The Little Town Where Time Stood Still
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The Little Town Where Time Stood Still

Bohumil Hrabal, James Naughton (University of Oxford UK), Professor of Political Science Joshua Cohen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

The Little Town Where Time Stood Still contains two linked narratives by the incomparable Bohumil Hrabal, whom Milan Kundera has described as Czechoslovakia’s greatest writer. Cutting It Short is set before World War II in a small country town, and it relates the scandalizing escapades of Maryska, the flamboyant wife of Francin, who manages the local brewery. Maryska drinks. She rides a bicycle, letting her long hair fly. She butchers pigs, frolics in blood, and leads on the local butcher. She’s a Madame Bovary without apologies driven to keep up with the new fast-paced mechanized modern world that is obliterating whatever sleepy pieties are left over from the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Little Town Where Time Stood Still is told by Maryska and Francin’s son and concerns the exploits of his Uncle Pepin, who holds his own against the occupying Nazis but succumbs to silence as the new post-World War II Communist order cements its colorless control over daily life. Together, Hrabal’s rousing and outrageous yarns stand as a hilarious and heartbreaking tribute to the always imperiled sweetness of lust, love, and life.

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