Read Gottland by Mariusz Szczygieł Marzena Borejczuk Online


Con un talento narrativo che possiedono solo i grandi reporter come Kapuscinski o Terzani, capaci di raccontare la realtà con il fascino della finzione, lo scrittore polacco Mariusz Szczygiel esplora la storia cecoslovacca novecentesca e le sue zone d’ombra attraverso personaggi “secondari”. Scopriamo cosí come l’irresistibile ascesa dell’impero economico delle scarpe BataCon un talento narrativo che possiedono solo i grandi reporter come Kapuscinski o Terzani, capaci di raccontare la realtà con il fascino della finzione, lo scrittore polacco Mariusz Szczygiel esplora la storia cecoslovacca novecentesca e le sue zone d’ombra attraverso personaggi “secondari”. Scopriamo cosí come l’irresistibile ascesa dell’impero economico delle scarpe Bata sia partita dall’intraprendenza di un calzolaio di Zlín. O quali siano la vicenda tragicomica e i retroscena della costruzione e distruzione della piú grande statua di Stalin al mondo; o la storia dell’attrice Lída Baarová, che prese il tè con Hitler e fece innamorare Goebbels; o, ancora, l’intervista di Milena Jesenská (il grande amore di Kafka) a un contadino filosofo. E poi, che avrà pensato il vignettista che alla fine del 1968 augurò ai lettori “un felice Natale 1989”? E che cos’è Gottland, la Terra di Karel Gott, il “Presley e Pavarotti ceco”? Indimenticabile, poi, la figura di Vera, nipote di Kafka, che oppone la sua caparbia riservatezza all’assedio del mito kafkiano.Il testo è accompagnato dalle bellissime immagini del fotografo ceco Pavel Stecha.Traduzione di Marzena BorejczukPer la traduzione di Gottland Marzena Borejczuk ha vinto la prima edizione del Premio per la traduzione istituito dalla fiera Bobi Bazlen in collaborazione con l’Università di Trieste...

Title : Gottland
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ISBN : 9788874522002
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 315 Pages
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Gottland Reviews

