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Review of Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century (Quarterly Review)

Press clipping: Research

Publication date1/11/13

Review of Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century by Stoddart Martin in Quarterly Review.  "For those who have been there, this intellectual, historical, geographical excursion may call up memories, phantoms, desire, nostalgia. For those who have not, it may seem somewhat hallucinatory. There is no easy path through it, and its great walls of rhetoric scintillate and distract the reader from his way. That, one presumes, is part of the intention: to envelope you in an ethos from which there is no sure egress; to hold you there long enough so that a kind of Oblomov syndrome sets in. Nerviness to get on – to the point, to an exit – begins to lose grip and, as if you were sitting over some greenish libation in a smoky café, with fog out the window and dank of river on the air, you start to slip into a mild acceptance. A fiddle plays somewhere, or accordion. And who is that pallid creature loitering over there, and what language is it – or is it many – massaging my ears? You begin to think yes, this is where I belong, or anyhow find myself, and am inclined to stay. It may be a bit weird or disjointed, but in a quite seductive way, and besides I’m inexplicably beat or, no – oddly content – so why should I stir? I have come to a place which seems to accept me, for now. Maybe it’s just shrugging its shoulders, or doesn’t care; whatever, it is enough. Let the rest float. Tomorrow may be tragic, but… what is that aura descending? sheer whimsy? dolce far niente? No, I recognize it: isn’t it our old and sweet shape-shifting friend – la vie de bohème?"


Original titleLa Bohême. Stoddart Martin visits Prague by proxy
AuthorStoddart Martin
MediumQuarterly review