored father’s political fanaticism which culminates in 1956 when the father seeks to create a neo-Stalinist terrorist group, and failing that, to commit suicide. At the same time, the narrator is coping with the violent stirrings of his adolescent sexuality. “A Book of Memories could only have been written after a thorough assessment of the possibilities of the genre for a writer at the end of the twentieth century. Nádas’s novel is innovative in a willful way: by returning to the genre’s tradition. Nádas’s art places him in the company of Proust, Mann, and Musil, but his roots reach even deeper, to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the conventions and devices that helped the novel to establish its identity.” Professor Baranczak points to two of the conventions: “the found manuscript,” and the device of the “novel within the novel.” He then goes on, in this insightful review, for five more columns to explore the various techniques used by Nádas and to root the book in historical experience.


Stanislaw Baranczak
“This 700-page long Central European novel is the book you have been awaiting since Remembrance of Things Past, The Magic Mountain or The Man Without Qualities. I am serious. If you allow yourself to be put off by this book’s length or serious purpose, you may denying yourself one of the most rewarding experiences of your lifetime.” So writes Stanislaw Baranczak in one of the first reviews in The New Republic of July 28, 1997. Baranczak, a major Polish poet and translator, is professor of Slavic Literature at Harvard University. “Even a reader who knows no Hungarian can appreciate the difficulty that faced Ivan Sanders and Imre Goldstein as they tried to preserve Nádas’s precision of language and complexity of thought. So this is not an easy book. If only for this reason it is understandable that the English-speaking world has for so long known virtually nothing about Nádas while the works of his contemporaries such as George Konrad or Peter Esterhazy in translation have elicited interest in present day Hungarian literature. Yet this ignorance stands in stark contrast with the renown that Nádas has enjoyed in his own country since the publication in 1997 of The End of the Family Story, the first of his two novels. (It will soon be issued in English.) By the late 1970s, it was clear that he was one of the most important writers in Hungary. “It took Nádas ten years to complete the novel, and it is not hard to see why: the tightly woven and multi-layered plot, the epic sweep the complexity of the main characters’ self-analysis, the richness of style. Even if we violate the book’s artistic complexity by choosing to squeeze its plot into a few sentences, the task that Nádas sets for himself sounds formidable. A Book of Memories revolves around the story of a young

“The greatest novel written in our time and one of the great books of the century.” —Susan Sontag

Michael Hoffmann
“Had I not been reviewing it, there is no stage at which I would not have stopped reading A Book of Memories. I would have stopped happily after one page, after five pages, after a hundred and five, after seven hundred and five. I’ve never felt such a waste when finishing a book.” So writes Michael Hoffmann in the London Review of Books, August 21, 1997. Hoffmann is a translator of many books, of his father Gert Hoffmann’s novel, The Film Explainer, Kafka’s The Man Who Disappeared, and Hoffmannsthal’s The Lord Chandos Letter. “It’s hard to say what makes it so prodigiously unsatisfactory: length, long-windedness, evasiveness, over-structuring, mediocre expression, absence of humor, absence of voice, smugness and preachiness, the persistent withholding of such ordinary amenities as names and ages and settings and incidents, a dully and vauntingly cerebral book about bodies racking up more and more about less and less, semi-colons adrift in bloated and fussy prose. It is a book about sexual disloyalty or sexual distraction, written without heart and, barring two short scenes that are like a dentist’s dream of pornog-

“Proust? Ha!” —Michael Hoffmann


Literary Disagreements
raphy…without sex, as portentousness and delay and sheer dropsy get in ahead of lubriciousness. And yet the book turns on sex, and is about sex: the narrator’s homosexual relationship with an East German poet against the background of female interest in them from the actress Thea; flashbacks to his adolescence in Hungary and a mother and father both interested in other partners; the corrupt Fin-de-Siècle narrative he is writing, about a similarly placed bisexual hero, Thoenissen; the hackneyed device of a framing epilogue by Krisztián since grown up to be another (completely indistinguishable) self-regarding sex maniac; the scriptural epigraph about the ‘temple of the body.’ A Book of Memories would like nothing better than to be shockingly truthful, gaily polymorphous-perverse, but it’s tedious and repressed. “Nádas’s calamitous formal innovation is the first-person omniscient narrator who is also largely his own subject. It is impossible to convey just how deadly this speaker and vantage point are, how his orotundity anesthetizes the reader and annihilates and makes incredible whatever it touches on. His particular foible is to begin relating something, switch to something else, go back to the first thing, then the second again, and in such a mechanical and impersonal way that the reader, feeling the contempt with which Nádas treats both subjects, his strategy, himself and his audience, is reduced to helpless fury in short order….The poverty and inadequacy of this writing are self-evident: it’s an overblown bubble, vibrato on an air-violin, going 700 pages with an auctioneer. “Nádas has a gift for making nothing matter. He gives us the long-winded épateur, the over-psychologized psychological moment, the phantom sexual voracity, the political and mythological tie-ins, the closet worldliness, the logomachic belly-flop, but there is nothing there between his mirrors…. “The book is a bastard of romantic schlock and watereddown Modernism. To describe this as ‘claiming and extending the legacy of Proust and Mann’ is quite breathtaking. Yes, Nádas’s sentences are long and relatively abstract, but they have none of Proust’s open-ended inquisitiveness or the purpose and design of Mann. They are without risk, without discovery, without grandeur. Far from resembling or—ha!—outdoing Proust and Mann, this is utterly epigonal writing, a third-generation Zweitaufguss for middlebrows.”

Don De Lillo’s Underworld


here was a time when people who aspired to be part of something called “the American reading public’”felt vaguely obliged to buy, and even read, the fiction of the moment. One felt guilty about missing “A Perfect Day for Bananafish,” [J.D. Salinger], The Adventures of Augie March, [Saul Bellow], or The Group, [Mary McCarthy]. There is now more anxiety, probably, about missing Pulp Fiction [the movie] a month after its release than about ever reading the latest Saul Bellow novel. Occasionally, a serious novel carries with it a sense of popular urgent appeal and elbows its way past the bilge and onto the bestseller list. The most recent example is Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon—a phenomenon that may have as much to do with the author’s long silence and the exquisite packaging of the book as with the novel itself…. It will be interesting to see what happened with De Lillo’s new novel, Underworld….De Lillo is sixty, and this, his eleventh book, is his longest, most ambitious and most complicated novel—and his best. The length is in excess of eight hundred pages; the ambition is to portray the American psyche during its Cold War ascendance…and ending with an underground explosion on the plains of Kazakhstan after the collapse of the Soviet empire…. In the labeling process that passes for popular criticism, De Lillo has been called “the chief shaman of the paranoid school of American fiction”—and not without reason. Even De Lillo allows that the thread running through his books is about “living in dangerous times,” about plots and conspiracies, about troubled men inhabiting small rooms…. Although De Lillo has never had a bestseller, Scribner paid nearly a million dollars for Underworld, and Scott Rudin, the producer of Clueless, and The First Wives Club has bought the movie rights. With a mixture of amusement and resignation, De Lillo (who was a reputation for being a recluse) has agreed to do his public part….

Source: David Remnick, “Exile on Main Street,” The New Yorker, September 15, 1997.


Art, Philosophy, and Memory

The Impasse of the French Avant-Garde?
A French debate on the aesthetic value of contemporary art develops into a partisan polemic over the perceived threat of the “new right” in French politics and culture. n January of 1997, two of France’s most respected cultural commentators, Marc Fumaroli and Jean Clair, gave a joint interview to Le Figaro newspaper on the state of contemporary art. Fumaroli, professor at the Collège de France and member of the Académie Française, has published many studies of the rhetorical tradition in western literature and also a much discussed polemic, L’État Culturel [The Cultural State], 1991, attacking French cultural policy . Clair is Director of the Picasso Museum in Paris and a leading curator and critic of modern art. In this interview Fumaroli and Clair expressed reservations about the state of contemporary French art, both in comparison with art of the past and with that of other nations today. They accused French artists of a tired avant-gardism that places shock value before aesthetic pleasure, with an indifference to the human figure and nature, and with catering to the public taste for media and popular entertainment. They expressed the hope that artists would rediscover the contemplative and intimate possibilities of all great art, a rediscovery that would nonetheless remain modern, as in the work of Edward Hopper, Balthus, and Lucian Freud. One way to encourage this, they argued, was to get the French Ministry of Culture, which they see bent on conserving the old avantgarde tradition, out of the business of supporting contemporary artists. This interview was immediately attacked in the strongest terms by the art critics of Le Monde and Libération. Their objections were less aesthetic than political. They charged Fumaroli and Clair with tacitly supporting the attack on modern art conducted by the French “new right” and especially one of its leading journals, Krisis, which had devoted a special issue to this question in the fall of 1996. And in fact Jean Clair had permitted Krisis to publish an old interview with him on contemporary art, which appeared along with contributions by sociologist Jean Baudrillard and some artists. Soon articles began to appear in widely read art journals like artpress accusing Fumaroli and Clair of “Pétainism” and worse. Clair has responded in several interviews and letters, while Fumaroli chose to write a long response which was published in extenso in Commentaire. Both deny having anything to do with any political program, and regretted that the “institutionalized avant-garde” did not see fit to respond to their aesthetic arguments, in particular the importance of distinguishing between the “modern” and “contemporary” art. The bitter political turn this aesthetic debate took can only be explained by recent controversies among French intellectuals about what to do about the National Front and its publications. Over the past few years Krisis, the most significant of these, has managed to attract contributions by leading


thinkers on the left, among them Claude Lévi-Strauss, Régis Debray, Max Gallo, and Jean-Pierre Vernant. Although their articles and interviews have been critical of the right, their critics have argued that such writers should not give these publications legitimacy by engaging them in debate. There is even a “Committee of Vigilance” which includes other professors of the Collège de France and which has appointed itself to monitor the right-wing press and those who contribute to it. This may help to explain why a controversy over contemporary art could become a quarrel over national destiny x (French art) and even the past (collaboration).
Sources: “L’art contemporain est dans une impasse” [Contemporary Art at an Impasse], Interview with Marc Fumaroli and Jean Clair, Le Figaro, January 22, 1997. Philippe Dagen, “L’art contemporain sous le regard de ses maîtres censeurs” [The Master Censors View Contemporary Art], Le Monde, February 15, 1997. Elisabeth Lebovici, “Croisade contre l’art moderne” [Crusade against Contemporary Art], Libération, March 28, 1997. “Art/Non-Art” [Art/Non-Art], Symposium, Krisis, November 1996. René Monzat, “The Extreme Right Attacks Contemporary Art,” artpress, April, 1977. Marc Fumaroli, “ Ni dictature du marché, ni empire d’un art officiel” [Neither dictatorship of the market, nor empire of official art], Commentaire, Spring 1997.

The Turn in Continental Philosophy
The age of the great philosophical “systems”—whether based on history, politics, or language—seems to be over in continental Europe. It has been followed by a new interest in ethics among professional philosophers and a newly engaged public.


oral philosophy has not been a popular subject in continental Europe in a very long time. After existentialism, which experienced a vogue immediately following the Second World War, continental philosophy was dominated by various strands of Marxism, Hegelianism, and structuralism that placed a premium on the analysis of history and language, and de-emphasized moral questions when they did not dismiss them altogether. Some have seen in the decline of these “isms” the decline of philosophy itself. Others, like philosopher Jean-Michel Besnier, see a new and healthy variety in contemporary continental philosophy and the return of long-forgotten themes. As he explains in his contribution to the social sciences journal Sciences Humaines dossier, foremost among them are questions of science, morality, and law. As Christian Delacampagne notes in the same dossier, the turn to some of the traditional questions of Anglo-American analytic philosophy is taking place just as the earlier wave of French philosophy has become institutionalized in the U.S. and Britain. This new turn in continental philosophy can be seen in the philosophical almanac recently published by Micromega, per-


Art, Philosophy, and Memory
haps the foremost intellectual journal in Italy. The entire issue is given over to articles on aspects of moral philosophy by some of Europe’s leading philosophers, among them Paolo Flores d’Arcais (Italy), Fernando Savater (Spain), Leszek Kolakowski (Britain), Gianni Vattimo (Italy), Jean-Luc Nancy (France), and Axel Honneth (Germany). Although these articles represent no single tendency, they all seem to operate within what Flores d’Arcais calls “the ethics of finitude”—that is, within the limits of human mortality and without reference to religion. From this perspective the authors then take up the traditional questions of happiness, evil, recognition, equality, and uncertainty, among others. The return to questions of morality has also brought a new public to philosophical works. In France, the stoical musings of André Comte-Sponville’s Little Treatise of the Great Virtues and Luc Ferry’s The Man-God have been best sellers. Fernando Savater’s two open letters to his son, Ethics for Amador and Politics for Amador have been wildly popular in Spain and have been translated into many languages. Even in Germany, the home of systematic philosophy, a popular Book of Virtues by the newscaster Ulrich Wickert topped the best seller charts for many months. As Janice Valls-Russell notes in The New Leader, the growing taste for books on ethics has been accompanied by a new desire to speak about them in public. In a number of French cafés, there are informal groups that meet to discuss philosophical, and especially moral, issues on a regular basis. She reports that similar groups have formed in x Switzerland, Japan, Britain, and, fittingly, in Greece.
Sources: “Almanaco di filosofia, ‘97” [1997 Almanac of Philosophy]. MicroMega, Winter 1997. “La Philosophie Aujourd’hui” [Philosophy today], Sciences Humaines, February 1997. Janice Valls-Russell, “France’s Café Symposiasts,” New Leader, February 10 1997.

Furet vs. Hobsbawm
Two of Europe’s leading historians debate the legacies of communism and fascism, and their share of responsibility for the disasters of our century. ithin the past three years two books attempting to give a comprehensive assessment of the political events of the twentieth century have been published by major European historians. The British historian Eric Hobsbawm has rounded out his series on modern European history with The Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914-1991 (London, 1994). And François Furet, the late authority on the French Revolution, published Le Passé d’une illusion: Essai sur l’idée communiste au XXe siècle (Paris, 1995; English translation forthcoming ). Given the ideological perspectives of the authors, these books give very different, though not utterly opposed, pictures of politics in this century. And these differences are examined by a number of other leading historians in two recent symposia published in the French journal, Le Débat.


