The Gentle Barbarian, Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal’s memoir of his friendship with the painter and printmaker Vladimír Boudnik, depicts life as a more reckless leap of faith—one that lands not in the hands of God, but in a tightening rope.
—Paul Franz, Bookforum

An unforgettable portrait of a major pioneering artist, by “Czechoslovakia’s greatest writer” (Milan Kundera)

The Gentle Barbarian

by Bohumil Hrabal

Translated from the Czech by Paul Wilson

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 out this resource to learn more about Boudník’s printmaking.

Buy from:

Paperback (published March 2, 2021)

ISBN
9780811228589
Price US
14.95
Trim Size
5x8
Page Count
128

Bohumil Hrabal

Czech novelist and poet

The Gentle Barbarian, Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal’s memoir of his friendship with the painter and printmaker Vladimír Boudnik, depicts life as a more reckless leap of faith—one that lands not in the hands of God, but in a tightening rope.
—Paul Franz, Bookforum
Hrabal’s capacity for simultaneous wonder and attentiveness—for a cold shrewdness matched by overflowing sympathy—is his most astonishing quality as a writer.
—Matt Weir, Dissent
Hrabal is quite capable of a Chekhovian realism, but always watchful for the splendid and sublime.
—James Wood, London Review of Books
A master.
The New Yorker