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Die Hauptstadt: Roman (suhrkamp taschenbuch)…
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Die Hauptstadt: Roman (suhrkamp taschenbuch) (original 2017; edição 2018)

por Robert Menasse (Autor)

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
2671676,021 (3.77)6
THE PRIZE-WINNING SATIRICAL BESTSELLER - MORE THAN 500,000 COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE "I enjoyed The Capital so much . . . A major book" New York Times "First-class satire" Guardian "A deliciously vicious and timely satire" Financial Times "Mischievous yet profound" Economist "Thoroughly entertaining" Spectator "[A] polyphonic EU satire" The Times A "HOUSE OF CARDS" FOR THE EU The Capital is a brilliantly entertaining satire, a crime story, a comedy of manners . . . and a wild pig chase. This is the tale of a continent, a city and its inhabitants as they navigate their way through the confusing tangle of 21st-century life. ************************************* Brussels. A hive of tragic heroes, manipulative losers, involuntary accomplices. No wonder the European Commission is keen to improve its image. The fiftieth anniversary of the European Commission approaches, and the Directorate-General for Culture is tasked with organising an appropriate celebration. When Fenia Xenopoulou's assistant comes up with a plan to put Auschwitz at the very centre of the jubilee, she is delighted. But she has neglected to take the other E.U. institutions into account. Meanwhile the city is on the lookout for a runaway pig. And what about the farmers who take to the streets to protest against restrictions blocking the export of pigs to China? ************************************** See what the critics are saying about The Capital: "Omniscient" New York Times "An exceptional work" Kirkus Reviews "Deliciously witty" Metro "Elegant . . . brilliantly constructed" Die Zeit "Robert Menasse is pioneering the genre of Eurolit" Financial Times WINNER OF THE GERMAN BOOK PRIZE… (mais)
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Título:Die Hauptstadt: Roman (suhrkamp taschenbuch)
Autores:Robert Menasse (Autor)
Informação:Suhrkamp Verlag (2018), Edition: 2, 459 pages
Colecções:Stabue
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The Capital por Robert Menasse (2017)

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Robert Menasse’s Die Hauptstadt, winner of the 2017 German Book Prize, has recently being published by MacLehose Press in an English translation by Jamie Bulloch. In this incarnation, the novel’s title is rendered as The Capital. This name, of course, a faithful and literal translation from the German, but I wonder whether it was also meant as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Karl Marx’s epic tome. Indeed, political and economic theories also loom large in Menasse’s Capital, except that they are presented within the context of a zany novel about the workings of the European Commission.

Die Hauptstadt has been described as the first great novel about the European Union. It could well be the case. I don’t profess to be some expert in Continental literature, of course, but the only other novel I know which uses the European Commission as a backdrop is “What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels” by the Maltese author Ġuże’ Stagno. And that’s more a satire on Maltese politics and the Maltese representatives in the EU, than a novel on the European institutions themselves.

Menasse’s work takes a wider view. Its central plot element is a “Big Jubilee Project” which is being organised by the Commission as a celebration of the anniversary of its founding. Ambitious EU official Fenia Xenapoulou hopes that this will be an occasion to improve the image of the Commission, whilst providing her with her big break. Fenia’s Austrian assistant Martin Susman comes up with the noble idea of roping in Holocaust survivors, as a reminder that the European Union was built to ensure that Auschwitz would “never happen again”. Unsurprisingly, as the organizers will discover to their chagrin, national interests and behind-the-scenes lobbying make the success of such an ambitious celebration unlikely.

Much as I enjoyed this novel, I must say that it took me some time to finally get immersed in it. This is certainly not the fault of the translation – I’ve previously enjoyed Bulloch’s translations of The Mussel-Feast and Look Who’s Back, and as in those novels, The Capital is rendered in prose that is idiomatic and flowing. I believe the problem is more with its sheer number of characters (a recent theatrical adaptation involved 7 actors playing about 20 roles) – in the initial chapters especially, I thought that an introductory dramatis personae would have been helpful as a guide to the somewhat bewildering international cast.

Another issue is with the proliferation of seemingly unrelated subplots involving, amongst other narrative complications: a pig on the loose in Brussels; a retired Professor preparing to deliver a final, memorable speech; a Holocaust survivor coming to terms with his impending death; a number of potential, never-fully-realised love stories and, more weirdly, a crime investigation which seems to have been borrowed from a Dan Brown thriller. More frustratingly, some of these loose ends are never tied up.

