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The Old Man and the Bureaucrats

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The conflict between myth and technology and the impact of totalitarianism is explored in the tale of an elderly schoolteacher who, while looking for a former pupil, is held for questioning by Communist officials in Romania.


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The conflict between myth and technology and the impact of totalitarianism is explored in the tale of an elderly schoolteacher who, while looking for a former pupil, is held for questioning by Communist officials in Romania.

30 review for The Old Man and the Bureaucrats

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hosein moazzani

    شاید باید بگم بهترین داستانی بود که تو همه زندگیم خوندم! "داستان" به معنی واقعی واقعی کلمه! تمام طول کتاب، با شور و شوق تموم میخوندم و داستان ها واقعا مقومت ناپذیر بودن!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Vişan Bogdan

    O nuvelă amplă ce cuprinde o împletire a unei povestiri redate în cadrul unei interogari cu scopuri specifice tiparului omului limitat care extrage informația în interese banale, capabil doar să urmărească scopul chiar dacă înseamnă ignorarea unei lumi prezentate cu caracter fantastic și a unei realități desacralizate. Zaharia Fărâmă induce încă de la început lectorului un aer intrigant, făcându-l să nu lase paginile până nu se sfârșesc, inițial cu ideile simbolice (urcarea scărilor și nu a asce O nuvelă amplă ce cuprinde o împletire a unei povestiri redate în cadrul unei interogari cu scopuri specifice tiparului omului limitat care extrage informația în interese banale, capabil doar să urmărească scopul chiar dacă înseamnă ignorarea unei lumi prezentate cu caracter fantastic și a unei realități desacralizate. Zaharia Fărâmă induce încă de la început lectorului un aer intrigant, făcându-l să nu lase paginile până nu se sfârșesc, inițial cu ideile simbolice (urcarea scărilor și nu a ascensorului, căldura, întrebări privind timpul), poate cu confuzia creată, oricum acea stare intensificându-se odată cu parcurgerea întâmplărilor relatate. În paralel, lumea care depășește ușor unele detalii, este, deasemenea, un punct de interes lăsând nevoia unei analize. Thats it, 5/5

  3. 5 out of 5

    Realini

    The Old Man and The Bureaucrats by Mircea Eliade In the original: Pe Strada Mantuleasa This is an outlandish work, which has reminded me of Big Fish and Once Upon A Time in America, which are oddly enough, two American movies. Like in Big Fish, we have magic, a giant; even if in Mantuleasa the giant is a woman, extraordinary tales and an intriguing blend of surreal and (perhaps) real events. The premise of the book is rather plain, somewhat like you are taken into a spaceship, but you start on a ba The Old Man and The Bureaucrats by Mircea Eliade In the original: Pe Strada Mantuleasa This is an outlandish work, which has reminded me of Big Fish and Once Upon A Time in America, which are oddly enough, two American movies. Like in Big Fish, we have magic, a giant; even if in Mantuleasa the giant is a woman, extraordinary tales and an intriguing blend of surreal and (perhaps) real events. The premise of the book is rather plain, somewhat like you are taken into a spaceship, but you start on a backstreet, with someone walking a dog. Someone is moving into a new house and a professor happens to be nearby. He learns that the one who is about to change address is a former pupil. The professor tries to get in contact with this old acquaintance and to talk to him. At a different stage, this brought to my mind images from Once upon a Time In America, with Robert de Niro in his good old days. First of all, there are suggestions which make us think that the stories are just part of a dream, both in Mantuleasa and Once Upon a Time… then, the number of stories is impressive- much bigger in Mantuleasa, but even the movie had a long thread, lasting more than three hours, if I remember well. The major is not happy with the meeting. In fact, he claims he is not the pupil in question, has no idea who the teacher is and… - What do you want from me, I am a comrade not mister, get out of here! The rude man is getting us into the atmosphere of a post war country, occupied by the Soviets, who have brought with their tanks a plague that will be remembered for a long time and even worse, will make its effects felt for decades, maybe even more than a century. At that time one was afraid of any stranger who might compromise one’s “dossier”. Even worse if it was someone from the past, who could reveal damaging information, that could send an innocent or guilty party to a communist jail. Mircea Eliade was an authority on religions. He introduces magic stories, folk tales and myths. There is a giant woman called Oana, a magician, a man who had disappeared in Russia, only to come back later (perhaps), fortune tellers predict…the future. The authorities get interested in the professor and his recollections. The weird and to me unbelievable side is that some of the communist leaders begin to like the sagas and want to hear them for their own sake… I understood when they had interrogated the teacher to learn about the fate of some people who could be in key positions, leading the country, but to see them romanticize and enjoy the narrative for the literary pleasures seems a bit farfetched. For me, communists are ruthless brutes, maniacs who deserve punishment or treatment at the very least. Another perspective can indeed insist upon the fact that they too are human beings. My life has been irremediably affected by communists and I have very little empathy for any of them, stupid believers in what they call “noble ideas” or plain crooks. This on personal note, but if we think of the tens of millions of people killed by the soviets and then the Chinese, we get the picture. Coming back to the Mantuleasa story, I must admit that it is a puzzle for me. I am not even sure what to rate it- three, or maybe four stars? On one hand, there are a multitude of interesting pieces- the giant woman, the man who learns Hebrew, trying to understand where the arrow went, then the disappearance of Darvari and Lixandru, the return of some of the personages in key positions in the communist hierarchy. But on the other hand, communist characters have always turned me off. Then the many interesting tales turn into a disadvantage: the whole seems patched up of too many pieces, with too little to hold them together- from where I look at it. In the adaptation for Romanian Radio, George Constantin plays a small part, and that kept me interested to the very end.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cititoarea

