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The Coasts of Bohemia

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The Coasts of Bohemia Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare gave the landlocked country of Bohemia a coastline--a famous and, to Czechs, typical example of foreigners' ignorance of the Czech homeland. Although the lands that were once the Kingdom of Bohemia lie at the heart of Europe, Czechs are usually encountered only in the margins of other people's stories. In The Coasts of Bohemia, Derek Sayer reverses this perspective. He presents a comprehensive and long-needed history of the Czech people that is also a remarkably original history of modern Europe, told from its uneasy center.

Sayer shows that Bohemia has long been a theater of European conflict. It has been a cradle of Protestantism and a bulwark of the Counter-Reformation; an Austrian imperial province and a proudly Slavic national state; the most easterly democracy in Europe; and a westerly outlier of the Soviet bloc. The complexities of its location have given rise to profound (and often profoundly comic) reflections on the modern condition. Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hasek, Karel Capek and Milan Kundera are all products of its spirit of place. Sayer describes how Bohemia's ambiguities and contradictions are those of Europe itself, and he considers the ironies of viewing Europe, the West, and modernity from the vantage point of a country that has been too often ignored.

The Coasts of Bohemia draws on an enormous array of literary, musical, visual, and documentary sources ranging from banknotes to statues, museum displays to school textbooks, funeral orations to operatic stage-sets, murals in subway stations to censors' indexes of banned books. It brings us into intimate contact with the ever changing details of daily life--the street names and facades of buildings, the heroes figured on postage stamps--that have created and recreated a sense of what it is to be Czech. Sayer's sustained concern with questions of identity, memory, and power place the book at the heart of contemporary intellectual debate. It is an extraordinary story, beautifully told.

Review:

"Derek Sayer brilliantly maps out the terrain of Czech history in this learned work. Focusing on the ways in which Czechs have constructed their national identity over the centuries, Sayer has written a marvelous account of the ambiguities and tensions of Czech history, and in the process makes an important contribution to our understanding of the processes of modernity from the perspective of a country that has too often been ignored by historians." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)

Synopsis:

"This is a beautifully written cultural history of the Czech people. There is no comparable work available in English, and certainly not one of such sensitivity and breadth."--Andrew Lass, Mount Holyoke College

Synopsis:

In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare gave the landlocked country of Bohemia a coastline--a famous and, to Czechs, typical example of foreigners' ignorance of the Czech homeland. Although the lands that were once the Kingdom of Bohemia lie at the heart of Europe, Czechs are usually encountered only in the margins of other people's stories. In The Coasts of Bohemia, Derek Sayer reverses this perspective. He presents a comprehensive and long-needed history of the Czech people that is also a remarkably original history of modern Europe, told from its uneasy center.

Sayer shows that Bohemia has long been a theater of European conflict. It has been a cradle of Protestantism and a bulwark of the Counter-Reformation; an Austrian imperial province and a proudly Slavic national state; the most easterly democracy in Europe; and a westerly outlier of the Soviet bloc. The complexities of its location have given rise to profound (and often profoundly comic) reflections on the modern condition. Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hasek, Karel Capek and Milan Kundera are all products of its spirit of place. Sayer describes how Bohemia's ambiguities and contradictions are those of Europe itself, and he considers the ironies of viewing Europe, the West, and modernity from the vantage point of a country that has been too often ignored.

The Coasts of Bohemia draws on an enormous array of literary, musical, visual, and documentary sources ranging from banknotes to statues, museum displays to school textbooks, funeral orations to operatic stage-sets, murals in subway stations to censors' indexes of banned books. It brings us into intimate contact with the ever changing details of daily life--the street names and facades of buildings, the heroes figured on postage stamps--that have created and recreated a sense of what it is to be Czech. Sayer's sustained concern with questions of identity, memory, and power place the book at the heart of contemporary intellectual debate. It is an extraordinary story, beautifully told.