In other words, The Capital is a sprawling novel which could have done with some tightening. However, its polyphonic narrative is, in itself, a good metaphor for the European Union, this patchwork of nations and cultures which, somehow, managed to build a future of hope from the cinders of a continent ravaged by war. Indeed, this novel, despite its several comic and surreal elements, provides Menasse with the springboard to present his views on the European Union. Despite the evident shortcomings, the bureaucracy and the backstabbing which seem to characterize the working of its institutions, especially the Commission, the central idea(l) of the EC remains a laudable one – the creation of a supra-national body to keep extreme nationalism in check, in order to ensure that the horrors of the 20th Century do no happen again. In the age of Brexit and strident populism, its themes urgently relevant.

Full review at: http://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-capital-by-robert-menasse.html ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
Robert Menasse’s Die Hauptstadt, winner of the 2017 German Book Prize, has recently being published by MacLehose Press in an English translation by Jamie Bulloch. In this incarnation, the novel’s title is rendered as The Capital. This name, of course, a faithful and literal translation from the German, but I wonder whether it was also meant as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Karl Marx’s epic tome. Indeed, political and economic theories also loom large in Menasse’s Capital, except that they are presented within the context of a zany novel about the workings of the European Commission.

Die Hauptstadt has been described as the first great novel about the European Union. It could well be the case. I don’t profess to be some expert in Continental literature, of course, but the only other novel I know which uses the European Commission as a backdrop is “What happens in Brussels stays in Brussels” by the Maltese author Ġuże’ Stagno. And that’s more a satire on Maltese politics and the Maltese representatives in the EU, than a novel on the European institutions themselves.

Menasse’s work takes a wider view. Its central plot element is a “Big Jubilee Project” which is being organised by the Commission as a celebration of the anniversary of its founding. Ambitious EU official Fenia Xenapoulou hopes that this will be an occasion to improve the image of the Commission, whilst providing her with her big break. Fenia’s Austrian assistant Martin Susman comes up with the noble idea of roping in Holocaust survivors, as a reminder that the European Union was built to ensure that Auschwitz would “never happen again”. Unsurprisingly, as the organizers will discover to their chagrin, national interests and behind-the-scenes lobbying make the success of such an ambitious celebration unlikely.

Much as I enjoyed this novel, I must say that it took me some time to finally get immersed in it. This is certainly not the fault of the translation – I’ve previously enjoyed Bulloch’s translations of The Mussel-Feast and Look Who’s Back, and as in those novels, The Capital is rendered in prose that is idiomatic and flowing. I believe the problem is more with its sheer number of characters (a recent theatrical adaptation involved 7 actors playing about 20 roles) – in the initial chapters especially, I thought that an introductory dramatis personae would have been helpful as a guide to the somewhat bewildering international cast.

Another issue is with the proliferation of seemingly unrelated subplots involving, amongst other narrative complications: a pig on the loose in Brussels; a retired Professor preparing to deliver a final, memorable speech; a Holocaust survivor coming to terms with his impending death; a number of potential, never-fully-realised love stories and, more weirdly, a crime investigation which seems to have been borrowed from a Dan Brown thriller. More frustratingly, some of these loose ends are never tied up.

In other words, The Capital is a sprawling novel which could have done with some tightening. However, its polyphonic narrative is, in itself, a good metaphor for the European Union, this patchwork of nations and cultures which, somehow, managed to build a future of hope from the cinders of a continent ravaged by war. Indeed, this novel, despite its several comic and surreal elements, provides Menasse with the springboard to present his views on the European Union. Despite the evident shortcomings, the bureaucracy and the backstabbing which seem to characterize the working of its institutions, especially the Commission, the central idea(l) of the EC remains a laudable one – the creation of a supra-national body to keep extreme nationalism in check, in order to ensure that the horrors of the 20th Century do no happen again. In the age of Brexit and strident populism, its themes urgently relevant.

Full review at: http://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2019/03/the-capital-by-robert-menasse.html ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Sep 12, 2020 |
This was a frustrating read. Parts of it I found very entertaining and I thought the author really nailed some aspects of the EU and the internal politics of the Commission. On the other hand, there are many flaws.

