Setting out to recover the roots of modernity in the boulevards, interiors, and arcades of the "city of light," Walter Benjamin dubbed Paris "the capital of the nineteenth century." In this eagerly anticipated sequel to his acclaimed "Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History," Derek Sayer argues that Prague could well be seen as the capital of the much darker twentieth century.Setting out to recover the roots of modernity in the boulevards, interiors, and arcades of the "city of light," Walter Benjamin dubbed Paris "the capital of the nineteenth century." In this eagerly anticipated sequel to his acclaimed "Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History," Derek Sayer argues that Prague could well be seen as the capital of the much darker twentieth century. Ranging across twentieth-century Prague's astonishingly vibrant and always surprising human landscape, this richly illustrated cultural history describes how the city has experienced (and suffered) more ways of being modern than perhaps any other metropolis. Located at the crossroads of struggles between democratic, communist, and fascist visions of the modern world, twentieth-century Prague witnessed revolutions and invasions, national liberation and ethnic cleansing, the Holocaust, show trials, and snuffed-out dreams of "socialism with a human face." Yet between the wars, when Prague was the capital of Europe's most easterly parliamentary democracy, it was also a hotbed of artistic and architectural modernism, and a center of surrealism second only to Paris. Focusing on these years, Sayer explores Prague's spectacular modern buildings, monuments, paintings, books, films, operas, exhibitions, and much more. A place where the utopian fantasies of the century repeatedly unraveled, Prague was tailor-made for surrealist Andre Breton's "black humor," and Sayer discusses the way the city produced unrivaled connoisseurs of grim comedy, from Franz Kafka and Jaroslav Hasek to Milan Kundera and Vaclav Havel. A masterful and unforgettable account of a city where an idling flaneur could just as easily be a secret policeman, this book vividly shows why Prague can teach us so much about the twentieth century and what made us who we are."...
|Number of Pages||:||624 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
A surrealist history of surrealism (a unique approach in what can be conservative field as far as form is concerned) that successfully challenges the marginalization of Czechoslovakian history and treatment in understanding Europe and the 20th century. Describes twentieth century Prague as a place where “an exhibition may turn into a show trial, the interior mutate into a prison cell, the arcade become a shooting gallery, and the idling flâneur reveal himself to be a secret policemen at the drop of a hat," and indeed, all these stories are in there. Can be hard to follow if you don't have a rough handle on this time/place (mine is pretty shaky) but if you accept that it is not a typical history and allow yourself to splash through all the anecdotes and microhistories and encounters and time jumps and whatnot, it is evocative and compelling enough to give you a sense of history and place (and will probably make you want to visit Prague).
Although I'm giving this 4 stars, I'm not sure I'd actually recommend it to anyone. It is a dense book that doesn't have a linear trajectory. There's a lot about the French Surrealists. I'm not sure there's really enough about Prague. I at least expected more and hoped it would cover all of the 20th century. But I read it at the right time for me so thus I really liked it. Do not even bother to look through if you're even vaguely prudish. As there's plenty of talk about sex as well as sexual images.
This very informative book covering surrealism is focused on the French and Czechoslovak groups of artists and the role Prague played in the movement. The style is academic (with over 100 pages of references) but still quite readable. The author is very familiar with Czech history, literature, architecture and art, and his book makes me want to visit and revisit many of the city spots and look anew at sites.
Very interesting, but a little disjointed. It was sometimes not clear who and where he was talking about. A list of characters would have helped, especially if you are not familiar with the Cezh names.
Did not complete. It was interesting, when I actually picked it up and focused on it. I was just reading it at a glacial pace and had to return it to the library.