Archive: Culture | Literature Literature

Josef Škvorecký – Part 1 – The Cowards

13-01-2012 15:48 | Jan Velinger

Josef Škvorecký In this week’s Arts we will be looking back at the remarkable life and work of renowned writer, essayist and translator Josef Škvorecký who died earlier this month at the age of 87. The author of novels such as The Engineer of Human Souls was one of the most important in Czech 20th century literature, first making his mark in 1958 with The Cowards. To discuss that book and much, much more in the first of a two-part programme, I met with respected Czech critic, translator, specialist in Czech studies and Revolver Revue contributor Petr Onufer. In Part 1, we look largely Škvorecký’s debut, The Cowards.  More

Renowned author, publisher Josef Škvorecký dies at 87

04-01-2012 15:32 | Jan Velinger

Josef Škvorecký, photo: Tomáš Krist, ISIFA/Lidové noviny Czech emigré author and co-founder of '68 Publishers Josef Škvorecký died at the age of 87 on Tuesday, succumbing to cancer in Toronto, Canada. Mr Škvorecký was one the last great Czech 20th century authors and literati. His first novels published in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s – were quickly banned by the Communist regime. Later, following the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, Škvorecký and his wife Zdena Salivarová moved to Canada, where they founded ’68 Publishers. The imprint was a crucial avenue for Czech and Slovak dissidents like Milan Kundera and Václav Havel to publish in Czech and English in the West.  More

Jan Novák: the man who lived Miloš Forman

31-12-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

Jan Novák, photo: David Vaughan When Jan Novák describes himself as Miloš Forman’s autobiographer, he is not entirely joking. He really did co-write the most famous Czech-American film director’s memoirs, and Forman himself has spoken of the book as “my life as lived by Jan Novák”. But Jan Novák is a great deal more than a biographer.  More

How the Velvet Revolution overturned the literary landscape

30-12-2011 14:18 | Chris Johnstone

Writers were at the forefront of the Velvet Revolution. But when the dust settled on the political changes they found a fast changing publishing revolution underway that left some of them sidelined. We look at the changes in the publishing and literary world over the last two decades.  More

Václav Havel’s literary agent Jitka Sloupová on his plays, their foreign productions and his image as an author

21-12-2011 | Jan Richter

Václav Havel The late Václav Havel is now being remembered as a great statesman and human rights advocate. But he was also a prominent literary figure. In fact, before he became an opposition leader in communist Czechoslovakia, he was already established playwright whose plays appeared on stages worldwide. Václav Havel’s literary agent Jitka Sloupová, from the Aura Pont agency, talks about what inspired his dramas that quickly gained acclaim both at home and abroad.  More

Kateřina Rudčenková: the waves of the Caribbean break on the shores of Lake Balaton

17-12-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

Kateřina Rudčenková, photo: David Vaughan What happens when five women poets writing in five different languages meet on the edge of a Hungarian lake? As we find out now in Czech Books, the experience can offer rich insights into what different languages and cultures have in common, and where they differ. David Vaughan talks to the poet Kateřina Rudčenková.  More

The prison poet: remembering Ivan Martin Jirous

10-12-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

Ivan Martin Jirous, photo: Czech Television Last month was the end of an era in Czech poetry. The man who practically embodied the poetic underground of the 1970s and 80s, Ivan Martin Jirous – alias Magor, or Loony in English – died at the age of 67. Not only was Magor one of best Czech poets of his generation, but also the driving force behind the underground rock scene. He embodied the longing for rebellion and freedom, as so-called “normalization” sucked the air out of Czech and Slovak society. In Czech Books, David Vaughan talks to one of Magor’s close friends and associates.  More

Reflections of modern Czech history in Simon Mawer’s ‘The Glass Room’

09-12-2011 11:38 | Rosie Johnston

A Czech architectural landmark has provided the backdrop, and indeed central theme, for a book which has been creating a stir in the literary world. The Glass Room by Simon Mawer tells the story of a modernist villa in a Czech town, from conception to construction, eventually to seizure by the state. The Glass Room has been receiving a great deal of publicity ever since it was nominated for the prestigious Man Booker Prize. Over the phone from his home in Italy, author Simon Mawer voiced his bewilderment as to why his book was proving so popular in Britain at the moment:  More

Brass bands, beer and a famous boulevard: Czech links with Mexico

26-11-2011 02:01 | Bernie Higgins, David Vaughan

Emperor Maximilian In this programme we go south of the border, to explore some intriguing Czech literary and other cultural links with Mexico, stretching right back to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bernie Higgins begins by recounting an extraordinary episode from the mid 19th century.  More

Ewald Osers: “a certain talent for languages”

19-11-2011 02:01 | David Vaughan

Ewald Osers Last month we heard the sad news of the death of Ewald Osers at his home in England at the age of 94. Born in Prague at a time when it was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Osers was an outstanding linguist and a brilliant translator. Over the decades he translated dozens of Czech writers and poets into English, and was equally well known for his translations from German. David Vaughan looks back at a fascinating life.  More

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