The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, 2000 - History - 442 pages
6 Reviews

In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare gave the landlocked country of Bohemia a coastline--a famous and, to Czechs, typical example of foreigners' ignorance of the Czech homeland. Although the lands that were once the Kingdom of Bohemia lie at the heart of Europe, Czechs are usually encountered only in the margins of other people's stories. In The Coasts of Bohemia, Derek Sayer reverses this perspective. He presents a comprehensive and long-needed history of the Czech people that is also a remarkably original history of modern Europe, told from its uneasy center.

Sayer shows that Bohemia has long been a theater of European conflict. It has been a cradle of Protestantism and a bulwark of the Counter-Reformation; an Austrian imperial province and a proudly Slavic national state; the most easterly democracy in Europe; and a westerly outlier of the Soviet bloc. The complexities of its location have given rise to profound (and often profoundly comic) reflections on the modern condition. Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hasek, Karel Capek and Milan Kundera are all products of its spirit of place. Sayer describes how Bohemia's ambiguities and contradictions are those of Europe itself, and he considers the ironies of viewing Europe, the West, and modernity from the vantage point of a country that has been too often ignored.

The Coasts of Bohemia draws on an enormous array of literary, musical, visual, and documentary sources ranging from banknotes to statues, museum displays to school textbooks, funeral orations to operatic stage-sets, murals in subway stations to censors' indexes of banned books. It brings us into intimate contact with the ever changing details of daily life--the street names and facades of buildings, the heroes figured on postage stamps--that have created and recreated a sense of what it is to be Czech. Sayer's sustained concern with questions of identity, memory, and power place the book at the heart of contemporary intellectual debate. It is an extraordinary story, beautifully told.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
1
4 stars
2
3 stars
1
2 stars
1
1 star
1

Review: The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History

User Review  - Thomas Paul - Goodreads

If a book claims to be a history of a place, then it should at least give the reader decent coverage of the history of that place. But this book fails in that most basic requirement. The author is ... Read full review

Review: The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History

User Review  - Frank Rogers - Goodreads

I started this before I knew anything much about Czech history/lit/art, and found it hopeless. Then I read it after I'd lived there for a while and thought it was one of the most interesting books ... Read full review

Contents

V
18
VI
22
VII
25
VIII
29
IX
35
X
42
XI
53
XII
62
XVIII
118
XIX
127
XX
141
XXI
147
XXII
154
XXIII
163
XXIV
176
XXV
184

XIII
69
XIV
82
XV
88
XVI
98
XVII
107
XXVI
195
XXVII
208
XXVIII
221
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 3 - The sameness of a person or thing at all times or in all circumstances; the condition or fact that a person or thing is itself and not something else; individuality, personality.
Page 3 - The quality or condition of being the same in substance, composition, nature, properties, or in particular qualities under consideration; absolute or essential sameness; oneness.

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2000)

Derek Sayer is Professor of Cultural History at Lancaster University and a former Canada Research Chair at the University of Alberta. His previous books include "The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History" (Princeton) and "Capitalism and Modernity." He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Bibliographic information