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Memoirs Found in a Bathtub

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,632 ratings  ·  194 reviews
The year is 3149, and a vast paper destroying blight-papyralysis-has obliterated much of the planet's written history. However, these rare memoirs, preserved for centuries in a volcanic rock, record the strange life of a man trapped in a hermetically sealed underground community. Translated by Michael Kandel and Christine Rose.
Paperback, 204 pages
Published July 23rd 1986 by Mariner Books (first published 1961)
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Glenn Russell
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing

“When you jump for joy, beware that no one moves the ground from beneath your feet.”
― Stanisław Lem

If you are up for writing with ample helpings of the polyglotomatic and metapsychodelic, Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, Stanislaw Lem’s 1961 novel of screwball bureaucratic misadventure will most certainly stir your brainwaves and set your neural neurons fizzing.

What a polyglot and metaphysician was our author - fluent in Polish, Latin, German, French, English, Russian, Ukrainian, Lem’s expertise ran
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Küvette Bulunan Günce, Stanlislaw Lem'in gelecekten gelen bir labirent tasviri.

(view spoiler)
Griffin Alexander
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-is-non-f, soviet
Somewhere between Kafka and PKD by way of Pynchon's Tristero-style conspiratorialism—a fever dream of the eternal Cold War between the individual and the mass of the universe pressing down on them in all its chaos, meaningful or not.
Jul 21, 2014 rated it liked it
‘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
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 26, 2016 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 rated it really liked it
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
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 rated it it was ok
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Luis Lapham
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cuatro estrellas por los pelos, pero no habría que presionarme mucho para ponerle tres. Mis expectativas eran altas: descubrí el libro en una librería, envuelto en su plástico de ejemplar nuevo con su maravillosa portada y su seductora descripción en la contraportada. Me enamoró y lo convertí en un regalo para otra persona.

Ahora, tras leerlo, la magia se ha roto un poco. No me malentiendan: ni es un mal libro ni la edición ha dejado de ser magnífica; es solo que no da lo que prometía la descripc
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stanislaw-lem
Stanislav Lemin "Solaris" və "Ulduzlardan qayıdış" romanları ilə eyni ildə- 1961- ci ildə qələmə aldığı romanı. Yazarın üslubundakı fəlsəfi nüanslar, satirik toxunuşlar, eləcə də qeyri- müəyyənlik ilə həm yaratdığı obrazları, həm də oxucunu sonu bilinməz hadisələr şahidinə çevirməsinin bu əsərdə də əks olunduğunu görürük.
Roman Neogenin Böyük Tənəzzül dövrünə çox yaxın zamanda yazılmış bir gündəlik və onun içindəkilərdən bəhs edir. 3146- cı ildə arxeoloqların və Böyük Tənəzzül dövrü üzrə tədqiqa
George K.
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Δεν είναι το κλασικό βιβλίο επιστημονικής φαντασίας, σαν σκηνικό έχουμε το Συγκρότημα που είναι ένα πολυόροφο, δαιδαλώδες, γεμάτο χιλιάδες διαδρόμους, πόρτες, δωμάτια και γραφεία, κτίριο, και το οποίο είναι κάτω από το έδαφος, θυμίζει αυτά τα τεράστια δημόσια κτίρια σε δυστοπικές κοινωνίες, κάπως έτσι τέλος πάντων.

Η όλη εξιστόρηση είναι σε πρώτο πρόσωπο, με πρωταγωνιστή έναν ανώνυμο άντρα που είναι νέος στο επάγγελμα του πράκτορα και θέλει να μάθει ποια είναι η αποστολή την οποία υποτίθεται του
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
There are things to like about this book, but I'm not going to be able to enumerate them. It's essentially an "everything is crazy, black is white, loyalty is treason, treason is loyalty" book. It's a good example of that and short enough to tolerate. The thing is... I don't really like that kind of book, which makes this book not for me.

What I really wanted to know wasn't if there even is an enemy anymore, it's where did the protagonist come from? Is there something else in this world that isn'
Arax Miltiadous
oh my god...
is craziness what is written in this book...
some times i push my self to maintain a logical order to the story.
forthwith ..i identify a little bit so... i continue.

ιδιόρρυθμο βιβλίο πραγματικά...
παραθέτει άλλη μια από τις τόσες διαφορετικές μελλοντολογίες και εκδοχές για την διάβρωση της ιστορίας της ανθρωπότητας, εν συνεχεία του πολιτισμού της και εν τέλη της ολοκληρωτικής καταστροφής της.
συγχέει παρελθόν και μέλλον
και την ατομιστική παράνοια της εκάστοτε άρχουσας κυβέρνησης.
Christopher Turner
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 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).
Cristina Pacific
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: _kindle, sci-fi
I enjoyed everything I have read by Stanislaw Lem so far... but not quite so this book, though. I found the plot convoluted to an exhausting degree, with a series of counter-plots, each built against each other, to a never-coming resolution. Yes, the suspense is there but the gratification expected at some point toward the ending of the story – no. I guess the plot breaks down in its final stages and this spoils the taste of the entire story.
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Speculative Ficti...: (Review) Memoirs Found in a Bathtub 1 7 Mar 17, 2018 08:50PM  
SO this is a Sci-fi version of Kafka's The Castle? 4 17 Jul 04, 2013 02:16PM  
The Sword and Laser: Memoirs Found in a Bathtub $1.99 today 12 125 Feb 08, 2013 10:27AM  
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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