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Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  769 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Rake, drunkard, aesthete, gossip, raconteur extraordinaire: the narrator of Bohumil Hrabal’s rambling, rambunctious masterpiece Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age is all these and more. Speaking to a group of sunbathing women who remind him of lovers past, this elderly roué tells the story of his life—or at least unburdens himself of a lifetime’s worth of stories. Thu ...more
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Published April 25th 2012 by NYRB Classics (first published 1964)
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The delicate swirls of bubbles that dash to greet the robust rim of the glass, the bashful flour that audaciously rises to an aromatic marvel and the musical notes of the hammer as it drums the quiescent nails into colourful leather, only if they had words attached to their expeditions could we have then known the chronicles of a far-fetched yeast and a wooden caricature of an yet unborn shoe. Aren't we lucky to be humans, to be able to knit words into our experiences? Isn't life beautiful even
At work I sit down in a chair and people come to me, sometimes drunk or maybe just schizophrenic, or both, and they talk to me or at me while I putz around the desk and drawers and hunt for pens, Can you give me 3 dollars for the bus? and a promise to pay me back on the first of the month, I always cave, it's amazing how you can train your eyes on someone without actually listening, maybe hearing but not listening, and then from the hum comes a lightning-bolt thought that makes you stop and wond ...more
This novella is in fact a single sentence, which gives it a breathless feel. It is the recollections of a man in his 70s told to a group of young women who are sunbathing. It is a telling of stories, most of them bawdy. They are about the narrator’s profession (shoemaking), his time in the army, but most of all his love life. There are lots of references to the European Renaissance, but if you are expecting references to Da Vinci or Michelangelo you’d be out of luck; it’s a euphemism for sex!
Mother of God, isn't life breathtakingly beautiful.

Joel bought me this book several years ago. It appeared so disjointed that I never truly considered it. Today the world was revealed as damp and overcast; reconciling myself to those conditions, Manchester United lost to City 6-1 and I slumped, to be polite. Reaching out, I heartily stumbled upstairs to scan our shelves and returned with Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age, coincidentally just as my wife was browsing reviews of such on this
Good-natured, a little randy, very much free-associative, a waltz of clauses strung together, periodless, though the idea that it's one sentence is a farce, unless "one sentence" is defined as tons of natural end-of-thought stopping/transition spots (deep breaths) marked by commas instead of periods, which, as in Saramago's stuff, particularly Blindness, effectively keeps eyes on pages, propels readers ahead, this sense of ceaselessly continuing created by a comma instead of a full stop, you see ...more
Кремена Михайлова
Бавно я четох поради липса на време, но мъничките порцийки ми бяха достатъчни, защото предполагам при по-голям обем наведнъж би настъпило размиване, четене по инерция. Няма начин да се запомнят всички неща от книжката, но ако се бърза, съвсем биха се слели тези късчета зарибяваща лудост.

За първи път си помислих, че Храбал е малко „ку-ку“ – в най- положителния и нормалния смисъл! ;)

Поредица от „бълваници“ , но не знам защо ме кефят толкова. На места черен хумор, направо страхотии – и пак се хиля?
I've been re-reading a lot of Raymond Chandler; in love with noir once again; confirming my younger self's high estimation of his books.

But after three Chandlers in a row, I needed a break. So I turned to Hrabal, one of my favorite authors. I know his books are as fast as Chandler and as smart. So I picked up one I've never read.

This book.

And it IS fast and it IS smart.

But it is reliant on you, the reader, loving the blabber-mouthed, self-important, facetious raconteur who is talking, non-stop,
A boozy, bawdy, blasphemous blowhard (he'll affront more than one of your sensibilities), Bohumil Hrabal's old Uncle Pepin blathers on ("palaver" is Hrabal's technical term) about his salad days amidst the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire. The beloved uncle appears elsewhere in Hrabal's ouevre but this is Pepin's solo performance, a bravura performance, hysterical and sad. "It's interesting how young poets think of death while old fogies think of girls."
Unreadable. Funny for a few pages, then endless repetition. Did not finish the book/sentence.
Много свеж и пъстър стил - чете се на един дъх. Напомня донякъде на Ромен Гари в "Голям гальовник" и в "Животът пред теб" и разбира се на Хашек.

