The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History
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.
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THE COASTS OF BOHEMIA: A Czech HistoryUser Review - Jane Doe - Kirkus
An unconventional and original look at Czech history, examining the "artifacts of national culture," both large and small. Sayer, a Canadian sociologist (University of Alberta, Edmonton) married to a ... Read full review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - RobertDay - LibraryThing
The title of this book is a quote from Shakespeare: "Thou art perfect then our ship hath touched upon the deserts of Bohemia?" ('The Winter's Tale'. Act 3, scene 3). No, he didn't know where Bohemia ... Read full review