Total Fears: Selected Letters to Dubenka

Author: Bohumil Hrabal
Translator: James Naughton

Translation of Bohumil Hrabal’s Dopisy Dubence. In these letters written to April Gifford (Dubenka) between 1989 and 1991, but never sent, Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) chronicles the momentous events of those years as seen, more often than not, from the windows of his favorite pubs. In the palavering, stream-of-conscious style that has marked him as one of the major writers and innovators of postwar European literature, Hrabal gives a humorous and at times moving account of life in Prague under Nazi occupation, Communism, and the brief euphoria following the revolution of 1989. Interspersed are fragmented memories of trips taken to Britain as he attempted to track down every location mentioned in T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and the United States, where he ends up in one of Dylan Thomas’s haunts, comparing the waitresses to ones he knew in Prague. The result is a masterful blend of personal history and fee association rendered in a prose as powerful as it is poetic.

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