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Review of Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century (Library Journal)

Press clipping: Research

Publication date15/06/13

Sayer's (cultural history, Lancaster Univ.) inspirations for this anticipated sequel to his Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History are Walter Benjamin's essays in his Arcades Project citing Paris as the capital of the 19th century. Sayer argues that 20th-century Prague can lay claim to witnessing the birth of the modern and postmodern world. Not only was Prague host or home to such pioneers of surrealism as André Breton and Franz Kafka, but its very history, encompassing so many transformations and conjunctions, gives it a kind of surreality itself, as the author seeks to show. Focusing his lens on the years from the 1914 outbreak of World War I to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Sayer argues Prague has been an important backdrop to the darker 20th century. Sayer "hopes to rummage amid the rags and refuse of yesterday's modernity in the hope of uncovering the dreamworlds that continue to haunt." While the author sets himself a daunting task, his detail-oriented approach proves successful. VERDICT Through both the breadth and depth of his knowledge, Sayer will reward the patient reader; in the surrealist fashion, he focuses on the seemingly mundane details to provide a true biography of Prague.


Original titleSocial Science Reviews Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century
AuthorKelsey Berry Philpott
PlaceNew Hampshire
MediumLibrary Journal