Monday, November 18, 2013

Visigoths in the dust

Today's find when pushing books around and raising dust motes in my house was Karel Poláček's 1928 novel released in 1993 in an English translation (from the Czech) titled What Ownership's All About. I decided I would probably like this one when I read in the introduction that in 1934:
"Poláček published A Journalist's Dictionary, a collection of hundreds of vapid expressions favored by contemporary journalists."
And I felt a surge of kinship with Poláček when I read that
"(O)n the pretense that the Visigoths had been maligned in history as a barbarous and destructive people, he founded a tongue-in-cheek school journal called the Visigoth Review, in which he championed the Visigoth cause."
I have never founded a tongue-in-cheek school journal, but I did put up a blog post two years ago called "Visigoths: Breaking the Silence." I may lack a spiritual brother, but a satirical novelist with Visigothic tendencies who hates clichés sounds like a good candidate for the job.
What Ownership's All About is available as a free e-book from the publisher's Web site. The publisher, Catbird Press, specializes in Czech literature..

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Blogger adrian mckinty said...


You should check out Polacek's masterpiece, the football novel Men Offside about organising a football match between a group of rabbis and Catholic priests. It was an immediate best seller in Czechoslovakia and got turned into a film. I dont know if its been translated into English but there's a good French translation available.

Its a book crying out for a wider readership all the more so because the community it talks about and Polacek himself were all murdered by the Nazis.

November 18, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It does not appear to have been translated into English. In re crying out for a wider readership, I was surprised that amid the enduring fascination with Nazis and the periodic interest in Czech literature that so little of Polacek is in print. Perhaps the punters and publishers are more interested in Nazis than in their victims.

Meanwhile, it transpires that I wrote about another book issued by this book's publisher (Catbird Press) way back in the very first Detectives Beyond Borders post:

"Tales From Two Pockets by Karel Capek and The Mournful Demeanour of Lieutenant Boruvka by Josef Skvorecky. These books of tales are full of sharp observation, wry and wistful humor, and detection of the classic and other kinds. Both just might lay to rest the notion that "literary" crime fiction equals bad crime fiction."

Catbird publishes the Čapek.

November 18, 2013  

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