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Aah ...  I love what I consider to be "Eastern European" writing.  I avoid lumping the "Central" into that category because I can't say the same about the Germans, Austrians, Swiss, etc.

Perhaps if I say, "I love the stuff coming out of those European countries which used to be under communist rule, except for the Baltics, only because I haven't read much Baltic lit," that would be politically correct?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 11:02:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I sort of agreed with DoDo's contention that anything to the west of Jutland should be Western Europe... That makes Switzerland and Germany Central-Western, and Austria Central (most of Austria is, in fact, directly south of Czechia and the former East Germany, with Vienna being East of Prague).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 11:11:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you like 'East European' authors, here's a few that DoDo didn't mention, I'm not sure about insights into the world but they're good, and that's generally my chief criterium for fiction.

Bruno Schulz and Witold Gombrowicz (Polish) Danilo Kis (Serb, sort of), Christa Wolf (East German), Uwe Johnson (East/West German), Joseph Roth and Robert Musil (Habsburg).  

I could also provide a pretty long list of good history books, primarily dealing with modern European history, particularly Germany and ECE.

by MarekNYC on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 03:44:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oooh, thank you!  Can you post the list of history books or a link to it?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 03:53:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I could post links to orals type lists (or dig up my old orals lists), but a lot of that stuff gets pretty specialized and it sometimes is of the extremely dry but you've got to know it category. Here's some good ones at semi random.

Carl Schorske Fin de Siecle Vienna

Stephen Kern Culture of Time and Space

(both about the birth of 'modernity' in the decades leading up to WWI)

Fritz Stern Politics of Cultural Despair (intellectual origins of the mindset that led to Fascism)

Fritz Stern Gold and Iron (Bismarck, Kaiserreich, Germans and Jews)

Robert Paxton An Anatomy of Fascism (short, excellent summary of the subject)

Stephen Kotkin Magnetic Mountain. Stalinism as Civilization (my favorite book on Stalinism, through the prism of the creation of Magnitogorsk)

Richard Evans Death in Hamburg. Society and Politics in the Cholera Years

Claudia Koonz _Mothers of the Fatherland. Women, the Family and Nazi Politics

Ian Kershaw The Nazi Dictatorship. Problems and perspectives of Interpretation (overview of the debates, updated every few years)

Brian Porter When Nationalism began to Hate. Imagining Modern Polics in Nineteenth Century Poland (ok, a bit dry but it's good and pickings are limited for good quality Polish history in English)

Larry Wolff Inventing Eastern Europe (Englightenment Europe looks east, heavily influenced by Said's Orientalism)

Jerzy Jedlicki A Suburb of Europe (East looks West)

and perhaps one that I haven't read yet, and which isn't really history but I've been meaning to read since it came out a half year ago, good author, interesting sounding reviews.
David Ost The Defeat of Solidarity. Anger and Politics in Postcommunist Europe

And three on Europe and America, might be interesting to Eurotrib readers, two of them quite recent.

Volker Berghahn America and the Intellectual Cold Wars in Europe

Victoria de Grazia Irresistable Empire. America's advance through 20th c. Europe

Mary Nolan Visions of Modernity. American Business and the Modernization of Germany (on the Weimar era)

I think that's a start ;)

by MarekNYC on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 08:59:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps if I say, "I love the stuff coming out of those European countries which used to be under communist rule, except for the Baltics, only because I haven't read much Baltic lit," that would be politically correct?

Yes, and geographically correct, too :-) I see you missed this discussion two months back, so here is the gist of it -

The geographical centre of Europe, depending on the method used and areas taken into account, is at:

  • Bernotai, near Vilnius, Lithuania;
  • Číhošť, near Ledec nad Sazavou, Czech Republic;
  • Krahule, near Kremnica in central Slovakia (Hungary before 1920, then called Kékellő);
  • Dilove, near Rakhiv in western Ukraine (before 1945 Czechoslovakia, before 1920 [Austria-]Hungary, then called Terebesfehérpatak);
  • Suchowola, north of Białystok, in northeast Poland.

