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Bohumil Hrabal: my favorite storyteller (1 Viewer)

marl

Senior Member
I just finished "I Served the King of England" by Bohumil Hrabal, the eminent Czech writer. I feel like I need to spread the word about this guy. He is an amazing, quirky storyteller who is funny, touching, depressing.... blah, blah, blah. His books run the gamut of emotions, though they seem to rely on the absurdly humorous (on the surface) as a way to deliver the various themes in his books. His books are enchanting.

My favorite (I've only read two, as there have only been two of his books I've been able to find in the bookstores here) is "Too Loud a Solitude." It's about Hanta, a trash-compactor living under the Soviet and Nazi regimes. He compacts the whole of Western Literary civilization into bales of trash in which he decorates with various prints by great painters. He preserves the thoughts of western philosophy, religion, literature in his head as he destroys it in his compactor. It is a tragic story, and I am by no means giving an ample description of the book, but I highly recomend it, especially to those who have some knowledge of philosophy and religion. It's a book that is ten times as dense as its one hundred pages.

Maybe European readers will him nore commonly than those in the U.S.. I've heard he is popular in Europe. Anyway, enjoy Bohumil Hrabal, his books are gems and in a catagory all their own.
 
You haven't read any Kafka?! Even I've read Kafka, and I only pick up books that are short. Wait... that's probably why I've read Kafka.

:wink:
 

marl

Senior Member
Hrabal's books carry a similiar philsosphy, though they don't directly address the absence of recurrent life, they do address being alive and dealing with the life one is confronted with. Especially in the face of WWII, his characters try to create somthing good when everything around them has gone mad and slipped into meaninglessness. That's knid of an exiastential cliche, I know, but the way the characters deal with the situation is unlike anything else I've read. In "Too Loud a Solitude" the main charater is very conscious of creating something beautiful both within himself and outside of himself when he decorates the bales of trash (which are filled with literature and regular trash) with great works of art.

In "I Served the King of England" the main character comes of age in WWII without understanding what is going on around him (he falls in love with a lusty Nazi gym teacher who is part of the force that occupies Czechoslovakia) and ends the book rebuilding a road in Germany with only a mallet, horse, goat and cat for company. He finally comes to terms with his place in the world.

Quack Corleone, they are both short books. Read 'em. Marl
 
V

VictorManuel

starrwriter, I am curious to how Nietzsche`s idea is disturbing because in the way that I have interpreted him, he celebrates life. Oh and Kafka is german.
 
Kafka was a Jew who lived in Prague (a Czech city, but then controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and wrote in German. I think most people and places refer to him as a Czech writer.
 
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