A Guided Tour through the Museum of Communism Fables from a Mouse، a Parrot، a Bear، a Cat، a Mole، a Pig، a Dog، and a Raven characters ¹ 109

Slavenka Drakulić ☆ 9 Read

A Guided Tour through the Museum of Communism Fables from a Mouse، a Parrot، a Bear، a Cat، a Mole، a Pig، a Dog، and a Raven

Tia has emerged as one of the most popular and respected critics of Communism to come out of the former Eastern Bloc In A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism she offers a eight part exploration of Communism by way of an unusual What a great idea for a book Pets and other animals talking about the bestialities of human communism in the former Eastern Bloc countries A well documented and often entertaining approach to well known and less well known facts that truly happened from East Berlin to Moscow passing through Budapest Prague Warsaw BucarestGiving voice to mice and cats dogs and bears ravens and parrots with each animal talking about its own country was indeed a work of genius Most of those who reviewed this book mentioned either the 'Orwellian approach' or the ' Orwellian inspiration' of Mrs Drakulic but I think otherwise She's truly original and independent in her own work here so that the comparison with the author of 'Animal Farm' doesn't stand a chance To me the closest this book gets to is rather 'The Life of Insects' by Victor Pelevin But then again unlike Pelevin Drakulic doesn't insist on metaphors and camouflages her animals are actual animals from the beginning to the end of their chapters with one significant exception Well done Slavenka And yet 'A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism' let me catch my breathe falls short of what I expected Whilst I did appreciate some of the episodes others were just not at the same level and in my humble opinion out of place in the context I particularly liked the stories of the mole talking about people digging tunnels from East Berlin to West Berlin the one about the rabid dogs issue in Bucarest seen from a canine perspective and the musings of General Jaruzelski's pussycat regarding her owner's controversial decisions One of the reasons why these three 'fables' really work and stand out here is that they achieve a perfect balance between the human animal narrative and their historical significanceOn the contrary I found unexplicable the choice to have a real woman Magda introducing herself as a 'Hungarian pig' in the chapter entitled sic 'From Gulag to Goulash' Putting aside the non convincing story itself why not giving voice to an actual sow? Was that too complicated? The contradiction here with this one and only episode not being narrated by an animal is so evident that I'm inclined to think that Mrs Drakulic did that on purpose But for what purpose I wonder? Who knows The human animal denouement is not broken anywhere else but a couple of stories are just too long a monologue to be consistent Tito's parrot the chaperoning mouse in Prague with the final result of putting their interesting animal perspective at risk with the author's voice popping upThat being said I reckon how Slavenka Drakulic did a good job here I got hooked to this thin but important book and overall enjoyed it The fables I read taught me some episodes I was not aware of and reinforced my knowledge of other topics I had already heard about The tragedy is that back on 1996 the uncouth leader of the Northern League Party in Italy did call the gulags 'goulash' in a public speech

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A wry cutting deconstruction of the Communist empire by one of Eastern Europe's exceptional authors Called a perceptive and amusing social critic with a wonderful eye for detail by The Washington Post Slavenka Drakulic a native of Croa Interesting but repetitive I had to read this for my study abroad Political Science class on communism soAt least I got to go to Europe and visit the Czech Republic Poland Austria Slovakia and Hungary

review Ü E-book, or Kindle E-pub ☆ Slavenka Drakulić

Cast of narrators each from a different country who reflect on the fall of Communism Together they constitute an Orwellian send up of absurdities during the final years of European Communism that showcase this author's tremendous tale Sometimes nothing can kill a book deader than a too rigid adherence to a concept I can imagine Slavenka Drakulić first reading George Orwell's Animal Farm and saying to herself How cute I can adapt this to my experience of Communism through the different Eastern European countriesExcept it just wasn't a dynamic enough idea to carry the whole book A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism started out well with a mouse guiding us through Czech Communism But then toward the end there was a pig introducing you to Kadar's Hungary a dog to Ceausescu's Rumania and a raven to Hoxha's Albania As a Hungarian I do not care to be represented by a pig however much I like to eat them This is one of those books which it is best to sample preferably with one or of the opening chapters rather than to read straight through It's a pity because Drakulic in Cafe Europa showed herself to be an excellent essayist


About the Author: Slavenka Drakulić

Tour through MOBI ñ Holograms of fear; the destructive power of sexual desire in.



