Karel Čapek’s last major novel, War with the Newts, is considered a satirical dystopian masterpiece, both prescient and timeless, uniquely Czech and yet universal. Like much of his work, the book can be read on many levels while its structure transcends standard genres. On the surface, it’s a work of science fiction about how a species of giant, intelligent newts – docile by nature – are ruthlessly exploited, and finally turn on their human oppressors. Along the way, Čapek gently pillories science and journalism (two of his principal preoccupations),
Miřenka Čechová is an internationally acclaimed performer, director and choreographer known for combining dance and physical theatre. In her recently published autobiographical novel Baletky (Ballet Dancers) Čechová draws on her years as a pre-teen and teenage student at Prague’s Dance Conservatory, detailing extreme physical demands and constant psychological pressure. Nevertheless, the 38-year-old says she did not intend the book – which also paints a vivid portrait of ‘90s Prague – as a “My Ballet Hell” style misery memoir. When we spoke, I first asked
Eduard Bass’ The Chattertooth Eleven, a novel about a father who brought up his eleven sons as a phenomenal football team, is one of the famous Czech works of fiction. It was published in 1922, the same year that saw the establishment of the Czechoslovak Football Association, by a former singer and cabaret director from Prague and has since enchanted generations of young and adult readers. The book was translated into English already in 1943. Its second English edition was published by Karolinum Press in 2008.
Marketa Lazarová by Vladislav Vančura is a masterpiece of Czech interwar modernism, praised for its experimental use of language. The epic tale, set in an unspecified time in medieval Bohemia, depicts a feud between two families of petty noblemen and celebrates courage, honour and love, which undermines social and religious conventions. The novel was first published in 1931, but only saw its English translation in 2016.
When Albert Einstein moved from Zurich to Prague in early April 1911 to take up his first full professorship teaching theoretical physics, he was not yet world-famous, though heralded in scientific circles as likely “the next Copernicus”. The position at the German University in Prague was a significant step up for Einstein, then 32, in terms of status and salary. Yet he found life in Bohemia more alienating than enchanting: German-speakers like himself were an entrenched minority in the Hapsburg Slav capital, and Einstein’s young family had no
Albert Einstein’s tenure as a professor of theoretical physics in Prague is often noted in passing – as an “interlude” or a “sojourn” of no great significance, even though it was in the Czech capital where his most extraordinary work, the theory of general relativity, truly began to emerge. With his new book Einstein in Bohemia, Princeton University history professor Michael D Gordin makes a compelling case that not only did Einstein’s time in Prague shape the science, literature, and even politics of the city for decades to come, the same is true
Poet, novelist, essayist, former diplomat and translator from French,
Václav Jamek, will be presented the Karel Čapek Award by the Czech PEN
Mr. Jamek, who is 70, has received numerous awards for his works in both
the Czech Republic and France, including the Tom Stoppard Prize as well as
the Josef Jungmann Award for translation. In 1999 he was named Officer of
France’s Order of Arts and Letters. He writes both in Czech and French.
The Karel Čapek Award was established by the PEN Club’s Czech branch in 1994 and is presented to outstanding writers every two years. Among its previous holders are the former president and writer Václav Havel, Arnošt Lustig and Ivan Klíma.
The award will be presented at the Mayor’s seat in Prague on Thursday evening.
No fewer than 23,000 fans of sci-fi, fantasy and horror attended the first ever Prague Comic-Con at the weekend. And the biggest guest at the inaugural edition was Hollywood actor Ron Perlman, who has appeared in superhero movies such as Hellboy and Blade II, both of which were shot right here in Prague, a city he avowedly adores.
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