I Served the King of England
deluxe Prague hotel in the years before World War II.
I wasn't quite sure what to make of this novel at first, with its page-long sentences, dearth of female characters and absurdist, fairy-tale undertones. B...more
I was actually trying to find another book by Hrabal : Closely Watched Trains , but the library only had this. I'm glad I picked it up, as it was a joy to read from start to finish, and much more serious and thought provoking than the comedy of the first pages let me believe. Probably, the book would not qualify as a 'hidden gem' with a 4+ rating from 4000 votes and an inclusion into one of those '1001 books to read before you die' lists, but I still think it is underappreciated and worthy of...more
Ако можеше да се снима лицето ми от началото до края… От спонтанно хилене, през леко помръкване, до горещи, „дълбоки“ сълзи.
Не е книга, в която четях всеки ред, за да не пропусна нещо от сюжета (в началото си мислех, че може да ми дотегне от чисто ресторантьорски истории и майтапи), а заради плодовитостта на езика (към края обаче се оказа, че именно развитието на героя е най-важното). Тук видях и „най-артистичните“ еротични сцени; „ряпа да...more
This was my...more
The Globe girl recommended this masterpiece as an alternative. One of those lucky accidents in life! This book makes you realise that Milan Kundera turned into a boring old has-been after his glory days of The Unbearable Lightness of Being and The Joke. Once you start Hrabal's comic trip through pre-war, Nazi, and communist Prag...more
"E l’incredibile che diveniva realtà non mi aveva abbandonato, e io in quell’incredibile ci credevo, in quella sorprendente sorpresa, in quello stupore, era quella la mia buona stella che mi aveva accompagnato per tutta la vita, forse solo per dimostrare a se stessa che da qualche parte l’aspetta sempre qualcosa di sorprendente, e io, col bagliore di quella stella sempre davanti agli occhi, io ci credevo...more
From the back cover of the New Directions edition:
First published in 1971 as a typewritten edition, then finally printed in book form in 1989, I served the King of England is a comic novel 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, Emperor of Ethiopia. It is one of the great moments in his life. Eventually, he f
So Ditie is also a desperate social climber. He waits on people but desires their fancy ties and greatly desires to put on airs in public as they do. There’s a splendid...more
It's many things at once. This translation is a lively read capturing Czech humor, and commenting on the absurdities of history, and motivations of both its protagonist and the antagonists. The book follow's Jan Dite's life as he works his way up in hotel restaurants in a quest to be a millionare. The novel is pop...more
Criticism: the female characters are pretty flat, and are typically either prostitutes or Nazis.
Nonetheless, this is a beautiful book.
A fost odată ca niciodată, că, de n-ar fi, nu s-ar mai povesti; de când făcea plopul pere și răchita micșunele; de când se băteau urșii în coade; de când se luau de gât lupii cu mieii, de se sărutau înfrățindu-se; de când se potcovea puricele la un picior cu nouăzeci și nouă ocale de fier și s-arunca î...more
BUT it really does pick up after the nazis take over and he begins to think a bit. also: the millionaire section is quite funny.
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