10 thoughts on “A Guided Tour through the Museum of Communism Fables from a Mouse، a Parrot، a Bear، a Cat، a Mole، a Pig، a Dog، and a Raven

  1. says:

    What a reading experience After reading Animal Farm The Life of Insects Kafka's Metamorphosis and various novels and historical accounts on post Communist countries and individuals most recently Svetlana Alexievich I expected to be on familiar ground But apart from the author's direct reference to Orwell in the beginning and to Aesopian language as a means of psychological analysis in one of the stories it was something completely different from other modern novels written in the form of fables In eight short stories different animals talk about their life in Communist Europe all of them representing different species social functions and countries It sounds like a rather silly idea but the light hearted approach uickly turns into something deeper and darker as the London based pig lady from Hungary admits at the end of her introduction to cookingAt the end dear patient reader I am aware that I started this long but necessary introduction in a light tone and ended up embroiled in politics history and identity just like a typical East European intellectual and I don't apologize for thatThe interesting twist in this collection of stories is the fact the various animals experience their environment clearly and according to their personal needs and characteristics but with a human reflective mind They allow themselves to uestion objectively the situations that human beings would be far too personally affected by to describe without bias and political opinion The animals thus illustrate that it is possible to reject the system itself and feel compassion for and understanding of the human beings within it at the same time One of the most thrilling stories concerns a raven who turns psychotic after witnessing or instigating a suicide The narrator turns the classic raven in the tradition of Poe into its opposite instead of creating an atmosphere of ominous foreshadowing itself it is the victim of an oppressive dangerous and incomprehensible situation that it can't handle The symbol of fear has to go to psychoanalysis to overcome its panic attacks What a sad and ironic metaphorThe story that touched me most was the one told by a mole in Berlin trying to make sense of the wall He describes his struggle to understand the motivation for people to escape from one side to the other by taking up the mole's profession digging tunnels In the materialistic detached concept of the moles human beings try to get into the prison that constitutes West Berlin in order to be able to eat bananas which are a mystery to moles but can be compared to an especially delicious wormAfter that I had no other option but to conclude that in these ancient times of the Walls what Men defined as freedom was moving from one banana place to anotherI could not help laughing tears at this First of all because it is still true We do indeed want to be able to move from one banana place republic to another and we want to have the option to eat bananas even if we don't actually like them Secondly it reminded me of the time at the beginning of the 1990s when I went to school in a West German town and people started to move there from Eastern towns Bananas were indeed not a joke It was a real topic a symbol for the difference between the two Germanys There are a lot of uestions underneath the surface of that ironical storyline As Draculic herself states in the introductionI am aware that if you are not familiar with Eastern Europe under Communism some stories from this book might appear to you highly fictitious if not outright fantasy Therefore I would like to assure you that unfortunately this is not the case From the point of view of persons and events described regardless of whether a story is narrated by a dog a cat or some other domestic wild or exotic animal it all really happened This is easy enough to check Indeed as a fiction writer I often felt ashamed by the imagination of politicians of which there is ample proof in this bookThis is an argument I have heard from giants of magical realism in South America and Asia as well such as Maruez or Salman Rushdie and the life experience I gain the I tend to agree with them The benefit of introducing animal storytellers to relate the historical facts is simply to add a platform for interpretation from a different angle and it works beautifully It is unlikely the reader will forget the characters described in this novel and it should be part of any library concerned with human beings living within timeframe of the social experiments of the 20th century like Koestler Pasternak Doris Lessing Milan Kundera Milosz etc They all added a dimension to the task of writing down history so it won't be repeated in all its surrealism and folly and they did so writing brilliant fictionAs Kipling saidIf history were taught in the form of stories it would never be forgotten


