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Everything is Wonderful: Memories of a Collective Farm in Estonia

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Everything is Wonderful - Sigrid Rausing - Häftad () | Bokus

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Everything Is Wonderful: Memories of a Collective Farm in Estonia (Paperback)

All that I know of Swedish culture I've learned from Ikea catalogs. In Ikea everything is wonderful: clean, spare, priced for the perfectly egalitarian world. When you take, say, a cabinet home from Ikea you have to assemble it yourself. What looked simple suddenly becomes puzzling, an exercise that leaves you rather humbled at your own cluelessness, at your own clumsiness.

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This is a book written by an expat Swede now living in Britain remembering her anthropological graduate research field year All that I know of Swedish culture I've learned from Ikea catalogs. This is a book written by an expat Swede now living in Britain remembering her anthropological graduate research field year spent in the once Swedish region of post-Soviet Estonia. Rausing was studying the remnants or re-membering of Swedish culture in a land emerging from totalitarianism.

I suspect you are already a bit confused.

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Entirely appropriate. So am I. Perhaps clarity or an Ikea chair will emerge as I read on. I think I've almost got this figured out. She jumps around a lot--from her own childhood memories of Sweden, to historical information about the Holocaust in Estonia, to scenes in that too often go unexplained and uninterpreted.


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  • Everything is Wonderful: Memories of a Collective Farm in Estonia;

Why in a region with almost no Swedes--since they were all evacuated in are Estonian schoolchildren marching to the piano music of Swedish films? Rausing mentions that it's a "way of building Swedishness"--but that raises more questions than it answers. Perhaps the school had something do do with various sporadic Swedish charitable efforts to revive post-Soviet Estonia, but it was never clear to me.

Another problem: characters come and go in rather random ways, or are reintroduced chapters later with no little clues that help the reader remember who they are. The overall effect for me was frustration. The frustration was made worse because when she's on form Sigrid Rausing writes beautifully. There are wonderfully atmospheric descriptions of the land, ravished and then abandoned by the Soviets.

Life on the farm in Estonia + Jaanipäev(Estonian Summer solstice get together

The Noarootsi Peninsula, where Rausing worked as an English teacher and did her field studies, was once a military border zone with watchtowers that "still stood, stripped and weathered, not yet historical landmarks, but no longer structures of authority. They all had that indeterminate Soviet look, between incompletion and dilapidation: white brick badly put together, concrete poured on the ground to form haphazard paths, woodwork rotting on the platforms, signs in Russian rusting on the floors, long since stripped of wire and anything else of value.

Gorbyland "was small and cosy, selling Western chocolates, ice cream, cigarettes, and packets of coffee as well as Russian and Estonian vodka, sangria, Soviet liqueurs, and beer That night there were about ten men and three boys there, silently watching a Russian videotape of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles , cheaply and probably illegally dubbed by one bored voice making only the slightest pretense of drama.

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And drunkenness. Alcoholics are everywhere; drinking seems the only way one gets through life. Everyone stinks of unwashed bodies and clothes, booze and cigarettes. It was seriously, deeply depressing. Things improve in the spring with its "intoxicating sense of opening up, and the realisation that what had preceded it had been a state of near hibernation.

The outside again became a public and noisy meeting place after the dark and snow-bound silence of winter. The summer was relentless in its own way; a long heatwave of glaring sun and dry wind day after day. The kind that go for your eyes and nostrils. And great clouds of mosquitoes. Altogether Post-Soviet Estonia was about as far from an Ikea catalog as one can get and perhaps a dose of Swedishness would not go amiss. As of , Ikea has yet to expand to Estonia although things are looking up and fake Ikea furniture is now available [lawsuit pending].

Meanwhile, I was glad to finish the book and felt terribly down for two days after. Three and a half stars.


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Content rating PG for way, way too much drinking and a dreary scene in a topless bar. View 1 comment. Dec 23, Jenny Reading Envy rated it really liked it Shelves: around-the-world , read , location-estonia.

centcitabtuacan.ml In , Estonia was formally annexed by the Soviet Union. Despite a brief blurp of Nazi occupation, Estonia was changed into a world of collective farms around 20, give or take, decreasing as they merged. While the title of this book may lead the reader to expect the isolated life of a collective farm, it is more of a play on the idea of an entire nation reduced to the philosophy of collectivism fully realized in and its aftermath ending in the early s.

She had grown up in Sweden and was fluent in Swedish, something which would help bridge the gap considerably since Estonian was such a difficult language to master. In anthropology and folklore, which is where I started out , fieldwork requires a year at minimum to establish a true insider perspective of a place and a people through participant observation. This means that Rausing was not just staying in a ritzy hotel and taking notes on her days off; she was living with everyday Estonians sometimes at personal risk to herself and caught up in the same mundanity of daily life that everyone else was seeing.

This memoir has the benefit of time. Her original fieldwork was published in an academic book much closer to the time of her research; this looks back at the same information and the same time with the benefit of personal and historical perspective. Much of what I learned about Estonia's history was not known to her when she was entrenched in the fieldwork in the s. The portrayal of post-collectivism Estonia is pretty bleak. The Jews fled from the Nazis.

The Germans fled from the Russians. In the end, the villages are sparse and many of the family farms are left unclaimed. Items of cultural importance - songs, stories, histories - were lost or morphed into less reliable sources. While it is interesting to study a culture at such a significant time of tradition, it almost seemed like she had very little to study!

There is a sense of loss, of emptiness, and ennui throughout the retelling. Still, it doesn't suffer from unwieldy academic language, and I think this type of book allowed her to talk more about the characters she interacted with, rather than reducing them into archetypes and themes.

I received a copy of this through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Books from Estonia are hard to find, so I was happy to find this! View all 6 comments. Feb 11, Kirsty rated it really liked it Shelves: around-the-world-inbooks , february I was quite looking forward to it, particularly as I have included very little non-fiction on my list.