Book: Switzerland for Beginners

"Switzerland for Beginners" is a satirical guide to comprehending Swiss culture and custom-mades, composed by Hungarian-born British author George Mikes in 1962. With a funny and light-hearted technique, Mikes checks out different aspects of Swiss society, poking fun at the stereotypes and intricacies of life in Switzerland. Through a series of amusing anecdotes and observations, he not only offers an amusing representation of the Swiss people but also offers a distinct perspective on their way of living.

The Swiss Character
Mikes begins by delving into the Swiss character and what sets them apart from the remainder of the world. He humorously asserts that the Swiss are statistically the "most perfect" nation on earth, with the lowest criminal offense rate, greatest literacy rate, and the most prompt public transportation system. The Swiss, according to Mikes, are masters of eloquent silence, seldom taking part in superficial discussions and valuing meaningful connections.

He likewise highlights the famed Swiss neutrality and the nation's historic role as a mediator in international disputes. Mikes jokes that the Swiss keep their neutrality by having an army prepared to safeguard the nation but never ever actually participating in warfare.

Customs and Traditions
Mikes proceed to Swiss customs, where he amusingly narrates the value of punctuality and performance in Swiss life, noting that even the cows use bells to guarantee they don't lose time wandering off searching for greener pastures. He also believes on the Swiss capability to perfectly stabilize work and leisure, emphasizing their love for outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking.

Furthermore, he details the special Swiss custom of "böögg burning", which takes place on the Sechseläuten celebration in Zurich. Throughout this celebration, a large snowman (böögg) filled with fireworks is fired, and the time it requires to blow up is stated to predict the quality of the coming summer season.

Mikes dedicates a chapter to the interesting linguistic landscape of Switzerland, a nation with four nationwide languages - German, French, Italian, and Romansh. He playfully comments on the Swiss capability to delicately switch between languages and highlights how the linguistic divide fosters a distinct local identity. Mikes also accentuates the Swiss-German dialect, which he describes as almost muddled to non-Swiss Germans, leading to a peculiar sense of shared understanding among the Swiss.

Swiss Politics and Economy
Delving into Swiss politics, Mikes writes about the special system of Swiss direct democracy, where residents have the power to form their laws and government through referendums and efforts. He amusingly mentions that the Swiss are so politically engaged that it would not be surprising to discover a referendum on whether to purchase a lawn mower for the regional school.

Relating to the Swiss economy, Mikes goes over the significance of the nation's banking and tourism sectors, as well as its prospering watchmaking industry. He also quips that the Swiss have actually handled to make neutrality rewarding through their discreet and protected banking services.

Towards the end of the book, Mikes provides recommendations to immigrants in Switzerland, motivating them to embrace the Swiss way of life and take pleasure in the country's numerous natural and cultural offerings. He reminds visitors not to puzzle the Swiss reticence with coldness or indifference, as they are a congenial and friendly people.

Overall, "Switzerland for Beginners" is a delightful expedition of life in Switzerland that remains appropriate and amusing even in the contemporary period. Through his funny observations and engaging storytelling, George Mikes supplies an informative and charming portrayal of Swiss culture and customs.
Switzerland for Beginners

A lighthearted and humorous take on Swiss culture, traditions, and peculiarities as observed by Mikes during his visits to Switzerland.

Author: George Mikes

George Mikes George Mikes, author known for his humorous books on English life. Discover his early years, career, quotes and Hungarian roots.
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