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Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  927 Ratings  ·  95 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
Paperback, 117 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by NYRB Classics (first published 1964)
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Feb 20, 2016 Seemita rated it really liked it
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
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
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?
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
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,
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
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
Shelves: nyrb
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Dec 03, 2011 Emmett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Lo más notable de este libro es que consta de una única línea, durante la cual cambia continuamente de un tema a otro, exactamente como si un hombre mayor, sin nada que hacer, mantuviera una charla ligera con otra persona, pero en realidad dirigiéndose a sí mismo. El narrador nos cuenta historias de su vida, recuerdos de su soldadesca y de sus conquistas amorosas, de sus aventuras y de sus familiares, enlazándolos unos con otros sin pausa, sin descanso. No se puede leer despacio, o al menos yo n ...more
Tyler Jones
Sep 20, 2015 Tyler Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
hen I worked in this one big bookstore I wanted to read all the books, own all the books, be buried under the mountain of books and there were all these other people working there who felt much the same and one, a very pretty one, in particular who told me about this book and made me read it because, (she did not say this then, but I have come to believe it since) that if a book touches you a certain way and you can't explain it then all you can do is hope other people read it and have it touch ...more
Matt Kurjanowicz
May 02, 2014 Matt Kurjanowicz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
May 18, 2014 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
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NYRB Classics: Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age, by Bohumil Hrabal 1 7 Oct 22, 2013 11:44AM  
  • Adventures of Sindbad
  • Glorious Nemesis
  • How I Came to Know Fish
  • A Schoolboy's Diary and Other Stories
  • The World as I Found It
  • The Letter Killers Club
  • City Sister Silver
  • The Death of Napoleon
  • Niki: The Story of a Dog
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
  • A Journey Round My Skull
  • The Professor and the Siren
  • Fair Play
  • The Pumpkin Eater
  • Jejuri
  • In Love
  • Apartment in Athens
  • The Cowards
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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“… 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
“...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 rukama pod vytupírovanejma hlavinkama a dívaly se schválně do mračen, aby nechaly svoje tělička napospas mužskejm vočím, já, že jsem byl citlivej jak Mozart a ctitel evropský renesance, koukal jsem se jak krokodýl, jedním vokem do farní zahrady na pana děkana, a druhým vokem na ty nožky přehozený přes kolena, pořád ty krasavice houpaly kotníčkama a po mně lezli mravenci, komupak se to stane, aby byl s tolika krasotinkama? to jedině císař, nebo sultán, a tak jsem těm kráskám vypravoval, jak jsem měl příjemnej sen, jak se mi zdálo, že pekař sází do pece chleba a to je výhra na los, ale já los nemám, ovšem pekařství jako takové ve snách viděti, to znamená noční radovánky, ale co z radovánek?...” 0 likes
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