Lem at Amazon

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I understand
4.5416666666667 1 1 1 1 1 Rating 4.54 (24 Votes)

„Memoirs Found in a Bathtub” is one of the most intriguing books by Lem.  The ostensibly funny satire of contemporary intelligence, scarred by betrayal of trust, in reality is  – as is the case with everything in spies' world – an encrypted text. Attentive reader will discover critique of a totalitarian state, but also a parable of a man lost in the cosmos of signs generated by society, culture, literature, the physical world and biology.  Hence grotesque softly turns to philosophy.


I opened a door bearing the sign BY APPOINTMENT ONLY and entered an empty reception room, from there went through a side door marked KNOCK BEFORE ENTERING and into a conference room full of moldering mobilization plans. Here I ran into a problem - there were two doors. One said NO ADMITTANCE, the other CLOSED.

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub unavoidably evokes Kafka and yet it would be an injustice to call it derivative.  Lem is capable of an amazing knack for characterization.  He is wildly comic, he is sardonic, perplexing, insightful.  His narrator inhabits a sort of backup Pentagon called the Building, buried in a mountain, cut off from the outside world, or perhaps from reality.  The whole novel deals with his striving to discover what his mission is and the name of his superior.  The total preoccupation of the Building and everyone in it is a subversion and espionage, of which Lem makes Jovian mockery.

Theodore Sturgeon, The New York Times Review of Books
This book contains a conception that goes beyond current short-term political satire. Here we are confronted with a totalization of the concept of intentional actions. This has been shown with a quite clear, perhaps ever ghastly consistency, resulting in surprising effects. I think this vision is both original and true. A human being is indeed capable of treating everything around him as a message.