Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále” as Want to Read:
Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  2,978 ratings  ·  218 reviews
Od dvacátých do padesátých let prožívá svůj příběh od mládí snaživý a podnikavý muž, který touží po bohatství, po lásce a uznání ve své profesi a poznává život od vybrané společnosti a velkého světa po věznění a osamocení v opuštěném pohraničí, kde končí jako cestář. Existenciální téma autor nepojímá tragicky. Hlavnímu hrdinovi samota umožňuje zbavit se touhy po majetku a ...more
Hardcover, 203 pages
Published 1990 by Československy spisovatel (first published 1971)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Nicole~
Man's body and spirit are indestructible...he is merely changed or metamorphized
- Bohumil Hrabal, I Served the King of England (1971).

Hrabal's satirically political, erotically imagined and poignant adventure story follows the rise and fall of a young busboy Ditie (Czech for 'child') who, despite his diminutive stature, possesses big dreams and the determination to become a millionaire to be the equal of everyone else: is influenced by his father's advice to have an aim in life because then he'd
...more
Algernon

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
Lena
This is a highly regarded mid-century novel by an acclaimed Czech writer that wasn't translated into English until late last century. It tells the story of Ditie, an impoverished youth who starts work selling hot dogs in a train station and works his way up through the service industry as life around him is torn asunder by the second World War.

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
Кремена Михайлова
Книга, която едновременно разсмива и разплаква до сълзи!
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
Josh
Great characters don't die: take Svejk for example. Last seen hunting mongrels to smuggle into the purebred boudoirs of gullible dowagers , he emerges, after a Van Winklian absence, in the novels and persona of Bohumil Hrabal, arguably central Europe's greatest pure novelist of the post WWII era (by "pure novelist" here I mean something like what sportswriters mean when they describe a basketball player as a "pure shooter" or "pure point guard": nobility, heredity, mystical powers). I Served the ...more
Chris
This is one of the rare cases where I saw the movie well before I read the book. In part, I think my reaction to the book is because of what I saw with movie. Tracing the rise and fall of a busboy during the mid-1900s, I Served the King of England is a brew of humor, strangeness and beauty. It is impossible, though the movie came very close; to capture the absolute beauty of the language, even as it appears in translated form.

It’s strange because it is the beauty of the language that possesses
...more
Kaloyana
Помитащ текст! Не знам дали тази книга се чете на един дъх, защото колкото повече напредва текстът, толкова повече ти спира дъхът и усещаш, че честичко преглъщаш буцата, която ти засяда в гърлото. Но се чете за един ден. Особено след първата глава. Писането на Храбъл ми напомни за Балзак - писал е сякаш без да спре, без да се откъсне, а точките и запетаите са сложени само от уважение към граматиката. А и за да си избършеш някоя и друга сълза. Цялата книга е един поток от думи, който се завихря к ...more
Mike Nettleton
I don't read much fiction these days, but when I do, I often go for or back to Hrabal. Even though Kundera is probably the best known Czech writer (and another favorite) Hrabal is considered the grandaddy. They cover many of the same themes — communism, relationships, sex — but their styles couldn't be more different. Hrabal reminds me of Hemingway via Bukowski — short, boozy and punchy. But he also mixes in a dream-like quality, where implausible things are made to seem commonplace.

This was my
...more
Eugene
reminded me of walser -- maybe a more worldy walser. as if instead of retreating to the madhouse, hrabal was sentenced to the purgatory of the diplomatic corps -- forced propriety despite the absurd or horrific swirls of history around him. but, like walser, he recognizes the poetic gesture... poetic or romantic despite or because of the old world sexism and classism rampant (and rampant still) just before the second world war, the ripened-to-rot but still shiny weimar-type decadence... without ...more
Rogier
Went to the Globe bookstore in Prague to buy Jaroslav Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk to get me through a 15-hour train ride, but their last copy was mysteriously missing.

