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Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  990 Ratings  ·  110 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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Feb 20, 2016 Seemita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: rebels that don't lose steam, ever
This little novella can, at once, be discarded as a long, never-ending chapter on corporeal pursuits from the life book of a mindless rambler, a libidinous exhorter, a senile raconteur. And for some part, one might be right in doing so. If disaster has struck you due to your prolonged exposure to the skin junk processed and reprocessed on electronic and print media, you might not be cajoled to hold back even for a second from trashing this, their way.

But despite my reservations, I sat next to th
Feb 18, 2014 Praj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hsk

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
Jun 21, 2015 Paul rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european-novels
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!
Jun 21, 2015 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 29, 2011 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
Mientras Leo
Sep 10, 2016 Mientras Leo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Qué divertido y entrañable acaba resultando este anciano y qué bien lo cuenta el autor
Justin Evans
Nov 19, 2015 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm always fascinated by experiments that just don't work, and here's one: yes, this novella is one unfinished sentence, supposedly. But Hrabal is too good a writer not to compose units of meeting within that sentence, so really it's a bunch of sentences with commas instead of full stops. That's not much of a criticism, because it's very well written (and/or very well translated).

Otherwise, there's not much to say. It's short, it's heartbreaking, it's hilarious, and, as other reviewers have not
Mar 07, 2014 Troy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
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,
Aditya Singh
Sep 08, 2016 Aditya Singh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I always thought that Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age stood as Hrabal’s most popular work owing to it being written in a single, superfluous sentence, a sentence that doesn’t have a period mark even when the novel ends; that the work when separated from the technique, would fail to stand on its own.

Last night, I picked out Dancing Lessons from my TBR pile, only to be proven wrong. The technique is far from superfluous; using a single stream of consciousness Hrabal playfully meanders with
Jul 12, 2015 dete rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
бях на двайсет и една, имах толкова енергия, че можех да осветявам цяла седмица Прага с нея

негрите са по-скоро поети, те вярват, че разгъва да изядат всичко, що им падне, крещят и подскачат, с кралят им седи гол на ърона, в ръцете му - вила, и кралицата му има отхорр си метнат само такъв един тензух, да не ѝ кацат мухите по прелестите, пък като им умре някой,едната му половина погребват, а другата си я хапват

другите се връщаха от гурбет водени от
I wasn’t too impressed with this book by Hrabal and obviously too loud a solitude is way way better in my opinion. The book is about a cobbler who seems to seduce many different women and Hrabal tells tales of his exploits in a very humorous way at times but that was about it for me. Again maybe parts of it were lost in translation but I couldn’t engage with this short c.100 page book. In many ways it reminded me of the unbearable lightness of being but without the philosophy attached. Short eno ...more
Jan 11, 2016 D.L. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My DH introduced me to an old Scots word 'smyster' - to idle sitting over a fire; to talk or laugh to oneself, as in a daydream. It was about as apropos as it comes since I was reading this at the time. I kept imagining some lonesome wrinkly letting loose his torrent of memory and regret over a rapidly depleting bottle of local brew. Of course this image is often peppered with his frequently assumed audience of "ladies". Real or imagined, rapt or captive you decide. It's at times thoughtful bits ...more
May 03, 2011 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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."
Mar 23, 2014 D rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unreadable. Funny for a few pages, then endless repetition. Did not finish the book/sentence.
Kobe Bryant
A guy rambles for 100 pages
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
Luis Celhay
Aug 16, 2016 Luis Celhay rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Espantoso libro de una persona de edad, pero si les dije, no tenía una sola pausa, en el bar de la esquina hablaban de Trump, no era nada, ni tampoco el libro, Pero me dio dolor de cabeza leer esa cosa
Nov 17, 2015 Will rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"...potom brácha ten brovnink rozmontoval a už jsme to nedali dohromady, chtěli jsme se ze zoufalství zastřelit, ale nemohli jsme ten brovnink dát dohromady, to bylo naše štěstí, tak já jsem mohl kdykoliv přijít za slečinkama ke kostelu, vždycky jsem přišel nastrojenej, štráfový kalhoty, jak bankovní úředník a posadil jsem se na hilznu od minimaxu, jak diplomat, sluníčko svítilo a ty slečny ležely v plavkách na dekách, jako nějakej spolek 'Ctitelů slunce', bylo jich šest a ležely na znaku s ruka ...more
Oscar Mora
Mar 12, 2015 Oscar Mora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Felix Purat
Apr 08, 2016 Felix Purat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bohumil Hrabal has been on my list for some time now. How could such an important writer, from a tradition and culture I love, not be on that list? But because he was quite prolific it was hard choosing a first novel to read by him, and I’m still not sure I made the right choice. But by choosing Dancing Lessons For the Advanced in Age (they had it at my library, and it was short enough to read during my recent trip), I don’t think I made the worst choice either.

This novella is one of those stor
May 27, 2011 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 21, 2009 Tuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this may not be for everyone, its sort of like that old man at the country store, who starts to tell a story, and 3 hours later, he's STILL telling it, with asides, genealogies, history lessons, lies, partial lies, whole truths, and maybe even a conclusion. its funny, some of the reviewers on goodreads say its like talking to a drunk person, but i assure, its just old age. hahaha
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
Aug 08, 2016 Ruben rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Everything I like about Hrabal's surreal, imaginative style, prose and stories is greatly diminished in Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age. In this book, Hrabal provides a list of vulgar, silly incidents that unfortunately aren't funny in my eyes, nor are these incidents presented in an effective or interesting manner. It's almost literary slapstick: pow!, someone's limb flies off; bam!, someone urinates in someone else's face; whoosh! someone flies through the window, etc. The WOW!-factor ...more
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.
Jun 23, 2016 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-2016
Take a breath and plunge into the memories of an old man speaking to a group of young beauties...told in a stream of consciousness without a period from beginning to end. It is earthy Czech humor at its best, skewering the pretentious, weaving in tall tales and fantasies, embedded in history.
"And where does the first egg come from? and the freethinkers yelled, From nature! and the missionaries yelled, Which God created! and before long they were knocking each other's blocks off and the church l
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NYRB Classics: Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age, by Bohumil Hrabal 1 9 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...

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“No book worth its salt is meant to put you to sleep, it's meant to make you jump out of your bed in your underwear and run and beat the author's brains out.” 116 likes
“… 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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