As you can see from that, today Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Western Ukraine, and maybe Romania and Austria could be considered Central Europe. In the languages of most of these countries, they are called Central European. It was only because of the Iron Curtain and Germany's territorial changes that for people in the West, Central Europe shifted West - but people here were never happy about that, they are sensitive to it.

Post-1989, for international fora, the term "Central-Eastern Europe" was adopted as a compromise. (However, some accepted "Central Europe" in English, for example the English-language university George Soros established for the region, which used to reside in Prague and Budapest but now only in the latter, is called Central European University.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 04:11:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you for the explanation.  Now I understand my faux pas.  And you are correct.  The Czech Republic will probably always be "Eastern" in my mind ... Yes, because for so long we used the term to mean "mysterious underdevoloped oppressed country Americans weren't allowed to visit" not a proper geographical designation.  How could I have missed that?  Well, thank you for enlightenning me.

BTW, this just underlines my desire to have a nice informative map of Europe linked to the front page here.

Now.  I have friends who insist that Finland can be considered part of Scandinavia.  What's the proper designation there?  


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 04:35:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooooh, you probably opened another can of worms :-) I let Sven Triloquist, Nikita, Sirocco et al decide that, but I would say that though Finnish is not a Scandinavian language, well Saami isn't either, and Finland could be considered part of Scandinavia by history and geology.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 04:57:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Check out the ET Wiki, the "Politics and Policy by Country" section: I added some links for you.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 05:14:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you.

Hmmm. "Eastern Europe" still looks rather "East" to me.  Whatever...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 05:18:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, much of East-of-Urals Russia is off that map :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 05:23:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahh, but is that "Europe"????

Anyway, what does this have to do with recommended reading?  So far off topic...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 05:35:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some days I think DoDo's idea of "really Eastern Europe" is Vladivostok...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 05:37:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't understood your and Metatone's comments until reading my own comment again - uh oh, sorry, I meant West-of-Urals...

As for recommended reading, well, I recommended some maps for reading :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 05:42:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
HaHa.  Well, maps wouldn't be very practical for my commute, though.  People would either think I was a tourist or terrorist (all the same in America these days, esp. if you're trying to get on a plane...)  And I'd inevitably biff someone in the eye.

I actually LOVE geography.  One of those people who can get lost in an Atlas for hours...  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 05:57:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You live in Washington State, right?

Once I had the pleasure to go to a public lecture by Sherman Alexie (recommended reading!!!) who is a Spokane indian (for the rest of you: that would be an important indian tribe in Washington, and a town on the Eastern fringe of the state).

Anyway, the theme of Alexie's lecture was what it was like to be brown in America after 9/11. He told this one anecdote about how, right after 9/11, he was waiting to cross the street at a traffic light in Seattle and this "phallic" [sic] pickup truck with a huge American flag rolled by and the driver screamed at him "Go back to your country!". When Alexie was able to recover from his laughter, he shouted back "you first!", but the truck was too far away.

The lecture was part of the promotional tour for Ten Little Indians (recommended reading!) and a lot of the anecdotes and impressions in the lecture were actually incorporated into the stories in the book. I don't remember whether the one about the pickup truck was.

Alexie's lecture was more like stand-up comedy all the way, but with lots of food for thought.

Hmmm... I don't know what the point of this whole rant is... Hey, I also suggest Maps in a Mirror, the collected short stories of Orson Scott Card.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 06:10:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm in Chicago, actually.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 06:16:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aye!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 06:21:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Never mind, the point of the rant was (I remember now) "tourist or terrorist".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 06:22:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Methinks she is in the Chicago area.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 10th, 2006 at 06:21:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All of these seem to make sense only if you take a good chunk of Russia in to weigh in countries. Russia is not really part of Europe. It's part of European history and culture, but it does not consider itself to be part of Europe, and it certainly won't be part of the EU for the foreseeable future.

Nah, the center of Europe is now somewhere in Western Germany.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 04:54:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Geography is not about subjective feelings.

