The 17th century Czech philosopher and writer, Jan Amos Komenský – known internationally as Comenius - is one of the best known Czechs of all time. He is most widely celebrated for his progressive and enlightened ideas about education that earned him the epithet “the Teacher of Nations”. But the many other aspects of his thinking - and he was indeed a prolific writer with some 250 books to his name – remain somewhat neglected. This is something that Benjamin Kuras has decided to try to put right, in a small but inspiring book that he has just written
Former dissident/playwright turned president Václav Havel remains one of the country’s most well-known and most respected figures, both at home and abroad, whose rise to office had the making of both fairy tale and absurdist drama. In the early ‘90s, Vanity Fair published a famous piece about Mr Havel as a president unlike any other: a man with a scooter to zip through the corridors of Prague Castle, a president who invited Frank Zappa to the capital, in short, a kind of head of state no one had seen before.
This week, Prague citizens have the rare opportunity to take a close look at and even leaf through a priceless medieval illustrated Bible. Not the original manuscript, of course, but a life-size colour replica of the 14th-century Velislav Picture Bible. The book, containing selected passages from the Bible along with two legends about the Bohemian patron saints Ludmila and Wenceslas, is one of the largest medieval pictorial books made in Central Europe.
Julek Neumann is currently appearing at Prague’s Divadlo Ypsilon in a Mark Twain play which he himself translated into Czech. The new production marks his return to the theatre’s stage after a gap of nearly two and a half decades. In between he lived in Vienna and then London, where he worked for the Czech section of the BBC World Service during what was a period of change. When I met Julek Neumann in a café in Dejvice the other evening he first told me a little about his family background.
It’s not the first place you might imagine a record-launch, but on Thursday evening, the Czech Embassy in London played host to the band British Sea Power - and provided a venue for the launch of their new single, Waving Flags. Before the concert on Thursday, I called the band’s lead singer, Scott Wilkinson, to ask about his choice of venue:
The club of modelers in the Moravian town of Vsetín goes back many years. Its members are exclusively men – in fact some of them claim that a woman would never have the patience to spend hundreds of hours gluing together tiny components in order to make a perfect replica of a plane, train or boat. Recently they had been producing and selling battery-powered airplane models that attracted kids from far and wide but they never dreamed that one day their hobby would lead them to make bigger and better things for Hollywood filmmakers.
Jan Saudek is one of the Czech Republic’s best-known photographers, whose work is instantly recognizable for his trademark use of coloration and scarred backdrops, his subjects sometimes intimate, sometimes provocative, nudes. Not long ago, Adolf Zika, a world-class fashion and artistic photographer in his own right, completed a feature film about Mr Saudek which has now hit Czech cinemas. Titled “Jan Saudek – Trapped by his Passions, No Hope for Rescue”, the film is an attempt to take a closer look at the man behind a very public persona: that
Bluegrass originates from the Appalachian region of the United States of America, and is a type of music as American as apple pie. But bluegrass enjoys a long and rich history in the Czech Republic too. Lee Bidgood is an ethnomusicologist at the University of Virginia - the cradle of bluegrass. For the past five years, he’s been looking at the way this music is performed in the Czech Republic:
The audiobook is enjoying record popularity around Europe at the moment - sales are thought to be rising by 15% on average each year. The growth of the medium might be slightly slower in the Czech Republic than say, in neighbouring Germany, but both publishers and booksellers here are getting in on the action. And an increasing number of Czech household names are stepping up to read from the Czech literary canon.
In this week’s Czech Books we look at what is, amazingly, the first anthology of contemporary Czech poetry to be published in English since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The anthology includes six contemporary poets, some of whom were writing under communism – either in exile or what might be termed internal exile. Others are much younger and have been published since the late 1990s. The anthology, called simply “Six Czech Poets”, was edited by Alexandra Büchler, who divides her time between Prague and the United Kingdom and has been responsible