    O poveste tragi-comica a zidului interpus intre fantezia benigna a individului si obtuzitatea unui sistem obsedat sa gaseasca vinovati si conspiratori in oricine. Un fost inspector scolar, acum pensionat, ajunge dintr-o neintelegere in "gazduire" la Securitate (actiunea se petrece in Romania comunista a anilor '50). Mai interesanta mi s-a parut prezentarea contrastului dintre functionarul pensionat si aparatul politienesc si politic. Individul naiv si nostalgic care reuseste sa captiveze atat de O poveste tragi-comica a zidului interpus intre fantezia benigna a individului si obtuzitatea unui sistem obsedat sa gaseasca vinovati si conspiratori in oricine. Un fost inspector scolar, acum pensionat, ajunge dintr-o neintelegere in "gazduire" la Securitate (actiunea se petrece in Romania comunista a anilor '50). Mai interesanta mi s-a parut prezentarea contrastului dintre functionarul pensionat si aparatul politienesc si politic. Individul naiv si nostalgic care reuseste sa captiveze atat de mult atentia temnicerilor sai prin povestile sale incat este tratat aproape cu blandete. Motivatia din spatele acestei rabdari neasteptate este echivoca, partial bazata pe incercarea obsesiva de identifica material valid pentru alte dosare. Dar se citeste si fascinatia starnita de intamplarile si personajele din povestile batranului - si asta mi-a starnit nenumarate zambete pe parcursul lecturii.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Casper

    The setting of this intriguing little novel is part communist, part fantastic. On one level it tells the story of an old man who's fanatically questioned by the secret police. They think he holds the key to some terrible mystery that could have its effect upon the whole society, until the hightest point of the hierarchy. And, maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. What is clear is that the old man is fond of telling stories. Each one of his memories links back to another series of memories and thus, i The setting of this intriguing little novel is part communist, part fantastic. On one level it tells the story of an old man who's fanatically questioned by the secret police. They think he holds the key to some terrible mystery that could have its effect upon the whole society, until the hightest point of the hierarchy. And, maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. What is clear is that the old man is fond of telling stories. Each one of his memories links back to another series of memories and thus, in his recorded coversations with his questioners, he tells one long, associative tale. It doesn't seem to make sense, this tale, and it seems it doesn't have to. It's just a collection of stories that seem like fairy tales. Only somehow these fairy tales have their consequences for the people that listen to them. The line between fantasy and reality gets more and more blurred. The old man just keeps to his stories, but his audience sees one big political intrigue in it. This novel is not about final meaning, because it doesn't seem to have any. It does, however, lure you in, slowly but steadily. You go from the narrator to a narrating old man, to narrating people within his stories. It seems like zooming in, but instead it's only a continuous zooming out until you feel uncertain where it is you've begun exactly. It's the zooming that's the thing though, not the beginning or the ending, just the endless process of zooming. Intriguing, really.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    The publisher is fully justified in characterizing this Mircea Eliade novel, in the book’s cover copy, as a sort of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights “as if written by Kafka.” In fact, the narrative may be more spellbinding than that in Kafka’s own novels, and yet Eliade here--as in Youth Without Youth--fails to finish things in a satisfying way. Up until the final pages, the book is a stunning variation on The Trial or The Castle, featuring an old man who--under interrogation--tells story aft The publisher is fully justified in characterizing this Mircea Eliade novel, in the book’s cover copy, as a sort of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights “as if written by Kafka.” In fact, the narrative may be more spellbinding than that in Kafka’s own novels, and yet Eliade here--as in Youth Without Youth--fails to finish things in a satisfying way. Up until the final pages, the book is a stunning variation on The Trial or The Castle, featuring an old man who--under interrogation--tells story after fascinating story, most of them shot through with magical realism and post-modern fables. And in his final couple of chapters, Eliade twists the shape of the narrative unexpectedly, keeping the reader enthralled. But what can one say about that super-cryptic ending? It’s not that Eliade needed to resolve everything, but he did need to justify all the foreshadowing and convolutions with, at least, some sort of payoff. The book was so complex and yet so enjoyable that I know I could start over from the beginning now and get caught up in it all over again. And a second reading would make things less obscure, but I’m certain they would remain murky enough that I would still consider myself lost when I finished.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Deniz

