A Bohemian Youth (Writings from an Unbound Europe) by Josef Hirsal

By Josef Hirsal

Winner of the 1998 PEN middle united states West Award for translation

Josef Hirsal's experimental novel is a Dada-like romp in the course of the lifetime of a tender guy born right into a Bohemian peasant family members. informed in 5 components, A Bohemian formative years starts with a observe to the clever, strikes directly to the textual content, maintains with notes and with notes to the word, and ends with a observe at the notes to the notes.

More than simply a tongue-in-cheek parody of a literary memoir, A Bohemian adolescence is a glimpse of the 1st Czechoslovak Republic as visible in the course of the eyes of a tender peasant from the provinces. Abounding in intimate details--the manners of a servant woman, the conduct of town gay, the sounds of renowned track; the way in which humans consume in wartime--Hirsal's novel is a wrenching and hilarious story of a tender man's emotional and sexual awakening.

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You can’t imagine how I miss those times, I can’t get them out of my mind. How I looked forward to those Sundays and now I wish they wouldn’t come at all. Every Sunday we play for Mass and give an afternoon concert. Today we go all the way from four to eight, it’s for the reserves, near the front, and I can hear a little shooting again today. Time for mess so I’ll stop here, more later . . Later in the afternoon. I’m glad you got my letter from K, sweetheart, I’ve sent you another one since, just as long.

16 April. Sent to stand guard at 5 a . , writing this under cover, artillery firing at us again, right flank. Back to camp at 1. Letter and card from A. dated 10 and 12 April. 3* 5 June. : shrapnel exploding at a hundred paces followed by shots flying overhead aimed at the Bavarians. Several artillerymen wounded. Our whole company and regi­ ment officers made for the rear. Afternoon rehearsal. Letter from A. Answered immediately. 14 September. Left Jajno at 6:30 a . m . in the rain. Quite cold.

Fine weather. Mess at Osten San Florian. Bought wine, wrote to Agi. Evening coffee in Viedau. 20 February. Loaded trains in the morning and left for Trento. Trudged from one office to the next trying to find out where to go. Didn’t find out until evening. Wrote to Agi and to Mama. i March. Left Grigno 10 a . , marched through pouring rain to first It. town, Primubano. Stayed in Primubano until 5:30 p . m . Then marched up a very steep hill in the dark. Still raining, terrible march. Arrived at Erzego, approx.

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