  2. says:

    Interesting but repetitive I had to read this for my study abroad Political Science class on communism soAt least I got to go to Europe and visit the Czech Republic Poland Austria Slovakia and Hungary


  3. says:

    Although often clever and poignant in its observations not only about the distorting dynamics of power in Eastern European communist states but also the gap in consciousness between those who lived through and those born after that era ie of experience and benign ignorance I didn't find this book as compelling as the others I've read by Drakulic It seemed aimed at those with little to no familiarity with those Eastern bloc states but also written in a style that assumed that the allusions and satire would be understood The conceit of this book is the story of those states told from the perspective of various animals some of whom had intimate vantage points from which to observe the inanities of these socialist states andor those in charge of them eg Tito's parrot others who piece together the histories through indirect accounts or evidence eg a mole from the former East Berlin but all of whom wonder at the bizarre nature of human beings I found Drakulic's work appealing in the past because she shared directly personal stories of her own and from others that revealed the fundamental indignity and inhumanity that even the smallest aspects of life in those societies presented for those who lived in them In this book the focus seems to be on the elite and their perverse view of the world and themselves and the contortions and manipulations that this created Perhaps the 20 year distance from the collapse of communism left Drakulic with less direct material or at least enough that was left consciously or not unsmudged by time to write the kind of social critiues as she had before


  4. says:

    Brilliant Two books in one I can't do it justice with a brief Goodreads review so I'll write a real review and post the link when it's published I will say this Scrolling through other reviews I see multiple references to Animal Farm I can't imagine why anyone might suggest that the books are similar except in the most superficial sense that they both critiue communist states while deploying animals as protagonists For the record Animal Farm is a heavy handed allegory in which the animal characters are simple stand ins for people This book is something else altogether The stories of various former socialist states told with one exception by animals who are animals not stand ins for people This allows Drakulic to write not only about relations among people under various communist regimes but also about human animal relations and the ways that these two sets of relationships sometimes mirror each other As I said Two or maybe three books in one


  5. says:

    I picked this book up because the remaining money was going to burn a hole in my pocket if I left the LitFest without spending all of it I'm glad I didA mouse giving a guided tour of a Museum of Communism in Prague; an old dog narrating his life on on the streets of Bucharest under the rule of Ceausescu; and a letter written by the house cat of a misunderstood dictator of Poland these three tales depicts life under communism and the transition period after the fall of communism in three separate Soviet blocsBut this isn't George Orwell's Animal Farm These animals aren't metaphors for the Soviet Man As Bohumil the museum rat says the focus of communism was on numbers not on stories But these animals go far and beyond the Soviet Man and offer a perspective and nuances that are uniuely personal


  6. says:

    What a great idea for a book Pets and other animals talking about the bestialities of human communism in the former Eastern Bloc countries A well documented and often entertaining approach to well known and less well known facts that truly happened from East Berlin to Moscow passing through Budapest Prague Warsaw BucarestGiving voice to mice and cats dogs and bears ravens and parrots with each animal talking about its own country was indeed a work of genius Most of those who reviewed this book mentioned either the 'Orwellian approach' or the ' Orwellian inspiration' of Mrs Drakulic but I think otherwise She's truly original and independent in her own work here so that the comparison with the author of 'Animal Farm' doesn't stand a chance To me the closest this book gets to is rather 'The Life of Insects' by Victor Pelevin But then again unlike Pelevin Drakulic doesn't insist on metaphors and camouflages her animals are actual animals from the beginning to the end of their chapters with one significant exception Well done Slavenka And yet 'A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism' let me catch my breathe falls short of what I expected Whilst I did appreciate some of the episodes others were just not at the same level and in my humble opinion out of place in the context I particularly liked the stories of the mole talking about people digging tunnels from East Berlin to West Berlin the one about the rabid dogs issue in Bucarest seen from a canine perspective and the musings of General Jaruzelski's pussycat regarding her owner's controversial decisions One of the reasons why these three 'fables' really work and stand out here is that they achieve a perfect balance between the human animal narrative and their historical significanceOn the contrary I found unexplicable the choice to have a real woman Magda introducing herself as a 'Hungarian pig' in the chapter entitled sic 'From Gulag to Goulash' Putting aside the non convincing story itself why not giving voice to an actual sow? Was that too complicated? The contradiction here with this one and only episode not being narrated by an animal is so evident that I'm inclined to think that Mrs Drakulic did that on purpose But for what purpose I wonder? Who knows The human animal denouement is not broken anywhere else but a couple of stories are just too long a monologue to be consistent Tito's parrot the chaperoning mouse in Prague with the final result of putting their interesting animal perspective at risk with the author's voice popping upThat being said I reckon how Slavenka Drakulic did a good job here I got hooked to this thin but important book and overall enjoyed it The fables I read taught me some episodes I was not aware of and reinforced my knowledge of other topics I had already heard about The tragedy is that back on 1996 the uncouth leader of the Northern League Party in Italy did call the gulags 'goulash' in a public speech