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
Bookmaniac70
Много хубава книга! Прекрасна богата разговорна реч, която сладкодумно те превежда през поредица от невероятни истории- някои смешни, други тъжни, а трети- смразяващо гротескни. Един огромен къс от трагичната европейска история на 20-ти век преминава пред очите на обикновено момче-сервитьор.Способността му да приема живота такъв, какъвто е, му помага да оцелее при ужасяващи обрати на съдбата. Той не оценява, не съди; в същото време една вътрешна честност го кара да остане верен на себе си. Дали ...more
Наталія
Книга не читалась запоєм. Це було розмірене читання на кілька вечорів з кава-паузами для того щоб ще раз уявити, візуалізувати, посмакувати атмосферу. Від початку це мандрівка долею однієї маленької людини. І все тут починається з малого: молодий вік головного героя, низький зріст, незайманість, копійчана робота, маленькі оборудки, бешкетлива хитрість. Цілі молодого Яна прості і наївно меркантильні. Дивно, але ця меркантильність навіть поетична, бо світ навколо вирує, а персонаж споглядає його ц ...more
Bjorn
Suffice to say that while it's not quite the bulls-eye that Too Loud A Solitude is, it still kept me absolutely riveted. Like with the other Hrabals I've read, it's a microperspective of something much larger, telling the story of life in Czechoslovakia from the 1930s to the communist era from the horizon of a small and rather clueless restaurant worker; he starts as a bus boy and works his way up to manager before everything comes crashing down, and yes, the double meaning of "serve" is very de ...more
Stacia
I loved it completely -- the picaresque, comic, yet sharp social & political observations delivered seriously by our height-challenged, not-completely-but-almost-hapless narrator. At times it's almost silly, at other times a strange look at horrific events, yet it is all told with a levity, a belief in the ultimate goodness & hope of life (that's how it came across to me), in spite of the good or bad that has gone before. It's like looking back at a life well-lived (& not well-lived, ...more
Andrea
This book I love, the trials and tribulations of a tiny waiter, Ditie. A keen and amoral observer of human foibles in a rapid flow of tale telling that is almost stream of consciousness. There are plenty of whores in this book, and they are always happy and smiling in this book. It works from Ditie's perspective though, as it is never anything less than deeply flawed. Foundationally, it is written by someone who understands what it means to be on your feet all day, which won me over from the beg ...more
Albena
Една от най-добрите книги в последните няколко години. И изобщо.
Anastasia
Questo libro è stato scritto sotto un sole cocente, tanto che gettava una luce abbagliante sugli stessi fogli della macchina da scrivere, motivo per cui Hrabal non poteva neanche avere una visione istantanea di quello che scriveva, e infatti scriveva di getto, interrompendosi quando il caldo era tale da far arricciare i fogli. E bisogna infatti prendere il libro come un libro sotto impulsi e, se ho capito bene, non è stato mai rivisto per dargli l'impronta di un occhio curatore, con quella "perf ...more
Rachelle
Statement 1: There are so many similarities here with Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel that the man must have absorbed the story in some form, reprocessed it and made it his own.
Statement 2: There is something about Czech writers. They have this quality as though the writer is talking to you across a table at a boozy café, leaning back in his creaky chair and casually pulling out a yarn so that by the time you leave, you are fully intoxicated and have completely absorbed his story. I like bo
...more
Adam Dalva
Really strong stream-of-consciousness novel that plays fast and loose with time and stakes. The first half is especially strong - the action in various hotels is hilarious and well-observed, and Dite is that rare mixture of likeable and abhorrent. The political intersections (both World War II and the rise of Communism) are both interesting and obligatory, but I do think they occasionally slowed down the action and contributed to the general feeling of trailing off that pervaded. The ending, tho ...more
Хейко
Хумор и тъга преплетени в страхотна ирония както на заобикалящия свят, така и в душата на главния герой, който опознава себе си и света чрез абсурдите на злободневието.
Roberta
Penso che la filosofia di Dite, il protagonista, si possa sintetizzare con questo paragrafo:

"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
Dwight
Full review and additional links

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
...more
Dennis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott Gates
A lot of the humor in the book comes from the narrator’s (Ditie, I guess) value system being completely out of whack with the world’s. This discord produces a kind of religious friction between the rich internal world of the narrator and how this is at odds with or contrary to or aloof from the actual things happening around him.