"it does not consider itself to be part of Europe"

We were presented Russian polls to the contrary during the Russian debates.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 06:04:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, the most recently determined of these centres of Europe, the Lithuanian one (only from 1992), was determined by a French geographer.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 06:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But if you accept the geographic definition of Europe going to Urals, why should it have changed at anytime in the past century?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 06:55:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because I guarantee you the people who "calculate the center of continents" use no more sophisticated methods than drawing the contour of the continent on cardboard, cutting it out, and balancing the resulting shape on a pin. The variations come from the different projections used to draw the maps.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 12th, 2006 at 06:08:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not only: some weighed the borders of Europe (i.e. the result was 'equidistant' from the extremities), there can be differences in how much shallow water is included, and Northern Russia wasn't all that well known when the earliest were determined.

Tho' the Wiki says that the Soviets' re-determination got the same result as the last Austro-Hungarian one, that village in the Western Ukraine.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Feb 12th, 2006 at 07:28:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 06:33:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe or maybe not, but it is almost certainly about political agendas.  Atleast when we are drawing boundaries.  And one cannot decide the center of something without drawing boundaries.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 09:51:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia is not really part of Europe.
With opinions like this being throuwn around, it's no wonder all the Russians disappeared.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 06:07:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a bit like The Economist with its energy price figures.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 06:30:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What did I say to deserve such a nasty insult? We're not talking facts here, only opinions!

I'll stick with it: Russia does not have a European telephone prefix - it has its own, like any self-respecting continent. Russia is big enough to be something else altogether, and it is a European power, but it is not in Europe.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 06:59:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll stick with it: Russia does not have a European telephone prefix - it has its own, like any self-respecting continent.

What are you talking about?

There are no continental prefixes for line telephones. If you meant zones, who cares - the rest of Europe is on two zones already, and so is the rest of Asia. Meanwhile, looking at the contry code for base stations of wireless phones, Russia is in the European zone.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Feb 12th, 2006 at 07:55:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You do remember that they only showed up when they felt really insulted. This must not be enough to make them reappear (or maybe we need someone else to add on to my ignorant insults).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 07:00:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd really like someone to define, definitively, "Europe," before we go making statements of that nature.  

Jerome's "opinion" is in no way is offensive to Russia.  Whether Russia is in Europe or not is an age old question and last I heard, no one has had the last word on it.  Not only do many Russians not consider Russia implicitly part of Europe, many Europeans would absolutely shudder at the thought of including Russia in the EU.  

So to be blunt, it is convenient to include Russia in "Europe" when attempting to de-ghettoize the former Communist nations of Europe (saying it is not correct to call it "Eastern Europe" which I think one can only find offense with due to the political and socio-economic implications of the label, not the geographic ones.)  But when it comes to accepting Russia with open arms into the European political club, suddenly we can all agree that Russia is it's own thing.  And I think, frankly, Russia would prefer to have it that way.  And I know they play the European card for adcancing their own intersts too.

It's just perverse that we would be asked to accept outright that Russia, any part of it, is de facto part of "Europe."

Is "Europe" geographical, political, cultural, what?  Not the topic of my diary but I do think the issue needs to be addressed.  If only to illustrate the problems with making such assertions.

To me, Europe is a goal, the EU is a governing entity, and everything else is up for debate.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Sat Feb 11th, 2006 at 09:49:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I never heard anyone doubt the geographical meaning of Europe. In geography, Europe is the continent delimited on the East by the Ural mountain and river, the Caspian Sea, and the Caucasus. (Check Wiki.) The cultural realm is another thing, but let me point at Turkey, another country mostly in Asia but partly in Europe, whose joining is also discussed.

The EU is yet another thing, where I must mention that the EU existed long enough on a much smaller part of Europe, and people in many of its members weren't exactly happy about some or all of the 'new members'. Furthermore, there are other international organisations - for example the Council for Europe, the OSCE, and of course the 'most important', UEFA (football) and Eurovision (silly song contest), both of which include both Turkey and Russia.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Feb 12th, 2006 at 07:41:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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