  • Antonomasia
    2019-03-18 23:32

    The existence of Polish reportage as a trademark national genre has been familiar to me for a long time, yet this is the first book-length example I've read. (I also couldn't tell you how it is like and unlike Anglo creative non-fiction, something which has been growing in popularity in the last 5-10 years - and which is probably a new name for a type of writing that has been around considerably longer. Anyway, have a couple of articles on Polish reportage, from the British Library and, the nicely designed site of an institute similar to the cultural publicity side of the British Council.)To many international readers, Gottland is a relatively unusual proposition: reading about a foreign country from the perspective of another - non-English-speaking - foreign country. Or as Szczygieł puts it in a less flattering manner: a representative of one marginal nation writing about another marginal nation. (Given that Polish is the third-most spoken language in the UK, 'marginal' doesn't apply here, at any rate.) The book's geography induces an imagined re-situating in the reader: these things happened not far away, but just over there, over the next border, a few hundred or a few dozen miles away. Comparisons of a political situation in Czechoslovakia with what was happening in Poland (not what went on in the US, or Britain or even Russia) are the most intense moments of this perspective shift: it's also important for showing ways in which Communist regimes differed: to know about one is not necessarily to know about the others; it wasn't just one homogenous Bloc.I didn't find Gottland quite as amazing as the mahy others who gave 5 stars. There were three chapters of this twentieth century history-by-anecdote which I found enthralling, 'Happy Holidays' 'The Tragedy Hunter' and 'The Movie Has To be Made'. Otherwise it was interesting, not breathtaking; perhaps something about the style - I think I'd have liked it to be a little more creative or descriptive: but it does what it says on the tin - it reports. A marginal difference, the sort of perception that might have even been altered by a font choice.But what does 'Gottland' mean? The first facet, in the first chapter - one not mentioned in the author's explanation - appeared to refer to Czechoslovakia's first Communist president, Klement Gottwald - inaugurator of the era of history most of the book is about; in the opening chapter about the Bata shoe conglomerate, it's mentioned that the company town of Zlín is renamed Gottwaldov. Then there is pop singer Karel Gott: he was so big in his home country and in Germany for so long, that it's hard to find an equivalent: maybe it's as if Cliff Richard had not got religion, had the rampant, safely adult heterosexuality of Tom Jones*, and was even more popular, for even longer, and had comforting associations: They loved Gott, and they made it through communism along with him. 'Gottland' was the name of a short-lived museum about him, open at the time of the book's first publication: it must have seemed like calling your book on the American South 'Graceland'. And finally Gottland can also be understood as God's land, which is best typified by a quotation from a poem by Vladimír Holan:'I don't know who does the Gods' laundryI do know it's we who drink the dirty water'And that this should have been the book's motto, but I forgot to add it. In Britain, Yorkshire is God's Own Country; sure I've heard of others elsewhere; how many are there?History can't be spoilered as such: the stories are out in the world already. However, if you're planning on reading Gottland soon and would like most of the content to be a surprise, some of these chapter summaries might be too detailed. As said, this is a book of episodes and anecdotes - non-fiction short stories if you like - accounts of what people at the time said happened, as well as what Szczygieł finds out, decades later, probably did happen - it's not yr. trad. narrative history. Not a Step Without BataIt's disconcerting to begin a history book and find it reads like an extended chapter of The Millionaire Next Door, stylistically as well as in content. It's when the narrative becomes openly critical of Bata Shoes: treatment of employees, and the near-megalomania of certain bosses, that one realises retrospectively that some earlier points might have been intended differently: a strict, miserly father's advice to his son, or ruthless factory-floor Taylorism. Anglo-American business and finance books present these as laudable, and this chapter of Gottland provided food for thought about culture differences between various genres of non-fiction writing, never mind countries, eras or workplaces. Ultimately, it's ironic that the Communists disliked Bata - for its profit-making - yet so many of their methods were practically identical: indoctrinating citizens/workers, puritanical standards, expecting people to work like machines when even many healthy human beings can't keep up with that for long.Lucerna PalaceFirst of the short chapters that intersperse longer ones. 1906: Vácslav Havel, an engineer, is involved in building this new cinema in Wenceslas Square, Prague. Its name means 'lantern' and it will be mentioned in several future chapters. (Doesn't say so here, but Václav is the same name anglicised as as Wenceslas.)Just a WomanLída Baarová, Czech Golden Age movie star, and Goebbels' pre-war mistress: whilst charismatic (several prominent men fell in love with her on sight) she was seemingly a naive, not especially bright woman who didn't know much about politics, and who was just trying to look after herself and further her career. She was imprisoned awaiting trial for collaboration after the war, but released due to lack of evidence, and had a chequered and nomadic career thereafter. Chapter features material from a 1995 interview with Baarová. Have seen one film featuring Baarová - my least-favourite Fellini, I Vitelloni but can't really remember her. How Are You Coping with the Germans?In 1939 a journalist sets out to ask local people this. There follows a strikingly stoic response from an old farmer.Proof of Love & Victim of LoveThe late 40s & early 50s, Stalinism's iron grasp: the seven-year construction of the world's largest statue of Stalin on a hill near Prague. No-one wants to win the competition to design this behemoth, but someone must: Otakar Švec, an art grad turned confectioner whose usual medium is icing, has the burden bestowed on him, for a recycled design. Does it look like Stalin is leading the generic workers who populate the statue? Or being ambushed? Or that they're queuing? And other paranoid questions which, in a dictatorship, no-one can afford to dismiss as overthinking. The thing isn't even finished until after Genocide Joe's death, and it made no-one happy. The statue stands there for almost eight years, until 1962. It outlives the thaw of 1956 and the condemnation of Stalin by seven years. He is condemned, but only in the USSR, Poland and Hungary. French historian Muriel Blaive wrote a book about 1956 in Czechoslovakia entitled..."A Missed Opportunity for Destalinization". There is an astonishing lack of strong reaction to what is happening in neighbouring countries, and the regime in Prague digs itself in more firmly.Mrs. Not-a-FakeLooked ironic at first: the touristification of the most unlikely of writers, Kafka. Then his niece, Vera, who acted as a pokrývač ('roofer'), a writer with a good reputation among the Communists, who would sometimes allow proscribed artists to publish under her name - an arrangement which didn't give either side proper satisfaction. In the event of success, neither the owner of the name nor the real author could fully enjoy it. The former pretended to be pleased about work that wasn't his, and the latter couldn't accept the acclaim. The family have Kafkaesque bureaucracy down to a fine art of their own: Szczygieł's attempts to talk to Franz K's surviving relatives are sent from pillar to post and finally hit polite brick walls. Little Darling The fall of Jan Procházka, a screenwriter who had once been throughly on-message but became one of the vanguard of the Prague Spring. at the Barrandov Film Studios... he underwent a creative metamorphosis . He discovered that not every screenplay has to be educational, and that what kills creativity is sticking to a formula. He usually worked with Karel Kachyňa, one of the founders of the Czech New Wave, including on The Ear, which was based on Procházka's experience of being bugged by the secret police.The Spring and its repression: one of those faultlines that run through a country's history. With only a little knowledge, it was too easy to half-forget the differences from Paris 68, most of all, in what followed.... Alexander Dubček, who allowed the public to speak freely and to photograph each other in nothing but their bathing suits at the pool.People stopped being afraid of each other, and society was full of admiration for itself…The newspapers and television lost their colorlessness. The tedium vanished from the theater and cinema. Banned books were published. Censorship was lifted.In a cartoon in the previously regime-run newspaper Rudé právo, one guy says to another at a café table: “There’s nothing to talk about. It’s all in the papers.”In another cartoon, a young couple are standing under a tree. The man is carving a large heart into the bark, with the name “DUBČEK” inside it.People even painted slogans on the walls in Poland, such as: “All Poland is waiting for its Dubček.”Jan Procházka had nothing to do with the Soviet jackboot's destruction of this brief idyll - but two years later, the secret service ordered Czechoslovak TV and radio to broadcast tapes of conversations between Procházka and his political associates at the time. (Something twenty-first century about this: prominent activist calls for political openness, and then a scandal is made of his personal life.) One crucial utterance recorded was that Dubček was naive. History agrees. But it got Procházka's family ostracised from society, study and employment. People needed someone to blame safely and he was among the scapegoats presented. His relatives blame the broadcasts for triggering the cancer he died of two years later.The Public ConcernI found one of Lloyd-Jones' other translations too natural, sounding just like Anglo-American litfic, but this title should have been The Public Interest, the UK phrase when debating tabloid intrusion into celebrities' lives. Here, Helena Vondráčková, veteran pop singer.Despite a court case that the interested party won against the newspaper, which had to pay her damages, the editors continue to regard Vondráčková as the people’s darling, meaning that Blesk is entitled to reveal her personal life.