The Gentle Barbarian is Bohumil Hrabal’s moving homage to Vladimír Boudník, a brilliant but troubled Czech graphic artist who died tragically at the age of forty-four a few months after the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
The Gentle Barbarian takes us to the heart of Boudník’s creative drive: his gift for infusing the objects and events of everyday life with transcendent magic, and his passion for sharing his ideas and his art with anyone willing to listen. Hrabal’s anecdotal portrait includes another controversial figure in that early postwar Czech avant-garde: the poet Egon Bondy, the pen name and alter ego of a self-styled “left-wing Marxist” philosopher called Zbyněk Fišer.
Hrabal’s amazing memoir celebrates the creative spirits who strove to reject, ignore, or burrow beneath an artificial “revolutionary” fervor. Fueled by vast quantities of beer, emboldened by friendship, driven by a sense of their own destiny, they filled the intellectual and spiritual vacuum around them with manic humor, inspiration, and purpose, and in doing so, pointed the way to a kind of salvation.
Check outthisresource to learn more about Boudník’s printmaking.
In the autumn of 1965, flush with the unexpected success of his first published books, the Czech author Bohumil Hrabal bought a cottage in Kersko. From then until his death in 1997, he divided his time between Prague and his country retreat, where he wrote and tended to a community of feral cats. Over the years, Hrabal’s relationship to cats grew deeper and more complex, becoming a measure of the pressures, both private and public, that impinged on his life as a writer.
All My Cats, written in 1983 after a serious car accident, is a confessional memoir, the chronicle of an author who becomes overwhelmed. As he is driven to the brink of madness by the dilemmas created by his indulgent love for the animals, there are episodes of intense brutality as he controls the feline population. Yet in the end, All My Cats is a book about Hrabal’s relationship to nature, about the unlikely sources of redemption that come to him unbidden, like a gift from the cosmos—and about love.
Never before published in English, the stories in Mr. Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult were written mostly in the 1950s and present the Czech master Bohumil Hrabal at the height of his powers. The stories capture a time when Czech Stalinists were turning society upside down, inflicting their social and political experiments on mostly unwilling subjects. These stories are set variously in the gaslit streets of post-war Prague; on the raucous and dangerous factory floor of the famous Poldi steelworks where Hrabal himself once worked; in a cacophonous open-air dance hall where classical and popular music come to blows; at the basement studio where a crazed artist attempts to fashion a national icon; on the scaffolding around a decommissioned church. Hrabal captures men and women trapped in an eerily beautiful nightmare, longing for a world where “humor and metaphysical escape can reign supreme.”