Compulsory Happiness

Overview

In cool, precise prose, and with an unerring sense of the absurd, the four novellas of Compulsory Happiness create a picture of everyday life in a grotesque police state, expressing terror and hope, fear and solidarity, the humorous triviality of the ordinary, and the painful search for an ideal.

"Norman Manea's four novellas, written during the later Ceausescu years, offer a comparable contrast to other Eastern European dissident writing. Instead of the energetic irony, the ebullient absurdism, the sharp-eyed ...

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Compulsory Happiness

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Overview

In cool, precise prose, and with an unerring sense of the absurd, the four novellas of Compulsory Happiness create a picture of everyday life in a grotesque police state, expressing terror and hope, fear and solidarity, the humorous triviality of the ordinary, and the painful search for an ideal.

"Norman Manea's four novellas, written during the later Ceausescu years, offer a comparable contrast to other Eastern European dissident writing. Instead of the energetic irony, the ebullient absurdism, the sharp-eyed wit, we find a dreamy disconnection, a voice that shock has lowered, an air of sweetness driven mad."—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

"Mr. Manea's voice is radically new, and we are blessedly awakened and alerted by the demand his fiction makes on our understanding."—Lore Segal, New York Times Book Review

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Four absurdist novellas by the Romanian novelist tell of life under a totalitarian regime. Nov.
Library Journal
Manea is a Romanian concentration camp survivor who also experienced some of the absurdities of living under the Ceausescu regime. The four novellas in this collection portray the psychological discomfort of living in a police state. The Interrogation conveys the feelings of a young woman, detained on a pretense, who is stripped, shaved, and questioned by someone almost equally insecure. Composite Biography reveals how individuals are forced to change identity in order to survive. A Window on the Working Class depicts a man who inserts himself into the lives of a working couple against their will. The Trenchcoat tells how an initially secure woman becomes terrified after finding an unclaimed trenchcoat in her house. Hauntingly well done, this collection is recommended for general as well as informed readers.-Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. PL., Md.
Richard Eder
Norman Manea's four novellas, written during during the later Cuausescu years, offer a comparable contrast to other Eastern European dissident writing. Instead of the energetic irony, the ebullient absurdism, the sharp-eyed wit, we find a dreamy disconnection, a voice that shock has lowered, an air of sweetness driven mad. -- The Los Angeles Times
Lore Seagull
Mr. Manea's voice is radically new, and we are blessedly awakened and alerted by the demands his fiction makes on our understanding. -- The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher

"Norman Manea's four novellas, written during the later Ceausescu years, offer a comparable contrast to other Eastern European dissident writing. Instead of the energetic irony, the ebullient absurdism, the sharp-eyed wit, we find a dreamy disconnection, a voice that shock has lowered, an air of sweetness driven mad."
--Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

"Mr. Manea's voice is radically new, and we are blessedly awakened and alerted by the demand his fiction makes on our understanding." --Lore Segal, New York Times Book Review

"The four novellas in this collection portray the psychological discomfort of living in a police state. . .Hauntingly well done, this collection is recommended for general as well as informed readers."--Library Journal

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300182958
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Series: Margellos World Republic of Letters Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Norman Manea is Francis Flournoy Professor of European Culture and writer-in-residence at Bard College. A novelist and essayist, he first published in Communist Romania in the 1960s, producing a string of socially critical works that led to his departure in 1986. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages, and he has received many important cultural and literary prizes, including the MacArthur Fellowship (U.S.), the Nonino International Literary Prize (Italy), the Prix Médicis Etranger (France), and the Nelly Sachs prize (Germany). He is a member of the Berlin Academy of Art and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and the French government has named him Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. An award-winning translator, Linda Coverdale has translated many classic works of modern French literature into English.

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Table of Contents


The Interrogation
Composite Biography
A Window on the Working Class
The Trenchcoat
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