Prague Palimpsest: Writing, Memory, and the City

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

A city of immense literary mystique, Prague has inspired writers across the centuries with its beauty, cosmopolitanism, and tragic history. Envisioning the ancient city in central Europe as a multilayered text, or palimpsest, that has been constantly revised and rewritten—from the medieval and Renaissance chroniclers who legitimized the city’s foundational origins to the modernists of the early twentieth century who established its reputation as the new capital of the avant-garde—Alfred Thomas argues that Prague has become a paradoxical site of inscription and effacement, of memory and forgetting, a utopian link to the prewar and pre-Holocaust European past and a dystopia of totalitarian amnesia.

Considering a wide range of writers, including the city’s most famous son, Franz Kafka, Prague Palimpsest reassesses the work of poets and novelists such as Bohumil Hrabal, Milan Kundera, Gustav Meyrink, Jan Neruda, Vítĕzslav Nezval, and Rainer Maria Rilke and engages with other famous authors who “wrote” Prague, including Guillaume Apollinaire, Ingeborg Bachmann, Albert Camus, Paul Celan, and W. G. Sebald. The result is a comparative, interdisciplinary study that helps to explain why Prague—more than any other major European city—has haunted the cultural and political imagination of the West.

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About the author

Alfred Thomas is professor of English and Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of five books, including, most recently, The Bohemian Body: Gender and Sexuality in Modern Czech Culture.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Oct 15, 2010
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Pages
200
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ISBN
9780226795416
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Eastern
History / General
Literary Criticism / European / Eastern
Literary Criticism / European / German
Literary Criticism / Jewish
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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