Furet’s book has been controversial across Europe because of the emphasis he puts on the “communist idea” as a major force in modern history, not only as embodied in the work of explicitly communist parties but also in a residual “anti-fascism” among intellectuals. Among its consequences, Furet believes that the idea led to a romanticization of the Spanish Civil War and a failure to see the pertinent parallels between Nazism and Stalinism. The Furet thesis is welcomed by the conservative historians Renzo de Felice (Italy), Ernst Nolte (Germany), and Richard Pipes (U.S.A.), all of whom contribute appreciative essays to the Débat volume. Giuliano Procacci (Italy) and Eric Hobsbawm (Great Britain) reject the comparisons Furet makes and defend the historical record of anti-fascism. Many of the essays also raise methodological issues about this kind of narrative history and the emphasis it places on intellectuals, issues to which Furet responds at length in his own contribution. Hobsbawm offers a rather more varied portrait of the century, focusing less on ideas than on wars, social movements, and high politics. Following on the “long” nineteenth century that was all of a piece, the twentieth is presented as made up of three ages: the age of catastrophes (1914-1945), the golden age (1945-1960s), and the disastrous “landslide” leading up to the present. On decisive points—the causes of fascism, the Spanish Civil War, the Soviet Union, the Cold War, 1989—Hobsbawm’s account is opposed to that of Furet, and in the second Débat symposium the Paris-based historian Krysztof Pomian restates the Furet position. But the symposium as a whole really has another, somewhat surprising theme: the fact that Hobsbawm’s book has yet to find a publisher in France. In order to present the Hobsbawm book to the French public, the editors of Le Débat have translated and republished several English, German, and American reviews. They have also published an article by Pierre Nora, the journal’s founder and editor of France’s most distinguished history series at the publishing house Gallimard. Nora laments the fact that the Hobsbawm book remains unpublished, taking it mainly as a reflection of the difficult economic straits in which most publishers find themselves today and the decline of a literate public for history. But he also suggests that intellectuals in France, “the country most Stalinized and for the longest time,” find Hobsbawm’s proud promotion of “the revolutionary cause” something of an embarrassment, and have chosen to ignore it rather than to x remember “the weight of the past.”
Sources: “Communisme et fascisme au XXe siecle” [Communism and Fascism in the 20th Century]. Le Débat, March-April 1996. “Sur l’histoire du XXe siecle” [On the History of the 20th Century], Le Débat, January-February 1997.


Art, Philosophy, and Memory

Memory and Resistance: The Aubrac Affair
The experiences of collaboration and resistance during the Second World War remain delicate topics in French life. A recent controversy over figures in the Resistance raises questions about how to approach these questions responsibly. n 1990 Claus Barbie, the convicted Nazi war criminal, published a “Testament” claiming that two reputed heroes of the Resistance, Raymond and Lucie Aubrac, had betrayed their cause and delivered the Resistance leader Jean Moulin over to the Germans, who murdered him. Given the source, this charge was given little credit at the time, and the Aubracs became the subjects of books and even a film. However, in the spring of 1997 the historian Gérard Chauvy published a book pointing to inconsistencies in the Aubracs’ account of their activities surrounding Moulin’s capture, and raising questions as to whether there might be something to Barbie’s accusations. The “Aubrac Affair” had begun with historians and guardians of the public image of the Resistance squaring off and petitions circulating in Paris. The response of the Aubracs themselves was unusual. Rather than replying directly to Chauvy, they asked the left-leaning newspaper Libération to hold a round table discussion with various historians, the transcript of which would be published in the paper. The fivehour conversation was held in May and published in July as a twenty four-page supplement to the paper. This document is of enormous interest, not only for what it contributes to the historical record, but also for the questions it raises about civic memory and the tasks of the professional historian. The consensus among the historians, including foremost specialists of the Occupation, was that while there was no evidence that the Aubracs had betrayed Moulin, the Aubracs were unable and perhaps unwilling to reconcile conflicting facts in their accounts of the events that took place in Lyons in 1943. Daniel Cordier, Moulin’s secretary and later biographer, was particularly disturbed by the Aubracs lack of clarity. Other historians, among them François Bédarida, resisted the suggestion of Lucie Aubrac, who has written an embellished (some would say semi-fictional) account of the war years, that the truths of those who lived through dramatic events could not be captured by historians after the fact, and that a more imaginative approach was necessary. Henry Rousso, a specialist of the Vichy period, tried to put the entire affair in the perspective of French difficulty in coming to terms with the Occupation and the longstanding attempt to tailor public memory to contemporary political uses. He notes that only in 1981 was Marcel Ophuls’s film, The Sorrow and the Pity, shown on French television for fear of sullying the memory of the Resistance. There were, however, dissenting voices, both from the Collège de France. Nineteenth-century historian Maurice Agulhon felt the discussion was conducted like a trial and made him feel more like a prosecutor than a scholar. Jean-

Pierre Vernant, ancient historian and former Resistance fighter, went further, charging the Aubracs’ accusers with wanting to “break the idols” for their own professional purposes, destroying the lives of heroes in the process. What Vernant also may have meant by “idol” is the French Communist Party, to which both he and the Aubracs belonged, and whose role in the Resistance still remains a subx ject of hagiography rather than critical historical study.
Source: “Les Aubrac et les historiens: le débat” (The Aubracs and the historians: the debate), Special supplement to Libération, July 9, 1997.


Should Suicide Be Assisted?
The increasing frequency of doctor-assisted suicide in the United States has led to efforts both to legalize and to control the practice more strictly. A recent Supreme Court decision on this question occasioned this sophisticated debate.


ver the past decade the practice of “physicianassisted suicide” has increased enormously in the United States. Although this practice is allowed in limited circumstances in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and parts of Australia, the American phenomenon is exceptional and explanations of it vary. Some point to rising medical costs or to medical technologies that keep patients “artificially” alive, often in great suffering; others blame Americans’ individualistic obsession with controlling every aspect of their lives, including its end. One problem with this growing phenomenon is that it takes place in the legal twilight. The laws of all but one American state now forbid doctors from assisting patients to end their lives, though these laws are openly flouted. And Supreme Court decisions in this area have seemed to point in two directions. This past summer the Court ruled in a case from Washington state that the right to choose the means of one’s death was not inalienable, leaving Washington’s ban on assisted suicide in place. However, in October the Court ruled that a voter’s referendum on the question passed in the state of Oregon three years ago could be put into effect. An effort by the opponents of assisted suicide to repeal the law was rejected by Oregon citizens in November 1997 by a 60 to 40 percent vote. One of the most remarkable aspects of the legal debate is the amount of attention it received from moral philosophers. Indeed, in an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court agreed to receive a petition (an amicus curiae brief) signed by leading American philosophers, among them Ronald Dworkin, Thomas Nagel, Robert Nozick, and John Rawls. This petition, republished with a long introduction in the New York Review of Books, argues the case for assisted suicide. The case is both theoretical and practical, and rests on a certain conception of individual rights. The philosophers take the rights to life and liberty to imply a right to freely end one’s life. They also point to related rights (such as that of abortion) that would be thrown into jeopardy if assisted suicide were banned. On the


Art, Philosophy, and Memory
practical side, they then argued that, since assisted suicide will simply continue as an illegal and unregulated practice, patients would be better off with a system of legally defined procedures to prevent abuses. Objections to this brief were many, and most focused on the “rights-based” approach to this medical issue. Michael Sandel of Harvard University, for example, argued in the New Republic that permitting assisted suicide would encourage it, and that government has a moral interest in making suicide unattractive. More practical objections were offered by Leon Kass, a physician and professor at the University of Chicago, and Nelson Lund, a law professor in Washington. While admitting the significance of theoretical issues regarding the sanctity of life and the right to choose, Kass and Lund focused on the nature of the doctor-patient relation, which is not right-based. They insist that the ethic of the medical profession, which is based on the Hippocratic Oath, must distinguish between “causing death” and “letting die,” which implies letting nature take its course. Absent from the philosophers’ reflections, they argue, is any consideration of the nature of life: its natural limits and aims. Kass and Lund also argue that the taboo against assisted suicide serves not only to protect patients but also to protect doctors from the temptation to exploit patients for their own private ends. Without this taboo, the special bond of trust that exists between doctor and patient would disappear. Medicine is one area, they claim, where the necessity of dependence might have to outx weigh rights to autonomy.
Sources: “Assisted Suicide: The Philosophers’ Brief,” New York Review of Books, March 27, 1997. Michael Sandel, “Last Rights,” New Republic, May 26, 1997. Leon R. Kass and Nelson Lund, “Courting Death: Assisted Suicide, Doctors, and the Law,” Commentary, December 1996.

safely predict about the past is that there is no going back to it.” Still, Gross points to numerous surveys that show that historical familiarity is on the decline on both sides of the Atlantic, not only among the general public but among educators, too. He predicts that the European future will therefore be, if anything, less “European” (“Knocking about the Ruins,” Dec. 1996). Classicist John Herrington sees conflicting tendencies in the study of the ancient European past. On the one hand, more books in classical studies have been published in recent decades that in any comparable period; on the other, most scholars find these works useless or redundant. The study of Greek and Latin has declined in schools, yet new translations of Homer and poetic treatments of Homeric themes (Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy, Derek Walcott’s Omeros) point to a continuing taste for the past. There are reasons, he concludes, for hope (“Possessing the Golden Key,” Feb. 1997).x
Source: “The Future of the European Past,” Symposium. The New Criterion, September 1996-June 1997.

New research in Europe into the causes of depression has discovered significantly different rates of incidence among men and women, and among nations.


Does the European Past Have a Future?
Leading British and American writers reconsider the place of European history in contemporary life on both sides of the Atlantic. n the fall of 1996, the conservative cultural review The New Criterion began a series on what its editors fear is a new discontinuity between the traditions of European culture and the Western present. The responses were various and some notable. Historian David Pryce-Jones regrets a loss of vitality in high culture and its replacement by “leisure activities,” and wonders whether these tendencies will not be exaggerated by the economic unification of Europe (“Ancient Ghosts Stir,” Sept. 1996). Philosopher Roger Scruton offered reflections on the changing state of serious music, which he sees caught between the twin forces of sterile classicism and “nightmarish” art music, and worries that soon the art of listening will disappear (“The Eclipse of Listening,” Nov.1996). Critic John Gross doubts that the question posed by the editors can be answered, remarking that “the only thing we can


ainly due to new pharmaceuticals, important advances in the treatment of depression have been realized over the past decade. But progress in understanding the causes of depression has been slow. While most research today has concentrated on genetic causes for mental suffering, social science research has returned to seeking variations and patterns in the incidence of depression to help understand the role of social and environmental factors. One important new study comes from the Depression Patient Research in European Society project (DEPRES), whose findings are reviewed in the English magazine Prospect. DEPRES began by canvassing 80,000 Europeans for signs of depression and now is studying 2,000 of them in detail. The first phase discovered that approximately seven percent of Europeans suffer from major depression, two percent from minor depression, and another eight percent have depressive symptoms. But variance among Europeans was great. In every country the rates of depression among women were significantly higher than those of men. The most depressed group in Europe is French women (12 percent), followed by English men (11 percent). The happiest country is Belgium, with only four percent of its men and six percent of its women feeling blue. The gloomiest appears to be Britain, whose figures are 8 and 11 percent respectively. The greatest gender gap is found in France, where the incidence of depression among men is six percent lower than for women. All of which leads researchers to think that marital relations may be the key to understanding much x depression among adults…a not entirely surprising result.

Source: Sophie Zeman, “Causes of Depression,” Prospect, (London) August/September 1996.


Literature: Future and Past

Who Are the French Writers?


here does French writing stand in regard to la malaise française which affects France today? asks Ian Jack, editor of Granta (London), introducing a special issue on “France: the Outsider.” The awkward truth here is that, outside France and small pockets of Francophilia, hardly anyone knows. Name six living French novelists. Name six contemporary French novels. The French, of course, blame this neglect on Anglo-Saxon ignorance and hostility, but the truth…is that, in literature, France pulled up the drawbridge long ago. Saul Bellow, writing in Granta in 1984, remembered how Paris had been the capital of international culture…and how, on his first visit in 1948, the city had still seemed “one of the permanent settings, a theater if you like, where the greatest problems of existence might be represented.” Thirty years later that feeling had gone. “Marxism, Euro-communism, Existentialism, Structuralism, Deconstructionism could not restore the potency of French civilization,” Bellow wrote. “Sorry about that.” It would not be unwise to discount this as a prejudiced American view. Jean-Marie Domenach in his book Regarder la France, published this in terms that are forbiddingly recognizable to anyone who has struggled with the Nouveau Roman: “Cold descriptions of society which have become affluent and disintegrated, where individuals float like children’s balloons in joyless streets, unconscious of their destiny and locked in a perpetual present.” Domenach notes that there have been few “social” novels, and that nothing great has come from the dramatic French consumerism, the rise of television, and the retreat from society into private life, but as none of these are peculiar to France (and have probably had a much larger effect in Britain and the U.S.A.), it can’t be the full explanation. How could a literature which perfected the realistic, spacious (and popular) novel of the nineteenth century— Balzac, Flaubert, Zola—turn a hundred years later into perfection of introspective, narrow (and unpopular) novels which seek only to demonstrate the essential solitude and meaninglessness of existence? Bellow may have some of the answers: Existentialism, Structuralism, etc., have had an unsteadying and often shriveling effect on the act of authorship, whatever they have achieved in linguistics and anthropology. But there may be others. Solitude may be to blame. Proust may be to blame. It

was Proust who raised introspection to an epic height and made it seem, to many who came after him, the only true subject for literature. This self-importance on the page is allied to the public importance accorded to writers in France, where the winner of the Prix Goncourt can sell a million copies (though the cry heard in book shops, Donnez-moi Le Goncourt!, suggests that buyers may be disciples of fashion rather than literature)…. Or that at least was the situation. Today in France there are arguments about the purpose of writing and a movement to put the world back into the book; it hasn’t escaped the French that the failure of French writing to sell abroad may have…more to do with the producer than the consumer. Today a younger generation of writers is emerging which is more willing to look outward again. Many of these writers come from present or former French territories outside of Europe, or are the children of migrants from those places. The issue of Granta (No.59, Autumn 1997) contains a memory from Patrick Chamoiseau of his boyhood in Martinique, and a story, a true one, from Assia Djebar, who has an Algerian father and French (European) mother. Some are French only by language. Caroline Lamarche, also in that issue, is a Belgian citizen who publishes in Paris. What their writing has in common is the desire to dramatize the deed rather than the thought, the story above the idea. They reflect a France that is richer and more complicated than…old ideas of Frenchness, no matter what its government may say or do. France…has the largest Muslim community in Europe, between three and five million people, and Europe’s largest Jewish community (about 700,000 people) outside Russia. A third of France’s population has ancestry from outside it borders. Beneath the crust of its mythology, France has already changed….The real challenge to France is not the AngloSaxon world. It is to find a new and more plural identity, freed x from the burden of glorious memory, concludes Jack.
Source: Ian Jack, “France: the Outsider,”Granta (London), No. 59, Autumn 1997.