  7. says:

    I learned so much reading these fables Drakulic writes essays of social criticism 20 years post Communism in Eastern Europe through the voices of animals In each story the shame and guilt of the victims emerges The animals and the absurdity of their limited point of view and power are always juxtaposed with the limitations and powerlessness of the people And there's a tone of regret and self blame A sense that they should could have done something to stop these dictators and these regimes For the first time in my life that feels familiar


  8. says:

    I have wanted to read Slavenka Drakulic's work for ages and borrowed Two Underdogs and a Cat Three Reflections on Communism the only book of hers which my library had in stock The volume is comprised of three short stories entitled 'A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism' 'An Interview with the Oldest Dog in Bucharest' and 'The Cat Keeper in Warsaw' told from the perspective of a mouse a dog and a cat respectivelyDrakulic's work is clever deep and well informed with a touch of whimsy Each story is engaging and the way in which they are told and the content which they express mould to become something uite profound In the first story for instance Drakulic writes the following 'Maybe the absence of individual stories is the best illustration of the fact that individualism was the biggest sin one could commit'Informative powerful and rather different to many of the reflections on Communist rule which I have read to date Two Underdogs and a Cat is one of the most memorable books I have come across in uite a while Drakulic effectively demonstrates how far reaching Communism was and the effects which still remain today for ordinary people As she writes in 'An Interview with the Oldest Dog in Bucharest' in a clear play on George Orwell's Animal Farm 'In the transition from Communism to capitalism all people are uneual but some are uneual than others'


  9. says:

    Sometimes nothing can kill a book deader than a too rigid adherence to a concept I can imagine Slavenka Drakulić first reading George Orwell's Animal Farm and saying to herself How cute I can adapt this to my experience of Communism through the different Eastern European countriesExcept it just wasn't a dynamic enough idea to carry the whole book A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism started out well with a mouse guiding us through Czech Communism But then toward the end there was a pig introducing you to Kadar's Hungary a dog to Ceausescu's Rumania and a raven to Hoxha's Albania As a Hungarian I do not care to be represented by a pig however much I like to eat them This is one of those books which it is best to sample preferably with one or of the opening chapters rather than to read straight through It's a pity because Drakulic in Cafe Europa showed herself to be an excellent essayist


  10. says:

    I enjoyed these short stories about communism in Eastern Europe so much Being someone who tends to learn about history through fiction these stories worked perfectly for elucidating certain parts of European 20th century history that I should certainly already know in detail Each story is about a different animal who explores the impact of communism in a particular country To begin with I wondered what the point of this use of animals was but in fact it worked incredibly well the animals don't uite understand human behaviour and are constantly uestioning it and trying to make sense of it What this does is reveal how nonsensical and painfully illogical so much of what happened in these countries was Looking at humans and human behaviour at a distance in particular the use and abuse of power on the one hand and the toleration of being subjugated on the other helps to really situate and assess what went wrong and how many people's lives were affected Such an original and powerful collection of stories


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