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Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century (Eastern European Literature) Paperback – April 17, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: Eastern European Literature
  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (April 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564783820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564783820
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #695,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Juxtaposing East and West and blurring Barbie and Buchenwald, Ourednik's stream of historical consciousness shreds familiar narrative trajectories and compresses 100 years of still-fresh history into a roughly equivalent number of pages. The result is a self-consciously absurd melange of grandiose vision, junk science, and casually quantified atrocity, an autistic narration of sociological fact with the barest sense of moral gravity. It is a reminder of how horrifying and inscrutable the past century has been. But, like many modernist works pursuing perspective through distortion, this one is helped along considerably by its wit. Czech-born Ourednik has spent the last 20 years in France, and his existentialist bent fits surprisingly well with his linguistic playfulness and his Communist-era gallows humor. The author's professed affinity for Vonnegut and Flaubert is evident, and fans of those authors may particularly enjoy this book's wry cry for a more humane twenty-first century. Pithy, occasionally poignant, and not just for Europeanists. Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“Heir of Kafka and of the good soldier Svejk, Ouredník takes advantage of the interval between facts of an irrefutable precision to create summaries as disconcerting as they are preemptory.” (Radio France)

“Enthralled by matters of language, Ouredník offers a burlesque vision of the history of contemporary Europe, combining the tragic aspect of the situation with anecdotal facts that stress the absurdity of the twentieth century.” (Le Temps)

“Touching on subjects and events as disparate as the invention of the bra, Barbie dolls, Scientology, eugenics, the Internet, war, genocide and concentration camps, it unspools in a relentless monotone that becomes unexpectedly engaging, even frightening.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“A tragicomic prose poem to make poets weep with envy, to make everyone weep.” (The Village Voice)

“The narrating voice is funny, scientific, infantile, sarcastic, and eerie . . . Europeana is a both a very strange work of history and an ingenious work of art.” (Chicago Review)

“You out there drop everything you are doing and go immediately and read this book. It's only 132 pages—reading without stopping—without breathing—you will have encountered a fantastic writer.” (Raymond Federman, author of Double or Nothing)

Europeana is a convincing sum of that ugly century. Certainly recommended.” (Complete Review)

“Juxtaposing East and West and blurring Barbie and Buchenwald, Ouredník's stream of historical consciousness shreds familiar narrative trajectories and compresses 100 years of still-fresh history into a roughly equivalent number of pages.” (Booklist)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jack Washington on August 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Europeana -Patrik Ourednik

At the end of Europeana Ourednik observes that, "memory is renewed wheras history removes the legitimacy of the living past by fixing it in time." I say observes because hardly in this unique work could I say that Ourednik writes, yet, at the same time, his observations have such ringing aesthetic dignity to them that this is undoubtedly a work of art rather than a textbook or any other expository chuck at history. Ourednik has created a memorial rather than a museum, living in the flux of memory rather than the stronghold of history. His observations are so quick and poignant that they are more caustic than nauseating (MTV) and more unsettling than tedious (CNN). I compare him to television not because he resembles it, but because he comes close to what in television is possible yet rarely attained.

Ourednik attends detailed horrors and tongue-in-cheek sidebars with the same cool, glib composure, for example, "Above the entrance to the Buchenwald concentration camp was the sign EVERYONE GETS WHAT HE DESERVES." A note that is read so quickly and so deeply ensconced in a two-page paragraph that it is almost glossed over. But it's not. Rather than glossing over these thousand and one facts, it is the unpartisan details that gloss over the reader, showering us in horror and humor alike. The potency of the Buchenwald sign is given no precedence over, "And no one wanted to be poor anymore and everyone wanted to have a refrigerator and a cordless telephone and a dog and a cat and a tortoise and a vibrator and take part in sports and attend psychoanalysis."

or,

"And young people looked toward the future and the wind ruffled the ears of corn and the sun rose on the horizon."

And the book reads in about two maniacal hours.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Willard on April 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Born in 1957, Ourednik grew up in Prague under the Communist regime. This short volume is a history of the 20th century; the narrative is presented from the point of view of one who has lived under politcal duress. The plot: the relationship between the individual, institutional and political events that determine his or her interaction and place. Ourednik does a fantastic job of describing a large scale event, the Holocaust, and then descends into the particular. One of the most horrifying moments is when a young man, German returning from the war, discovers that his ex was Jewish. His friends tease him that he has been washing himself with fat made from her dead body. He goes mad and is institutionalized. A cheery bedtime story for all.

Note, this is a narrative, not a "novel," but is well worth the read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wallace on March 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the most original and surprising pieces of writing I've read in a long time. If you like daring, inventive work that's often completely hilarious, don't pass this one up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Judith A. Levy on January 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely unique! Facts are assembled as "lists"; the aggregate listing
is like poetry, bringing together disparate aspects of the same time
and same world that are normally never experienced together. The
collision of facts yields kinds of perspective on that world that would
not happen in traditional history. I didn't want to finish it!
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