Literature: Future and Past

I am struck time and again by how little modern Greek Literature has been translated in America.

hessaloniki has been designated the Cultural Capital of Europe for 1997, a concept originated by the late actress and government minister, Melina Mercouri….The schedule of events—music, plays, art exhibits, etc.—is extremely ambitious, celebrating not only Greece’s vital cultural life but works from around the world….The artistic director, Panos Theodoridis, is himself an author of note….One of his chief lieutenants, Dimitris Kalokyris, is a prolific poet and artist, sometimes called “The Borges of Greece” for his labyrinthine wit and assimilation of post-modern influences. Chouliaras and Kalokyris are part of a generation of writers who came of age in the time of the Junta. Their group published the influential journals Tram and Chártis….I noticed in the schedule that the two American poets invited to Thessaloniki were John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch…. But how many Greek writers are known in America? Alexandros Papadiamantis, the great nineteenth-century fiction writer, has been translated by Peter Levi and Elizabeth Constantinides, but the bulk of his work has yet to be seen in English (I’m told that new translations by many hands will be published by Denise Harvey). Cavafy is known, of course, as one of the most important of all modern poets in any language. Translators such as Edmund Keeley and the late Philip Sherrard have also done much to disseminate the great work of Seferis and Elytis among readers of English. Whom else could we list? Nikos Kazantzakis, Yiannis Ritsos, Vassilis Vassilikos, best known for his novel Z….But I am struck time and again by how little modern Greek Literature has been translated in America….I’ve just seen a newspaper supplement on the work of the Thessaloniki writer and painter Nikos Gabriel Pentzikis, known for his blending of surrealism of Orthodox Christianity. Though he has been translated, I had never heard of him…. Who else ought to be better known?: Jenny Mastoraki, Eleni Vakalo, Anastasis Vistonitis, Galateia Sarandi, Antonis Sourounis, Alexis Panselinos? The Kedros publishing house has a new series of Greek novels in translation, including The Mission Box by Aris Alexandrou (1921-1978), who was also a translator of Russian literature into Greek. Kedros promises a poetry series in the future, but the real test will be the distribution of these books abroad. How many other Greek writers are relatively unknown to English readers, including some who, like Nanos Valaoritis, have written both prose and verse? Who among them, if anyone, might achieve the global stature of Odysseus Elytis, x Greece’s second Nobel laureate, who died in March of 1996?
Source: David Mason, “Letter from Greece,” The Hudson Review, Summer 1997.


The Unknown Greeks

iddish is the language of the Ashkenazi Jews, those who settled in Central and Eastern Europe after the massacres of the Crusades. Ladino is spoken by the Sephardic Jews, the other main trunk of Jewish people, principally those who had been expelled from Spain in 1492 and spread throughout Yemen, Iraq, Syria and the Middle East. Hebrew was the religious and liturgical tongue, reserved for the synagogue, until the development of Zionism, a hundred years ago, and the revival of Hebrew as a daily tongue, particularly in Israel. The roots of Yiddish are a Middle High German.As the population spread east, it absorbed many words from Polish and Russian, though retaining much of the early German syntax. It is a rich language, with little distinction between literary and ordinary folk speech, absorbing parables and legends, and being quite earthy in its expressions. The humorist S.J. Perelman was once asked in a Paris Review interview why he used so many Yiddish expressions in his stories. In what other language, he replied, do you have fifteen different ways of slapping a man in the face? Before World War II, there were about eleven million Yiddish speaking persons in the world (including the United States). In New York alone, there were four Yiddish daily newspapers, (religious, conservative, socialist, and communist.) The most famous was the Jewish Daily Forward, the socialist paper, edited by Abraham Cahan, who was also a talented novelist. In Europe, beginning about 1860, there was a great flowering of Yiddish literature, equal to world literature standards, beginning with Mendele Mocher Sforim, Sholem Aleichem, and Isaac Leib Peretz who wrote about the stetl, the Jewish villages that existed in the Russian pale of settlement. The Yiddish world and Yiddish literature in Europe were destroyed by two savage calamities. One was the Holocaust which killed about six million Jews; in Poland alone, 3,500,000 were murdered and about 30,000 survived. The other calamity was in the Soviet Union where during the 1936-37 purges the great Jewish writers such as Osip Mandelstam and Isaac Babel were murdered, and later, in 1949, with the onset of a sweeping anti-semitism, when the leading Yiddish writers in the Soviet Union—among them David Bergelson, Peretz Markish, and Der Nister—were executed and Yiddish literature was proscribed, a ban lifted only after the death of Stalin in 1953. The center of Yiddish moved to the United States which featured writers such as Sholem Asch, Jacob Glatstein, I.J. Singer, and his brother, Isaac Bashevis Singer, who was given the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978, (though purists have insisted that Chaim Grade was the superior writer in Yiddish.) Yiddish also was reflected in the novels and stories of Saul Bellow and Bernard Malamud, whose rhythms of speech, inflection, and irony had a distinctive Yiddish flavor, as well as Philip Roth whose autobiographical themes derived from the experience of the Jewish writer in America. The great Jewish emigration to the United States had been largely before World War I. But the demographic transforma-


Yiddish Finds a Home


Literature: Future and Past
tion of the Jewish population took its toll on Yiddish culture and newspapers. Though there are about five million Jews in the United States, few speak Yiddish as a regular tongue and fewer read it. There are chairs in Yiddish literature at Columbia and Harvard, but these have become academic subjects. What is remarkable is the spread of what is slyly called Yinglish, or the spread of Jewish expression into ordinary speech, with such words as chutzpah, maven, nudnick into common parlance and the influence in Hollywood of Jewish comedians, such as Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. But what of Yiddish literature and Yiddish books? Will they disappear? One remarkable effort to prevent this is the opening in the summer of 1997 of the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, almost a one-man effort, across seventeen years, by the forty-three year old Aaron Lansky. The Yiddish Book Center now has available 1.4 million volumes, which will be available through the Internet for reference purposes. Beginning in winter 1997, the center will have a Web-site of its own, featuring not only a catalog of Yiddish books, but also an interactive Yiddish resource center where individuals can access cultural calendars and a sound library of lectures and educational programs. The center contains an 8,500-square-foot space for exhibits designed to interpret its collections for visitors who cannot read Yiddish. The quarterly journal of the center, the PaknTreger [the Itinerant Bookseller], is emerging as an important Jewish journal in America. With an astounding circulation today of 30,000, the Pakn-Treger prints works by a growing x list of Yiddish writers and artists.
Source: Cecil Roth, ed., Encyclopedia Judaica, New York: Macmillan, 1972, and a brochure from the Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Should Art Be Moral?
In a symposium a number of leading writers and philosophers debate the artist’s moral obligations to society, and whether moral considerations should play any part in our interpretation of their works. he classical question of art’s relation to morality has returned to the center of American intellectual debate in recent years, though in two different forms. One has to do with the status of the artist as creator, and specifically with the alleged exhaustion of modernism and the avantgarde, which portrayed the artist as morally independent from or opposed by nature to society. The other has to do with the status of interpretation and whether moral judgments play a part in or prevent the proper understanding of aesthetic works. The quarterly review Salmagundi held a conference on this theme in relation to literature and published in Summer 1996 the contributions of several important writers, philosophers, and critics. The novelist Joyce Carol Oates offers the most pointed defense of the writer’s independence from society and of literature’s need to avoid moralizing. She quotes with


approval Ernest Hemingway, who once remarked, “If I had a message, I would send a telegram.” Yet she also maintains that the artist is a “perpetual antagonist” and that this is “the artist’s ethics and the artist’s aesthetic.” As historians Jerrold Seigel and Rochelle Gurstein point out in response, this is a contradiction: the romantic notion of literature as something that can transform the world implies a relation between literature and society, and indeed a moral one. The exhaltation of the artist as creator probably did less to exhalt art than to denature it, as Seigel puts it. Gurstein makes the same point with regard to pornography’s place in modern art and literature, summarizing an argument she made in her recent book, The Repeal of Reticence (New York, 1996). This skepticism about the moral neutrality of art is echoed by Roger Shattuck, who in this issue recounts the history of the acceptance and “normalization” of the Marquis de Sade’s work in the west and wonders about its social and literary implications. His recent book, Forbidden Knowledge (St. Martin’s Press, 1996) develops this theme at length. Yet, another debate about the place of morality in aesthetic interpretation has grown up in the more restricted domain of American academic philosophy. Over the past ten years a number of philosophers dissatisfied with analytic moral philosophy as it has developed in the Anglo-American tradition have turned to literary criticism for a different model of moral reasoning. Examples of this literary turn are the works of Alasdair MacIntyre, Richard Rorty, and Martha Nussbaum. In the lead article in Salmagundi the Princeton philosopher Alexander Nehamas, a Nietzsche scholar, takes issue with this moral interpretation of literary works, arguing that they achieve greatness to the degree to which they are able to rise beyond questions of good and evil. While television or popular movies may be judged for their moral effects, great literary works must be appreciated in their own terms as works of free aesthetic creation. As an example of how not to read a literary work, Nehamas takes up Richard Rorty’s moral reading of Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire. Rorty responds by distinguishing criticism that takes works of literature to serve the self-development of individuals, which he defends, from criticism that defends a particular political program, which he rejects. The Paris-based critic Tzvetan Todorov adds an essay that agrees with Rorty’s position, adding that bowing servilely before the claims of the “creative” artist can be as destructive x of literary criticism as it is of moral criticism.

Literary works achieve greatness to the degree to which they are able to rise beyond questions of good and evil.

Source: “Art and Ethics: A Symposium,” Salmagundi, Summer 1996.


Reports from Germany

Euro-Skepticism: Three Views
The articles by Pierre Bourdieu, Emmanuel Todd, and Jean-Pierre Chevènement are presented as examples of cultural transmission which created an astounding impact in Germany successfully bridging the gulf which separates political debate in France from political debate in Germany. The three articles were all occasioned by the increasingly skeptical attitude of French intellectuals to the planned introduction of the Euro and to a monetary root to European unification. They are of more than immediate political interest because of their success in initiating a wide debate outside their political context because of their comparison of German and French culture and society.

Bourdieu on the Economic Myths
Within the French political context Bourdieu’s article stands somewhere between the December trade union strikes in 1995 and the downfall of the Juppé government in 1997. It is in line with Bourdieu’s support of the strike movement as well as an addition to his other pieces of rhetorical analysis. Its wide reception in Germany was a noteworthy cultural phenomenon. The German translation—in comparison to the French original—is slightly toned down, as the change of title indicates. To give just one other example, the French ‘fins indiscutées’ [undiscussed goals] is rendered in German as ‘nicht weiter diskutierte Ziele’ [goals not discussed further.]


ourdieu takes one passage from an interview in Le Monde with Hans Tietmeyer, the president of the German Federal Bank, submits it to a close reading, unpacks its concepts, and analyzes its rhetorical strategy. To give one example, reading Tietmeyer’s “If we make an effort to raise the flexibility of labor markets,” Bourdieu analyzes who the “we” in that sentence really is, what words like “flexibility” and its opposite “rigidity” mean in practical terms for different social groups such as investors or workers. Looking at the phrase “of the labor market” and its use as a Homeric epitheton in phrases like “rigidities of the labor market” and “flexibility of the labor market,” he finds that “dismantling the rigidities of the financial markets” somehow does not fit into one’s unconsidered expectations. Having decoded a list of key terms, he lists concepts such as sustained economic growth, investors’ confidence, state budgets, social protection systems, rigidities, labor market, flexibility, globalization, flexibilization, lowering of the tax burden, competitiveness, productivity, deregulation, etc., and asks how they could become the short change of everyday speech which the reading public accepts without further questioning. Why do they fit into the “horizon of expectation” of the majority of readers? Studies have shown how American think tanks created this neo-liberal thinking and spread it with the help of journalists until it was adopted by politicians—on the right as well as on the left—who are only vaguely familiar with economic issues. What does this “model Tietmeyer” stand for? Foremost, it is a new belief system, a rationalized mythology, involving a new belief in historical inevitability based on the primacy of the forces of production and technology—in other words, a new version of economism. It is inherent in an economic theory which sharply separates the economic from the social, overlooking how much the mechanism of the market is sub-

servient to social mechanisms rooted in social power. It also stands for a set of undiscussed goals like highest possible growth, competition, productivity, and for ideals like the overworked manager who clothes his economic policies in euphemistic words which, among other consequences, destroy a civilization closely bound up with the development of that definitely modern idea: the state. How should one deal with this “well considered delirium,” to use a Durkheimian phrase? For Bourdieu one main task ahead is to refute it. To give just one example from his list of mythologies and his hints at their refutation: Globalization? Three quarters of European trade goes on within Europe, the main competitor of workers in European countries being competitors of other European countries. And how can these tendencies be countered politically? Bourdieu advocates the creation of a European welfare state.
Source: Pierre Bourdieu, “Krise im Wohlfahrtsstaat: Eine Polemik” [The Crisis of the Welfare State: A Polemic], Die Zeit, 1. 11. 1996. (Translation of “Contre la ‘pensée Tietmeyer,’ un Welfare State européen [Against the ‘Tietmeyer thinking,’ a European welfare state], Libération, 25. 10. 1996, )

Todd on the Economic Mismatches
Emmanuel Todd is a French historian and sociologist, specializing in demographic research. Chirac followed his advice in his election campaign but then practiced a policy at complete variance with the one announced in his election program. While other French intellectuals argue against a way to European Integration which begins with the introduction of a common currency or criticize its introduction without the simultaneous introduction of political institutions controlling economic policies at the European level, Todd opposes the project on more fundamental grounds because he finds it incompatible with his view of the differences between the social and demographic structures of the European States, especially those of Germany and France.


or Todd a currency can only function in a community which can show a certain degree of solidarity. The Euro in its last consequence would entail the complete fusion of Germany and France, which could only end in a catastrophe. Because of its different demographic structures, Germany, with an aging population, can live well with little economic growth, while France, with its steady number of young people entering the labor market, leads to unemployment. Italy, too, has again another demographic structure, peculiar to itself. All three countries will have to reform their old-age pension


Reports from Germany
schemes while taking into account their national peculiarities, but a common currency would make this impossible. Germans give a high priority to anti-inflation policies which is compatible with their high degree of social consensus and their prevailing family structure. France being more divided and individualistic has a tradition of spontaneous uprisings, a social dialogue which is almost non-existent, and privileges which are not questioned. Under these circumstances only a certain degree of inflation can achieve a fairly just distribution. With less than 3.5 percent inflation, French society is blocked and comes to a standstill for which the French poor, the debtors, the young, and the employers—none of whom fear inflation—have to pay. After 1983 less attention was given to unemployment than to the interest rate, inflation, and the balance of trade. But in spite of globalization, three-quarters of French trade still takes place within France, which was better off before 1983 when it still followed a policy of regular devaluations. The change in French economic policies in 1983 also had negative economic effects upon Germany. The disappearance of the French trade deficit and the continuing German trade surplus led to under-consumption and recession in Europe. This change of policy was not in the interest of the French middle and lower classes and can only be explained by the obsession of the French elite with Germany—which has long historical roots. The introduction of the Euro will only prevent necessary reforms in all the countries concerned. Many intellectuals now have begun to mobilize against the Euro. They have begun to take notice of the risks involved in the introduction of the Euro, and the discussion about Europe has become more open and free than ever before.
Source: Emmanuel Todd (interviewed by Jürg Altwegg), “Die Welt ist brutaler geworden” [The world has become more brutal)], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 16. 12. 1996.