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
Vicki Ghilardi
If I had to describe this to someone I would tell them it's a European Confederacy of Dunces. And if someone asked me what's A Confederacy of Dunces? I'd tell them to read that one first. And to possibly skip this one if they don't have the patience for long sentences and seemingly pointless farce.

I came across this book because lately I've been in the mood for reading about disgustingly wealthy people being scandalous drunks and doing dastardly things. Who isn't in the mood for that most of t
...more
g026r
2.5 stars, as there's half a very good book here, and half a very bad one. To the book's detriment, the majority of the very bad book is all front-loaded. The first two (out of five) sections, which meander with no real purpose, could easily be excised entirely with little to no damage to the book. A reader who makes it all the way to the end wonders if Hrabal himself realized the weakness of the first two sections, as a passing comment by Ditie, the narrator, disparages how the book began.

Thing
...more
Phillip Twining
Though perhaps not as great as Too Loud a Solitude (even with TLAS's hokey ending) this book is miles above most bildungsroman novels. What separates it is the lack of hesitation and abashed recanting of events, and the story comes across as a celebration of life at all stages of development. It's wildly hilarious and so impossible that I couldn't not believe in the story. And of course, Hrabal's amazing musicality of language came through by the great efforts of the English translator Paul Wils ...more
E.C. McCarthy
A ranging story that begins lightheartedly and journeys straight into the heartbreak of war. Hrabal moves from childhood discovery, through love and marriage, to xenophobia, the confusion of nationalism and finally self-banishment. His characters are tough. He gives a true rendering of the impulse to write a story: "And at that moment I began to be afraid, because if I died, all the unbelievable things that had come true would vanish...And I longed to write everything down just as it was, so oth ...more
Ben
It's difficult to label Hrabel's "I Served the King of England". Is it a surrealistic farce? The mid-20th century history of the Czech Republic? A dark parody of Horatio Alger stories?

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
Mauro
É um livro curioso, que só li porque espero ir à República Checa em breve. Tem algumas coisas de que não gosto: descrições bobas das visitas adolescentes às prostitutas e um ambiente surrealista ao longo de todo o livro, que lembra desagradavelmente o realismo mágico de vocês-sabem-quem. Vale mais pelas estorietas, tomadas individualmente, que pelo conjunto. O resultado final é macambúzio, mas simpático – talvez porque o personagem central seja baixinho (sempre torço pelos baixinhos, por razões ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: please advise on book synopsis edit 4 45 Feb 05, 2013 11:41AM  
  • Smrt krásných srnců
  • Prague Tales (Central European Classics)
  • The Cowards
  • Three Novels: Hordubal, Meteor, An Ordinary Life
  • Mister Johnson
  • No Bed for Bacon
  • Saturnin
  • The Polyglots
  • Brewster's Millions
  • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
  • Augustus Carp, Esq. By Himself Being The Autobiography Of A Really Good Man
  • Pictures from an Institution
  • The Wimbledon Poisoner
  • The Good Soldier Švejk
  • Spalovač mrtvol
  • Slouching Towards Kalamazoo
  • According to Queeney
  • Fireflies
50071
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
More about Bohumil Hrabal...
Too Loud a Solitude Closely Watched Trains Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age Postřižiny The Little Town Where Time Stood Still

Share This Book

“He was a gentle and sensitive soul, and therefore had a short temper, which is why he went straight after everything with an ax...” 50 likes
“...гърдите ми се изпълниха с такава радост, че неочаквано и за мен самия запях, подхванах несмело, защото цял живот не бях пял, цял живот не ми беше дошло отвътре ни веднъж да запея, през всичките тези десетилетия и през ум не ми беше минавало , че може и да запея… […] сякаш с песента, абе каква ти песен, по-скоро крясъци някакви, за които си въобразявах, че са песен, нищо повече от воя на кучето, та сякаш с това пеене изсипвах от себе си кутийки и чекмеджета, пълни с пропаднали полици, ненужни писма и пощенски картички, че от устата ми се отвяват нанякъде късчета от скъсани стари плакати, […] късчета от всичко, настанило се в човека като цигарен дим и катран в дробовете на пушач.” 6 likes
More quotes…