By Norman Manea
In cool, designated prose, and with an unerring feel of the absurd, the 4 novellas of Compulsory Happiness create an image of lifestyle in a ugly police nation, expressing terror and wish, worry and cohesion, the funny triviality of the standard, and the painful look for an ideal.
"Norman Manea's 4 novellas, written throughout the later Ceausescu years, provide a similar distinction to different jap ecu dissident writing. rather than the vigorous irony, the ebullient absurdism, the sharp-eyed wit, we discover a dreamy disconnection, a voice that surprise has diminished, an air of sweetness pushed mad."—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
"Mr. Manea's voice is considerably new, and we're blessedly woke up and alerted through the call for his fiction makes on our understanding."—Lore Segal, New York occasions e-book Review
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Extra resources for Compulsory Happiness (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)
This is so for two reasons: first, because “the typescript has inscribed within it an entire production history comprising numerous changes and variations”; and second, because “as a certain type of communicative mechanism the typescript, like the lecture, is the locus of human intercourse. Every time this typescript is put to some communica c opy tive use, it undergoes transformation” (181). Existing as it does in the textual condition, a text is always caught up in the labyrinth of its own production and reception.
Every copy is in some sense a partial or simply different materialization of the book itself, which does not prevent a copy from offering us the book itself, for along with its immutable form the book itself exists as something that can be duplicated or read in various manners and yet remain entirely itself. But if the book itself exists in some immutable form, then what is that form? We have perhaps located, in all its inexistence, the original of Le chiendent, but this is not to say that the original is the book itself.
A dollar bill follows precisely the same rule: no one dollar bill is better than another, but not all reproductions of dollar bills really are dollar bills (and the fact that they may be in some cases passed off as genuine dollar bills does nothing to change this). No doubt, then, the truest example of a copy without an original can be found only in the public domain, say in the tic-tac-toe grid: it can be endlessly reproduced, cannot be forged, and every c opy grid is the grid, and the original is lost in the mists of time, and it doesn’t matter.
Compulsory Happiness (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) by Norman Manea