Chevènement on the Need to Wait
Together with Pierre Bourdieu and Emmanuel Todd, the French Interior Minister (and former Defense Minister) JeanPierre Chevènement is one of the spokesmen of the Euro-skeptics in France. In his recently published book about Germany entitled France-Allemagne. Parlons Franc, he argues that Europe cannot become a reality through the introduction of a common currency but only through the political will of its citizens. he European institutions first created in the 1950s have been a success story and have helped to preserve peace and prosperity in Europe. But the Maastricht treaty seems to lead Europe into a dead end. A common currency will not create a political identity. Only an existing political identity which is so strong that minorities within it will accept majority decisions might also be translated into monetary terms. The European nations already cooperate closely with each other but have not yet arrived at a stage where they are ready to be fused into a single unity. The geo-political changes between 1989 and 1991 have completely transformed German-French relations and their inter-

nal balance. They rendered obsolete older French conceptions of Europe and created new geo-political uncertainties in the East without diminishing the risks involved in the geo-political uncertainties of the North-South conflict. Internally, European countries are confronted with the challenge of deteriorating competitiveness and mounting unemployment. Germany has to come to terms with the task of integrating the new German federal states into the German economy and society and of connecting the Eastern European countries permanently with the prosperity and future fate of Europe. The plans for a common currency are likely to result in mounting tensions between countries at different levels of economic development and attachments to different political philosophies. The idea of an independent European Central Bank solely responsible for the preservation of monetary stability is unfamiliar to the British and the French but not to the Germans, whose very young state was built by an old régime upon the ruins of a defeated liberal revolution (1848, 1871). Not to speak of the risks involved at the economic level, at the political level the present plans for a European Central Bank confront France with a political model which completely contradicts its republican traditions based on the participation of the citizens and the primacy of politics in social and economic life. The Maastricht treaty removes economic policy from electoral influence and replaces it with decision-making in obscure European institutions. The French elite’s tendency to see Germany as a bulwark of order in Europe and its fear of the egalitarian identity created by the French revolution mislead it once to prefer Hitler to the popular front. Half a century later, France should not sacrifice its republic, its idea of citizenship, its separation of church and state, and its universalistic perspective to a Europe sacrificed to ultra-liberalism. Europe cannot be built by decree. A European community will have to grow from public debate within individual countries and across the boarders between them. A real commux nity must be given time to reap and develop.
Source: Jean-Pierre Chevènement, “Wer von Politik reden will, soll vom Euro schweigen” [If you want to speak about politics, you should keep silent about the Euro], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 17. 1. 1997.

An Editorial Note
These articles do not explicitly address the British case. The new Blair government, it should be noted, had announced steps to adopt the new Euro single currency. But later Blair reversed himself and stated it would wait for the next round. Meanwhile, Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, stated that “flexible labor markets are the necessary conditions for the continuing reorganization of the British economy.” The U.K. has had the fastest economic growth in Europe, as against the stagnation in Germany and France, the steel and coal industries (once the “commanding heights of the economy,” in the old socialist rhetoric) have virtually disappeared, and the growth has been led by financial services and other sectors of the post-industrial economy.



Reports from Germany

German Unification: A Success?
These three articles may be of interest as examples of attempts within Germany to come to terms with the experience of the unification process and the beginning of a new epoch after 1989. The context in which they were written is characterized by the difficulties in communication—not to speak of the prevailing silence—encountered in contacts between Germans from former East Germany and Germans from former West Germany. The coming down of the “Wall” in Berlin marked the unforeseen end of an epoch which neither political scientists anywhere, nor any German, nor any of their neighbors had expected.

Gunter Grass
Günter Grass in his novels not only reflected the social and intellectual development of the German Federal Republic since its beginnings, but he also intervened more directly in West German politics as a full time participant in the election campaigns of Willy Brandt. In his contribution to a public lecture series on the present state of Germany, organized by the Dresden Theater and the Bertelsmann Foundation, he uses the occasion to retaliate against the German literary critics, who had torn apart his latest novel,while voicing publicly his dismay with present day West German politicians and their political conceptions after 1989. rass states that in his last novel, Ein weites Feld, he attempted to draw on insights of the German nineteenthcentury novelist Fontane and integrate them with a comparison of the unification processes in 1871 and 1990. While he believes that his novel found its readers, its negative reception by German literary critics arose from their different view of the unification process: his novel challenged their victory celebration which mirrored a new form of capitalist ideology. The capitalist having lost his enemy has become lonely and reacts with nostalgia and lamentations—nostalgia about the good old times when one had to fight against socialism, and lamentations about the economic disadvantages connected with Germany’s location in a globalized market economy. While the German Constitution still states “Ownership obliges. Its use has also to serve the common good,” Grass believes that unification resulted in too much social injustice. Grass’s story of German unification is a story of progress, but of progress partly undone by narrow-mindedness and lack of political creativity. The Germans wasted a chance given to them. There has been too much talk about unifying Europe through a Euro currency instead of tearing down fences through more liberal migration policies, too much concentration on improving Germany’s economic location within a globalized market society instead of stronger attempts to overcome the existing internal social injustices. This has left the Germans with a public holiday celebrating unification, but at the same time they find themselves united and disunited again. “The experience of two different forms of state has become history, but nothing has come out of it which might be called a lived German unity.” The small compensation for this state of affairs for Grass is that, in his view, such times are good times for literature.
Source: Günter Grass, “Rede über den Standort”, Dresdner Gespräche: Zur Sache: Deutschland (‘Talk about location”, contri-

bution to a series of talks organized by the Dresden theater and the Bertelsmann Foundation to be published in book form by SteidlVerlag), Frankfurter Rundschau, 24. 2. 1997.

Günter de Bruyn
Günter de Bruyn is a well-known German writer and novelist who lived in the German Democratic Republic before 1989.



ünter de Bruyn discusses the role of the nation in Germany today. Different conclusions have been drawn from the misuse of national feelings during the Nazi period and the racism accompanying it. Some deplored everything national, some saw in it an obstacle on the way to European unification, and some regarded it as simply old-fashioned with no further role in the German Federal Republic before 1989, while the German Democratic Republic declared in the 1960s that there were now two German states and two German nations—implying that nations do not grow out of long developments but can be created by political decree. De Bruyn finds himself in disagreement with the views of German intellectuals, who have not spent their lives in the former GDR. They are too prone to declaring that they adhere to a form of patriotism based on the Constitution and unrelated to the nation, that the unification process was not a success, that Germans are divided today not by a real wall in Berlin, but by a wall in their heads, and that West German history in comparison to the history of East Germany should be regarded as normal, while the development of East Germany can only be viewed as an aberration from this norm resulting in psychological characterizations of the 16 million East Germans which show them all in need of psychotherapy or—since this is impossible—of a healing process through the passing of time. De Bruyn wonders why no one proposed such simple therapeutic measures as a different solution to the ownership question (land nationalized not under military rule between 1945 and 1949 but during the 1949 to 1989 period of the GDR was returned to its—mostly West-German—former owners after 1989) and the creation of new jobs and a new wage structure giving the population in the new German federal states job opportunities and incomes similar to those existing in the old (western) member states of the Federal Republic of Germany. He also expresses surprise at the credit given to the identity building capability of the Constitution and the construction of an opposition between adherence to a nation and a nation’s constitution. Instead de Bruyn pleads for making less sweeping statements and for differentiating between unification and a stan-


Reports from Germany
dardized uniformity. Multiple mentalities in a unified territory can be enriching for and are not a contradiction of a common bond resting on a common language, cultural heritage, and history. He pleads for preserving this as something reliable in times ridden by social and economic problems in which all Europe has to offer to a need for an identity is an opaque net of economic interconnections and a bureaucracy.
Source: Günter de Bruyn, “Vom Bedürfnis nach Identität”, Dresdner Gespräche: Zur Sache: Deutschland (“On the need for an identity”, contribution to a series of talks organized by the Dresden Theater and the Bertelsmann Foundation, to be published in book form by Steidl-Verlag), Der Tagesspiegel, 9. 3. 1997.

Klaus Hartung
Opinion leaders are the theme of one of the recent issues of Kursbuch, a journal founded by Hans Magnus Enzensberger in the wake of the student movement in the late 1960s. The topics of the assembled contributions range from the making of the news in specific German newspapers, magazines, and radio or TV stations to a discussion of the reasons for the high quality of the cultural section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to an article blaming pretentious but mistaken references to classical humanism in the same paper, and from American muckrakers over the discourse of public opinion research to more general themes such as the most recent transformations of the German public sphere. This is the theme of an article by Klaus Hartung, the Berlin correspondent of Die Zeit. laus Hartung analyses the language and the forms of discussion of the German public during the last seven years—or rather the lack of a public language and literature coping with recent German experience. What are the causes of this speechlessness? Why is it much easier for Italians or Frenchmen to talk emphatically about the coming down of the Wall? Why did the Germans (or at least the West Germans) seem to react ambivalently to this event? Who would deny that this was peaceful progress which resulted in years of political stability? Why does the language in which Germans talk about this seem to sound more like the description of a trauma than of a dream come true? The relations between language and reality seem deeply out of joint, more an expression of helplessness and lack of confidence in Western culture than signs of a clear-sighted orientation in view of the future. Nothing is still as it used to be, surely; but what we experienced was a continuity, which led, however, to an end where everything was different than it was before. Why was history only dealt with by the political administration? Where were the intellectuals in these completely new times, this tabula rasa in need of intellectual analysis which was not forthcoming? Hartung diagnoses a change in the German public sphere, a move away from a forum where serious public arguments where considered and entered into intellectual competition, a transformation of the public sphere into a space where a general curiosity about knowing who has adopted which standpoint has replaced any interest in seri-

ously arguing about the validity of expressed opinions. Controversies sell here much better than any attempts to resolve them. There is a plurality of opinions available in thousands of little talk shows which allow everybody to have his or her say but in which arguments are only considered as signs of different trends in public opinion which need to be labeled and classified. There had been opposing intellectual camps in East and West Germany before 1989, but their unification seems to have resulted in a wide field of different camps in which all possible sorts of coalitions may be entered into but result only in stalemates in which no argument can be resolved. Fictions of continuity simulating the unchanged existence of the old West German state which did not include the East Germans face a privatizing silent East German public. Past pretensions to universalism seem to have disappeared in a public sphere which has become a conglomerate of geographic phenomena. For Hartung this is the result of sociological shock, of a breakdown of narcissistic defense mechanisms caused by a double mirroring effect which made East Germans and West Germans see themselves as results of different types of socio-genesis, a x view which he believes lead to a radical identity crisis.
Source: Klaus Hartung, “Die unfruchtbare deutsche Öffentlichkeit” (The unfruitful German public sphere). Kursbuch 125, Die Meinungsmacher (Thematic issue on opinion leaders), 1996.


English Speed, German Placidity
The sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf was a member of the parliament of Baden-Würtenberg, a minister in Willy Brandt’s first cabinet, an EU commissioner, and Director of the London School of Economics. He is a member of the House of Lords in Great Britain and recently retired as warden of St. Antony’s College, Oxford. Although it may be too early to define the character, agenda, and effectiveness of the new British government, Dahrendorf’s rich experience of German, European, and British political and academic institutions gives special weight to his first reactions to recent changes in Great Britain set against the background of a comparison between German and British political culture. hoever believed that New Labour was just the continuation of Old Labour or of Thatcherism was wrong. The whole of the United Kingdom is in the grip of a sense of change and innovation. That an election can change everything is an exotic experience. Almost everywhere in Europe coalition talks severely restrict the opening up of possibilities for a new start. Dahrendorf gives a long list of institutional, economic, and symbolic innovations and refers to the weekly The Week, which has been publishing a regularly overflowing box containing the weekly list of major government initiatives. In any other European state not even the handing over of government would have been accomplished eight weeks after the election, and later innovations would have been watered down to such



Reports from Germany
incremental degrees as to become almost invisible. How can one explain these huge differences? Dahrendorf points to imponderable differences in the political culture. German politics is portly; British politics is nervous. In Germany the people seem ahead of the government; in Britain it seems the other way around. Dahrendorf does not glorify this ability to induce politically major, even radical changes. Haste has also its shortcomings. Maybe in the best of all political worlds one would like to live in a hybridization of the two cultures. Perhaps Holland, lying between Germany and Great Britain. But Holland has its own strong traditions and cannot be regarded as a hybrid. In the end Dahrendorf pleads for the introduction of the majority vote system in Germany. At least it creates the strength for fresh, real, exciting, innovations, full of surprises and never boring. Since politics is also theater, life in London, says Dahrendorf is most enjoyable at the moment.
Source: Ralf Dahrendorf, “Englisches Tempo, deutsche Behäbigkeit” (English Speed, German Placidity), Merkur, Heft 8, Nr. 581, 51. Jahrgang, August 1997.

