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.