A clerk at the State Bank begins to notice that something strange is going on— bank employees are stuffing their pockets with money every day, only to have it taken every evening by the security guards who search the employees and confiscate the cash. But, there’s a discrepancy between what is being confiscated and what is being returned to the bank, and our hero is beginning to fear that a secret circulation is developing, one that could undermine the whole economy.
Meanwhile, the clerk and his family begin to keep guinea pigs, and at night, when everyone is asleep, our hero begins to conduct experiments with the pets, teaching them tricks, testing their intelligence and endurance, and using some rather questionable methods to encourage the animals to befriend him.
Ludvík Vaculík’s The Guinea Pigs
is one of the most important literary works of the twentieth century. Vaculík owes much to Kafka, his fellow countryman, but he had direct experience of the oppressive absurdity that lived in Kafka’s imagination, which here is expressed with an ironic and knowingly innocent Czech smile.