Turkey: Islamism as Avant-Garde
Nilüfer Göle is Professor of Sociology at Boazici University, Istanbul. This article enters the debate about the nature of Islamism in the Islamic world as well as in the West. Göle sees Islamism not as a turning to the past, but as a counter-model of a rising elite opposed to a corrupt system. hat is the true character of Islamism in Turkey? The conflict between the Kemalist (after Mustafa Kemal “Atatürk”) elite and the Islamic counterelite takes place within an environment of lively political debate. Turkey has a long tradition of elites which have tried to modernize Turkish society since the end of the nineteenth century. As in other Islamic societies, secularization in Turkey is more likely to be associated with westernization than with democracy. Secularization was a modernizing ideology of progress introduced from above. It created a nationalistic elite whose capital was cultural, not financial. Its dispersion was made visible by the participation of females in public life. This central aspect of a modern lifestyle gave modernity a gender specific meaning. Questions of lifestyle became signs of social stratification and power relations. The urban Kemalist females of the upper middle class acquired a “symbolic capital” through their education, their professions, and their lifestyle. Unequal access to education split the country into an urban middle class at the geographic and cultural center and the mass of people. The cultural chasm between the elites at the center and the people at the social periphery became the determining feature of Turkish society and Turkish politics. This is now changing. Islamism is an attempt to give voice


to the masses and create a new model for their everyday life. The more peripheral groups acquired admission to urban life, education, and opportunities for political expression, beginning in the 1950s and increasingly in the 1980s, as they seemed to need Islamism for a new definition of their lifeworld. The veiling of the female is the most visible symbol of the Islamization of Turkish life. Islamic politics defines the role of the individual in the community; control of female sexuality and the separation of the sexes is its central purpose. The Islamism of today, however, does not only criticize the modernism of the rulers, but also the traditional interpretation of Islam. It is a new mixture of tradition and modernity, religion and secularization, a new form of coping with modernity, and a new form of self-definition. The members of the new counter-elite, who owe their professional success and their social status to their education as well as to their participation in the Islamic movement, are a hybrid mixture of modernity and Islamization, the products of urbanization, a laicistic education, and Islamism. Islamists acquired and employ the same cultural capital as the national elite. Islamists can be subdivided into three main groups: engineers, intellectuals, and educated females in academic professions. Engineers have played a leading role in Turkey since the 1950s. Islamic engineers have a split commitment to rationality and belief. Islamic intellectuals in the 1980s almost completely replaced left wing intellectuals, still dominant in the 1970s. And the Islamist females have to bridge the tension between their individual roles as members of the counter-elite and their collective roles in militant Islam. The split commitments of these three groups undermines the totalitarian tendencies of their utopia of a radical change of society which x does not accept the existing pluralism of opinion.
Source: Nilüfer Göle: “Frauen und Ingenieure sind die Avant-garde der Türkei” (Women and Engineers are the Avant-garde of Turkey), Die Weltwoche, 19. 6. 1997. (A short version of a paper published in the Middle East Journal 1/1997).


England: Education and Class

The Future of Higher Education: From Class to Mass
niversities and other institutions of higher learning in the United Kingdom, with the exception of one or two, are all government directed and government funded—though a number of the elite universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, and the London School of Economics (L.S.E.) are now heavily engaged in private fundraising. In the last decade there has been a large increase in the scope of higher education and, consequently. of government involvement. In 1992, the Tory government promoted the “polytechnic colleges”—a group that had been initiated by Anthony Crosland and the Labour government for more technical training—to university status, and increased their scope. Over time, the proportion of young people attending universities has increased steadily. Some forty years ago, five percent of school leavers went to a university; now 32 percent do. In Scotland it is 44 percent. (In the U.S. participation is about 40 percent, in Canada 44 percent.) All of this plus the increasing pressure for research funds put the U.K. university system into a bind. The Tory government appointed a commission headed by Sir Ron Dearing to assess Britain’s needs. In August, it brought in a massive 1700page report, one that, surprisingly, had been endorsed by the new Labour government—surprisingly because the Dearing report carries out the logic of Mrs. Thatcher’s thinking about higher education. The Dearing report proposes the increased participation in higher education to 45 percent of school leavers. It also states, to the delight of Labour, the need for “life-long learning throughout the working life” to maintain the skills of the expanded professional class. Yet the report also proposes: • That students pay 25 percent of the average cost of tuition, roughly $1,600 per year. • That all new full-time staff take training in managing learning and teaching skills and become members of a new Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, with performance in teaching a requirement for promotion. • The acceleration of concentrating research funds in strong universities or universities with strong departments, and ending a policy where every university seeks to do research in all fields. “Multinational companies are dissatisfied with the state of research facilities…some are relocating their collaborative projects with universities outside the United Kingdom,” the report says. While praising the emphases on life-long learning and linking education with employment, an article in the labourite New Statesman criticizes the “managerial ethos” of the report. And this criticism is extended by Alan Ryan, the English political philosopher and now warden of New College, Oxford, in the October issue of the British cultural periodical Prospect. For thirty years, he writes, governments have micromanaged the higher education system into decline in everything but numbers. The higher education funding councils should be abolished, as should the quality assurance agency. On no account should government set up an institute to decide


how to teach. Research councils can buy the research they want from the places best able to do it. The Research Assessment Exercise should be closed down as another instance of intrusive micro-management. And as to the cost of teaching, institutions should be allowed to charge whatever they like for the courses they offer. “They will soon discover what their market niche is if they have one.” Mr. Ryan has recently returned to the U.K. after two years teaching at Princeton University. A committed liberal, he seems to have brought back some of the American free enterx prise ethos as well.
Source: Geoff Andrews, “More Learning, Fewer Questions,” New Statesman, August 29, 1997. Nigel Williams, “U.K. Universities: The End of Equality,” Science, vol. 277, August 1, 1997.


A Labour Plan to Abolish the Underclass

he poor have always been with us, but only in the last fifty years has poverty been a focus of social policy and the effort to help “the underclass” (a term coined by the sociologist William Julius Wilson, who now rejects it as being a stigma), the center of such efforts. The main feature of such efforts has been income redistribution policies, but in recent years there has been the growing recognition that such efforts are ineffective because for a strong core being poor is not an economic matter but is rooted in a social and cultural matrix. Now the British Labour Party has announced a new effort and a new policy based on the idea that such poor have been excluded from society and lack “social capital” (a concept popularized by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam), namely the network of contacts and information which allow them to pursue opportunities. In a speech before the Fabian Society in August, Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair’s Minister Without Portfolio, announced the creation of a new unit on “social exclusion” as the first step in reshaping the welfare state. The speech and the new policies are reported by John Lloyd in the August 23, 1997 issue of New Statesman. It is, says Lloyd, “a recasting of social democratic values.” The theoretical work is the product of Geoff Mulgan, the founder of a think tank called Demos and author of Connexity (London, Chatto & Windus, 1997). Mulgan’s insights on the phrase “social exclusion,” as against the “poor” or “underclass,” point to the larger context of exclusion from the worlds of work, education, and even sociability itself. Mulgan focuses on the hard core who live in areas where nearly 50 percent of all crimes are committed and who provide most of the single-parent families and drug addicts. Mulgan accepts one of the themes of the conservative American Charles Murray who in Losing Ground (1984) attacked U.S. welfare policy on the ground that too little was


England: Education and Class
being demanded of people. The Labour Party plan seeks to reach the working poor through expanded power to local authorities who would be encouraged to intervene through job training, crime prevention, and healthcare spending, with a national floor of provision as a minimum standard. As Mulgan concedes, the Tories did something along these lines with Single Regeneration Budgets which offered financial incentives to local authorities to coordinate their activities. This was criticized by Labour when invented. Now, the budgets not only will be kept but will increase. The devolution of power to localities, it is hoped, would lead to a fundamental reshaping of Whitehall, just as the new devolution of regional power to Scotland and Wales might do as well. Much of this parallels the change of welfare policies in the United States where the states now have to assume the burden of moving people off welfare. The difference is in the border sociological concept of “social exclusion” and the more positive policies of enlarging the networks of social ties to x bring the excluded groups out of their social isolation.
Source: John Lloyd, “A Plan to Abolish the Underclass,” New Statesman, London, 23 August 1997.

Eating People Is Wrong—or Is It?
“Cannibalism” has become one of the most controversial ideas in contemporary anthropological research. Recent evidence has moved the debate from issues of culture to those of biological science. And now it has also entered literary debate. he term “cannibal” derives from Christopher Columbus, who named the people he encountered on the island of Hispaniola in 1492 the Caniba. But stories about nations of man-eaters have circulated in travel literature since at least Herodotus and became part of western popular lore about primitive peoples. In 1975 William Arens, an American anthropologist, cast doubt on this tradition in a study called The Man-Eating Myth. He argued that such stories were unreliable and derived from a few sensationalist tracts in the Age of Imperialism. Arens charged contemporary anthropology with prejudice and laziness, and called for a new outlook concentrating on more “positive” portrayals of indigenous peoples. Recently Arens’s thesis, which is still widely accepted by cultural anthropologists, has come under scrutiny by physical anthropologists employing the methods of modern biology. Study of a rare disease once prevalent in New Guinea (kuru) suggests that it was passed among native peoples through the eating of human flesh. More recently an archeologist has studied the remains of prehistoric native Americans using advanced chemical and electron microscope techniques, and claims that some of these remains show unmistakable signs of coming from a cannibal meal. This evidence has been questioned by proponents of the Arens thesis, though the debate now has shifted to the realm of anthropological method. How important should contemporary “post-colonial” concerns about “exoticizing” indigenous peoples be in setting a research program? What place should laboratory methods have in the interpretation of cultural data? As the very existence of indigenous people grows more precarious, their importance for answering these fundamental questions only grows. The debate is explored by Lawrence Osborne in the American magazine Lingua Franca . The argument is enlarged by Claude Rawson, Professor of English at Yale University. In a lead-essay of the Times Literary Supplement, October 31, 1997, he reviews two books by the French writer Frank Lestringant, Le Cannibale: Grandeur et Decadence (1994) published as Cannibals (Oxford: Polity Press, 1997) and Une Sainte Horreur, ou le Voyage en Euchariste, XVIXVIII siècles, (Presse Universitaire de France, 1997). The Lestringant volumes do not deal with the purported evidence of cannibalism but, in the first volume, with the perception of cannibalism from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century, in particular with a famous essay by Montaigne; and, in the second volume, with the reaction of Protestantism to the Catholic Eucharist. The first Lestringant volume proposes a schematic distinction between two views on cannibalism. One, associated with Montaigne sees cannibalism as ritualistic; hence Montaigne’s insistence on the symbolic significance of ingesting an enemy’s body. The other is associated with the sixteenth-century Italian savant, Giralamo Cardano, which (based on the Amerindian peoples) associates cannibalism as “depraved sexuality” unrestrained by taboo. The source of such anthropophagi, however, is based on nutritional need and associated with life on isolated islands where resources are scarce. The Eucharist, however—the theme of Lestringant’s second volume—raises different problems. It has been fraught with cannibal associations since earliest days of the Christian church. The Catholic Church has always sought to establish the Eucharist as a symbolic ritual free of any literal relation to body and blood. But as Lestringant points out, the analogy between Amerindian anthropology and the sacrament became, in the 1550s and after, a major bone of polemic in Reformation Europe. Thus the Eucharist became the source of passion and “honor” in the accusations hurled against each other by Protestants and Catholics in the wars of religion in France and Europe. The debate about the Eucharist now belongs, properly, to the historian of religion. The question about the actuality of cannibalism, however, has become central to anthropological debates today.
Sources: Lawrence Osborne, “Does Man Eat Man? Inside the Great Cannibalism Controversy,” Lingua Franca, April/May 1997. Claude Rawson, “The Horror, the Holy Horror,” Times Literary Supplement, October 31, 1997.



Reports from Japan

he World War II generation has faded into old age, and the war itself is a distant memory. Yet in Japan the past has grown not less controversial but more so. In August of 1997, Japan’s Supreme Court ordered the government to pay ¥400,000 (about $3,300) in damages to an eighty-four year old retired professor named Saburo Ienaga. What Ienaga sought was not a better future but a better past: specifically, redress for the education ministry’s altering of his history textbook in ways that he believed whitewashed Japan’s militarist record. Ienaga was at best modestly successful. The court declined to rule that Japan’s official screening of textbooks was unconstitutional, though it did hold that the government had erred in deleting from Ienaga’s own book a passage referring to the notorious Unit 731—an army unit which conducted brutal medical experiments on its Chinese victims. In Japan the ruling was viewed as a minor victory for Ienaga. But Ienaga was indeed the winner. Through his long court battle, which dated back to 1965, he won more public attention for his attack on “official” history than his textbook alone could ever have attracted. Around him rallied left-wing political parties, the country’s powerful teachers’ union, and “progressive” intellectuals—all marshalling diplomatic pressure from South Korea and China and drawing support from the media in both Japan and the West. The inflammatory question of who will write Japan’s “official” history was, at last, fully and publicly engaged. That debate has itself changed and deepened as postwar Japan has matured. Where the struggle once pitted unrepentant hawks against anguished doves, a new generation of conservatives has come to the fore—a group that is markedly different from the traditional right-wingers who blindly glorified Japan’s pre-war militarism. Alarmed by what they regarded as historical “masochism,” the revisionist conservatives have set out to write a textbook of their own. They doubt the official Chinese count of victims in the Nanking massacre, and question whether Korean and Chinese women were officially kidnapped to be sex-slaves (“comfort women”) for Japanese soldiers. Mainly, however, they seek not to deny Japan’s war crimes but, they say, to restore “balance in history” by arguing that Japanese modernization was an important achievement in a Western-dominated world. They have touched a nerve. Reactions to conservative revisionism have been hostile, sometimes even hysterical, in both the Japanese and Western media, yet the public shows quiet but intense interest, possibly reflecting broad support. A series of books called “History that the Textbooks Don’t Tell You,” written by the prominent conservative revisionist Nobukatsu Fujioka, sold as many as three million copies in less than a year. Some suspect that Japan is treated unfairly by an international society still dominated by the winners of World War II, and feel frustrated by a version of history which, as they see it, belittles Japan’s past without leaving room for pride. As the debate intensified, some intellectuals have argued


Japan’s Textbook Debate: Who Controls History?

that a more fundamental issue was missing altogether. Masakazu Yamazaki, a major proponent of this school, argues against teaching any “official” version of history. After all (so the argument goes), the state can never be value-neutral, and promoting any view of history is likely to bring more controversy than national coherence; public education is inevitably guided by politics, which in turn puts diplomacy ahead of objectivity; and history, education, and the state’s relationship to both are delicate matters best left alone by heavyhanded politicians and bureaucrats.1 Strikingly, what is at issue here is not just the shape of the past but the politics of the moment. Historians can and do debate responsibility for the outbreak of World War I without being seen as “pro-French” or “pro-German.” But Japanese historians of World War II find they still cannot afford the luxury of detachment. Politicization has made holding a regular historical discussion of Japan’s wartime behavior almost impossible. In short, the undead specters of Japan’s past pose a whole series of basic questions about Japan’s present—questions whose relevance is hardly limited just to Japan. Can a nation examine its history with detachment while also doing justice to the wrongs it has committed? Can former enemies reconcile their different views of history, and, if not, can they agree to disagree? How far should the government go in blessing and teaching a particular view of the past? Can the state find a middle ground between ignoring its past and mythologizing it? Should the state aspire to neutrality in teaching history, or should it seek to inculcate national pride? None of today’s great powers, if they look back over their long histories, can boast perfectly clean hands. So no country can wisely ignore x the issues that haunt Japan’s textbook debate.
1. See dialogue between Masakazu Yamazaki and Takao Sakamoto, “Kyokashyo, Koredake Wa Iitai [We Want to Say At Least This on the Textbook Issue],” This is Yomiuri, September 1997.

