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Memoirs Found in a Bathtub

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  2,237 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
Perhaps best described as a utopian farce, this fantastic novel is written in the form of an unfinished journal discovered some 1200 years in the future. These memoirs record the adventures of a man trapped in a structure known as The Building, and entrusted with a mission whose purpose is a mystery to him. His attempts to track down his orders, culminating in the despair ...more
Hardcover, 188 pages
Published January 28th 1973 by Seabury Press (first published 1961)
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Dec 17, 2011 Ania rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mad people, gay stories,
Recommended to Ania by: polish people who rated it as best Lem book
Shelves: favorites, polish
Madness... it's ALL madness.

I imagine all fans of this book to look something like this:
The question now becomes, am I a fan?

I really don't know how to rate this book. After finishing this book I wanted to chuck it out the window. "2 days wasted!" I thought. Nothing but madness and more madness.... Then today more of it made sense, by of course, not making sense. (you're picturing the crazy cat as my face now, aren't you?)

I do understand the book however, and I suppose this is why I am writing t
Alan Marchant
Kafka on Prozac

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanslaw Lem follows the adventures of an agent-in-training as he wanders in search of a mission through the vast bureaucracy of a purposeless intelligence agency.

The agent is anonymous. But we can call him K - because the story, the style, and the absurdist message are drawn directly from Kafka (esp. The castle]. K is an everyman, and his agency is an allegory for society. Ostensibly, the agency is the post-apocalyptic remnant of America, but it feel
Dee Dee
Aug 31, 2007 Dee Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Esoterica
This book blew my mind. I had to scream after I put it down! It is the story of a man who doesn't know his mission, who is on the outside of an inside joke. Everything is in code, even the code is in code, and everybody is a double, triple, quadruple or more agent. Or maybe they just make up their jobs and go about doing them-there is no way to know.

This book is a tragedy in the sense that it is a comedy about someone who ultimately fails. In comedy, the hero always succeeds at the end, in greek
Jose Moa
With the Futurological Congress the most outlandish and grotesque novel of Lem i have read and perhaps the most of all i have read in my life.
What a mix,surpassing all them,of Lewis Carroll,Kafka and Dick,he takes the logic to the absurd extreme as Caroll,builds a grotesque senseles burocratic world as Kafka and transmits a sense of nigmarish irreality as Dick,a real irreality without the need od drugs

After a ancient plague that have destroyed all the paper and by that the histhory records ,in n
Jackfruit Goldthwait
this book is fucked up. i don't usually say that about books but this one is wicked fucked up. i listened to an audiobook version that left the introduction out and that made it even weirder. basically this dude comes into existence in a cold war era underground government bunker and has to find out what his mission is but he's stuck in the place that drives you mad from that asterix movie so he just runs around for a while trying to navigate the insane mazes of political intrigue before realizi ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Nico rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers
I adored this piece from start to finish. Lem (or his translators) have a grasp on prose that wows and flows. This absurdist satire had me laughing and cringing throughout as the nearly 40-year-old piece rings true as a bell to contemporary themes of espionage, privacy, and deception. The story attempts to detail the complex interworking of an institution so mired in secrecy and insecurity that trust, truth, and deception swirl together in a miasma of confusion and paranoia such that any occurre ...more
Carla Remy
Apr 05, 2013 Carla Remy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This is the most dreamlike book I ever remember reading. Or nightmare like. A study in bureaucracy and paranoia. Including coded camouflage and artificial body parts and much much more. My American paperback is from 1971 but apparently the original is from 1961.
Nov 26, 2016 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apocalypse-now, wtf-s
This book is NOT science fiction. It is Kafka meets Lewis Carroll meets Alain Robbe-Grillet. A "story" of a nameless man, seemingly trapped in an underground Building of many levels, with all of the attributes of a long, long suffocating dream, a tale with its own internal "logic" but utterly outside anything rational or "real". Written and published in Polish in 1961, translated into English in 1973 and dismissed by yours truly in 2016 as a WTF entry on my bookshelves with a hallowed place betw ...more
Feb 24, 2009 Toby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub combines biting satire with Carollian absurdity to brilliant effect.

