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The Elephant

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  495 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Satirical stories deal with superstition, bureaucracy, propaganda, appearance and reality, courtship, marriage, class structure, and education
Paperback, 176 pages
Published February 13th 1985 by Grove Press (first published 1957)
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MJ Nicholls
This collection of surreal and satirical fables is perfect fare for fans of Donald Barthelme, Nikolai Gogol, or Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. In the title story, an inflatable elephant is blown up in a zoo to save money. In ‘The Giraffe’ a little boy is unable to find any reference to giraffes in Marx and Engels, so his uncle denies their existence. In ‘A Forester in Love’ a forester’s enormous moustache is used as a makeshift washing line. In ‘The Lion’ a lion refuses to enter the coliseum and warn ...more
Antonomasia
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: MJ Nicholls
[4.5] Wielkie nieba! Eastern Bloc satire that's actually amusing. A rare thing for me: I was a bit bored - other than the significant historical interest - by the likes of A Report on the Party and the Guests, and plays of Václav Havel and Ionesco - and outright irritated at times by Krzhizhanovsky's Autobiography of a Corpse, which almost everyone else loves. But between The Elephant and Vera Chytilova's Daisies (perhaps a surreal image in itself; Daisies [Sedmikrásky] is one of my favourite fi ...more
João Reis
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny and bizarre short stories from a communist Poland.
Olga
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, easy-reading
I can't say I liked all the stories from this collection. Some are much better than the others. But it was nice to read a European classic for a change. And by the way, "funny" is not a suitable word to describe Mrozek's writing. There's not much fun in living under the oppressive regime. I'd say it's as much "fun" as The Foundation Pit by Andrei Platonov or Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol.

Славомир Мрожек русскому читателю не очень известен, на слуху больше его пьесы, чем малая проза. Судя по википедии, с 2008-го года его произведения у нас не издавались. Очен
...more
Wayne
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all the mindless PC people who won't read it
Recommended to Wayne by: my desire for the different
It is only the Complacent Ones who will view these short often crucifyingly amusing surreal pieces as descriptive of Totalitarian regimes.

Australia has recently declared the possibility of forcing artists to classify their works so that it can cut down on, control any sign of genitalia and other offensive stuff. An English playwright recently wrote a work about a teacher brought to trial because of abusive behaviour which consisted in gently pushing a student in the direction of the classroom d
...more
Ray
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I liked this book.

It is a slim volume, with forty or so short stories each a few pages long. The stories are surreal and very funny, often poking fun at authority.

A couple of the stories didnt work for me hence four stars.
Rhys
Apr 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most entertaining short-story collections I have read for a long time. Mrozek is an author I was aware existed but I had never read any of his work until this year. This volume is one of a series of 'Central European Classics'issued in the past few years by Penguin Classics. Other volumes in the series include books by Capek, Skvorecky, Cioran, Milosz and Krudy. There appear to be ten titles altogether and I hope to obtain and read them all (I have already read the superb Capek novel, ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
"The Elephant" is a book collecting of forty-two short stories where Slawomir Mrożek pokes fun at politics, bureaucracy and social life of Poland in the 1950s.
Although Poland is never named here what the author wrote had a very clear goal: hitting the daily comedy of a life ruled by what the Party and its hyerarchies said.