The Feminist Tradition in Japanese Literature
Saiichi Maruya was born in 1925. In the course of his wideranging career, he translated James Joyce and Henry Green, wrote novels, and authored influential criticism. In this article he focuses on a curious contrast between the Chinese and Japanese literary traditions: while the former is almost completely lacking in traditional romantic stories, the latter has them in abundance. Counter to many widely held perceptions of Japanese society as male-dominated, Maruya traces the difference back to the maternal nature of the Japanese family system.


any traditional Japanese popular literary works, both medieval and modern, turn on the theme of female salvation: women are frequently depicted attaining Buddhahood by dying a “calm death” (Nyonin Jobutsu). These stories assert that while women must live tough lives, they are expected to travel to the comfortable Pure


Reports from Japan
Land after their death. That may be one reason why it is always the woman’s name which comes first whenever a couple is mentioned in these works (i.e., “Okaru Kanpei” in contrast to Western equivalents such as “Romeo and Juliet” or “Tristan und Isolde”). The idea of bringing salvation to women, and particularly that of helping those of easy morals to go to the Pure Land, is totally missing in Chinese literature. Though Japanese literature obviously adopted a great deal from Chinese literature, this theme of female salvation demonstrates how Japanese literature struck out on its own path rather than becoming assimilated into the Chinese literary world. What made Japan distinct from China was its ancient family system. Novelists and dramatists, in most cases, work out stories and develop characters based upon archetypes of their national memories. While many Western literary works are set against a background of maternal families, the theme of a very old Japanese story called “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” is thought to be a yearning for the old maternal family system. The heroine eventually travels to the moon, a symbol of femininity and the maternal society. The fact that this story became so popular among women in ancient years seems to derive from deep-rooted nostalgia for an ancient age in which maternal families had been a dominant social institution. This explains why Japan could adopt modern Western literature so easily upon its exposure to Western influence in the nineteenth century. Western literature is often characterized by “discovery of loves and romances” in twelfth-century Provencal literature. In the Japanese context, however, the focus on romantic themes was fueled not only by the Japanese eroticism or the subtle concept of beauty known as “Monono Aware,” but also by faint memories of the ancient maternal family system, which was not overwhelmed by more systematic dogmas like Confucianism or Christianity. In any case, scholars and critics have persistently neglected the importance of female worship and the appreciation of femininity in Japanese literature, which actually make up one of its most striking characteristics. But the literary history of a country which produced the female author of one of the oldest epic novels in the world, Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji, cannot be interpreted by applying standards taken from the literary hisx tories of other countries.
Source: Saiichi Maruya, “Onna No Sukuware (Salvation of Women),” Gunzo, February 1996.

The Japanese Way of Thinking
Megumi Sakabe is a philosopher who teaches at the University of Tokyo. Though extremely knowledgeable about Western philosophy, he also has a reputation as a sharp and original thinker about Japanese language and culture. In this article he illuminates the distinctiveness of Japanese culture by means of linguistic and lexicological analyses. In earlier ages such an approach might have garnered accusations of “exoticism” or narrowminded nationalism. With the end of Western intellectual predominance, however, Japanese authors are now much freer from old inferiority complexes toward the West. The author, working from a model of cultural pluralism, gains the needed distance for reflections on his native tongue by writing in French and English. n many of the films of Yasujiro Ozu, the gradual disappearance of traditional Japanese lyricism or sentiment is expressed in the everyday movements of women from a middle-class family. In Japan, the physical acts of everyday life, such as sitting or standing, are imbued with subtle but deeply rooted rituals. We could undoubtedly extract much significance from the fact that the difference between everyday movements and ritual movements is more obscure in Japan than in the West. More generally, the traditional Japanese way of thinking eschews fixed and rigid dichotomies between substance and appearance, mind and body, inside and outside, visible and invisible. The old Japanese word “omozashi” derives from the concept “manazashi,” meaning “look.” “Omozashi” is formed by replacing “mana,” or “eyes,” with “omote,” which denotes both “mask” and “face.” “Omozashi” refers both to the act of looking and the state of being observed. It thus encompasses both introspection and observation of the self by someone else; the subject can behold itself as if it were another. This way of thinking can be more stylized and refined, as implied by the fact that actors with masks (one meaning of the word “omote”) play roles that personify gods or spirits in Noh Theater. “Omote” also means “surface”. But it does not imply that surfaces are something opposed to reality. On the contrary, the only surfaces in the traditional Japanese way of thinking are reversible ones. The world is a bundle of many different surfaces and their reflections. In this world of indefinite metamorphoses, the word “kage,” or “shadow,” also denotes light and shape. “Tsukikage” (“tsuki” meaning “moon”) is the light of the moon and “hitokage” (“hito” meaning “person”) is the silhouette of a person. In a world of reflections, reflections are all that exist in stark contrast to the world of appearances and substances postulated by Western philosophy. Another Japanese word, “omoi,” means “thinking.” In the world consisting of uncountable reflections, people think by bundling various “omote,” faces which become reflected in the mirrors of their minds. Ultimate existence is the basis of all reflections, though this ultimate being never becomes visible itself. Traditionally, the Japanese have referred to this ontological base as “ku” (hollowness), “mu” (nothingness), or



Reports from Japan
“michi” (a way). In popular culture these concepts are expressed only metaphorically, passed on from one generation to the next through the imitation of stylized daily routines and movements. In Noh Theater, one expresses “omoi,” or thinking which lurks deep in the mind, by extremely subtle, parsimonious, and highly stylized manners or movements. Ozu’s films recall Noh plays in the subtly stylized movements of their women, though always with a hint of nostalgia for sentiments that already belong to the past.
Source: Megumi Sakabe, “Nihonbunka Ni Okeru Kamen To KageNihon No Shikou No Senzaiteki Sonzairon”, in Kagami No Naka No Nihongo [“The Mask and the Shadow in the Japanese Culture Ontology in the Japanese Way of Thinking”, in The Japanese Language in a Mirror], Chikuma Shobo, 1993.

life, which derives to some extent from Christianity, Japan’s disinterest in life ethics is alarming. Over the last ten years, while Western countries have spent enormous energy trying to determine how and when human life starts, Japanese, interestingly, have been far more concerned with the problem of when life ends (in connection with brain death). If we are to follow Western examples, we need to prepare a comprehensive report and create opportunities for nationwide discussion. x
Source: Shohei Yonemoto, “Kuron Hitsuji Ga Tou Seimeirinri Naki Nihon”[Japan’s Life Ethics Questioned by Cloned Sheep], Chuo Koron, June 1997.

Cloning and Ethics Viewed from Japan
Shohei Yonemoto is a historian of science. Born in 1946, he graduated from the science department of Kyoto University. He currently serves as the head of the program on life science and society at the Mitsubishi Kasei Institute of Life Sciences. In this article, while correcting many popular misperceptions about the technology of cloning, he expresses alarm at the lack of ethical discussion and the poor system of dealing with the issue in Japan.


ince it was believed far more difficult to clone mammals than amphibians, the revelation in March 1996 about Dolly, the sheep successfully cloned from the cell of another adult sheep, caused a major sensation in Western countries. Once the basic mechanism is understood, the technology will be applicable to human beings as well. For that reason, it is time to begin a serious discussion about prohibiting cloning of human beings. In Western countries, in stark contrast to Japan, the story of the cloned sheep immediately became linked with the issue of human cloning. In the course of active discussion, it became clear that a cloned human is merely an identical twin, and horror stories like “cloned Hitler” are empty fantasies. Recent scientific research has already proved that DNA is far from a detailed blueprint of higher forms of life. DNA does not determine personality. In the States, the scientific concept of DNA has been transformed into an icon—one that fuels debates over life, family, and human relations. Those jaded by ideological battles over values now seem to be turning to natural science as a substitute. This probably is why life science attracts such a strong emotional reaction in the U.S. In contrast, the European discussion remains relatively cool-headed. This is because most European countries have already taken legal measures to control the application of reproductive technology to humans—unlike the U.S., where abortion is still a heated political issue. In contrast with the serious Western interest in ethics of

ompared to such Japanese literary stars as Kawabata or Tanizaki (let alone the flamboyant Yukio Mishima), the historical novelist Ryotaro Shiba is little known outside Japan. Yet within Japan, Ryotaro Shiba (born in 1923 as Teiichi Fukuda) was more widely read and appreciated than Mishima or even the Japanese Nobel Prize winner Kenzaburo Oe. This was evident in the outpouring of tributes and special issues of the media at his death in February 1996. Working steadily from the beginning of the 1960s until the mid-1990s, Shiba had an extraordinarily productive career. In works of fiction alone, he published fifty-seven books, and when travelogues, essays, and commentaries are added in, the total comes to more than 200 titles. From Fukuro no shiro [The Owl Castle] (1960)—the novel that captured the Naoki Prize and launched Shiba’s career—to Dattan shippu roku [Record of a Gale from Tartary] (1987), these full-length novels take the reader sailing on the sea of history 1 using a skillful blend of erudition and imagination. With their cast of highly original, unforgettable characters, these novels are pervaded by an abiding love of people and a gentle drollness that the term “humor” cannot adequately convey. Shiba’s historical novels won praise early in his career, but it was not until recent years that critics began to produce intellectually provocative criticism that went to the heart of the man and his work. One of the finest pieces of literary criticism on Shiba’s work is Saiichi Maruya’s “Notes on Ryotaro Shiba.”2 Although its somewhat startling assertions sometimes invite dispute, this gracefully eloquent essay actively engages the reader in pondering the significance and nature of Shiba’s literary contribution. The essay begins on a perplexed note: “I was amazed that the author of such lucid and straightforward (which is not to say simplistic) prose had been so misunderstood. But Maruya posits that the major difference between Shiba’s work and the conventional popular novel lies in the essentially comic underpinnings of Shiba’s literary style. Noting his impression that novels set in modern Japan are generally inferior to those dealing with the period prior to the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Maruya imagines Shiba pondering to himself, “Is it really possible to depict modern Japan through the art form of the novel?


Ryotaro Shiba: Japan’s Storyteller


Reports from Japan
Or rather, is my method a suitable vehicle for dealing with Japan’s modernization process in such a direct manner?” It is a flawless piece of writing that delights in its stylistic grace. Another critic who early on showed—and continues to show—the way to a meaningful interpretation of Shiba’s work is Masakazu Yamazaki, one of the directors of the Committee on Intellectual Correspondence, with whom Shiba particularly enjoyed matching wits in the published colloquies. In “When You Speak of the Insanity and the Supernatural,” Yamazaki astutely points out that “Shiba’s view of history does not diminish the past by passing judgment on it from the present-day perspective; nor does it imbue the past with a special mystique and pass judgment on the present from that lofty vantage point. Moreover, in portraying a particular historical figure, the author never abandons the historical perspective to glorify the future as an individual.”3 His unwavering position is that Shiba’s novels leave readers with a feeling of optimism because “in his eyes, all human beings appear as ordinary human people, yet he does not belittle the ordinary person. It seems this writer does not believe that human beings are essentially weak, not that weakness is countenanced.” Immediately after Shiba’s death in 1996, the April issue of the major cultural periodical Bungei Shunju featured a collection of tributes entitled “Farewell, Ryotaro Shiba.” In his contribution, titled “A Person Who Passed Like the Wind,” Yamazaki wrote as follows: “What Shiba despised all his life was not history per se but historicism….A politically driven sense of historical mission has dominated Japanese society since World War II, no less than in the pre-war era. To fight against this tyranny, Shiba made bold to view history divested of meaning, purpose, or a sense of mission.” He concluded his tribute with an expression of the deepest reverence: “Neither glamorizing nor belittling human life, devoid of the self-love that generates complacency and shunning the self-pity that leads to self-indulgence, Shiba was a great man also in the way he lived his life.”4 What was it that left such a profound and lasting impression on Yamazaki? Perhaps it was Shiba’s courage and integrity as a man of letters, the compassionate—though occasionally chiding or bemused—love for humanity that he preserved throughout despite his keen awareness of the evanescence of human life and its trappings. In May 1996, Bungei Shunju published a special issue called “The World of Ryotaro Shiba,” and the following September Chuo Koron, a leading cultural magazine, put out a special tribute issue, “Footsteps of Ryotaro Shiba.” Both were enthusiastically received by the tens of thousands of readers who continue to revere the work Shiba has left behind. The publication in October the same year of Eiichi Tanizawa’s Ryotaro Shiba, a compilation of tributes, eulogies, and other essays written immediately after Shiba’s death, represented an extremely rare event in the book world.5 And the comprehensive Gifts from Ryotaro Shiba offers up the cumulative efforts of those who have carefully distilled the essence of Shiba’s work over the years and reveals, through gems of prose and dialogue (beginning with the marvelous essay “Because of Shiba’s Character”), why Shiba’s literary oeuvre, a veritable treasure house for the study of humanity, has quietly inspired Japanese readers for so many years.6 A translation of Shiba’s Saigo no Shogun is scheduled to be published in English as The x Last Shogun by Kodansha America Inc. in May 1998.
1. Among other works are: Ryoma ga yuku [ Ryoma Goes Forth] (1963-66;); Kunitori monogatari [A Tale of Realm-Taking], (1965-66 ); Nanohana no oki [Sea of Rape Flowers]. 2. ”Shiba Ryotaro-ron noto” in Mimizuku no yume [Dreams of Owls], (Tokyo:Chuo Koron Sha, 1985). 3. ”Kunshi ga kairiki ranshin o kataru toki” in Samishii ningen [Lonely Person] (Tokyo: Kawade Shobo Shin-sha, 1978). 4. Kaze no you ni satta hito. 5. Tokyo: PHP Institute, 1996. 6. Shiba Ryotaro no okurimono, Vols. 1-3, (Tokyo: PHP Institute, 1994-97). A forthcoming volume is currently being serialized in the monthly magazine Rekishi Kaido put out by the same publisher.

