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Closely Watched Trains

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,768 Ratings  ·  188 Reviews
Hrabal's postwar classic about a young man's coming of age in German-occupied Czechoslovakia is among his most beloved and accessible works. Closely Watched Trains is the subtle and poetic portrait of Miloš Hrma, a timid young railroad apprentice who insulates himself with fantasy against a reality filled with cruelty and grief. Day after day as he watches trains fly by, h ...more
Paperback, 85 pages
Published March 9th 1995 by Northwestern University Press (first published January 1st 1965)
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7th out of 86 books — 60 voters
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37th out of 307 books — 149 voters

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Oct 25, 2015 Nicole~ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The coming-of-age story of Milos Hrma - a young, naïve railwayman - unfolds in a small lethargic train station, set in North Bohemia, Prague during the last two weeks of WWII, 1945. Milos narrates a tale which covers a timespan of 48 hours in a series of flashbacks, where it is revealed how the scars on his wrists came to be and how three generations of Hrma men managed to besmirch their family name.

Milos's day is spent dreamily watching military trains pass through to the front transporting th
Ioannis Anastasiadis
..Ο Μποχουμιλ Χραμπαλ, ένας από τους σημαντικότερους μεταπολεμικους Τσέχους λογοτέχνες, ακολούθησε διάφορα επαγγέλματα προτού φέρει σε δημοσιότητα τα λογοτεχνικά του κείμενα, στα οποία συνεχώς συνέτρεχε κ διόρθωνε προς χάριν της τελειοθηρίας που τον διέκρινε ..Στα 'Τραίνα', μια από τις διακεκριμένες του νουβέλες όπου μεταφέρθηκε κ στον Κινηματογράφο (βλ. Γιρι Μενζελ), εξιστορείται η καθημερινότητα του προσωπικού ενός Τσεχικου σιδηροδρομικού σταθμού στα τελη του Β Παγκοσμιου Πολεμου ..ειδικότερα ...more
Jeff Jackson
Jun 01, 2014 Jeff Jackson rated it really liked it
Thank you to Goodreads for deleting my previous review. Did I slander Bohumil Hrabal by saying this short novel wasn't as exceptional as I SERVED THE KIND OF ENGLAND or TOO LOUD A SOLITUDE, but still worth your time? Or by mentioning the odd but largely successful mix of historical horror, ribald comedy, and subverted coming-of-age tropes? Or by pointing out that the novel seems intentionally disorienting for the first couple of chapters but eventually feels as precise as a stationmaster's pocke ...more
Raúl Ricardo
No tengo la costumbre de escribir reseñas, pero a ver qué sale.
Conocí la película antes que al libro y eso condicionó un poco mi lectura. De paso adornaré la reseña con imágenes de la película.

El protagonista es Miloš Hrma (pronúnciese Miloshi Jarma), un aprendiz de despachador de trenes que vuelve a trabajar después de tres meses de descanso por enfermedad (view spoiler). Miloš viene de una familia de hombres que trabajaron poco y nada para vivir y tambi
Aug 16, 2013 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: czech, world-war-2
Actually, 3.5 stars...

Set in the final year of the Second World War, Ostře sledované vlaky weaves together the rather exaggerated personal story of a young apprentice for the Czech national train company (embarrassed by premature ejaculation, he tries to commit suicide; his grandfather tries to stop the invading German army solely with his mental powers of suggestion - his family has to go to Prague to recover the skull from the tread of a tank; he beds a beautiful complete stranger (a German,
M. Sarki
Nov 02, 2013 M. Sarki rated it liked it
I liked it. Didn't think I would. Reminded me a bit of Robert Walser because of the narrator's childlike wonder of it all, except in this version, unlike the wandering and unlucky Walser, this hero gets laid. And in more ways than one.
Feb 08, 2012 Noce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Treni strettamente somiglianti

Siccome mi son resa conto che spesso e volentieri scrivo recensioni troppo lunghe, per questa volta ho deciso di appoggiarmi a scorci letterari e visivi che non sono miei.

“Provavo un'irritazione simile a quella di chi dal finestrino di un treno che corre a tutta velocità, cerca di leggere il nome delle stazioni. La stazione si avvicina e tu pensi: stavolta devo stare attento a leggere il cartello, ma non ce la fai. La velocità è troppa, La scritta si intravede, ma è
Russell Bittner
Dec 31, 2012 Russell Bittner rated it it was ok
Milan Kundera, whose prose(and consequently whose thinking) I much admire, describes, on the back cover of the edition I recently found in a dusty old bookstore here in Manhattan Bohumil Hrabal’s Closely Observed Trains as “(o)ne of the most authentic incarnations of magical Prague; an incredible union of earthly humor and baroque imagination… What is unique about Hrabal is his capacity for joy.”

