The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History

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9780691057606: The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History

In "The Winter's Tale", Shakespeare gave the landlocked country of Bohemia a coastline - a famous and, to Czechs, typical example of foreigners' ignorance of the Czech homeland. Although the lands that were once the Kingdom of Bohemia lie at the heart of Europe, Czechs are usually encountered in the margins of other people's stories. In this book, Derek Sayer reverses this perspective. He presents a history of the Czech people that is also a history of modern Europe, told from its uneasy centre. Sayer shows that Bohemia has long been a theatre of European conflict. It has been a cradle of Protestantism and a bulwark of the Counter-Reformation; an Austrian imperial province and a proudly Slavonic national state; the most easterly democracy in Europe and a westerly outlier of the Soviet bloc. The complexities of its location have given rise to profound (and often profoundly comic) reflections on the modern condition. Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hasek, Karel Capek and Milan Kundera are all products of its spirit of place. Sayer describes how Bohemia's ambiguities and contradictions are those of Europe itself, and he considers the ironies of viewing Europe, the West and modernity from the vantage point of a country that has been too often ignored. It draws on literary, musical, visual and documentary sources, ranging from banknotes to statues, museum displays to school textbooks, funeral orations to operatic stage-sets, murals in subway stations to censors' indexes of banned books. It brings us into contact with the ever changing details of daily life - the street names and facades of buildings, the heroes figured on postage stamps - that have created and recreated a sense of what it is to be Czech.

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Recensione:

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 1998

"[Derek Sayer's The Coasts of Bohemia] is an ambitious, elegantly written, and sympathetic account of the art, the literature and the politics of the Czech people.... Sayer saunters gracefully and with sure footing back and forth across centuries of Czech religion, mythology, and history, displaying enthusiasm and engagement but immune to the usual self-serving national illusions.... His book is a delight." --Tony Judt, The New Republic

"A rich and intricate story.... Excellent ... the most stimulating introduction to [its] subject available in English, or ... any other language." --R.J.W. Evans, New York Review of Books

"Sayer's penetrating and balanced discussion of Czech political and cultural history should spare us from ever again thinking of the central European place as 'a far away country'." --Stan Persky, Vancouver Sun

"A masterful essay on the ironies and tragedies of both the cultural history of the Czechs and Czech culture's history of its own past." --Steven Beller, The Times Literary Supplement

Contenuti:

LIST OF MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
A NOTE ON CZECH PRONUNCIATION
BEARINGS
ONE The Company of Our Great Minds
A Great Artist and a Great Czech
The End of Culture
Faithful We Shall Remain
TWO Materials of Memory
The Crown of Saint Wenceslas
Against All
Three Hundred Years We Suffered
THREE Rebirth
The Count's National Theater
Enlightenment
Home Cooking
FOUR Mirrors of Identity
A Burghers' Banquet
The Affordable National Library
Little Golden Chapel on the Vltava
A Cathedral and a Fortress
A Procession of Servant Girls
Palacky's Looking-Glass
A Discovery in Dvur Kralove
Memories of Ivancice
FIVE Modernisms and Modernities
Futurist Manifestos
Guten Tag und auf Wiedersehen
The Completion of Saint Vitus's
New Hussite Armies
The International Style
Emily Comes in a Dream
SIX Eternal Returns
The Art of Remaining Standing
Grave Far Away
Bila hora Redressed--Again
SEVEN Future Perfect
Neither the Swan nor the Moon
Prayer for Marta
The Lineup for Meat
In the Land Where Tomorrow Already Means Yesterday
Father Ales and Old Mr. Jirasek
Children's Eyes and Fiery Tongues
Love Is at Work It Is Tireless
NOTES
SOURCES
INDEX

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