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Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century (Eastern European Literature) Paperback – 1 Jun 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (1 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564783820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564783820
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 1.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 488,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

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.

Europeana is a convincing sum of that ugly century. Certainly recommended.

Heir of Kafka and of the good soldier Svejk, Ourednik takes advantage of the interval between facts of an irrefutable precision to create summaries as disconcerting as they are preemptory.

Enthralled by matters of language, Ourednik 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.

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.

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

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.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Describing ‘Europeana’, and why it is possibly the best new book I have read in the past couple of years, is much more difficult than I thought it would be. At heart, ‘Europeana’ is simply a list of facts about twentieth century Europe as it faced two world wars, Nazi occupation and communist expansion. The facts that Ourednik chooses to include are, at first sight, rather esoteric, ranging from the number of people killed in the holocaust, to the tune the bands were playing when the cattle trucks rolled into the camps, to the average height of the soldiers killed in WWI. By skilfully juxtaposing these dry observations, however, Ourednik manages to create a narrative, the story of Europe in the twentieth century, every bit as powerful and moving as a well-crafted novel.
Ourenik’s own country (the Czech Republic) has had most of what the twentieth century has to offer thrown at it (Nazi occupation, communist rule, Soviet invasion, the velvet revolution), so he is well poised to document the absurdity of the century. His ability to conjure anger, grief and even humour out of essentially dry facts is breathtaking, and he does it all with a faux naivety (reminding me of Kurt Vonnegut) that makes it seem like he is not passing judgement, just saying what he sees. It is the work of a man in love with his home continent, but who has been let down and disappointed by it. ‘Europeana’ is beautiful, bittersweet and thought-provoking, and it is an unbelievable achievement to have pulled such an emotional masterpiece out of a jumble of facts. I’m recommending it to everyone I know, so I thought I would do the same on Amazon.
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Format: Paperback
In short, I have bought up every copy of this book that I can find and handed it out to anyone under the age of twenty five. I believe that it should be required reading for every school, in every land. If the idea of reading a history book sounds like hours of tedium, then read this and have your mind changed. Books like this have the chance to change the world, if they are read by the right people...i.e. the youth who will shape our future. I cannot speak highly enough of this book. And, just for the record, I have no connection to the author, but was recommended this masterpiece by a bookseller in Prague. Enough said...just buy it!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
History Made Interesting. Things you Knew. But a lot, you do not. Ideal for Schools. Nice Design. Well Translated. A Must Read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 12 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strange, Whimsical, and Unruly 10 Feb. 2015
By Jack D. Neefus - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ourednik is to literature what Thelonius Monk was to music -- a stripper of things to their essentials. There are no presidents, treaties, generals, or great leaders in Europeana, just a crazy jumble of anecdotes and subjective historical trends. Every few pages the train of thought stops and begins again in a different year, but everything makes sense and is of a piece. He writes "And the Spaniards danced the flamenco and the gypsies cast dark glances and the Russians were arrogant and the Swedes pragmatic and the Jews devious and the French carefree and the English bigheaded and the Portugese backward," and ends the book with a reference to The End of History by saying: "But lots of people did not know the theory and continued to make history as if nothing had happened."

Ourednik's style allows him to avoid the often dead weight of exposition, character description, and perceptual detail. Instead, the structure of Europeana allows him to provide the meat without the fat and connecting tissue. The book reads so fast, it's hard to slow down enough to appreciate it all and to change gears as fast as the text does. I read the last several pages at a bar, virtually standing and cheering at each paragraph.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An almost visceral read 3 Jan. 2015
By Seth Bouchelle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This reads like a PBS special cowritten by David Markson and Deleuze and Guattari. Written as a bizarre collage of facts and events from the last century, Europeana presents the competing narratives of the various utopian projects and so called advancements of the last generations. With biting irony and almost compulsive readability, Ourednik demonstrates how little the world has really changed, and the razor-thin margin between the "progressives" and the "old world."
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Europeana 23 Jan. 2010
By Judith A. Levy - Published on Amazon.com
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!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars utterly amazing! 9 Mar. 2007
By Mark Wallace - Published on Amazon.com
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.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 15 Nov. 2014
By Corinne J. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Awesome.
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