Closely Watched Trains
Hrabal's postwar classic about a young man's coming of age in German-occupied Czechoslovakia is among his most beloved and accessible works. Closely Watched Trains is the subtle and poetic portrait of Milos Hrma, a timid young railroad apprentice who insulates himself with fantasy against a reality filled with cruelty and grief. Day after day as he watches trains fly by, he torments himself with the suspicion that he himself is being watched and with fears of impotency. Hrma finally affirms his manhood and, with a sense of peace and purpose he has never known before, heroically confronts a trainload of Nazis.
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army asked beautiful began Benesov black stallion block-system blood blue Bohumil Hrabal boots Bretislav captain Closely Watched Trains cloth coat cooing Cool World Councillor Zednicek Count of Luxembourg Countess curtain Czech Czechoslovakia dead Dispatcher Hubicka Dobrovice door drew dropped engine-driver express mail eyes feet felt fingers floor gazing Great-grandfather Luke green hand head heard horse Hrabal Hradec Hradec Kralove knew lamp Lansky last wagon laughed leaned Legend of Cain legs line number locomotive looked marching Masha Milos Hrma Mutti never night Noneman opened painting passenger train patcher photograph pigeon-loft pigeons platform Polish silver-points Prague railway round scar shook shot signal snow socialist realism stamps standing staring station station-master station-master's couch station-master's office station-master's wife stood tank telegraph table telegraphist's thing ticking took track Traffic Chief traffic office train chief turned ventilator shaft Viktoria Freie waiting-room whole window wings wrist