A new anthology celebrates Prague’s international literary culture
Since the fall of communism, Prague has been a very international city, and this has had a deep impact on the city’s literary culture. Many Prague writers today have their roots outside the Czech Republic and are not necessarily writing in the Czech language. At the same time, Czech writers themselves have been strongly influenced by the growing cosmopolitanism of the city, which contrasts starkly with the stifling political atmosphere of the 70s and 80s. In a few weeks’ time Prague’s international literary scene will be celebrated with the publication of a major new anthology, a hefty volume featuring two decades of writing from the Czech Republic in English or in English translation. Its editor is the writer and artist Louis Armand, who teaches at Prague’s Charles University, and he told me how the anthology came about.
“It came about from a desire to represent the richness and diversity of the international literary community that has flourished in Prague over the last 20 years from the time of the Velvet Revolution.”
I remember my fellow journalist, Alan Levy, talking about Prague as the “Paris of the 90s”, comparing it with the Paris of the 20s. Do you think that’s a legitimate comparison?
'The Return of Král Majáles' “Well, a great deal, as you know, has been said about this, and I think that perhaps what Levy was trying to do, rather than make direct comparisons, was to evoke a particular temper, a sense of possibility, a sense of potential, the enthusiasm and excitement that existed here after the revolution, the sense of a renewal, a renaissance, of something that writers, both Czech and from abroad – from English-speaking countries and elsewhere – could participate in.”