I Served the King of England (New Directions Classic)
In a comic masterpiece following the misadventures of a simple but hugely ambitious waiter in pre-World War II Prague, who rises to wealth only to lose everything with the onset of Communism, Bohumil Hrabal takes us on a tremendously funny and satirical trip through 20th-century Czechoslovakia.First published in 1971 in a typewritten edition, then finally printed in book form in 1989, I Served the King of England is "an extraordinary and subtly tragicomic novel" (The New York Times), telling the tale of Ditie, a hugely ambitious but simple waiter in a deluxe Prague hotel in the years before World War II. Ditie is called upon to serve not the King of England, but Haile Selassie. It is one of the great moments in his life. Eventually, he falls in love with a Nazi woman athlete as the Germans are invading Czechoslovakia. After the war, through the sale of valuable stamps confiscated from the Jews, he reaches the heights of his ambition, building a hotel. He becomes a millionaire, but with the institution of communism, he loses everything and is sent to inspect mountain roads. Living in dreary circumstances, Ditie comes to terms with the inevitability of his death, and with his place in history.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - technodiabla - LibraryThing
What a glorious novel. Set in pre- to post-WW2, it tells the life story of a Czech busboy turned millionaire who loses everything (or does he?) The writing style changes as the man matures. The first ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - Clurb - LibraryThing
A first-person account of working in Czechoslovakia's hotel industry around the war years, which was full of funny anecdotes but ambled and dragged its heels. I had to give up about three quarters of the way through in despair of reaching the end and having had nothing happen. Read full review