“In what way is that any different from the practices of the communist Security Service?” I ask.“In every way!” says one of the journalists. “First of all, by contrast with the Security Service we aim to meet public expectations. Secondly, our publication has nothing to do with communism, because we’re part of a Swiss capitalist concern.”Life is Like a ManAbout Marta Kubišová, one of Vondráčková's former bandmates in The Golden Kids. (They looked like a 1960s Abba with only one boy, and they made lovely melodic pop tunes I'd like to hear more of). Kubišová had made recordings supporting the Spring and during the 'normalisation' that followed, was pushed out of favour: polls were fixed against her, and a scandal followed involving a porn shoot in a fake Danish magazine: she was banned from public life, and the media, even if her name was not mentioned, was forbidden to print the name of the village where she lived with her husband, director Jan Němec (he had to work driving tractors, she in a meat processing plant.) She is philosophical: What she was forced to do was no loss. “A person grows wiser,” says Marta. “Not because he’s washing windows, but because he’s living a life he would never have touched if he were only an artist.”This chapter also contains two other stories. Firstly, Plastic People of the Universe (whom, unlike Golden Kids, I'd heard of before, presumably because they lasted longer): like Pussy Riot, they were a band who were rebellious politically when it genuinely wasn't safe to be: Szczygieł relates how buildings where they played guerilla gigs were demolished by the government; they were psych rock but as outspoken as any punks, and at a time when artists were more repressed than they had ever been. Intellectuals began to attend trials of the band members and the Charter 77 dissident group coalesced: in December 1976 and January 1977, the Charter was signed by 242 people, and eventually, over the next few years, by almost 2,000.The Charter… manifesto... came to the defense of people whom the communists had deprived of their jobs, forcing them to work in professions that were humiliating for them.It was proof of the power of the powerless.The people who wrote the text called things by their proper names…. “Hundreds of thousands of citizens are denied freedom from fear, because they are forced to live with the constant threat that, if they express their own views, they will lose their jobs.”Kubišová became one of the spokespeople for Charter 77, and Vaclav Havel - who's connected with a lot of people mentioned in this book - was her daughter's godfather.The government swiftly created the Anti-Charter, which artists had to sign for their work to continue to be broadcast, published, sold in shops. “In the name of socialism,” 76 “National Artists,” 360 “Distinguished Artists” and 7,000 ordinary ones signed the Anti-charter. None of them was allowed to read Charter ’77. They were protesting against something they had no idea about.Writing in 2005, Szczygieł states the Czech media can still create controversy around those who signed the Anti-Charter - including Karel Gott, director Jiří Menzel, and Vondráčková, who was signed up to it during her absence on a foreign tour.Happy Holidays!The author finds a satirical magazine from December 1968 in a Czech second-hand bookshop. Despite four months of Soviet occupation, the country is not yet totally paralyzed by fear. In the satirical weekly, there’s a bold festive cartoon: in a few days, it will be Christmas 1968, and two gentlemen are exchanging greetings, saying “Merry Christmas 1989.”Thus, it’ll only be a happy holiday in twenty years’ time.How did the cartoonist manage to see the future so precisely?What did he think of his cartoon when twenty years of despair came to an end at the exact moment he had predicted? In Czechoslovakia, communism really did collapse a month before Christmas 1989. And what did he think three days after Christmas, when Václav Havel was sworn in as president?Why did that particular year occur to him?Did he ever make any other prophecies?Did this drawing have any significance for him afterwards?I think that anything the cartoonist has to say about this will be worth hearing.(view spoiler)[After various esoteric ideas are mentioned, the cartoonist's widow sensibly hypothesises that he simply rotated the last two numbers of the year: 68/89. (hide spoiler)]The Tragedy HunterThe improbable story of a skilled writer of 1930s pulp who, uniquely, reinvented himself to produce popular fiction approved by the Communist regime. This piece is excellent in its complexity, in showing a man who could be both admired and disapproved of. It's not just about a gift for reinvention that could beat Bowie's hands down. One doesn't hear so much of the people who did crack under intolerable conditions – thinking about what they endured, it's understandable that they did, yet popular history often doesn't want to know. These days in Anglo-American cultures there is understanding for people who acted under duress in abusive relationships (those who managed not to under similar conditions are considered unusual exceptions with standards others should not be held to). But where political and martial expected-heroism is the subject, attitudes are, or have historically been, different, because of the need to remove pernicious influences thoroughly following a regime change or end of a war. It's not a subject on which I've so far seen other discussion: it first occurred to me during the first chapter of this book. However, some recognition of the difficulties in making a complete purge were recognised in the former Communist Bloc during the 1990s; Wikipedia paraphrases academic research by Holmes, including: After 45–70 years of state communism, nearly every family has members associated with the state. After the initial desire "to root out the reds" came a realization that massive punishment is wrong and finding only some guilty is hardly justice. KafkárnaTaken from a novel with one solitary rating on GR:, the story of an American exchange student in Prague in 1985 who wants to research Kafka and attitudes to him, and is told not to refer to him directly.The Movie Has to Be MadeTwo stories - one beginning in 1947 with a Czech girl, Jaroslava, travelling to America on a high school exchange; the other in 2003 with a disaffected provincial teenage boy, Zdeněk - are told in alternating chapterlets, building much like a thriller; the stories are not similar, although there is convergence of a sort. The best piece in the book, IMO. The surprise unfolding was part of what made it great.MetamorphosisIt is March 27, 2003.The Komedia Theater in Prague...presents Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis...In this staging, the main character’s problem is not that he has changed into an insect, but how he’s going to go to work in this state.An observation about the priorities of contemporary capitalism; also liked it because it reminded me of something I tried to write; glad the idea had already been got out there. One of the most appealing features of Gottland is not having to start at beginners' level - this isn't your usual primer on the history of a country, but a lot of little spotlights on particular interesting stories; you get to hear something meant for other people: slightly, interestingly illicit, even if the downside is not getting ever reference. Not sure it provided a clear idea of Czech-ness: having built up through books and films some sense of the Nordic countries' differences and concepts of themselves and one another, I'm still trying to acquire the same for some central and east european countries. Is the sense of indomitable hard work general to all the former communist countries of the region? How does it fit with the Good Soldier Svejk as the personification of national character? (And tragic heroes like Jans Hus and Palach are hardly Svejks.) Why are the Czechs the most atheistic country in Europe, whilst bordering one of the most religious? Gottland might not have answered many of the questions I started it with, but its responses to others I hadn't sought were equally interesting. *Unexpected side effect of writing that paragraph: listening to 'Sex Bomb' on repeat, and wanting to go clubbing.

