Translated by Gerald Turner
Named one of the best books of 2005 by The Village Voice
Patrik Ouredník's first novel to be translated into English is a unique version of the history of the twentieth century. Told in an informal, mesmerizing voice, Ouredník represents the twentieth century in all its contradictions and grand illusions, demonstrating that nothing substantial has changed between 1900 and 1999—humanity is still hopeful for the future and still mired in age-old conflicts. As he demonstrates that nothing can be reduced to a single, true viewpoint, Ouredník mixes hard facts and idiosyncratic observations, highlighting the horror and absurdity of the twentieth century and the further absurdity of attempting to narrate this history.
Nb of pages 120 p.
Publication Date 01 April 2005
Nb of pages 120
Dimensions 5 x 8 in.
List Price $12.50
The Americans who fell in Normandy in 1944 were tall men measuring 173 centimeters on average, and if they were laid head to foot they would measure 38 kilometers. The Germans were tall too, while the tallest of all were the Senegalese fusiliers in the First World War who measured 176 centimeters, and so they were sent into battle on the front lines in order to scare the Germans. It was said of the First World War that people in it fell like seeds and the Russian Communists later calculated how much fertilizer a square kilometer of corpses would yield and how much they would save on expensive foreign fertilizers if they used the corpses of traitors and criminals instead of manure. And the English invented the tank and the Germans invented gas, which was known as yperite because the Germans first used it near the town of Ypres, although apparently that was not true, and it was also called mustard because it stung the nose like Dijon mustard, and that was apparently true, and some soldiers who returned home after the war did not want to eat Dijon mustard again. The First World War was known as an imperialist war because the Germans felt that other countries were prejudiced against them and did not want to let them become a world power and fulfill some historical mission. And most people in Europe, Germany, Austria, France, Serbia, Bulgaria, etc., believed it to be a necessary and just war which would bring peace to the world. And many people believed that the war would revive those virtues that the modern industrial world has forced into the background, such as love of one’s country, courage, and self-sacrifice. And poor people looked forward to riding in the train and country folk looked forward to seeing big cities and phoning the district post office to dictate a telegram to their wives, I’M FINE, HOPE YOU ARE TOO. The generals looked forward to being in the newspapers, and people from national minorities were pleased that they would be sharing the war with people who spoke without an accent and that they would be singing marching songs and jolly popular ditties with them. And everyone thought they’d be home in time for the grape harvest or at least by Christmas.
"Ouredník's idea is brilliant: in order to draw the map of this century and decide on the most important events, he simply presents in a jumble hundreds of historical facts ranging from trifling anecdotes to crucial statistics . . . Europeana reads like a frenzied encyclopedic compression of thousands of history books; it's cleverly constructed and more subjective than it first appears . . . Laughs guaranteed, uneasiness probable, impressions strong: in short a great book."
"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
WE ALSO SUGGEST
Martereau is narrated by a tubercular young man driven by a compulsion to discover what lies behind facades, especially in relation to the adults around him. He's particularly interested in Martereau, his uncle's devoted friend and business...
other titles related to
Genres : Fiction : Europe : Central Europe
Genres : Fiction : Historical Fiction
Countries : Czech Republic