DescriptionIn 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.
New Directions Publishing Corporation
May 31, 2007
6.58 X 0.65 X 7.96 inches | 0.6 pounds
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About the Author
Bohumil Hrabal was born in 1914 in Brno-Zidenice, Moravia. He received a degree in Law from Prague's Charles University, and lived in Prague since the late 1940s. In the 1950s he worked as a manual laborer in the Kladno ironworks, from which he drew inspiration for his "hyper-realist" texts he was writing at that time. He won international acclaim for such books as I Served the King of England and Too Loud a Solitude. Hrabal is considered, along with Jaroslav Hasek and Karel Capek, one of the greatest Czech writers of the 20th century, and perhaps the most important in the postwar period.
Paul Wilson has translated books by Václav Havel, Bohumil Hrabal, Ivan Klima and Josef Skvorecký. He lives in Canada.