Until the middle of the 20th century, the territory of today’s Czech Republic had always been bilingual and its German literary legacy is huge. Adalbert Stifter, Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Werfel, Max Brod and Franz Kafka are just a few of the best known writers, but there are hundreds of others, many undeservedly neglected or even quite forgotten. David Vaughan looks at an initiative to kindle interest in this country’s German literature and to revive Czech-German literary ties.
An international meeting of Czech language and literature experts, among them teachers and translators, kicked off at Prager Literaturhaus, a Czech institute that promotes Prague’s German literary heritage. For the next four days, lovers of the Czech language will be discussing their field of expertise and exchanging their findings in a number of seminars, panel discussions and lectures. On the first day of the international get-together, we speak with Kristin Kilsti, a Norwegian literary translator who works from Czech into her native tongue.
One of Prague’s best known German-language authors was Egon Erwin Kisch, who was born in the Czech capital 125 years ago this Thursday. His excellent style and original choice of stories, together with his dramatic life, earned him a reputation of the ‘Raging Reporter’ that is still very much alive today.
This November marked the 40th anniversary of the death of Johannes Urzidil, the Prague-born writer, poet, historian and journalist. Urzidil was a member of the so-called Prague Circle, a group of mostly Jewish German-speaking authors who met regularly in the city’s cafes in the early part years of the 20th century. While not as well known obviously as his friend and fellow author Franz Kafka, Urzidil has a firm following, and some of them gathered in Prague recently to remember his life and work.
What do Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler and Ferdinand Porsche have in common? Most of us would assume that these well-known personalities were all born in Germany or Austria, but all of them, in fact, started life in what is now the Czech Republic. You won't find that much written about them in Czech schoolbooks however - they're not really regarded by Czechs as ' one of us'. But a new exhibition in Prague is trying to change that.