‘The Elephant’ by Sławomir Mrożek, translated by Konrad Syrop

Mrożek’s compact fables turn the bureaucratic illogic and rigidity of life in the Stalinist Poland of the 1950s into deadpan satirical vignettes. The pieces find “absurdity” not in some abstruse realm of avant-garde ideas, but in the frustrations and deceptions of everyday life. In the title-story to this collection, the “elephant” allocated to a cash-starved zoo turns out to be ersatz: a rubber surrogate that modestly refuses to waste the precious hard currency that a real beast would cost. But even simulacra (that inescapable Polish motif again) may acquire a transformative life of their own…

First published 1957; collected in The Elephant, Penguin Central Europe Classics, 2010

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s