It's a fact that most Polish people at that time had to follow the line (or at least pretend to do it for their own sake). And that Party line was far from being straight and
...more
Víctor Sampayo
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Si hay algo que admirar de este volumen de relatos breves es la maestría de Mrożek para hacer una corrosiva crítica de la realidad (esa realidad que engendró hordas de seres excéntricos en Europa del Este durante los más férreos años del comunismo) mediante una serie de paradojas, muchas de ellas tristemente divertidas, y que muestran el absurdo, la estupidez o la ambigüedad de aquellas sociedades acechadas en todo momento por el ogro del totalitarismo.
Ellen
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I don't ordinarily read or like short stories. This is a major exception. Sort, laugh-a-loud stories about the absurdities of living in a dictatorship/communist country. I especially liked "The Trial" in which they put all the authors into uniform and award ranks so you can tell what to think about each. Of course, a problem arises classifying an eccentric writer. Many others were also wonderful. Should be read in our high schools!
Isaac Cisneros
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in spanish some time ago and it was amazing. Mrożek is one of my favourite polish writers of all time. Looking forward to read it again! (but in polish ofc)
Shervie
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It Is Astonishing.
Cristina
Jun 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
histórias muito curtas. absurdo, irónico. imaginem um master and margarita, mas ao invés de as histórias absurdas se interligarem numa história maior, aqui encontram-se isoladas.
Michael
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: international, poland
The communist era in Eastern Europe produced an outstanding amount of satirical storytelling. Mostly it was because the absurdity of the state itself lent the form so much material; one suspects a lot of Mrozek's stories were inspired by real-life episodes. As a member of the party for many years, no doubt Mrozek saw much that was beyond logic and belief. Mrozek, born in Poland, was in his youth a devoted communist, but he eventually defected and became a staunch critic of his homeland's governm ...more
Eric Kroczek
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good old-fashioned Soviet bloc absurdism. Not all of these stories hit the mark—in most cases due, I suspect, to faulty translation or the loss of historical context with time—but the ones that do hit pack a wallop. In any case, all the stories are very brief. Of particular note are the title story, about an ersatz zoo Elephant; "Birthday," in which the narrator visits a lawyer who keeps a pet progressive in the parlor; "The Trial," about a court-martial in a country where every writer is assign ...more
Brian Jackson
Oct 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Satirical and often surreal, I thought this was a great collection of short stories mostly poking fun at authority or institutions in general. There were one or two that I just didn't quite get, perhaps the author was illustrating the point of life's banality (critics have categorized the author as absurdist, though I haven't read enough of his other works to have an opinion). I've been told Mrozek's works offers great insight into Polish culture and thinking and I think they do, but I particula ...more
Mariano Hortal
"El elefante" es la última novela que Acantilado publica de Slawomir Mrozek. Este escritor polaco se caracteriza especialmente por su narrativa breve. Cuentos de no más de 5 páginas que se leen en un ratito y se disfrutan un montón. Prosa puntillosa, exacta, cargada de sátira ante la sociedad polaca, no exenta de lirismo y con varios niveles de lectura para disfrutar. Una delicia, descubrir la narrativa breve, lo más cercano al lirismo de la poesía, a través de un autor tan característico como e ...more
Melissa
May 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Satirical short stories about life under a totalitarian regime. The title story is a good example -- story of a zookeeper who, to save money and make himself look better to higher officials, buys an inflatable elephant for the zoo instead of a live animal. The workers inflating it with air switch to filling it with gas to save time, and predictably, it floats away during the first day of exhibition. A suitable story must be found to explain so as not to embarass any party officials. An entertain ...more
Ali
Elephant
Unique, satiric and descriptive novella, though Mrozek is most known by his plays “Out at Sea” 1961, “Karol” 1962, “Striptease” 1962, and “Tango” (1964).
نام مترجم "فیل" به فارسی در خاطرم نمانده اما چند نمایش نامه ی اسلاومیر مروژک را ایرج زهری به فارسی برگردانده و برخی مانند "کارول"، "استریپ تیز"، "بر روی اقیانوس" و... در ایران پیش از انقلاب، بارها روی صحنه یا در تله ویزیون اجرا شده اند.

در مورد "تیاتر ابزورد" اینجا را بخوانید
http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_...
Alison
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very readable collection of allegorical tales of life in a totalitarian state. Each literary 'sketch' is very short but the author manages to load his writing with hidden meaning; unwritten implications; wit; absurdity, love, sadness, regret and indignation.
The stories can be read as light entertainment or really delved into to uncover the multiple layers of meaning. I did feel that I failed to grasp the point of several stories but I consider that to be my fault as a reader rather tha
...more
Anna
Mar 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Anna by: My sister bought it
Collection of satirical short stories - great compilation of Mrożek's style. I liked the story The Cooperative The one about a cooperative, which was providing drinking companions for lonely ones. The cooperative also has people for special assignments - former priest, drinking poets. Great.
Lib
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So sharp and hilarious. My particular favourites were birthday, the elephant, the trial, the swan, in the drawer, the background to an era, a drummer's adventure, peer gynt, the co-operative, the giraffe, the last hussar, a citizen's fate, an event, on a journey, spring in Poland, and finally the last one - chronicle of a besieged city - the most fabulous summing up of it all!
Vincent
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Running the gamut from slight to brilliant, these sketches or vignettes or ultra-shorts (whatever works) were compelling, hilarious, and perplexing. The collection worked like a book of poems; not every bit connected with me, but the ones that did made a deep impression. My kind of book.
Homo
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
fiftys poland satire...ftw
Beata
May 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned-dnf
ciężko się to czyta. opowiadania zbyt krótkie i skakanie od ledwo poznanego bohatera do drugiego męczy.
Rosana Hermann
Funny in a very particular way, very clever stories, sometimes surreal, but always covering political criticism.
Ignacio
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Colección de relatos satíricos y surrealistas. Alguno de ellos, como 'La cooperativa una', han terminado siendo una acertada anticipación de este presente absurdo.
Des Small
Lugubriously didactic whimsy from (but in protest at) Communist Poland!
Blogbaas Van 'tVliegend Eiland
9/10
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Sławomir Mrożek (born June 29, 1930, died August 15, 2013) was a Polish dramatist and writer.

Mrożek joined the Polish United Workers' Party during the reign of Stalinism in the People's Republic of Poland, and made a living as a political journalist.

In the late 1950s Mrożek begun writing plays. His first play, Policja (The Police), was published in 1958. Mrożek emigrated to France in 1963 and then
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