Octavio Paz on Love
ctavio Paz is one of the great European cultural icons of the twentieth century. He is a poet beyond praise, a critic beyond criticism, and an essayist whose insights illuminate our mediocre culture with the gorgeous richness of a stained glass window. Yet he speaks to us from afar. His bell-like voice chimes uneasily with the idiom of contemporary cultural studies. It comes to us from the almost forgotten classical renaissance world of our childhood, bearing a message that seems to belong to an earlier century. Yet if the context seems archaic, his latest book is resolutely up to date. How are we to conceive of the timeworn themes of love and beauty, he asks, in an era of mass consumption? High on his agenda is the current debasement of eroticism. ”Capitalism,” he writes dolefully, ”has turned Eros into an employee of Mammon.” He concludes sadly that the power of love has almost been extinguished by the twin evils of promiscuity and money..Paz is magnificent in his denunciations, noting bitterly how political parties—the agents of democracy—”have turned into bureaucratic steamrollers and powerful cabals.” Yet while his analysis of what has been happening is original, his solutions are curiously familiar: “The ills that afflict modern society are political and economic, but they are moral and spiritual as well, threatening the foundation of our civilization—the idea of the human person.” Only in the regenerative power of love can these evils be overcome. One of the great virtues of Octavio Paz is his resolute humanism. Where others would put God, Paz puts love. Faced with the degeneration of our politics, he appeals to “the creative imagination of our philosophers, artists and scientists to rediscover not what is most distant but what is most near and everyday.”
Source: Richard Gott, review of The Double Flame: Essays on Love and Eroticism, (Harvill, 1997), The Guardian Weekly, Sept. 8, 1997.



A Miscellany

The Shrinking of Foreign News
elevision, as is well known, is the main means whereby an American audience receives its foreign and national news. During the Vietnam War television brought the war into every American “living room,” and these images and reports were instrumental, it is generally believed, in turning American opinion against the war and persuading Lyndon Johnson not to run for a second term. But now, as Garrick Utley, the former chief correspondent for NBC and ABC news, reports in Foreign Affairs that international coverage by the American networks has declined precipitously: at ABC by half, from more than sixty hours a year in 1989 to thirty hours in 1996; at NBC from fifty-six hours to less than twenty. In 1978, Utley reports, in one week he had flown from London to the Netherlands to cover the South Noluccan seizure of hostages, to southern Lebanon for the Israeli incursion to the Litani River, to Rome for the kidnapping of Prime Minister Aldo Moro—three stories in three countries on two continents in five days. But now, the mass public shows little sustained interest in what is happening abroad, and even dramatic events are routine or so prolonged, as in Bosnia, as to create boredom. Paradoxically, U.S. global influence is reaching its peak in trade, technology, and popular culture, and more Americans than ever are working abroad. And more international information is available than ever before, but targeted for special markets or ethnic groups. Satellites transmit news and features to new business-and-financial and all-news channels, and three networks now operate around the clock: CNN which began broadcasting in 1980, the Fox news network of Rupert Murdoch, and a new NBC all-news set of stations. In addition, there is the growing multitude of Web-sites on the Internet. What this means for the idea of “public opinion” remains to be explored. What is clear is that for the mass audiences and for the national


political forums, “celebrity” and personality become overriding as the focus of attention. The shrinkage of foreign news reporting is occurring in the United Kingdom as well, according to a column in The Spectator by Stephen Glover, The Daily Express, which had thirty staff foreign correspondents, recently dispensed with the services of its American stringer. Glover cites as an instance of the earlier role of the foreign correspondent, “the enchanting” new book by Richard Beeston, Looking for Trouble (Brasseys I) which recounted his adventures over the past forty years, in the Gulf, Lebanon, and Africa for the News Chronicle (now defunct) and the Daily Telegraph. Glover’s explanation is the end of empire. When Great Britain had an empire which covered India, most of West Africa, South Africa, as well as Singapore, Burma, and a large presence in Asia, readers could identify with those places and events. The end of empire meant a retreat to “the little England.” Will Europe now expand its s horizons?
Sources: Garrick Utley, “The Shrinking of Foreign News,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 1997. Stephen Glover, The Spectator, Aug. 2, 1997.

enjoyed… but whose consequences and social costs are off the screen.” All of which prompted The Nation to organize a special issue on travel. (October 6, 1997). There are, among the eleven articles, the predictable hortatory essays on those somber themes, yet there is also a spritely article by Eric Alterman on a one-week cruise of the Alaska by-ways with a National Review tour, which ends with Milton Friedman proclaiming that Norman Thomas has been the most influential figure “in the history of this country,” since every one of the planks in his 1928 platform has been enacted; a sober visit to Haiti by Pico Iyer contrasting the global visions with a stubborn reality; an instructive essay by Miklos Vamos about all the souvenirs one can buy of the remembrance of things past in Budapest; and a pleasurable essay by Jan Morris, the veteran travel writer, about the genre of travel s writing and some five guide books.
Source: Special issue on travel, The Nation, October 6, 1997.

Lest We Forget— Srebrenica
a clutch of hills in eastern Bosnia where an atrocity was committed in July 1995, wrecking the comfortable assumption that Europe had somehow risen above barbarism. Nothing has been said or done to dispel the widespread suspicion that the murder of more than 7,000 Muslims by Serb troops in a United Nations-designated “safe area” could have been prevented with a small show of Nato’s military might…. In A Safe Area David Rohde endeavors to cut through the blanket of complacency, in the hope that some lessons might be drawn….From months of interviews with survivors, Serb soldiers, and Dutch U.N. peacekeepers, Rohde, an American journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for his work in Bosnia, reconstructs the chain of events moment by moment from July 6, when the Serb attack began, to the bulldozing of the bodies into mass graves ten days later…. The book opens with a description of

Tourism: Second Largest Economy


rebrenica…the name of a town and


nly five percent of the world’s population is affluent enough to travel for pleasure, but tourism…is now the world’s number-one employer and its first or second largest industry vying with oil for top billing. At more than $3.5 trillion a year the tourism industry, if it were a country, would have the second largest economy on the planet. As the U.N.-sponsored World Tourism Organization has declared, tourism has the potential to be “a great and sustaining force for peace.” But it can also despoil the environment, degrade indigenous peoples and distort economies…. And yet in our newspapers’ Sunday supplements and our travel-niche weeklies, monthlies, and leisure guides, travel is presented almost exclusively…to be


A Miscellany
Serb forces shelling U.N. observation posts, as they close in on the “safe area.” The resulting panic within the enclave is tangible, mingled with a growing sense of betrayal as Muslim civilians and Dutch soldiers search the sky in vain for promised Nato air support. At each agonizing step, the use of air power is blocked by the U.N. hierarchy. When intervention is finally approved and Dutch bombers attempt a bombing run on some Serb tanks, the attacking force is already at the entrance to Srebrenica town—it is too late…. The epilogue to A Safe Area makes depressing reading. The survivors of Srebrenica are still refugees grieving for lost families. The perpetrators of the massacre are still at large. General Mladic has retired to raise goats “named after the former U.N. commanders in Bosnia and s the leaders of the Western world.”
Sources: David Rohde, A Safe Area: Srebrenica—Europe’s Worst Massacre Since the Second World War, Simon & Schuster, 1977. Julian Borger, The Guardian Weekly, September 21, 1997.

Africa and the Black Intellectual
The rise to prominence of black intellectuals in American public life has renewed the debate over the “African” and “American” aspects of Afro-American identity.


t the height of black radicalism in the 1960s, a civil rights activist named Ron Karenga, now professor of black studies in California under the name Maulana Karenga, invented a holiday for African-Americans called Kwanzaa. Relying on a pastiche of ideas from Julius Nyerere and Leopold Senghor, Karenga an-nounced that there was a black system of seven basic values which he called Kawaida (a Swahili word for “tradition”) and called on black Americans to celebrate them every year in a seven-day festival. The holiday attracted interest only slowly but today is a major one in black American life and is celebrated in many schools. The festivities begin just after Christmas and include ceremonies

employing candles, mats, and ritual cups, and gifts of fruit and nuts are offered to recall African harvest festivals. The holiday is also big business, having spawned a significant industry in greeting cards and books. Gerald Early, a well-known professor of Afro-American studies, has very mixed feelings about this festival, whose history he recounts. He notes that blacks in the past often resented the attention given to a “white” Christmas and to Hanukkah, but wonders whether a festival like Kwanzaa does not further alienate black Americans, who are overwhelmingly Christian, from that holiday. He also wonders whether the pastoral notion of Africa as a “paradise lost” will actually serve its therapeutic end of instilling pride and self-respect, or simply encourage the view that the American black is, in his words, “an African manqué and an American manqué.” He adds that “in creating a cultural orthodoxy designed to combat racism, urban disorder, and a legacy of oppression, we subject ourselves to delusional dogma, the tyranny of conformity, and language that rings of fascist imagery.” Early’s article appears at a time when many black intellectuals are reflecting about their cultural relation to the continent of Africa. As black Americans have risen on virtually ever scale—economic, educational, cultural—interest in Africa as an ethnic homeland has also risen. Courses in African history and art have become popular in universities, African clothing and hair styles can be seen on the streets of major cities, and (more controversially) books have appeared asserting the African roots of much western culture. But this growing Afro-centrism has also provoked dissent among some black intellectuals themselves, who feel that Africa is being romanticized and that all attempts to establish cultural links between the contemporary continent and Americans descended from slaves is artificial. Keith Richburg, a respected black journalist from the Washington Post, has recently written a blistering attack on what he calls Afro-centric romanticism. After many years spent living in and reporting from Africa, Richburg is highly crit-

ical of the illiberal régimes there and complains that American blacks have been unwilling to criticize them openly. He denies that Africa can or should be the source of black American identity, and says that only in Africa did he learn s just how American he really is.
Sources: Gerald Early, “Dreaming of a Black Christmas: Kwanzaa Bestows the Gifts of Therapy.” Harper’s, January 1997. Keith B. Richburg, Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa, New York: Basic Books, 1997.

Society Without Fathers, Husbands
he Na community, high in the mountains of Sichuan province in China, upsets some of the best-established anthropological theories: it exists and perpetuates itself without fathers or husbands. This means that marriage and dual filiation, the very basis of the family as we usually know it, do not apply to all human communities. In Na society, which Cai Hua analyzes in Une Société Sans Père Ni Mari, free love is not a form of dissent, or a daring, blameworthy license, but a rock-solid institution, and all Na children are—in Western parlance—illegitimate. The 30,000-strong Na people live in the remote Yongning basin, which lies at an altitude of 2,760 meters near the border between Yunan and Sichuan provinces. They are linked to the rest of the country by two roads; there is almost no mail service and only a skeletal telephone network…. In the 1960s, Chinese ethnologists espoused the Engels-inspired evolutionist argument that groups like the Na, who had remained at a backward stage of group marriage, should go on to the final and desirable stage of matrimony. The effect of their publications was so unfortunate for the Na that when Hua came to tell the true story of their society, he had difficulty in overcoming their mistrust. The Na believe that, just as the rain allows the grass to grow, men are “waterers” who allow women to have children. Their role is necessary and beneficial, but nevertheless secondary,



A Miscellany
because the “bone,” which is regarded as the vehicle of hereditary characteristics, comes from the mother. All those who are descended from the same female ancestor are said to be people of the same bone; they live together and share “the same pot and the same fire.” When a child is born, it automatically belongs to the mother’s group. The kinship system, mode of residence, and economic unit are all strictly matrilineal: the mother, her children of either sex, and her daughters’ children live together in each household from generation to generation. Any men in the household are necessarily brothers or maternal uncles. The latter play the role of the father, who does not even exist in the Na vocabulary. Kinship exists only between those who have a common “bone” and are thus considered blood relatives. They are consequently bound by the prohibition of incest, which exists among the Na. It is very strictly applied: there is a ban on any sexual allusion, risqué remark or even proximity between such relatives (they cannot travel at night or watch television together). This strictness contrasts with the very great sexual freedom they enjoy outside their own lineage. The “furtive visit” is the Na’s favorite activity. It always takes place at the home of the chosen woman, whose suitor joins her at about midnight and leaves at dawn…. Chinese communist authorities have regularly put pressure on the Na to change their ways. They think that the Na’s lifestyle “hinders the people’s awareness of the class struggle,” and that it is counterproductive because all they can think of is sex instead of working, and unhealthy because it encourages the spread of venereal disease. There have been four successive attempts at “matrimonial reforms”. The first attempted to persuade the Na of “the superiority of socialist monogamy”. On two occasions, in 1966 and 1971, a working party tried to impose marriage on all those who practiced “conspicuous visits”; but most couples separated after it had departed. In 1974, women were forced to name the actual or supposed father of the child(ren) and make their relationship official in order to receive their annual cereal ration. The result was a “social earthquake”: young people did not dare meet any more for fear of ending up married. But it is schooling rather than armtwisting that has slowly changed things. Some Na teachers use the Chinese language to educate the community’s youngsters (the Na language does not exist in written form.) Pupils discover different values: their primary school manuals talk about fathers, not just maternal uncles. Biology tells them that hereditary has nothing to do with the “bone” of the mother. It looks very much as though the Na’s “bachelor society”— despite its persistence—will eventually disintegrate, and remain no more than an oddity in the annals of anthropology. “The case of the Na shows that marriage and the family cannot be regarded as universal, either logically or historically,” Hua says. What then is the common feature of all human societies, apart from the prohibition of incest? Hua argues that it is the “desire principle” which encourages the possession of a partner or, on the contrary, a multiplication of relationships. A given society can institutionalize only one of those contradictory systems, thus inhibiting the other. There are, therefore, “marriage societies” and, in the present state of our knowledge, only one “visiting society”, s that of the Na.
[The Na seem to enact the fantasy of the Marquis de Sade who, in his novel Aline et Valcour, pictures the utopian kingdom of Zame where there was no marriage, and free love reigned—except that it was the male who enjoyed the pleasures in picking out his amours.] Source: Nicole Lapierre, review of Une Société Sans Père Ni Mari, The Guardian Weekly , November 2, 1997.