  • Lorenzo Berardi
    2019-03-15 17:41

    I read this book in Italian. I was forced to.Despite of my moderate efforts, my current Polish doesn't go very far. And no one thought to give this book a chance on the English speaking market.Which is a shame.Perhaps it's just the name of its author, Szczygiel (roughly pronounced Shigyaooh).Perhaps it's the title of the book, Gottland (no, it's not German).On the whole, for an average British or American reader, I assume there seems to be very little to get from such obscure and tongue-twisting coordinates.Which, once again, is a shame.And if some brave English or American publisher will some day consider the possibility of translating this book, then comes the main topic of it: Czechoslovakia now split into Czech Republic and Slovakia. Which sounds like a further problem. At least for the likes of George W Bush who himself took Slovakia for Slovenia and viceversa.I mean, apparently there is not that much to say about it, isn't it? Apart from explaining to the Bush family where this little forgotten country can be found on a map.And unfortunately there are very little if no chances at all that Gottland will become a movie one day with, say, Leonardo Di Caprio performing Tomasz Bata, Natalie Portman putting herself in the shoes of Lida Baarova and Vaclav Havel starring as himself.That's why I read the Italian translation of Gottland. Because I couldn't wait.For "Gottland" is what I don't hesitate to call a masterpiece.And a little publisher named "Nottetempo" had a moment of commercial folly or misunderstood geniality a few years ago.My girlfriend told me that Marius S. (I will call him like that) was the host of the Polish version of something similar to the David Letterman Show which doesn't explain why he got so much into Czech Republic, but it's nice to report here.What Marius S. did with Gottland is amazing. This book is gem of real stories coming from the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia covering the twentieth century with the interlude of two world wards, a nazi occupation and a communist dictatorship. The last one being the worst break on many accounts.Reading Gottland one becomes eager to meet an actual, authentic Czech or Slovak person to check whether Marius S. got these people right. I suppose he did. What I personally suggest is to either learn Polish or Italian, get this book and read it. I'm sure you will be surprised on how quick will be this process (once you learned one of the two above mentioned languages). And then I suggest you to start mentioning the term "Gottland" in your conversations.You can refer to this book while talking about a wide range of subjects including cinema, monuments, architecture, taxi rides, literature, Prague, music, trials, Kafka, theater and... shoes.Perhaps, little by little, someone who counts in the literary business of your country will hear the word "Gottland" being pronounced giving way to a further translation of this book. But I suppose that learning Polish may be easier.