..."Един мой братовчед, а, това е много интересна история, имаше брат близнак, кръстиха го Винцек, а брат му, близнака, Лудвичек, та като бяха по на годинка, майка им ги къпела в коритото, ама прескочила за малко до комшийката, а като се върнала след половин час, едното от близначетата се удавило и понеже нали били еднакви, как да се разбере сега кой от
Oscar Mora
La nómina de escritores que no recibieron el premio Nobel pese a merecerlo es amplia y discutible en varios aspectos. El propio Borges, uno de los casos más clamorosos, llegó a bromear cuando le preguntaban por el tema, asegurando que ya era una tradición que no se lo concedieran. De los autores que gozan de una popularidad menor, sin duda Bohumil Hrabal es uno de los autores cuya obra merece un reconocimiento que sólo el galardón de la academia sueca puede otorgar. “Trenes rigurosamente vigilad ...more
Hrabal had a reputation for frequenting Prague's pubs and football stadiums. This background provided the basis for a writing method developed by the author, which he termed "palavering" - "Whereby characters gab and soliloquize with abandon." (to quote the publisher).

In the context of DANCING LESSONS FOR THE ADVANCED IN AGE, it is one character, a man of advanced age, who does all the gabbing and soliloquizing. The entire novel, in fact, is comprised of one sentence - which contributes to the
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

“Clases de baile para mayores” de Bohumil Hrabal. Un insolente y divertido libertino

Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) es un escritor checo cuya obra se caracteriza “por una visión satírica de la realidad y la importancia que confiere a sus aspectos absurdos”. “Considerado uno de los más grandes autores del siglo XX en su lengua por su facilidad narrativa y el uso alternativo del humor y la tragedia en un mismo plano.” Nórdica nos trae ahora una de su
Based on the bawdy ramblings of Bohumil’s uncle, this one sentence ode to memory and life’s charming buffooneries is like running downhill without being able to stop. I honestly believe that this country, much less the world, is a better place now that this book is back in print. Please, sweet lord, bring back 'The Little Town Where Time Stood Still' for us. These books go so very well together.
Razvan Zamfirescu
Spicuiri din recenzia finala care se gaseste pe blogul meu


Bohumil Hrabal își alege un astfel de personaj, un bătrânel care o dă înainte cu aventurile sale din tinerețe. Fie că povestește despre aventuri amoroase, fie despre fabricarea berii sau despre viața din imperiul austro-ungar, bătrânul are o vervă și un debit de parcă a strâns tot aerul din lume în plămâni și-și spune toată viața dintr-o suflare de parcă ar fi ultima. Exact ca bătrânii pe care îi
"Not only may one imagine that what is higher derives always and only from what is lower; one may imagine that- given the polarity and, more important, the ludicrousness of the world- everything derives from its opposite: day from night, frailty from strength, deformity from beauty, fortune from misfortune. Victory is made up exclusively of beatings."- Ladislav Klima

Geez, talk about stream of consciousness. This is to the max, the whole book is one long sentence that jumps from ideas to ideas by
This fun quick read has a uniquely fluid narrative style that will keep you entertained and contented throughout and after. I have caught myself quoting some of the more memorable lines, and I think a few of them will thankfully remain as regulars of my internal monologue.
The funniest thing I've read since the final section of Evan Dara's The Easy Chain...full of bawdy one-liners that play on the semantic ambiguity created by the innumerable dangling clauses in this one-sentence novella--it's great.
Посмях се на всичките нелепици разказани толкова цветисто, а на моменти от бързото редене на думи, изкусното прехвърчане от една случка на друга се чувствах като пред главоблъсканица, ако се разсейвах.
Matt Kurjanowicz
A wonderful excursion into a palavering world. Funny. Well written. Difficult. Everything to look for in a book. Would recommend to anyone who wants a diversion from the normal formulaic design of modern novels.

Dancing Lessons is essentially the transcription of a man telling stories and boasting about his younger years or, even, just telling tall tales (*shocking*, right?).

The novel is a wondering tale, with one thought fragment leading into the next, sometimes looping back to older fragments,
Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age is, famously, comprised of only one sentence. This makes the style a little different from other of Hrabal's works but, no biggie: this book still reads well. The topics may seem disjointed and random, but the whole thing flows like speech, and it still has all the tragic humour and vaguely existential musings one expects from Hrabal. The format is certainly very experimental, but it is short enough and compelling enough to be read in one sitting, and I ve ...more
Rather delightful monologue with lots of suicides and dudes peeing on stuff.
I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by Hrabal in this book. The first Hrabal book I read, "I Served the King of England" was a real tour-de-force, as funny, literate, earthy, and touching as any novel I'd read in years. That experience encouraged me to then read "Closely Watched Trains", good but not nearly as good as "I Served..." and now this book, which I would rank even lower. Not that it doesn't have it amusing and trenchant moments, but it simply doesn't have the narrative force that ...more
Rake, drunkard, aesthete, gossip, raconteur extraordinaire: the narrator of Bohumil Hrabal’s rambling, rambunctious masterpiece "Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age" is all these and more. Speaking to a group of sunbathing women who remind him of lovers past, this elderly roué tells the story of his life—or at least unburdens himself of a lifetime’s worth of stories. Thus we learn of amatory conquests (and humiliations), of scandals both private and public, of military adventures and domesti ...more
My post on the book

