“In the twentieth century, Buddhism and Taoism gained many adherents in Europe who banged gongs and breathed through their diaphragm and talked about yin and yang and wrote mystical books and said that the world was full of mysteries, but only apparently so, because in reality everything was harmonious. And when someone experienced a mystery, they wrote a book about it because the media era had arrived and everyone wanted to write a book.” (from Europeana)
So the project here seems to be (because Europeana is ramblingly digressive and repetitive and that's absolutely to the point) to summarize in utterly dead pan delivery all of the political and sociological horrors of the 20th Century. Coming in at just 122 pages this book manages to do something just like that. Surprisingly in so doing the book achieves an air of gallows humor despite the task of reciting the 20th century’s seemingly endless cycles of utopian impulse inevitably leading to human suffering. Maybe it’s the laconic tone and particular phrasing but the results while not droll are often ironic (painfully so) and dare I say it, humorous (darkly so). Europeana is a novel with no plot and while maybe you could say humanity is the main character we don't prove a very sympathetic one at that.
“Historians concluded that in the twentieth century about sixty genocides had occurred in the world, but not all of them entered historical memory. Historians said that historical memory was not part of history and memory was shifted from the historical to the psychological sphere, and this instituted a new mode of memory whereby it was no longer a question of memory of events but memory of memory.” (from Europeana)
Told in an informal, mesmerizing voice, Ouredn?k represents the twentieth century in all its contradictions and grand illusions, demonstrating that nothing substantial has changed between 1900 and 1999--humanity is still hopeful for the future and still mired in age-old conflicts. As he demonstrates that nothing can be reduced to a single, true viewpoint, Ouredn?k mixes hard facts and idiosyncratic observations, highlighting the horror and absurdity of the twentieth century and the further absurdity of attempting to narrate this history.