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The Zero Train Paperback – 25 May 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Dedalus Ltd; Tra edition (25 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903517524
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903517529
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 12.1 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 501,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Eca de Queiroz (1845-1900) is rightly considered to be Portugal's greatest nineteenth-century novelist. This, his undoubted masterpiece, published in 1888, is a tragi-comedy, offering the reader Eca's characteristic blend of barbed humour, lyricism and sprightly dialogue, as well as a marvellously diverse gallery of characters - absurd, touching, tragic, vain. Carlos is the grandson of Afonso da Maia, the last surviving member of one of Lisbon's wealthiest and most illustrious families. Carlos is good, handsome, clever, eager to contribute something to society, and yet he appears, as he himself puts it, 'to be one of those weak hearts, soft and flaccid, incapable of preserving any true emotion'. Then, one day, walking along Lisbon's grubby streets, he sees a woman who seems to him like a goddess who has just stepped down from the clouds. When he finally meets the beautiful Maria Eduarda, the attraction proves to be as mutual as it is profound. In the plenitude of that love, Carlos seems, in his best friend Ega's words, 'a truly fortunate being', until Fate steps in - in the form of a grizzled, left-wing newspaper hack from Paris - and everything unravels.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Depressaholic on 21 Jun. 2006
Format: Paperback
Buida's `TZT' is a harrowing and moving novella concerning the effects of Stalinism on the lives of ordinary Russians. It follows the lives of a group of volunteers who man Station Number 9 of the track which the Zero Train runs along once a day. Nobody knows the purpose of the train, where it is going or what it is carrying, but they all know that they must keep it running smoothly. Initially they embrace their jobs with enthusiasm, willingly accepting their parts in the running of the train. As time goes on, they start to question their roles, and the point of the train. Disillusionment sets in, but they cannot stop the train. Where initially they had been willing to do their jobs, the sinister presence of an NKVD colonel is eventually required to keep them going. All of the inhabitants of Station Number 9 eventually succumb, in one way or another, to the oppression of the Zero Train.

`TZT' is obviously an allegory for Stalinism, which began with the will of the people and ended by bewildering and frightening them. The communist revolution thundered on both with or without the support of the Russian people, and eventually without their understanding, becoming an oppressive presence in their lives. The allegory is obvious, but not laboured, and the story actually becomes rather subtle in the telling. Despite being relatively short, `TZT' has some wonderfully fleshed out characters, especially Ivan Ardabyev, the closest thing the book has to a hero. The lives of all the characters at Station Number 9 are movingly recounted, so much so that the fates of all of them left a moving impression. That is no mean feat in a book of scarcely more than 100 pages, but Buida does it excellently. Although `TZT' is undoubtedly a political book, its strength lies in its characters, not in its politics. `TZT' is moving and enthralling, and a great example of modern Russian writing.
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Format: Paperback
Buida's curt little sentences and stunning imagery build an incredibly vivid world of mud, overwork bodies and paranoid minds. There are also some exceptionally frightening moments, especially in regards to the eponymous train. My only bugbear was the dialogue, with characters given to pronouncing "very wise things," that pulled the book over into melodrama on more than a few occasions. Overall though it was a very haunting and complete story.
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11 of 23 people found the following review helpful By R. H. Chandler on 18 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Few, if any, contemporary Russian writers have explored the legacy of Stalinism with Buida's emotional and imagainative intensity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
A Political fable 26 May 2014
By An admirer of Saul - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ivan Ardabyev works at Station nine, a settlement in the Soviet Union run by the secret police and one of the refuelling stops of the Zero Train; a train that passes through daily carrying an unknown cargo to an unknown destination. But things start to disintegrate ; the army leave and people leave. Just Ardabyev stays , a man the political master said they could always rely on....
A short fable/parable of the way men are so easily controlled and governed by dogmas and ideals they have no feeling for or knowledge of. We just service the great beast that, in the end, dies after its era of murder and destruction has passed, just to be replaced by something pretty much the same; mans next big idea. Claiming to create justice freedom and equality, all of our great political ideals have done the opposite.
This is a great tale, its just that I can't help feeling this loses the power and impact it would have had if it were published in the 60's or 70's. Its more than common knowledge that the Soviet/communist system was an abysmal failure, but this allows the naïve to think 'It cant happen here'; I just felt the message would have more impact if set in a world similar to the one created by Orwell in '1984' where the huge warning is about politics and its all consuming insatiable appetite for power. But that's because I did read all the major Soviet dissident novels when their impact really hit; captured the zeitgeist of the times back then, but that era is gone.
A great book I cant fault , its -just for me- a road I've been on many times before, but then again, one so easy for us to slip back onto...
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