Literary Criticism

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A Handbook of Czech Prose Writings


Bohuslava Bradbrook was born in Czechoslovakia and educated at the universities of Prague, Innsbruck and Oxford. She lives now in Cambridge and is the author of Karel Capek: In Search of Truth, Tolerance and Trust and Thec Liberating Beauty of Little Things: Memoir of a Refugee, as well as numerous articles and reviews on Czech literature in scholarly journals, symposia and the Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century.

The turbulent events of World War II and the subsequent communist regime in Czechoslovakia strongly restricted Czech writers’ freedom of expression. Many sought and found literary freedom in exile. As Czech literature was developing in two very different locations and conditions, writers on both sides created diverse, yet extraordinarily interesting and commendable works; all were united in their wish to see their homeland liberated from the totalitarian regime.

The suffering and generally adverse conditions of those who stayed at home are reflected in the works written both at home and in exile, especially after the two parties found secret ways of communicating between themselves. Many works abound in wit and humour, including Jewish themes, despite the difficult circumstances. After the fall of communism had brought the desired freedom of expression for all writers, the recent past still occasionally echoes in Czech literary works, but is written and read from new perspectives.

As the dark age now seems to be gradually falling into oblivion, it is important to be reminded that even in the darkest times talented writers were alert to Czech national, literary and Jewish undertones, and produced works which English-speaking readers would find new, fresh and captivating. While the availability of books in English may be still in a minority, synoptic interpretations of prose writings not yet translated to English provided in this Handbook add integral features that help to complete the picture of life at a time when cultural links between two parts of Europe were painfully severed.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-173-3
Hardback Price: £32.50 / $47.50
Release Date: December 2006
Page Extent / Format: 140 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No




Hana Belohradská
Jan Beneš
Irena Dousková
Viktor Fischl
Ladislav Fuks
Václav Havel
Miloslava Holubová
Egon Hostovský
Bohumil Hrabal
Eva Kanturková
Ivan Klíma
Pavel Kohout
Frantisek Kožík
Ivan Kraus
Jan Kresadlo
Eda Kriseová
Milan Kundera
Arnošt Lustig
Vladimír Neff
Jan Otcenášek
Vladimír Páral
Ota Pavel
Ferdinand Peroutka
Jan Procházka
Lenka Procházková
Sylvie Richterová
Zdena Salivarová
Josef Škvorecký
Jindriška Smetanová
Jaroslav Strnad
Marie Šulcová
Miloslav Švandrlík
Jan Trefulka
Ludvík Vaculík
Michal Viewegh

Select Bibliography

The leading figures of modern Czech prose writing are certainly here, but Bradbrook also spotlights lesser-known writers worthy of attention. Following a brief biography, she comments on and evaluates one (or more) of the subject’s works with original insights that extend beyond mere description; she finishes with citations of translated works. Sadly, a search of WorldCat produced no English translations for half of the authors represented. Thus, the hope expressed in the preface, ‘that the present work will serve as a guide to potential translators in the future, as well as readers,’ must be endorsed. Recommended.

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