A New Canonade


t is the view of Mr. Pico Iyer, a Britishborn Indian writer who now lives in California and Japan, that a new literary voice is, as he writes, “beginning to remake the contours of the global village.” It is this voice he calls “Tropical Classical.” Its three living masters are “Derek Walcott in poetry, Michael

Ondaatje in fiction, and Richard Rodriguez in the essay form.” What distinguishes these writers, in his view, is their “ability to season high classical forms with a lyrical beauty drawn from the streets and beaches of their homes.” It is this ability that is said to enable these writers to “put sparkling new wine into cobwebbed old bottles, and shake the whole thing up to make it fizz.” “Despite the infelicity of the metaphor, Mr. Iyer has clearly taken hold of an important subject. It is his political treatment of it, however, that suggests that we may now be entering upon a new era of literary demagoguery….For first on Mr. Iyer’s list of writers to be downgraded in the interests of the Tropical Classical initiative is Henry James. ‘Imagine Henry James on the back streets of Tijuana,’ he writes, as if nothing more need be said on the subject.” In “Welcome to the Age of Tropical Classical,” this passing swipe at James quickly proves to be merely a foil for a far graver indictment of V.S. Naipaul. It isn’t enough for Mr. Iyer to extol the literary virtues of Derek Walcott. In the interest of advancing the Tropical Classical cause, Mr. Naipaul—described as Mr. Walcott’s “fellow writer of the Caribbean, the dean of the old postimperial debate”—must be maligned…. While acknowledging that “to be sure, some of our current liberation is largely the result of what the likes of Naipaul have achieved, now that students can devour copies of Guerrillas in twentieth-century English literature classes,” Mr. Iyer nonetheless condemns V.S. Naipaul for what is said to be his tendency “to affiliate himself with the most traditional, conservative aspect of the Old World order….” The gravamen of his charge against V.S. Naipaul is very much akin to V.L. Parrington’s attack on Henry James (fifty years ago). It is politics masquerading as literary aesthetics—the kind of politics that, as many people in the international literary world have long been aware, have already cost Mr. Naipaul the Nobel Prize he should have s been awarded years ago.
Source: Hilton Kramer, “Notes and Comments” The New Criterion, June 1997.



To Place a Stone


very culture has some means of mourning its own dead. The human species, in fact, is the only one that buries its dead or ceremoniously disposes of its ashes. In some faiths, the children place a stone on the grave of a parent as a mark of remembrance. Those who are famous receive public recognition. This year, Sir Victor Pritchett died at age 96. As James Wood remarked in The Guardian Weekly, “The 1,300 page Collected Essays…is one of the great achievements of criticism in English.” Two figures, once marginal in American life as avatars of the counter-culture, received homage as cultural icons on their passing. Allen Ginsberg's death was mourned in The New Yorker with a “Postscript,” a Richard Avedon photograph and a two-page spread of his poem “Death and Fame.” William Burroughs, whose Naked Lunch was the epiphany of the drug culture, was given a page in the section of the London Economist that notes each week the passing of an important figure. But there are others whose passing often goes virtually unnoticed outside their own country, or whose work was completed so long ago, that they are almost forgotten. Here, we wish to “place a stone” on the sites of those who have made a contribution to culture or society.

child. “Old people would tell tales in the village,” he once recalled. “After they returned from work on the farm, after dinner, for amusement people told tales of days gone by, and the spirits of people lived.” The Palm-Wine Drunkard told of a village life in Nigeria, replete with magical potions and bizarre, mythic creatures. That work as well as My Life in the Bush of Ghosts were also made into plays. “His works are African classics because they deal in folklores which are uniquely presented in refreshing idioms and similes that are truly African,” said Remi Adekokun, a theater arts lecturer at the University of Ibadan.
Source: New York Times, June 15, 1997.

Fela Kuti Bohumil Hrabal
n February 3, 1997, the 82-year old Bohumil Hrabal, considered by many the greatest modern writer in the Czech language, fell out of a window to his death. While recovering from hip surgery, he apparently tried to feed some birds from his hospital window and lost his balance. He was found in a peaceful pose, as if only resting on the sidewalk. Hrabal’s bizarre and tragic end raised questions about the official version of the accident, especially since voluntary falls appear in at least two of his books. (Defenestration has a special place in Czech history. One marked the beginning of the Hussite revolution in the middle ages. Later, the throwing of Catholic emissaries from the palace window onto a pile of manure triggered the Thirty Years War. And after the Communist takeover in 1943, Jan Masaryk, the democratic leader, fell or was pushed from a window to his death.) Hrabal took almost thirty years to publish his first book. He had stopped writing two years before his death yet left behind some twenty volumes of collected writings. While most shelves of the bookstores of Communist Czechoslovakia were stocked with stories of collectivization, Hrabal captured the


heart of the Czech readers with shockingly realistic, cruel, yet poetic books, including I Served the King of England, Too Loud a Solitude and Closely Watched Trains (which was made into a film by Milos Forman.) Hrabal’s language has its roots in the tradition of the pub tale, an exaggerated story nobody around the tale believes, but everyone enjoys. He reworked this raw material endlessly, rewriting until everyday language was distilled into poetry. Like the experiences of Prague’s sixteenth-century alchemists turning gray stones into gold, this metamorphosis of casual conversations into art will keep university departments of Czech literature busy for many years.
Source: Tomas Pospiszyl with Jen Nessel, The Nation, June 30, 1997.


Amos Tutola


mos Tutola, who wrote a series of novels in a distinctive Yorubainfluenced version of English, died in the Nigerian city of Ibadan on June 14 at the age of 77. Amos Tutola had only a basic formal education, but he made his name during the 1950s and 1960s with a series of novels drawn from African folktales he had heard as a

ela Kuti, who died at age 58 from an AIDS-related disease, was the best known and most controversial musician in Africa. A flamboyant rebel who spent much of his life criticizing successive military regimes in his native Nigeria, he became famous for his outrageous lifestyle and outspoken statements on religion, politics, and sex. But he deserves to be remembered not just for his wild, often infuriating antics, but for his main achievement, his fine musicianship and the creation of Afro-Beat, a new musical style in which jazz and African influences were mixed in semiimprovised song that could last for up to an hour…. In the early 1980s, when he recorded much of his best material, including the albums Black President and Underground System, it seemed that Fela Anikulapa Kuti (as he now called himself) was destined to become a major international star. But in September 1984, as he was preparing for a major American tour, he was jailed on currency charges at a time when yet another military régime had taken over. Fela Kuti was an infuriating but often brilliant figure who lived a bizarre but painful life and should be remembered not just for his antics but his bravery and his music. His eldest son Femi, for many years a part of his band at The


Shrine, now seems set to take over his father’s great musical legacy. (In the New Left Review (London, Feb. 25, 1997) John Howe reports: “Lagos, a town whose population is unreliably estimated at eight to ten million, turned out for Fela’s funeral procession on 20 August, seven choked hours from Tafawa Balewa Square on Lagos Island to Ikeja.”)
Source: Robin Denselow, The Guardian Weekly, August 10, 1997.

Masao Maruyama
asao Maruyama, who died aged 82, was one of Japan’s most creative political thinkers. In 1942, he took the new chair in the history of oriental political thought on Tokyo Imperial University’s law faculty. Two years later, as he was just finishing his final article in his trilogy on pre-modern Confucianism and nationalism—works still true classics on the subject—he was conscripted. At the war’s end, he was a private soldier in the ruins of Hiroshima…. After the war, he wrote essays on the causes of Japan’ militarist experiences and on the baleful excesses of nationalism. He probed into the Japanese mind to explain why it had to happen. These essays were also a powerful plea to Japanese intellectuals to be involved in politics, to nurture and preserve what he saw as a fragile postwar democratic system. These essays, too, have become classics among writings on modern Japan. Several were translated and published in 1963 as Thought and Behavior In Modern Japanese Politics…. When Marxism became the predominant Japanese intellectual trend, Maruyama never became a Marxist. He disdained grandiose theorizing and considered that ideas are far too independently powerful to be dismissed as a mere mirroring of the production system…. From the mid-1960s he began a natural progression from his earlier research to what he called the prototype of the Japanese mentality. He later renamed it the “substratum” and sometimes called it “the obstinate bass.” What is it, he asked, that gives Japanese the inordinate ability to absorb foreign ideas and institutions—and the ability


to use them for the needs of Japan? He made meticulous and fascinating philological analyses of the chronicles, poetry, and other writings of ancient Japan. He aimed to identify what it was that was truly original in the structure of the Japanese mentality which has affected and defined the incessant inflow of foreign ideas and institutions. He came to argue that the persistent “obstinate bass” image which the Japanese had of the universe was the notion that “the beginning of the heaven and the earth is in the present.” If the present is forever the beginning of the universe, there is no incumbency on the past to inhibit the acceptance of something new or alien should it meet the needs of the present. Such a mentality would discard the intellectual import or store it on the shelves of history for later use. His argument seems to be that this obstinately recurring pattern of thinking made Japanese utilitarian, and difficult for them to comprehend the historical meanings of the foreign ideas or institutions that Japan so easily grafted upon itself…. Harvard and Princeton presented him with honorary doctorates. He was a visiting professor at Harvard, Oxford, Princeton, and the University of California at Berkeley.
Source: Tatsuo Arima, The Guardian Weekly, September 8, 1996.

Andrei Sinyavsky


ndrei Sinyavsky, one of the heroic figures of the Russian resistance and, more than that, one of the most remarkable critics of Russian literature, died in March 1997 at age 71. Yet the dispiriting fact is that his death passed virtually unnoticed, neither with an obituary in the New York Times nor any discussion of his work in the leading cultural periodicals in the world. Sinyavsky had achieved worldwide fame when it was revealed in 1966 that he had published clandestinely in the West a series of works under the name of “Abram Tertz,” which was a distinctive voice in mocking socialist realism, and several novels such as Lyubimov (published in the West as The Make-

peace Experiment) which mingled the modes of fantasy, surrealism, and science fiction. Sinyavsky and a friend, Yuli Daniel, were put on trial in February 1966 for sending their opinions to the West. The proceedings, published in samizdat in a White Book set off an explosion of underground publishing. Sinyavsky was sentenced to seven years of hard labor of which he served five and a half years. During that time he composed what Michael Scammel has called “one of the most original works ever to appear on the labor camps,” A Voice from the Chorus. He also made notes for two unconventional books of criticism, In Gogol’s Shadow and Strolls with Pushkin. The latter book, when finally published in Russia, became the most controversial book from the glasnost period for its irreverent portrait of Russia’s iconic poet. (Yale Univ. Press published an English translation in 1993). Sinyavsky had received his doctorate in Russian literature from Moscow University in 1952 and wrote several essays in the three-volume history of Russian literature published by the Academy of Sciences. He also published noteworthy studies of post-revolutionary poetry, in particular a study of Boris Pasternak that remains one of the classic essays on that difficult poet. Alexander Twardovsky, the editor of Novy Mir, the leading Soviet literary journal, singled him out as one of the most talented critics of the younger generation. He could have had a safe life and a safe career. He chose to speak in a different voice— Abram Tertz was presumably one of the Odessa figures that Isaac Babel had evoked—and paid the price. In 1973, he was allowed to emigrate, and he obtained a position teaching Russian literature at the Sorbonne. But émigré life is one of faction and polemic, and Sinyavsky found himself at odds with most nationalist writers such as Vladimir Maximov with whom, for a while, he edited Kontinet. An autobiographical novel, Goodnight, provoked criticism and abuse in the Russian community. It has not been translated into English.
Source: Michael Scammel, Guardian Weekly, March 9. 1997.

is an International Project sponsored by the Suntory Foundation (Japan), the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Who’s Who at the C.I.C.
Masakazu Yamazaki is one of Japan’s leading playwrights. He was professor of theater studies from 1975 to 1995 at Osaka University, and also has taught at Yale and Columbia Universities. His collected works were published in twelve volumes in 1981. He has continued to write extensively including On the Art of Noh Drama (with Thomas Rimer) and Engi suru seishen [Acting and the Mind]. His latest work, in English, is Individualism and the Japanese, (Tokyo: Japan Echo Press, 1994). Masayuki Tadokoro is Professor of International Relations at the National Defense Academy in Yokosuka. A graduate of Kyoto University, he has also studied at the London School of Economics, and was a visiting scholar at the School of Advanced Studies at Johns Hopkins University, as well as being a Fulbright Scholar. A prolific author, his most recent books are The Realities of the U.N.: A Budgetary Analysis (in Japanese) and The Once and Future Security Council (in English). Wolf Lepenies is rector of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin [the Institute of Advanced Studies] and professor of sociology at the Free University. In 1991-1992, he held the chair of European Studies at the Collège de France. He is the author of numerous books,among them Melancholy and Society (Harvard) and Between Literature and Science: the Rise of Sociology (Cambridge University Press.) His most recent book is Sainte-Beuve: Auf der Schwelle zu Moderne [On the Threshold of Modernity]. He is the winner of the Karl-Vossler and Alexander von Humboldt prizes. Michael Becker is a sociologist who has worked in the history of academic disciplines. He has been the coordinator of the “Verbund fur Wissenschaftsgeschichte” in Berlin and the administrator, at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, of the GermanAmerican Academic Council programs. Daniel Bell is the Henry Ford II Professor of Social Science, emeritus, of Harvard University and scholar-in-residence at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author/editor of seventeen books, including The End of Ideology, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, and The Coming of Post-Industrial Society. The first two of these were cited by the Times Literary Supplement in 1995 as among the hundred most important books published since the end of World War II. Mark Lilla teaches political theory at New York University. He is author of G.B. Vico: The Making of an Anti-Modern (Harvard), editor of New French Thought: Political Philosophy (Princeton), and with Nathan Glazer has edited The Public Face of Architecture: Civic Culture and Public Spaces (The Free Press). He is currently a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

Daniel Bell Associate Mark Lilla Wolf Lepenies Associate Michael Becker Masakazu Yamazaki Associate Masayuki Tadokoro Graphic Designer Glenna Lang Administrative Assistant Patrick T. J. Browne U.S. Address: American Academy of Arts and Sciences 136 Irving Street Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 Telephone: (617) 576-5000 FAX: (617) 576-5050 E-mail: The Committee on Intellectual Correspondence acknowledges with gratitude the financial support of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation of Japan, in underwriting the project and the Newsletter.

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