  • Tiffany Reisz
    2019-02-18 00:31

    Fascinating stuff. Read in English obviously as I do not know Polish alas

  • Hana
    2019-02-23 16:55

    All this happened, more or less.” ― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-FiveHana's nightmare: (view spoiler)[...I awoke suddenly. There were men wearing ill-fitting suits going through my bookcases. They were pulling my books off the shelves. “Trash!” One man grabbed my copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, ripping the cover from my old, well-thumbed paperback, shredding it with his hairy fingers. They took all my Harry Potters. All seven of them. “Garbage, low-brow propaganda,” said the second man, pulling my copy of Ender's Game and tearing page after page from the book. “This is American brak! You are working for the American spies! Don’t deny it!” I let them take Harry and Ender. And Katniss Everdeen. And a couple of John Grishams I’d picked up at the airport. I didn’t mind so much about the Grishams. And then they went for Connie Willis. “To Say Nothing of the Dog. "It says right here it is a romance!!" said the man with the hairy fingers. "Immoral! Time travel? This is brak, subversive, mindless, empty brak.” “No, NO!” I pleaded. “It’s not junk. Look, LOOK. There are quotes from famous authors, classics. It’s satire. I mean….no I didn’t mean to say that….” They shredded my copy of To Say Nothing of the Dog; to say nothing of what they did to Three Men in a Boat. My dear friends are gone. Gone forever.... (hide spoiler)]In that moment just on awakening when dreams and reality are tangled I wondered if this was real. And then it came back to me. All of this really did happen, more or less, though not to me. My strange dream was perhaps an inevitable side-effect of reading Mariusz Szczygiel’s powerful collection of psychedelic, tragi-comic tales from Czechoslovakia. There were times before the communists when the land and people were almost (but not quite) normal. And then came Czechoslovakia’s communist regime, the fragile doomed spring of freedom, followed by the Soviet invasion of 1968, and then the equally strange freedoms won in the Velvet Revolution of 1989.More than books were ripped apart. These were places and times that shattered souls, careers, broke families, societies. Szczgiel’s portraits of this fragmented Cubist world are also broken, fractured, told in vignettes that are sometimes only a page long and at other times ramble across generations.This was the story that gave me the nightmare:"After the communist takeover in Czechoslovakia, society has to be forced into detox. The authorities give orders for anything that brings simple pleasure to be liquidated.Liquidation committees are established. Their task is to remove crime fiction, horror and adventure stories, thrillers, romance novels and science fiction….The committees scour the bookstores, printing and publishing houses….they requisition countless copies of Incautious Maidens or Flames at the Metropole. So that those who prefer the false view of the world presented in cheap novels will never find refuge again."The committees can’t cope with the volume of destruction needed and so requisition elementary school children to collect and rip up trashy books. Thus endeth Jasmines Below the Balcony. The authorities had a word for these kinds of books. They called them brak, a Czech word that means lack or shortage, but also trash. Between 1950 and 1958 almost 70 percent of popular fiction was destroyed and eventually replaced by “socialist-realist trash written by new authors”, one of whom is profiled here, a survivor who recreated such a fractured identity for himself that Szczygieł dubs him the Cubist Man.So many voices were silenced and not just the writers. Here you will find the stories of lives—or at least potentialities—shredded; but there are also astonishing tales of courage, of luck, and even redemption.Karol Gott was one of the survivors. He was part of a singing group,The Golden Kids, that was wildly popular before the Soviet invasion of 1968. Karel Gott continued his rise to fame throughout the years of oppression. He has his own museum. Every single book about his love life has been a best seller.Marta Kubišová, another of the three Golden Kids was not so fortunate. In 1968, just as Soviet tanks rolled into Prague to crush the country’s nascent liberalization, she recorded her hit song "Modlitba pro Martu" A Prayer for MartaLet peace continue with this country.Let wrath, envy, hate, fear and struggle vanish.Now, the lost reign over your affairs will return to you. People, it will return.The cloud is slowly sailing away from the skies,Everyone is reaping his own harvest.Let my prayer speak to the heartsNot burned by the times of bitterness like blooms by a late frost.Toward the end of 1969, the ‘normalization’ began and Marta was denounced in an East German newspaper for singing Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin with Czech lyrics: “The Western leisure industry is influencing revisionist attitudes in Czechoslovakia. An opponent can systematically gradate his ideological sabotage with the help of pop songs….to further demoralize and by the same token create a rabble that would then conduct campaigns against the socialist authorities.” In 1970 Marta was framed by the authorities with faked pornographic pictures. For the next twenty years, her smoky contralto voice would be silenced; banned from performing she spent her life in obscurity, scrubbing floors, putting plastic dolls together. She is in no way bitter or even angry. A Prayer for Marta became an anthem of the underground resistance to the Soviet’s invasion and the Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution of 1989. The final story was so devastatingly horrible I'm almost sorry that I read it. (view spoiler)[It's about two boys who became a human torches—a modern youth, Zdenek Adamec, disillusioned with the emptiness of his life, and Jan Zajic who protested the Soviet invasion of 1968 by setting himself on fire. (hide spoiler)] I do understand why Szczygiel closed his book this way and the intersecting tales were well and movingly told, but the utter despair was hard for me to take. As with any book of short stories it is inevitable that some work better than others. And since this is a work that I read in translation I always wonder what it would be like to read this in the original. In several places I wish the translator and/or editor had taken pity on the non-Czechoslovak reader and filled in a bit of the historical context, if even in a footnote. For example I had to Google “A Prayer for Marta” to find the full lyrics; the brief first couple of lines included in Szczygiel’s text were so innocent that I could not fathom what the Soviets found objectionable.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • S©aP
    2019-03-04 18:33

    Lettura terminata in due giorni. Fantastico. Velocissimo. Nervoso e brillante. Essenzialmente pieno di una sofferenza - quella del popolo cecoslovacco sotto la dittatura comunista - che chiedeva (e chiede ancora) di essere portata a conoscenza dei più; narrata, insistentemente, alla moltitudine accidiosa che prosegue a commuoversi al suono dell' "Internazionale"; a quella parte della società che crede ancora si possano fare dei "distinguo" pelosi di fronte alle dittature, alla mala gestione del potere, alla schifosa attitudine umana a compiacere il potere o i potenti, all'opportunismo, alla mancanza di etica, o al relativismo esasperato. Caratteristiche che sfociano sempre nel pragmatismo più materialista e immorale.PS: Nike Literary Award for Audience (2007) - Prix AMPHI (2009) - European Book Prize for Fiction (2009) - Angelus Nominee (2007) - Quanti conoscono questo testo, in Italia?

  • T for Tongue-tied
    2019-02-21 17:38

    I will risk a statement that "Gottland" is possibly one of the best reportages I have ever read. The book tells stories of some historically, culturally or sometimes just contextually famous people who lived in the totalitarian reality of former Czechoslovakia and filters them through a Kafkaesque lens of absurdity that was created by social realism and Soviet indoctrination. I still wonder how much of an interest could that be to those who have never experienced the tragicomedy of communism but the fact that Szczygiel's collection has been translated into ten different languages tells me that there must be much more to it than my personal interest and socio-geographic background.The author's style is really good - his open, animated prose is dexterous enough to contain and reflect the contradictions of the distorted world which he describes. Ethical and inquisitive, full of countless bewildering and darkly comical passages, the book juggles facts, fiction, jokes and individual heartbreaks and comes up with a concoction that speaks volumes for the lasting psychological impact of the fallen regime. Szczygiel is a true master of his craft and brilliantly combines various plots and perspectives. There is something distinctive about his writing - something unique that in my opinion sets Polish reportage aside, to name only two giants of the genre like Ryszard Kapuscinski and Hanna Krall. Szczygiel's book is a milestone on the path of journalism and creative non-fiction and as such deserves to be read, regardless of personal interests and reading habits.

  • Razvan Zamfirescu
    2019-03-13 20:32

    Două SMS-uri trimise de Elena m-au făcut să citesc Gottland:Această carte este pură ficțiune. Faptele care s-au întâmplat sunt mult mai groaznice.Dar nu vă este frică (de nemți)? De ce să-mi fie frică? Se miră sincer și continuă: În plus, stimată doamnă, omul nu poate muri decât o singură dată. Iar dacă moare puțin mai devreme, nu face decât să fie mort ceva mai mult timp.Mariusz Szczygiel este polonez și scrie despre Cehoslovacia. Începe cu istoria fabricantului de pantofi Bata, trece prin idila lui Goebbels cu Lida Baarova, nepoata lui Kafka ș.a.m.d. pentru a termina cu Karel Gott, un muzician care a trecut cu succes prin comunism și a ajuns să aibă chiar și un muzeu care dă și numele volumului de față.Mariusz Szczygiel și Cehoslovacia anilor 1900, 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000.Restul recenziei aici

  • Jan jr. Vaněk
    2019-03-04 21:52

    Iritující, přeceněná, špatná kniha. Hojnost věcných chyb, nepřesností, zavádějících, zplošťujících a vágních formulací; k tomu lyrizující až afektovaný styl jak z nejhorších socrealistických črt (že by Dan Hrubý měl ten svůj bizarní způsob psaní "co věta, to odstavec" odsud?). Vážně, obecně se uznává pravdivost konceptu "když se zpravodajství v médiích týká věci, o níž člověk něco ví, okamžitě ho odhalí jako zásadně nekvalitní"; tak co čekáte, když Polák píše do časopisu o moderní české historii? Jediné, co jsem neznal z primárnějších zdrojů, byl Fabián/Kirchberger, ale mnohem radši bych si přečetl nějakou studii Pavla Janáčka, kde by prostě publikoval materiál se všemi podrobnostmi a případně zhodnotil knihy.Je jistě smutné, že u nás prakticky vymizely rozsáhlejší, hlubší analytické "features"; ale příklad bychom si měli brát spíš z USA než Polska.

