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Mary Neuburger, Chair BUR 452, 2505 University Avenue, Stop F3600, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-3607

Fall 2009

CZ 324 • From Kafka to Kundera: The Czech Novel

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
45785 TTh
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
GAR 3.116

Course Description

"As we know, the absurd and comic dimensions of the world are always best seen from below." — Václav Havel Czech literature and history are intimately bound, and the history of the Czechs has often been a painful one. For centuries, literature has served as a means to respond to historical events—from the repression of the Hapsburg Empire through the totalitarian regimes of the Nazis and Soviets. Our survey of the Czech novel takes us through the nightmarish world of Kafka's The Trial, the Alcoholic Realism of Jaroslav Hašek and Bohumil Hrabal, and up to the cranky Postmodernism of Milan Kundera. The purpose of the course is to introduce you to some of the finest “culturally engaged” novels of Central and Eastern Europe, novels that open up worlds that are recognizable, yet curiously different from our own.

Grading Policy

Papers: 60%; Exams: 20%; Attendance: 5%; Critiques: 10%; Participation: 5%


Franz Kafka, The Trial Jaroslav Hašek, The Good Soldier Švejk (Penguin) Karel ?apek, Three Novels (Catbird) Josef Škvorecký, The Cowards Bohumil Hrabal, I Served the King of England (Harcourt Brace) Bohumil Hrabal, Too Loud a Solitude (Harcourt) Vladimír Páral, Lovers & Murderers (Catbird) Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (HarperPerennial)


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