Prague is the magic capital of Europe. Since the days of Emperor Rudolf II, ” devotee of the stars and cultivator of the spagyric art”, who in the. Prague Pictures: A Portrait of the City (Writer and the City.) [John Banville] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The fourth book in. Prague Pictures: Portraits of a City (Writer and the City) [John Banville] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Prague is the magic capital of.

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Perhaps Prague is one of those mysterious places that act as a distortive mirror and anyone who looks there sees an aspect of themselves that they prxgue knew existed. Lists with This Book. Here is the latest installment in Bloomsbury’s fascinating Writer in the City series, which matches well-known writers with cities with which they are intimately familiar.

To know enough – here, even more than usual, because what you are selling is facts – you have to know too much. His father worked in a garage and died when Banville was in his early thirties; his mother was a housewife.

For this to work, the reader has to believe that, whichever doors the writer opens – or even leaves unopened – he will have something interesting and authoritative to say. I’ve only ever felt pdague way about cities that I’ve fallen in love in.

I had a couple of them in Japanese some years ago and my wife met a Japanese woman who said that she had read the books. You almost can’t afford to make friends now in the cities that one goes to.

Prague Pictures

We just don’t care about literatures outside the Anglophone world. I always remember how a novel written by John Braine in the s about working-class life in England, which was called Room at the Top, which was translated into Swedish as The Attic!

His first book, Long Lankin, was published in From Here is the latest installment in Bloomsbury’s fascinating Writer in the City series, which matches well-known writers with cities with which they are intimately familiar.

I greatly appreciated Banville’s descriptions of the subtleties of the city, for example its inhabitants’ tendency to 3. His research facts although interesting ptague presented in a plodding pedantic way that I found tedious and times even odious.


It is entirely appropriate that John Banville described Prague before he ever went there. He writes of his first visit to the city, in the depths of banvlle Cold War, and of subsequent trips there, of the people he met, the friends he made, the places he came to know.

The book begins with the author’s first visit to Prague, during the cold war, but as we go deeper into the book, we also go deeper into the city’s history. Indeed, I have had some fine meals there over the years. This was not a poor read but an inconsistent and frustrating one. Jan 03, Mark rated it liked it Shelves: One can eat badly anywhere.

Topics Books The Observer. Banville has two adult sons with his wife, the American textile artist Janet Dunham. Thanks for telling us about the problem. It strikes me as unusual that as a fan I wouldn’t know the man was an amputee, but there you have it.

The author visited in winter and found that, despite the frigid greyness of Soviet-backed authority, the city of his imagining still could present itself glittering and intact. At least I find it so. The photographs were the work banvilpe Josef Sudek, one of Prague’s great obsessives – no other city seems so to hoard hoarders – who, after he lost his arm in the First World War, devoted himself to a lifelong study of the texture of Prague’s light, as captured on an ancient Kodak panoramic camera.

Jun 13, Amy Paget rated it it was amazing. Everybody was expressing great outrage about it, but Jhon thought to myself, ‘Well, why not?

Prague is intelligent but deeply biased. I wonder if you sometimes feel some trepidation about what your translated work might end up as?

One time I was there for several weeks and grew to love her confusing, schizophrenegenic way whereas on the shorter visits I was simply enchanted. Refresh and try again. In Czech Books this week, we look at award-winnning Irish writer John Banville’s relationship with Prague, a city which features in a number of his books, including his personal travelogue Prague Pictures and the historical novel Kepler, which is set in Prague during the reign of Emperor Rudolph II.


Mar 25, Lewis Martin rated it really liked it. In his novel, Kepler ofBanville alchemised brilliantly the city of the seventeenth century out of scraps and fragments of research.

Stern is promptly apprehended as a suspect and imprisoned. I’m doing my best to not be too rude about it, but oh my God that Czech food Banville has not written a guidebook but rather, johj his own words, “a handful of recollections, variations on a theme”–snapshots, if you like, of the city’s past and present.

I often read this type of travelogue and been frustrated as it is more about the author than the place.

John Banville: Using words to paint pictures of “magical” Prague | Radio Prague

Banville is that rare writer who can pack all five senses into one declarative sentence. Inspired me to visit, which I did a couple of months ago. A long chapter on Tycho Brahe and Kepler – fully a quarter of the book – barely touches on Banvikle.

In a word it gets a big “Meh”, and off it goes to the “donate” pile.

First person absent

Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. Many of his subsequent visits were while the Communist regime persisted, and johb book is a meditation on survival as well as on memory.

Using words to paint pictures of “magical” Prague Coilin O’Connor. Iohn one of the foremost chroniclers of the modern European experience, a panoramic view of a city that has seduced and bewitched visitors for centuries.

My only reservation is that the long chapter about 16th century astronomy doesn’t really fit with the rest o I have a friend who wrote his PhD thesis on Banville, so I tried reading his novel The Sea and failed utterly.

Now, 2 years post-Prague, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. He may have no idea who killed Kroll but he knows only too well the fate of those who displease the emperor.