Letters from England
A&C Black, Sep 22, 2004 - Literary Collections - 192 pages
Karel Capek's 'Letters from England' have established themselves as masterpieces of observation. The letters and drawings are humorous, insightful and imbued by a profound humanity. They convey a bemused admiration for England and the English. First published in the nineteen twenties in Lidovc Noviny, the Czechoslovak national newspaper, Capek's Letters from England quickly established themselves as masterpieces of observation, and classics of modern Czech prose. The letters described Europe's oldest democracy for the benefit of the citizens of Europe's newest, and Capek was acutely aware of the deep-down affinity between his countrymen and the English. The same understated humour, the same unflappability, the same quiet search for peace, home and comfort, the same love of nature and animals, served to unite the two people, both then and now. Shortly after Letters from England appeared, Czechoslovakia was betrayed by Britain at Munich, and handed over to Hitler. Capek died shortly afterwards of a broken heart. The book was promptly banned by the Nazis, and published by the exile press, with an English translation by Paul Selver, in London. It was again published in Czechoslovakia in 1946, but, after a brief period, was banned again by the communists. This is a completely new English translation. Letters from England, timely when it first appeared, is yet more timely today, when the English need to be reminded of qualities that once were a source of pride to themselves and admiration to others.
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