    Pe strada Mântuleasa is an enjoyable book similar to, although much much shorter, One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights in writing and concept. Zaharia Fărâmă is a primary school director with tons of interesting stories about the lives of some of his students; his only problem is that he cannot (or will not) tell these stories concisely. The stories are fascinating and of interest to certain government officers, who keep Fărâmă under arrest. Pe strada Mântuleasa is an enjoyable book similar to, although much much shorter, One Hundred Years of Solitude and The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights in writing and concept. Zaharia Fărâmă is a primary school director with tons of interesting stories about the lives of some of his students; his only problem is that he cannot (or will not) tell these stories concisely. The stories are fascinating and of interest to certain government officers, who keep Fărâmă under arrest. In the end, the storyline unfolds in a both fulfilling and leaves-you-wondering way. I liked how all those seemingly unrelated events were entwined in each other. It's a pleasant read for a lazy afternoon.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I enjoyed this tale set in Romania after World War II. An old man, a retired high school principal, who has a prodigious memory of his former students and their stories tries to make contact with a former student who is now an official in the state security services, quickly falls under suspicion, and is arrested and brought in for questioning where upon he begins recounting his students stories, but going back 200+ years to lay the proper foundation. He never knows precisely why he is being det I enjoyed this tale set in Romania after World War II. An old man, a retired high school principal, who has a prodigious memory of his former students and their stories tries to make contact with a former student who is now an official in the state security services, quickly falls under suspicion, and is arrested and brought in for questioning where upon he begins recounting his students stories, but going back 200+ years to lay the proper foundation. He never knows precisely why he is being detained, though several party officials end up being denounced as a result of the tales the principal recounts. Probably a book I'll reread again.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Attila

    Eliade was a world-renowned writer, philosopher, and historian. I loved his short-stories of fantasy and magical realism (read a five-volume collection of these), many of these taking place in Bucharest of the 1930s, a source of an inexhaustible mythology. Pe Strada Mântuleasa (this book) and Dayan were my favourites; I even revisited the streets and places described in these stories.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Miguel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Buen libro que habla de la represión comunista en donde se vislumbran historias oscuras que no llegan a conocerse.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Teo Kiddo

    Captivating, exhilarating and unique book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ali Acar

    Gerçekten kötü bir kitap

  13. 4 out of 5

    Johnnyclock

    This is a delightful novella by the Romanian writer and man-of-letters Mircea Eliade. I cannot further describe it. It's only 128 pages and I am on page 86.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emma Ghita

    O altă nuvelă ce aparține prozei fantastice a lui Eliade, "Pe strada Mântuleasa" accentuează importanța toposului, real sau fictiv, în opera autorului. Astfel, acțiunea sau mai exact esența acesteia, semnele, simbolurile sunt cautate în Triunghiul reprezentat de cele doua strazi: Mântuleasa, Popa Soare-punctul din care pornesc si in care se întorc toate întâmplările și care genereaza, la nivel simbolic, un nod gordian.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Msb1381

    سه تا داستان کوتاه هر کدوم از اون یکی شگفت‌انگیز تر و عجیب تر!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tugbadursun

    Kitaptaki Farama karakteri Güldür Güldür Show'daki uzun ve alakasız hikayeler anlatan dayıya esin kaynağı olmuş sanırım. Benim gibi kitabın arka kapağında yazanlara aldanmayın sonra üzülebilirsiniz.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Theodora

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Beykrat

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matei

  20. 5 out of 5

    Madi

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alina

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ozlem Muguf

  23. 4 out of 5

    Diana

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emre Songür

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  26. 5 out of 5

    Șoarecele

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elife

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed Oussama

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nezhla Motamedi

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jean Bon

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