  • Mag
    2019-03-04 17:41

    It is a very good, but profoundly depressing book. Apart from an opening essay on Bata – the Czech whose shoes became famous worldwide - it deals with the hardcore communist times in Czechoslovakia. It’s very unsettling to realize the extent of control and terror that the regime had. It eerily reminds one that it was indeed Kafka’s country- ‘where the life of the accused is the crime in itself.’ Szczygiel’s second book on Czechoslovakia, Make Yourself a Paradise, is lighter, the stories are more quirky. The absurdity of the communist system there is a mere absurdity, you don’t feel it as a killing force, whereas here people not only lose their freedom, they lose their sanity or their lives- they are either killed or they kill themselves.

  • Mientras Leo
    2019-03-07 17:51

    Me ha encantado, la verdad. Poco que añadir

  • David Dinaburg
    2019-02-19 16:55

    I’ve yet to fully embrace the binge-watching zeitgeist that on-demand seems to have transformed from its unremarkable pupal stage—TNT’s all-day Law & Order marathons—into the tectonic shift of the modern entertainment industry. I attribute it to my friend Shane, who, back in late 2004, convinced me that portioning was as important as timing. Between Me Talk Pretty—read only one story/chapter per day, no matter how funny or how much you wanted to keep going—and The Office—there was only the BBC version then—it seemed important to make media last, if it was to make you laugh. Even with one whole disc of Office (U.K.) rented from Blockbuster, the crushing awkwardness was palpably lessened by not allowing time to heal the raw wound of social misbehavior; we would become inured to David Brent. Or laugh slightly less at each new lovingly described foible of David Sedaris’ childhood. It gave us, as post-collegiate studio-apartment dwellers—freshly cord-cut from our campus-access cable and weekly looping movie selection channel—the benefit of continued entertainment: something to look forward to as well as something to reflect upon. Not that we were dissecting Ulysses, but I do think pacing in film and television needs a revolution to compete in the new on-demand landscape if it is to remain a vital piece of creative kit. The entertainment binge is so common now that some screenwriters seem to take it into account when creating; Orange is the New Black, for example, can get away with delaying their prime story arc, even giving viewers episodes that don’t feature the main character at all. It parallels the same sort of rising and falling action that books feature—they typically have to deal with providing their whole experience at once—with each chapter ending giving you a place to rest and recover. When the next scene doesn’t start off exactly where the excitement of the prior one ceased, it can be just enough to enforce a break without actual content restriction. This is the type of storytelling subtlety I think television is embracing; if you don’t see Piper—when the story switches gears for an episode or two—maybe it’s a hint to retire the marathon for the day. Compare that with Lost, which straddled the online/broadcast switch; during the original broadcast, every time a week or more went by where the “story didn’t move” or the episode “focused on side characters,” there were loud complaints from fans and critics. The slowdown was coupled with structural restraint—you couldn’t watch more, even if you wanted to. Modern shows might look to fiction novel pacing to overcome the death of the pulp-periodical release timing of their content.Archived articles aren’t spared the ubiquity of pervasive access, either. Take Gawker’s The Best Restaurant in New York Is: series, which is an absolute delight. Having just this month dined at the illustrious Dancing Crane Café, the discovery of these reviews felt like kismet. But I ignored the rule begat by Me Talk Pretty: take it slow. After three or four hilarious articles in a row, the guffaws began to slow. It is hard to avoid crashing headlong into the humor tolerance of the overindulged when it is just so fun, at the time. Unintentional repetitions—how many times a restaurant experience is compared to Purgatory, rather than inside jokes like disparaging lox—come too sharply into focus. It is diminution by repetition, and I disappointed myself by gorging on these reviews. They stand on their own but cry out for temporal sequester—restriction to a physical periodical. Simultaneous availability for comparative access at the push of a single button turns the vague sense of similarity from comfort to trudge.Now, I don’t believe anyone is going to sit down and binge-read the eighty-plus reviews I’ve posted on Goodreads; but it is with that in mind that I hesitate to reiterate my idiosyncratic obsession with subtitling. Gottland: Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia really caught me on my back foot. I’m still not exactly sure where the line between real and fabricated cuts through this book. To make matters worse, I fully needed to rely on the subtitle to even know what the book was about—I had no idea what a Gottland was, though assumed it was some sort of Czech word for Czechoslovakia. Which was very, very wrong.A story presented near the end of the book that captures my feelings quite well; a foreign student searching for the meaning of kafkárně: She notices that people in Czechoslovakia often compare something specific with something that they say doesn’t exist at all, or that they don’t know anything about.An office worker gives her an example: “Imagine you’re a man, you go into a store and ask if they’ve got any fleecy socks. The sales assistant replies: ‘Ladies, yes—but we haven’t got any for children.’ That logic makes no sense, Miss, but it works.”“Where’s the logic in that?”“Because it assumes he knows, or ought to know, that men’s socks haven’t been on sales for the past six months, so there probably aren’t any. So what socks can he be asking about? Obviously just ladies’ or children’s.” Gottland lets you ruminate on the search for the hidden word for only a short time; you are quickly told that the student is fictional. But the story of the story is real, written by a local professor to emphasis the political and cultural repression pervading society. The twisted truths, constantly swirling together with the dreamy past-as-present narrative—think Too Big to Fail or Game Change, where the reader must consistently allow the exactitude of literary narrative conventions: “As Jamie Diamond gazed out over the city—his city—from his penthouse balcony, slowly lifting the Filepe Gregorio Fusion cigar to his mouth, he paused only briefly, troubled by the hint of an impending thunderstorm somewhere over the horizon,” by tamping down the incredulous “How could the author actually know that?” moments—form a history that not only feels real, but insidiously replaces any half-formed opinions of Czechoslovakia that may linger from your time in high school global studies class.Gottland starts off with a deep dive into the life of the largest factory owner in 20th century Czech history:June 28, 1914: WarTomáš Baťa is horrified: all his factory workers must report for the war being fought by the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Next morning, over his coffee, bacon and eggs, he has an idea: he will go to Vienna and extract an order for boots for the army. He leaves his eggs, gets in a horse-drawn cab, and races to the railway station at Otrokovice near Zlín. But the train has already left. So he buys the horses from the coachman and tells him to chase after the train. The animals rush as fast as the express through three villages, but in the fourth they collapse. In only six minutes Tomáš buys another cab and horses. He catches up with the train, and in a few hours he reaches Vienna.In his opinion, one should never give in to reality, but always make skillful use of it for one’s own purpose. In the course of two days, he secures an order for half a million pairs of boots and a guarantee that his worker’s won’t go to war. The book is written by a Polish reporter and focuses exclusively on Czechoslovakia; I had never heard of Tomáš Baťa, and the dull warning from the ominous subtitle—mostly true—still clung heavily to each page. My incredulity was assuaged quite quickly, however, when, within the first thirty pages, I spotted something I recognized without google or wikipedia: an oblique reference to my tiny upstate New York hometown. Not, mind you, the extremely close city that we all use as a reference point when someone asks, “Where are you from?” but the actual 13,000 person village:1931:GraphologyTomáš Baťa’s son Tomik, aged seventeen, returns from Zurich, where for the past year he has been the manager of a large store. He becomes manager of a department store in Zlín. He quarrels with his father about something. “You’ll be sorry, Dad,” he says, and writes a letter to Baťa’s biggest rival in the United States, Endicott Johnson. Endicott! That’s me! Also the birthplace of IBM, Endicott was the final stop on a massive corporate gravy train for nearly a century. I liked this book already, and now it had found one incredibly effective way to put me at ease. “Mostly” true or not, I was eager to accept what Gottland was offering.As the Baťa story illustrates, what it had was series of vignettes about people and places from Czechoslovakia over the last hundred or so years. Again risking the infliction of tedium on those binge-readers of my reviews that likely do not exist, the small facts and details pulled from Gottland are informative to the point of reshaping your general understanding of an entire epoch: I mention the Czechs’ reluctance to remember the past to my friend Piotr Lipinski, who has been writing about the executioners and victims of Stalinism for years.“It’s out of fear,” he says.“Fifty years on? Nowadays, when they shouldn’t be afraid of anything?”“All the people you met are about eighty. The last fifteen years of independence are just an episode in their lives. Too short a time for them to be sure that it’s a permanent state of affairs and can’t change.” It’s hard to recognize what the transition away from Stalinism would do to people who were thrust into socialism soon after being treated as soulless, faceless fuel for the Nazi war machine. “In 1939, after demonstrations on the national holiday, the Germans had closed down all the Czech colleges and 1,200 students had immediately ended up in concentration camps. The Czechs were meant to be nothing but a German workforce.” To lurch from societal fungibility to spoil-of-war partition-by-fiat from foreign dichotomic East/West superpowers, it is understandable and reasonable to remain wary: The story can be summarized as follows. One night, Navrátil and a friend swim across the Nysa River near Hrádek, on the German border, aiming to get away to London. They wade through swamps and spend hours lying in a field. Navrátil falls ill with a temperature of 39 degrees C [102*F], but nobody will give him a sip of water until he shows his documents. “Maybe because I have nothing to pay with. People in the West have to be bought.”For those who read it, it should immediately be clear why Navrátil came back. There is no refugee camp in Germany which our heroes have not visited. Nowhere do they find help or a crust of bread. “We only help people who are useful to us,” they hear. “When you talk to them about ideals,” he confides in his readers, “they start to smile pitifully. They have no ideals-instead of using their brains to think, they use the contents of their pockets.”Fainting with hunger, they reach Hamburg on foot. In the suburbs, they look into a window and see a married couple quarrelling. “How can they be quarrelling when they have their own table, their own floor, their own ceiling, and their own language? What fools people are.”The authorities are so pleased by this account, which appears in the weekly Květen, that Navrátil also broadcasts it as radio talks. Then he describes his escape in a novel entitled The Runaway, which is publicized by the authorities. That story feels like traditional anticapitalist propaganda, and was used as such. But what caught me particularly off-guard was the clichéd, “How can people be unhappy, they have so much more than others,” being applied to language. And it is casually dropped into the litany, as easily suppressed and restricted as tables and chairs. Moments of organic discovery like this—rather than blasting a point or trumpeting a perspective—create haunting perspectives of the past that feel personal. Gottland is here to remind us of how things were without telling the reader how they should feel about them. But they should feel bad. From our friend Baťa of the first vignette, let us jump backwards to pre-schism Czechoslovakia to experience the burgeoning horror of World War II from a perspective that English speakers traditionally do not see: 1933: ScapegoatThe world crisis of the 1930s is underway. The company makes an excellent scapegoat.In Germany, import duties on shoes go up, and it is announced that Jan Antonin Baťa is a Czech Jew. Dozens of caricatures of him adorn the Nazi press: Rabbi Baťa says it all! The manager of Baťa in Germany comes to Zlín to check up on the family background. They are Catholics for seven generations of cobblers; there are no documents going further back. He returns to Berlin and issues a statement to the press about Baťa’s origins. He is interrogated by the Gestapo. Jan decides to sell his German factory at once. In France, a factory has been in operation for a year, but it has to be closed because the competition starts up an incredible campaign:Baťa is a German. Huge photographs on the walls show Jan as the stereotypical Prussian, with fair hair and blue eyes. In Italy, the competition spreads a rumor that Baťa has been attacking Mussolini in the Czechoslovak papers. In Poland, they say a secret Soviet commission visits Zlín each year:Baťa helps the Soviets.For five years, in spite of the crisis, Czechoslovakia holds first place for the export of leather footwear worldwide. Though it might seem, to me, that the book’s greatest mystery is how Baťa shoes continued to outsell Endicott-Johnson shoes even with all the particularized and contradictory European slander, I admit it is actually why it is titled Gottland in the first place. The first clue actually went over my head, when Karel Gott was first cited: “Gott is the Czech Presley and Pavarotti rolled into one. He not only won thirty Golden Nightingales in the socialist era, but went on winning them in the capitalist period too, every year until 2012.” I didn’t parse the Gott from Gottland—I just kept bumbling forward until it was explicitly spelled out. The benefit to my lack of perception is that I never had the chance to draw an overly simplistic and useless analogy; never did I internally posit that naming a book about Stalin-era repression Gottland was akin to naming a book about the American Civil Rights Movement “Graceland.” Because it really isn’t: In July 2006, his museum was opened in Jevany, just outside Prague. With a neon sign saying Gottland over the entrance.No living artist—at least in the Czech Republic—has ever had his own museum before, with full-time guides giving tours in three different languages. Karel Gott is sacred in a desacralized reality. A world without God is impossible, so in the world’s most atheistic country, which is the Czech Republic, the sixty-seven-year-old star plays an important role.The role of mein Gott....[M]ost people here are over sixty. They stand, nervously waving their tickets in their work-ruined hands. It looks to me as if they want to go inside right away. As if here and now, this minute, they want to confirm that their lives have been all right. They loved Gott, and they made it through communism along with him. If he “had to keep step with the correct line,” then what were we to do?Getting inside Gottland is like obtaining a seal of approval: the past is okay. Gottland does what you want a non-fiction book to do: make you think differently about the things you don’t even know you’ve incorporated into your worldview, concepts that would never be challenged in your normal, day-to-day life. The book contains the essence of a country that has changed so much, so frequently, that nearly every decade is detached from the last:In 2007, when Gottland was published in the Czech Republic, someone demanded that it be pulped.It wasn’t the general public, or the authorities of course, but a representative of the Gottland museum. The Czech publisher received a summons to stop selling the book immediately and to withdraw it from bookstores. The Gottland museum sent letters to all the wholesalers in the Czech Republic, warning them that it is illegal to sell this book “because it’s against the principle of competition—the word Gottland is exclusively reserved for Karl Gott’s museum.” No matter its past, the Czech Republic looks to have landed on the same page as the rest of the Western world.

  • Bloodorange
    2019-02-21 17:46

    I remember listening to the audiobook in the middle of winter of 2012/2013, pushing a pram through snow, day after day. Even today I am inclined to think this book is objectively, not subjectively, depressing. 3,5 stars.