First, there is some lazy national stereotyping e.g. I was not massively convinced by the UK official who is portrayed as always wanting to stymie EU initiatives in order to advance the interests of London. It would be fairer to characterise the UK's attitude to the EU as being a bit conflicted i.e. we've tended to like some bits, such as the single market (which we've generally strongly supported), more than others - which we have, admittedly, sometimes tried to block. But it's important to distinguish between the UK government and Brits working in the EU - I think the latter generally believe in the EU as a "good thing" (otherwise why choose to work there?), albeit that their vision of what it should be may differ from other nationalities (whereas the UK government has often been much more ambivalent). And that approach of seeing the EU essentially as a vehicle for advancement of the national interest is something that is more characteristic of the French attitude to the EU (if we are going to indulge in national stereoptyping...). But the real point here is that I would like to have seen a bit more nuance in the portrayal e.g. officials feeling a bit conflicted, even when the author clearly doesn't mean you to like them. That said, there is a bit more nuance in the portrayal of characters from smaller countries for whom the author has a bit more sympathy, like the Greek head of DG Culture and Czech and Austrian officials at the same DG - and I thought those parts of the book were more successful overall.

Second, the tone lurches all over the place - one minute the EU is being mocked (and there is, let's face it, plenty to mock), the next we are effectively being lectured on the critical importance of reforming it so that it does a better job. And then there is a weird Dan Brown-esque sub-plot about Vatican sponsored assassins. I'm not saying you can't have funny, weird and serious side by side - just not sure it worked here. Auschwitz, the resurgence of nationalism in a number EU countries and terrorist attacks are all invoked to try to convey the seriousness of what is at stake - but I felt these stabs at giving the book heft were repeatedly undermined by other, lighter elements, like the escaped pig that the book kicks off with (and which makes regular and ultimately slightly tiresome reappearances throughout).

And third, the author gets quite a lot wrong. He is wrong about the historical origins of the Commission and I am pretty sure he is also wrong about a central aspect of the sub-plot involving the European Pig Producers' association, which rests on the ability of EU Member States to do bilateral trade deals with China - when for the most part, trade policy is a jealously guarded exclusive competence of the Commission (which is no doubt why his Greek official so desperately wants to escape the dead end of DG Culture and return to DG Trade). Of course, this is a work of fiction, so maybe these kinds of errors do not matter - but as noted above, I'm not sure it entirely works as fiction either. [I would've liked to give it 2.5 stars, rather than 2 - I think it is about 50% successful]. ( )
  Paul_Samael | Mar 30, 2020 |
I really enjoyed the writing style. But it never amounted to much. ( )
  breic | Mar 18, 2020 |
wunderbar ( )
  ladyinblue | Jul 11, 2019 |
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THE PRIZE-WINNING SATIRICAL BESTSELLER - MORE THAN 500,000 COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE "I enjoyed The Capital so much . . . A major book" New York Times "First-class satire" Guardian "A deliciously vicious and timely satire" Financial Times "Mischievous yet profound" Economist "Thoroughly entertaining" Spectator "[A] polyphonic EU satire" The Times A "HOUSE OF CARDS" FOR THE EU The Capital is a brilliantly entertaining satire, a crime story, a comedy of manners . . . and a wild pig chase. This is the tale of a continent, a city and its inhabitants as they navigate their way through the confusing tangle of 21st-century life. ************************************* Brussels. A hive of tragic heroes, manipulative losers, involuntary accomplices. No wonder the European Commission is keen to improve its image. The fiftieth anniversary of the European Commission approaches, and the Directorate-General for Culture is tasked with organising an appropriate celebration. When Fenia Xenopoulou's assistant comes up with a plan to put Auschwitz at the very centre of the jubilee, she is delighted. But she has neglected to take the other E.U. institutions into account. Meanwhile the city is on the lookout for a runaway pig. And what about the farmers who take to the streets to protest against restrictions blocking the export of pigs to China? ************************************** See what the critics are saying about The Capital: "Omniscient" New York Times "An exceptional work" Kirkus Reviews "Deliciously witty" Metro "Elegant . . . brilliantly constructed" Die Zeit "Robert Menasse is pioneering the genre of Eurolit" Financial Times WINNER OF THE GERMAN BOOK PRIZE

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