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Review of Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century

Press clipping: Research

Publication date15/06/13

"Paris may have been the capital of the nineteenth century, as Walter Benjamin
observed, but for Sayer it is Prague—with its avant-garde impulses, erotic
subcurrents, political contradictions, and moments of hideous violence—that best
exemplifies the twentieth. Yet Prague “offers slim pickings for grand
narratives, least of all for grand narratives of progress,” and therefore,
suggests Sayer, the best way to reveal the Czech nucleus of culture at the
crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe is through the dark mirror of
surrealism. And so this selection is both an examination of the Prague
experiences of André Breton, Guillaume Apollinaire, Vítězslav Nezval, and other
surrealists, and a surrealist document in its own right, revealing its truths in
a big, messy knot of jarring juxtapositions, playful obscenities, and found
objects of profound beauty. Though some may find themselves frustrated by this
fragmentary, nonlinear approach, readers up for the challenge will likely find
themselves delighted by Sayer’s erudition as he reintroduces dozens of figures,
many long forgotten or scarcely known to non-Czechs, into our understanding of
twentieth-century cultural history."

For full text see: http://www.booklistonline.com/Prague-Capital-of-the-Twentieth-Century-A-Surrealist-History-Derek-Sayer/pid=6152060


Original titlePrague, Capital of the Twentieth Century
AuthorBrendan Driscoll