  • Zuza
    2019-02-19 16:32

    Jsem nadšená. Szczygieł vybral n známějších i skoro neznámých postav z českých dějin 20. století a o každé z nich napsal kapitolu-reportáž, i když nevím, jestli je to zrovna to správné slovo, co hledám. Do výběru se dostal namátkou třeba Baťa, Lída Baarová, Marta Kubišová, Karel Fabián či Otakar Švec, autor Stalinova pomníku na Letné. Szczygieł ovšem - jak se píše na obálce - nezapisoval rozšířené mýty, ale pátral v archivech, vyhledával svědky různých událostí a i potomky lidí, o které se zajímal. Díky tomu pak například mluvil s neteří Franze Kafky či listoval strojopisem scénáře Ucha. A taky napsal tuhle skvělou knížku.Doporučuji všem.A doporučuju též předloňský rozhovor se Szczygiełem na DVTV.,,Paní, člověk může umřít jenom jednou. A když umře trochu dřív, tak je holt o trochu dýl mrtvej.",,Tento příběh se nestal. Věci, které se opravdu přihodily, byly mnohem horší.",,Eduard Kirchberger se narodil v Praze roku 1912. Téměř ve stejnou dobu a ve stejném městě vznikla první kubistická plastika lidské hlavy na světě. Ty dva fakty spolu nemají nic společného."

  • Madeleine
    2019-02-26 17:50

    Unfortunately this book is not available in English (though I sincerely hope somebody fixes that soon), so I read the excellent French translation by Margot Carlier. It's a terrific book, engaging and moving and funny (in a sort of bleak, Mitteleuropan way). I was particularly struck by the story of the building of the Stalin monument in Prague in the late 50's — among other calamities that surround its construction, the artist's model who posed for Stalin ends up killing himself because everyone on the street has started calling him 'Stalin', and his psyche can't take it. Kafka is lurking around in more than one chapter, too, and I'm always happy to run into him.

  • Quanti
    2019-03-01 20:47

    Nenápadná, ale hodně silná sonda do duše české povahy. Portréty známých i méně známých osobností od Bati po Zdeňka Adamce, který se v roce 2003 upálil. Bavilo.

  • Eliška Vyhnánková
    2019-03-20 18:32

    Mám sto chutí dát jen čtyři hvězdičky za to, že byla moc krátká.

  • Jan
    2019-03-05 22:33

    Pakliže přijmeme hypotézu o specifických charakterech národů, musíme si nejspíš přiznat i jisté obtíže v rozpoznávání daných rysů při sebezkoumání. Zevnitř bude pohled vždy podléhat nějakému zkreslení, předsudkům a sebeklamu. Proto bychom se potom neměli divit, že je to právě někdo zvenčí, kdo dokáže tak trefně popsat naši národní diagnózu. Szczygiełovi se to podařilo bravurně, je to rozený novinář a tím nemyslím typického šmoka současné žurnalistické beznaděje. Myslím tím vzdělaného člověka na úrovni, s nadhledem a vynikajícím literárním nadáním, který dokáže vyprávět, skládat detaily, vtipně konfrontovat, dramatizovat a dovést k zamyšlení, aniž by si musel vymýšlet a všelijak ohýbat fakta (pokud nějaké vůbec má), vytahovat se nebo podlézat, aniž by psal na politickou objednávku nebo pro bulvární choutky. Gottland je chytrá esejistika, to především. Nemá zesměšnit ani dojmout, nemá prvoplánově bavit ani školometsky poučovat. Jen připomíná s pečlivou a citlivou "ironií" některé méně známé paradoxy, vzmachy i kolize našich dějin. Szczygieł píše přesně, výstižně, je radost to číst. Témata dokáže vybrat tak, aby je popsal skrze osobnosti a lidské osudy, přesto vždy vyjadřují obecnější ráz a z point nám někdy jejich jasným zdůvodněním až zatrne. Podařilo se opravdu zachytit jakýsi charakter. Ne typický český charakter ve dvacátém století - nic takového nejspíš ani neexistuje, ale charakter několika lidí, který někdy až podivně přesně korespondoval s charakterem dané doby. Oba Baťové v sobě snoubí neuvěřitelnou podnikavost, organizační talent a dechberoucí sebevědomí s monstrozními socialistickými projekty a plánováním lidského života. Lída Baarová vystupuje jako herečka, víc ve svém životě než na stříbrném plátně v prostředí, které neustále něco předstíralo a kde přetvářka moci pro dokonalost iluze zabíjela. Schizofrenní spisovatel Kirchberger/Fabián svým neustálým převlékáním ideologických kabátů dokonale odráží schizofrenii totalitního systému a bezradnosti člověka, který se chce hlavně zavděčit. Svědomí a strach sochaře Otakara Švece, který krutě doplatil na svou průměrnost právě v době která chtěla všechny zprůměrovat do nemyslících sebe se napodobujících otroků. A mnoho dalších na souvislosti bohatých příběhů. Někde snad chybí podrobnější zkoumání některých fenoménů (např. příliš jednoznačná interpretace pojmu "švejkování" a Švejka ve smyslu snahy zbavit se zodpovědnosti), nicméně je to právě útvar esejistický, až hravý, proto lze tyto nepatrné nedostatky určitě odpustit. Doporučuji všem, kdo chtějí s trochou ironické skepse nahlédnout do našeho "ducha dějin".

  • Przemek Skoczyński
    2019-02-24 18:41

    Spojrzenie na Czechów w okresie komunizmu. Mógłbym napisać, że trafne, gdybym mógł je zweryfikować (podobno wydaniu książki u naszych południowych sąsiadów towarzyszyły głosy protestu). Szczygieł nie tylko pisze bardzo sprawnie o moralnych dylematach w trudnych czasach, ale przede wszystkim pokazuje złożoność sytuacji, w jakich znaleźli się bohaterowie. Nic tu nie jest czarno-białe, autor nikogo nie waży się oceniać, przeciwnie - każda historia ma kilka aspektów. Wszystko można usprawiedliwić, bo też nikt z nas nie wie jak zachowałby się w tamtym czasie. Znane postacie z kręgu kultury i polityki, bywalcy salonów i przedsiębiorcy - znakomity portret wybranych, a w tle bardzo sugestywny obraz społeczeństwa, w którym postawa Szwejka (żyć tak,aby przetrwać) przeplata się z heroizmem dnia codziennego. Poleciłbym tę książkę szczególnie naszym politykom, tak łatwo ferującym wyroki w temacie ludzkich postaw w tamtych latach.

  • Arnost Stedry
    2019-03-09 00:32

    Je to napsáno novinářsky poutavě, což je zároveň zásadní slabina. Bohužel. Po odeznění prvotního nadšení ze situace: "polák píše se zaujetím a se sympatiemi o českých dějinách" je nutno dodat: "nepříliš přesně". Pokud bych zajel za kamarády do Varšavy, popil s nimi valně vodky a nechal si od nich převyprávět ty nejzajímavější kusy z polských dějin a druhý den ještě v kocovině ověřil to co jsem slyšel v okresní knihovně, asi bych nenapsal tak dobrou knihu jako Szcygiel, ale faktograficky velmi podobnou. Takže pozor, kniha sama je dobrá do hospodských diskusí, kdy zábava vázne, ale jako zdroj historických fakt ji opravdu nepoužívejte.

