E 322 • Modern Czech Literature
3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Note: Previously offered as 20th-Century Czech Literature.
The course will examine the 20th-century prose literature of a nation that has been annexed and traded off among German, Austrian, and Soviet powers for most of its existence. Such a perilous history has created an oddly humble, modest, and quirky people, whose view of the world is darkly humorous yet unassumingly "philosophical."
We begin with a brief outline of Czech literary history and the development of 19th-century Czech prose against the background of world literature. Our focus, however, will be on Czech 20th-century masterworks by Milan Kundera, Jaroslav Hasek, Karel Capek, Bohumil Hrabal, and Václav Havel, among others. We will read works from all three literary currents--official, underground, and exile--and thereby try to come to an understanding of the Czechs.
Three 6-8-page papers, the first of which will be rewritten 25% each
Two exams 10% each
Weekly critiques and participation 5%
Jaroslav Hasek, The Adventures of the Good Soldier Svejk
Karel Capek, War with the Newts
Bohumil Hrabal, The Death of Mr. Baltisberger, I Served the King of England, Too Loud a Solitude
Josef Skvorecky, The Cowards
Milan Kundera, The Joke
Vladimir Páral, Catapult
Michal Viewegh, Bringing Up Girls In Bohemia
Jirë Weil, Life With a Star