I have enjoyed the works of Bohumil Hrabal to date and that streak continues with Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age. An 117-page sentence from an old shoemaker/brewmaster to some young ladies (he directly addresses them over a dozen times), the book wanders through many topics but often centers on his experiences. Not that he’s always nice to the young ladies, telling one that she’ll need falsies if she wants to be in a play with him while at the same time he tells her f
Jun 30, 2011 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys Czech lit.
Hrabal's Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age unfolds in one crazily meandering sentence, a stylistic tic that seems to be all the rage these days (see Enard's Zone.) But in this instance, the single-sentence game seems to work very well, as Hrabal is able to pivot easily from one outlandish story to another with only a comma. A typical story:

"...he was christened Vincek and his brother was christened Ludvíček, and when they were a year old their mother was bathing them in a tub and popped ou
A book that begs to be read in one sitting, a drunken monologue rendered by Hrabal in a fantastically erudite and maddening run-on sentence (to which this paltry review pays homage) while the aged, weathered, but oh-so-wise Jirka addresses an unspecified group of "young ladies" on subjects ranging from the role of the Czech monarchy in its heyday, the pursuit of love and sex through Jirka's inebriated and senile recollections ("it's interesting how young poets think of death while old fogies thi ...more
Jacqueline Wagenstein
Новелата, издадена през 1964 г. и достигала тираж от половин милион екземпляра, е сред най-експерименталните творби на Храбал. Повлияна от методите на сюрреализма, тя демонстрира някои от любимите разказвачески похвати на чешкия автор като монтажа и колажа. Състои се от едно-единствено изречение – низ от спомени, емоции, случки, абсурдни асоциации, мъдрости.

Бохумил Храбал (1914–1997) е фигура от европейския литературен канон на ХХ век, книгите му са преведени на близо 30 езика. Сред най-известн
May 17, 2012 Spiros rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who can appreciate a champion palaverer
Shelves: citylights
We encounter our protagonist, Jirka, as he is addressing an indeterminate number of "young ladies" on the subject of, well, his life and times; what follows is one massive run-on sentence which has no period. A fairly representative stretch: "but all at once we heard a scream outside the door, well, what happened was the blacksmith was so drunk they foisted a real hag off on him, but he switched on his flashlight and burst out of the room in his underpants, smashing the railing to smithereens an ...more
Pete Young
An unnamed narrator holds forth to a group of ladies he obviously wants to impress on matters such as marital strife, dream symbolism, personal hygeine, crooks, barmaids, balalaikas, unlikely personal dalliances and anything else that comes to mind, all in one rambling, tumbling, obscenely long and unfinished sentence that’s clearly meant to be taken with a massive pinch of salt. As with other books by Hrabal (for instance the bizarrely worthwhile Too Loud a Solitude and Closely Observed Trains) ...more
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NYRB Classics: Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age, by Bohumil Hrabal 1 5 Oct 22, 2013 11:44AM  
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Born in Brno-Židenice, Moravia, he lived briefly in Polná, but was raised in the Nymburk brewery as the manager's stepson.

Hrabal received a Law degree from Prague's Charles University, and lived in the city from the late 1940s on.

He worked as a manual laborer alongside Vladimír Boudník in the Kladno ironworks in the 1950s, an experience which inspired the "hyper-realist" texts he was writing at t
More about Bohumil Hrabal...
Too Loud a Solitude I Served the King of England Closely Watched Trains Postřižiny The Little Town Where Time Stood Still

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“… затова и поетът Бонди ми казваше, че истинската поезия трябвало да причинява болка, все едно сте забравили в носната си кърпичка ножче за бръснене и като се секнете, си порежете носа, затова и добрата книга не е тая, дето приспива читателя, а тая, дето го кара да скочи от леглото и както си е по долни гащи, да хукне при господин писателя и да му разбие физиономията, тогава бе така, защото по австрийско мъжът бе отговорен за душата на жената си направо пред Бога…” 2 likes
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