  • Semnebune
    2019-03-07 21:55

    „16 povestiri. Unele de zeci de pagini, altele de jumătate de foaie. Unele cu multe personaje, în care te încurci și a căror existență îți încurcă mecanismele de judecată; altele cu replici simple, aparent ușor de digerat. Câteva au personaje anonime – ca țăranul care povestește cum e cu frica. Cele mai multe au imagini celebre, atât de celebre încât nu-ți vine-a crede că e real, că tot ce citești printre rânduri s-a întâmplat.”de la sursă: Gottland – SemneBune

  • Bettie☯
    2019-03-11 18:58

    Description: Translated By B O D Y contributor Antonia Lloyd-Jones, this collection of essays captures the Czech national character through a series of discrete cultural portraits, including those of Kafka’s niece, the Czech Elvis, and the blowing up Stalin’s statue into non-existence. The original Polish publication by Mariusz Szczygieł won numerous awards when it appeared in 2008. Lloyd-Jones’s skilled translation retains the book’s puckish humor and keen insight.

  • Monika Zbínová
    2019-02-21 17:55

    Szczygiełove reportáže ma veľmi bavia, hoci tento žáner vôbec nevyhľadávam. Asi ma o čosi viac bavilo Udělej si ráj, ale omnoho známejší Gottland mu ide v tesnom závese - hoci som knihu čítala celkom dlho, je to taký kúsok na vychutnávanie si na balkóne s kávičkou a cigou v ruke.

  • Michal Procházka
    2019-03-04 22:39

    Excellent book. If you want to see a not distorted view about Czech republic, i.e. culture, society, it's a very good choice. It's neither defense, nor critism of Czech well-known personalities' (20th century) behavior. From Baťa to Palach. Golden Kids. Etc.

  • Martin
    2019-03-03 18:46

    Střípky z 20. století o kontroverzních či jinak zajímavých osobnostech naší země, objektivně posuzovány polským čechofilem ze mě udělaly zase o trochu většího vlastence.

  • Kika
    2019-02-21 23:58

    Opäť jedna bakalárková. Gottland Mariusza Szczygieła výborne predstavuje jeho puto k Čechom. Rozoberá tu mnohé výrazné postavy českej spoločnosti počínajúc pri Tomášovi Baťovi a končiac pri Jaroslave Moserovej. Nie každý človek mi bol známy, no reportáž ho výborne predstavila a zasadila na časovú os. Sem-tam taktiež pobaví, ale hlavne ponúka výber podstatných udalostí a osobností 20. storočia. Prvá polovica bola geniálna, nemohla som sa odtrhnúť, druhá mi už prišla trošku roztržitá, ale predsa podstatná. Knihu môžem vrelo odporučiť, keďže som nečakala, že ma to bude baviť až tak veľmi!4,5/5

  • anežka
    2019-02-25 00:35

    Naprosto dokonalé čtení. Pokud vás zajímají příběhy z časů noromanizace s dějovou linií (a tak srovnáním) do doby po roce 1989, rozhodně kniha stojí za přečtení. V knize nechybí příběh autora Stalinovy sochy na Letné nebo smutný příběh Marty Kubišové (a Golden Kids).

  • Artemisia
    2019-03-08 00:36

    pagina ventiquattroDurante la pausa gli uomini e le donne possono fare ciò che vogliono, tuttavia si raccomanda di: 1) distendersi sull'erba nella piazza del Lavoro (ogniqualvolta il tempo è bello); 2) non abbandonarsi all'ozio (la cosa migliore sarebbe leggere, con una riserva però: NON LEGGETE ROMANZI RUSSI - recita l'adagio, concepito da Bata, vergato sul muro del feltrificio. Perché? La risposta di Bata campeggia sul muro del gommificio: I ROMANZI RUSSI UCCIDONO LA GIOIA DI VIVERE)pagnia centonovantaquattro"Ero arrivata ad avere paura di tutto, persino di aspettare il tram. Nella mia testa vedevo il macchinista scendere e dirmi: 'Signora Kubisovà, lei non ha diritto di salire. Questo tram non è per lei!'"Un giorno ero a casa da sola. Pensai: 'Apro il gas'."Non posso avere un figlio"Non posso cantare."Non posso nemmeno divorziare normalmente!"Fu allora che avvertii in me una forza. Quel genere di forza che ci trasmettono gli animali. Guardai i miei cani. 'Mio Dio,' pensai. 'Che ne sarà di loro?' E mi riscossi."Anche Hrabal, mentre scarrozzava per Praga sul tram numero 17, attingeva la sua forza dagli animali. Lessi da qualche parte che nel suo caso si trattava di cigni. Il 17 passa lungo il corso della Moldava".

  • Кремена Михайлова
    2019-03-20 21:33

    „Когато през лятото на 1968 година Хавел бил в Щатите, там се срещнал с чешкия писател Егон Хостовски, който емигрирал веднага след комунистическия пуч през 1948 година. Хостовски му казал, че бил емигрирал от самия себе си.Толкова ужасно се страхувал от това, което можел да направи, ако останел.“„Филмът е готов, но не може да излезе със заглавието, което иска сценаристката. А тя би искала да се казва Бяла лъжа.Думата „лъжа“, също като думата „истина“, е забранена в изкуството и по време на „нормализацията“ нито една от тях не може да се използва. Друга легендана чехословашката Нова вълна, Вера Хитилова, не могла например да използва в един филм думата „мисля“. „Мисля, че…“ – казвал доста бавно актьорът, а приемната комисия решила, че той няма право толкова многозначително да мисли, защото това можело да се тълкува по много начини. А когато в една от сцените някакъв мъб се заключил, без да иска, в тоалетната и викал: „Затворен съм.“ Вера Хитлиова била принудена да изреже от филма цялата сцена.“„Разбрах, че клиниката за психично болни в Чехословакия е единственото нормално място, защото там всички могат безнаказано да говорят, каквото наистина мислят.“

  • Lucie
    2019-03-14 16:41

    „Svět bez Boha není možný, a tak v nejateističtější zemi světa, jakou je Česko, hraje příslušnou roli sedmašedesátiletá hvězda.“Prostřednictvím životních příběhů několika více i méně významných Čechů dvacátého století (např. Tomáše Bati, Lídy Baarové, Marty Kubišové, Karla Gotta, Otakara Švece, Jana Procházky, Jaroslavy Moserové,...) nastavuje Marius Szczygieł zrcadlo celému národu. Ač se nám odraz v něm nemusí vždy líbit, je to jedinečná možnost podívat se na ten náš „malý český rybníček“ cizíma očima, trošku s nadhledem. Škoda jen autorova přespříliš - alespoň na můj vkus - líbivého (místy až bulvárního) stylu psaní.

  • Libor
    2019-02-17 20:52

    Nechápu, co je na této knize tak úžasné, že je z toho takový bestseller. Je to určitě o něco zajímavější čtení než obvykle, asi tam je i pár nových zajímavých informací, ale od pohledu cizince na nás Čechy jsem tedy čekal více. Respektive jsem tam ten pohled nenašel, jen tři čtyři osudy jistě zajímavých lidí, které ale jako celek nepůsobí nijak koherentně. Název titulu odkazuje na dvoustránkové rýpnutí do Karla Gotta, který jen kolaborova s režimem jako každý druhý umělec a k tomu je bohužel politicky hloupý asi stejně jako Jiřina Bohdalová. Nic nového. Ale uzávám, že to rychle utíká...