Follow the confused and paranoia-driven encounters of a government agent as he navigates the exaggeratedly complex and ridiculous set of codes and regulations enforced by the other inhabitants of the edifice known simply as The Building. He is on a mission, but no one has told him what the mission actually is yet.

The introduction to the novel sets the context: Something brought back on a space flight
Jan 05, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A labyrinth of a book, a twisted gnarl of agents, double agents, codes and flies in the coffee. A look at the paranoia of a bygone age.
Michael Hołda (Holda)
Pentagon in future, where every clerk is double, triple e.t.c spy, decadency of ending where is only construction

"Paranoia as the last stage of militarism"
Mar 30, 2011 Hank rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a kid, I read and reread Lem's science fiction short story collection Tales of Pirx the Pilot. In fact, I'd say that book, along with Heinlein's Green Hills of Earth, really cemented my love for science fiction. To this day, I prefer that style - character and story-driven, with just enough tech babble to make it spacey. That was my only exposure to Lem, although I did know that he was a highly respected author in several genres.

Because of my love for Pirx, I really looked forward to picking
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Nov 09, 2008 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Sword and Laser Book Club - Tom Merritt
I keep seeing comments various places that "Lem is like Kafka." I've never read Kafka. I felt I should make that clear before diving into any sort of opinion, but I'll add it to my list.

This book brings up many more questions than answers. My biggest one pertains to the narrator. Is he reliable? Throughout what we read, he is being taught that everything is code, and symbolic, and that everyone is a triple agent (or more, the wonders of illogical math). So is what we're reading anything close to
Jeff Crompton
Apr 09, 2013 Jeff Crompton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stanislaw Lem wrote science fiction, but he wasn't really a "science fiction" writer in the commonly accepted sense of the term. Science fiction was the medium Lem chose to explore the ideas and themes which interested him. Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is supposedly a manuscript from sometime in our future, found even further in the future, which describes life in the Third Pentagon, known to the narrator only as "the Building." But it's obvious that the plot, such as it is, is not really what Lem ...more
Jul 15, 2012 Alterjess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sword-laser
This is a wonderful little book, though it is clearly not for everyone (Sword & Laser folk, you know what I'm talking about).

However, if you are a fan of Lem's other work, this will almost certainly delight you. It reminded me strongly of a short story out of The Cyberiad, and also of the TV series The Prisoner (original, please, not the AMC remake).

The framing device makes it science fiction (the title is literal, a far-future historian discovers the memoir in a bathtub in some ruins), but
Feb 11, 2015 Annelie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is interesting to say the least. I have never been the BIGGEST fan of his work, but I always keep going back to his books!!! They are simply spectacular. As this is my dad's favorite book, and in my opinion Stanislaw Lem's best work, I think it deserves 4.5 stars (but I can't actually give it that, can I?). Anyway, it takes place in Stanislaw Lem's dystopian future ( as usual), and depicts a government with immense power. No one is really sure HOW to live, and how to operate. People ar ...more
Christopher Turner
It's kind of a Kafka's The Castle or Beckett's Waiting for Godot for the cold war set.

One man is trapped in a labyrinthine military building as paranoia and conspiracy swirl around him in both literal and figurative ways while he attempts to complete an intelligence mission that is as absurd as it is mysterious. Lem explores themes of authenticity, the nature of knowable reality, and epistemology sometimes through actual discussion of these topics but mostly through the symbolism of the charact
Luis Lapham
Mar 14, 2016 Luis Lapham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Luis Fernando Lapham Cárdenas
Profesor Jubilado
21 de febrero de 2016

Reseña Libro: Memorias encontradas en una bañera
Por Stanislaw Lem, editorial Brugurera, 1979, 222 páginas Barcelona España

Stanislaw Lem es un autor polaco de ciencia ficción caracterizado por un tono satírico y filosófico, nacido en 1929 y fallecido en 2006. Sus libros, siempre de corte filosófico, exploran las nuevas tecnologías y su efecto en la comunicación y la comprensión entre seres racionales.