Table of Contents

LIST OF MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

A NOTE ON CZECH PRONUNCIATION

BEARINGS

ONE The Company of Our Great Minds

A Great Artist and a Great Czech

The End of Culture

Faithful We Shall Remain

TWO Materials of Memory

The Crown of Saint Wenceslas

Against All

Three Hundred Years We Suffered

THREE Rebirth

The Count's National Theater

Enlightenment

Home Cooking

FOUR Mirrors of Identity

A Burghers' Banquet

The Affordable National Library

Little Golden Chapel on the Vltava

A Cathedral and a Fortress

A Procession of Servant Girls

Palacky's Looking-Glass

A Discovery in Dvur Kralove

Memories of Ivancice

FIVE Modernisms and Modernities

Futurist Manifestos

Guten Tag und auf Wiedersehen

The Completion of Saint Vitus's

New Hussite Armies

The International Style

Emily Comes in a Dream

SIX Eternal Returns

The Art of Remaining Standing

Grave Far Away

Bila hora Redressed--Again

SEVEN Future Perfect

Neither the Swan nor the Moon

Prayer for Marta

The Lineup for Meat

In the Land Where Tomorrow Already Means Yesterday

Father Ales and Old Mr. Jirasek

Children's Eyes and Fiery Tongues

Love Is at Work It Is Tireless

NOTES

SOURCES

INDEX

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691050522
Author:
Sayer, Derek
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Location:
Princeton
Subject:
History
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Eastern Europe - Czechoslovakia
Subject:
Czech republic
Subject:
Eastern Europe - General
Subject:
Eastern Europe - Czech Republic & Slovakia
Subject:
Europe - Eastern
Subject:
European History
Subject:
Comparative Literature
Subject:
Political Science and International Relations
Subject:
Sociology
Subject:
World History-Eastern Europe
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
February 2000
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Illustrations:
56 halftones, 3 maps
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 24 oz

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Archaeology » General
History and Social Science » Europe » Eastern Europe » Czechoslovakia
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » World History » Eastern Europe

The Coasts of Bohemia New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$43.25 In Stock
Product details 464 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691050522 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "This is a beautifully written cultural history of the Czech people. There is no comparable work available in English, and certainly not one of such sensitivity and breadth."--Andrew Lass, Mount Holyoke College
"Synopsis" by , In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare gave the landlocked country of Bohemia a coastline--a famous and, to Czechs, typical example of foreigners' ignorance of the Czech homeland. Although the lands that were once the Kingdom of Bohemia lie at the heart of Europe, Czechs are usually encountered only in the margins of other people's stories. In The Coasts of Bohemia, Derek Sayer reverses this perspective. He presents a comprehensive and long-needed history of the Czech people that is also a remarkably original history of modern Europe, told from its uneasy center.

Sayer shows that Bohemia has long been a theater of European conflict. It has been a cradle of Protestantism and a bulwark of the Counter-Reformation; an Austrian imperial province and a proudly Slavic national state; the most easterly democracy in Europe; and a westerly outlier of the Soviet bloc. The complexities of its location have given rise to profound (and often profoundly comic) reflections on the modern condition. Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hasek, Karel Capek and Milan Kundera are all products of its spirit of place. Sayer describes how Bohemia's ambiguities and contradictions are those of Europe itself, and he considers the ironies of viewing Europe, the West, and modernity from the vantage point of a country that has been too often ignored.

The Coasts of Bohemia draws on an enormous array of literary, musical, visual, and documentary sources ranging from banknotes to statues, museum displays to school textbooks, funeral orations to operatic stage-sets, murals in subway stations to censors' indexes of banned books. It brings us into intimate contact with the ever changing details of daily life--the street names and facades of buildings, the heroes figured on postage stamps--that have created and recreated a sense of what it is to be Czech. Sayer's sustained concern with questions of identity, memory, and power place the book at the heart of contemporary intellectual debate. It is an extraordinary story, beautifully told.

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