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How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed Paperback – 31 May 1993
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An invaluable account of the cumulative weariness of the soul brought on by daily life in an Eastern European country. --Vivian Gornick, critic and essayist (National Book Award nominee)"
Seldom has such a narrative been so spirited and immediate. --Christopher Hitchens"
She is a writer and journalist whose voice belongs to the world. --Gloria Steinem"
A thoughtful, beautifully written collection of essays...blending provocative analysis with the texture of everyday life. --New York Times Book Review"
Not only the first ever grassroots feminist critique of communism, it s one of our first glimpses into real peoples lives in pre revolutionary Eastern Europe. My world is twice as large as it was before I read this book. [Drakulic] is a brave, funny, wise and wonderfully gifted writer. --New York Times-bestselling author Barbara Ehrenreich"
"She is a writer and journalist whose voice belongs to the world."--Gloria Steinem
"A thoughtful, beautifully written collection of essays...blending provocative analysis with the texture of everyday life."--New York Times Book Review
"An invaluable account of the cumulative weariness of the soul brought on by daily life in an Eastern European country."--Vivian Gornick, critic and essayist (National Book Award nominee)
"Seldom has such a narrative been so spirited and immediate."--Christopher Hitchens
"Not only the first ever grassroots feminist critique of communism, it's one of our first glimpses into real peoples' lives in pre-revolutionary Eastern Europe. My world is twice as large as it was before I read this book.... [Drakulic] is a brave, funny, wise and wonderfully gifted writer."--New York Times-bestselling author Barbara Ehrenreich
From the Back Cover
Hailed by feminists and scholars as one of the most important contributions to women's studies in recent decades, Slavenka Drakulic s gripping, beautifully written account newly reissued in paperback describes the daily struggles of women under the Marxist regime in the former republic of Yugoslavia.
In this provocative, acutely observed essay collection, renowned journalist, novelist, and non-fiction writer Slavenka Drakulic writes with wit and heart about her experiences under communism as well as those of other Eastern Europeans, primarily women, who lived and suffered behind the Iron Curtain. A portrayal of the reality behind the rhetoric, her essays also chronicle the consequences of these regimes: The Berlin Wall may have fallen, but ideology cannot be dismantled so quickly, and a lifetime lived in fear cannot be so easily forgotten.Many of the pieces focus on the intense connection Drakulic discovers between material things and the expression of one s spirit, individuality, and femininity an inevitable byproduct of a lifestyle that, through its rejection of capitalism and commoditization, ends up fetishizing both. She describes the moment one man was able, for the first time in his life, to eat a banana: He gobbled it down, skin and all, enthralled by its texture. Drakulic herself marvels at finding fresh strawberries in N.Y.C. in December, and the feel of the quality of the paper in an issue ofVogue.As Drakulic delves into the particular hardships facing women who are not merely the victims of sexism, but of regimes that prevent them from having even the most basic material means by which to express themselves she describes the desperate lengths to which they would go to find cosmetics or clothes that made them feel feminine in a society where such a feeling was regarded as a bourgeois affectation. There is little room for privacy in communal housing, and the banishment of many time-saving devices, combined with a focus on manual labor, meant women were slaves to domestic responsibility in a way that their Western peers would find unfathomable. From this vantage point, she provides a pointed critique of Western feminism as a movement borne out of privilege.
How We Survived Communism and Even Laughedis a compelling, brilliant account of what it was really like to live under Communist rule and its inevitable repercussions."See all Product description
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Worse, communism continues. We in the West like to use 1990 as a pushpin year for "the end of communism", but Drakulic demonstrates that communism thrives, if not in the government ministries of eastern Europe, then in the hearts and minds and habits and fears of its inhabitants. The funereal atmosphere in Zagreb as Croatia held its first democratic elections in decades, the compulsive hoarding by a populace made wary by the unreliability of supplies of staples and everyday products, the resignation to lives no better than those of parents and grandparents. These sensibilities endure in eastern Europe, and they probably will go on for decades until a younger generation with no memory of communist economic planning and political oversight steps to the fore. "The end of communism is still remote because communism, more than a political ideology or a method of government, is a state of mind."
Finally, Drakulic shows us that the "trivial is political". That communism has successfully achieved it aim of raising the political consciousness of the masses, for when trivial acts such as buying toilet paper and making a phone call are made contingent on political decisions by faceless, scary bureaucrats in forbidding buildings, then every act and every person becomes politicized. Politicized in silent yielding opposition to authority, but not politicized to challenge the legitimacy of such an illegitimate regime.
Drakulic's essays are touching and humorous. They are as sad as the story of half the women in Poland suddenly sprouting red hair, because red was the only color of hair dye available. These essays bring us nose-to-nose with the unfortunates forced to endure in a political system whose strong point was always in theory and whose weak points were generation after generation of misery for millions of people in dozens of countries.
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