Su obra es amplia y comienza
‘Memoirs Found in a Bathtub’ is a strange novel, but its strangeness feels somehow familiar. It reminded me of Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled, Kadare’s The Palace of Dreams, the Terry Gilliam film ‘Brazil’, and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. It would probably also remind me of Kafka’s The Trial, if I’d read it. (I am going to - the library’s copy never seems to be on the shelf!) First published in 1971, Lem’s novel is an unsettling satire on the Cold War, in which an intellige ...more
Nov 19, 2015 Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lem does it again!..... everything "Brazil" should have ben, what "kafkaesque" bitches want to be but can't possibly know it.....
As I have seen in the shapes of his other novels, this one trudges along slowly---a quick read, but still trudging. At the end tho, Lem hits you with everything he's got, and when he does.... wowie!!!

Frustrated, as you can sense when reading that the original Polish has a great deal more puns and double-meanings, humorous and thematically significant play-on-words whic
Sep 16, 2012 Ethan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This is a seriously weird book, but I liked it. It's not as profound as Solaris, not quite as funny as The Cyberiad, and has less of a plot than The Futurological Congress. The absurd bureaucracy is really funny, but it does occasionally get old, which I suppose is part of the point. Everybody's spying on everybody and nobody's quite sure who they're working for, which makes for an amusing premise as well as a meditation on the paranoia of the Cold War (and maybe today).
Oct 29, 2007 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(written 5/01)

Alex told me to check out Lem so I picked this out randomly. At first it seemed to be wandering along with no point... but this is Life, right? Once I realized that the Building was Life (around p. 100) I got much more out of the book.

"Hey, he Building, hey!
What makes the Building stay?
The Antibuilding makes it stay!
Dec 17, 2013 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this is like bleaching your mind a few times and then putting it through the wringer and then beating it with a stick after. And yet... it's completely compelling and I couldn't stop reading it. Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is one of those books that requires time after reading to just let things settle before even remotely making sense. But totally worth it.
Meghan Fidler
Jan 06, 2014 Meghan Fidler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lem has created the ultimate espionage world, an enclosed system where papers guarded from a mysterious space-born plight become the crazed focus of insanely guarded non-secrets.
"Memoirs found in a bathtub" brilliantly captures the emotion of the cold-war, for readers looking for a book to disturb their mental stability need look no further.
How'd this Polish guy so thoroughly skewer American military-industrial-paranoiac reality? This was my introduction to Lem. No wonder I'm hooked.
Mar 09, 2011 Lolotehe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every Lem book I've read has a different director. This one was the Brothers Quay.
Peter Dunn
One of Lem’s maddest works begins with a straight forward but novel science fiction idea but then rapidly becomes something that can best be described as Kafka meets Monty Python. It’s full of wild ideas, infuriating encounters, and it begins and ends exactly where the title tells you that it does and will. Of course it might all be in code….
Thomas Jacob Jr.
This is some weird ish.
Emre Karadeniz
gözlerim kör olaydı da okumayaydım
Bernie Gourley
Dec 09, 2013 Bernie Gourley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoyed Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, which is to say you like gallows humor that scoffs at the folly of thinking of “bureaucratic logic” as anything other than an oxymoron, then Stanislaw Lem’s Memoirs Found in a Bathtub will be right up your alley. The premise is that future archeologists are trying to decipher what happened to humanity from a dearth of remaining documentation. One of the best and most extensive of these records is the memoirs of a bureaucrat telling of his experience in a ...more
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SO this is a Sci-fi version of Kafka's The Castle? 4 15 Jul 04, 2013 11:16PM  
The Sword and Laser: Memoirs Found in a Bathtub $1.99 today 12 125 Feb 08, 2013 07:27PM  
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Stanisław Lem (staˈɲiswaf lɛm) was a Polish science fiction, philosophical and satirical writer of Jewish descent. His books have been translated into 41 languages and have sold over 27 million copies. He is perhaps best known as the author of Solaris, which has twice been made into a feature film. In 1976, Theodore Sturgeon claimed that Lem was the most widely read science-fiction writer in the w ...more
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