I would be hard-pressed to question Milan Kundera’s appreciation of literature. Instead—and as I’ve
Camille Stein
Y de pronto vi lo que seguramente había estado viendo todo el tiempo el factor Hubicka, que yo estaba perdido, que lo único que podía esperar era que aquel tren saltase por los aires, que eso tenía que bastarme en la situación en la que estaba, porque no podía esperarme otra cosa que la muerte, que si no moría del tiro me encontrarían los alemanes y me colgarían o me fusilarían, como era su costumbre, y entonces me di cuenta de que estaba destinado a una muerte distinta de la que había intentado ...more
Razvan Zamfirescu
Spicuiri din recenzia finala care se gaseste pe blogul meu


Însă Hrabal are extraordinarul talent de a nu sucomba în animalitatea perioadei și găsește momente cheie care te fac să zâmbești. Hrabal este și nu este trist, este și nu este melancolic, lirismul lui devine parcă și mai puternic, și mai sensibil, și mai zguduitor tocmai datorită evenimentelor amuzante pe care le aduce în fața cititorului când lumea pare că își privește cu ochi holbați sfârșitul.
Closely Watched Trains is a vivid, often hilarious, devastating kick in the gut. Although written (and banned) in Soviet-era Czechoslovakia, the story hasn't lost much in translation or the passage of time. War tragedy and humorous youthful sexual burlesque rarely go out of style; taken together, if written well (as Hrabal does), the tragedy and humor amplify one other. Narrator Milos is a naive young apprentice train station agent near Prague during the German occupation. Having failed to pleas ...more
Chris Coffman
Mar 20, 2010 Chris Coffman rated it really liked it
An interesting, short, novel about a provincial railroad station in Czechoslovakia in 1945, which just happens to be a unique perspective from which to witness events as the Soviet Army rolls up the Eastern Front and the collapsing Nazi war machine limps West.

Characteristically witty and austere at the same time, CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS is also interesting precisely because it is not perfect, and so it is easier for a reader to discern how Hrabal constructs his novels than it is, for example, by
Nov 25, 2015 Jale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Savaş eğlenceli bir şekilde anlatılabilir mi? Evet, anlatılabiliyor. Savaşın gündelik hayata yansımasını kahramanımız Miloş'ın basit anlatımıyla dinliyoruz. Biz Hrabal'ı çokça tanımıyoruz belki, ama Milan Kundera hayranı... Ve son cümlenin ağırlığı;
"Son ana, kendi kendimi gözden yitirinceye kadar ölü erle eleleydik ve ben, erin sağır kulağına, bahtsız Almanları Dresden'den getiren marşandizdeki tren şefinin söylediği sözü tekrarlayıp duruyordum:
"Evinizde oturup kalsaydınız da götünüzün üstünde.
Leila Hashemi
Apr 05, 2014 Leila Hashemi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"رمان «نظارت دقیق قطارها» نوشته بهومیل هرابال در سال 1965 به رشته تحریر درآمده است. داستان این رمان در کشور چک میگذرد و داستانی در دوران تسلط آلمان نازی به کشورهای اروپای شرقی را روایت میکند. شخصیت اصلی آن نیز کارمندی در اداره خط راه آهن چک است که سعی دارد به نوعی در آمد و شد قطارهای آلمانی اخلال ایجاد کند و این روحیه و اخلاق به نوعی شیوه و ابزاری است برای مخفیماندن فعالیت او است."

پیشنهاد میکنم وقتی کمی از کتاب رو خوندید سری به صفحات اخر کتاب که یادداشت مترجم هست و خیلی دقیق و مفصل بخش به بخش رو
From BBc Radio 4 -Drama:
It is 1945. For gauche young apprentice Milos Hrma, life at the sleepy railway station in Bohemia is full of complex preoccupations. There is the burden of dispatching German troop trains; the shocking scandal of Dispatcher Hubicka; and the vexing problem of his sexual performance. Classic comedy drama from a celebrated Czech writer.

Director/Producer Gary Brown

CLOSELY OBSERVED TRAINS, which became the award-winning Jiri Menzel film of the 'Prague Spring', is a classic of
Chris Shaffer
Apr 13, 2009 Chris Shaffer rated it liked it
Shelves: translations
Hrabal is a master of juxtaposing humorous anecdotes with some seriously tragic stuff. He also captures the reality of Czech civilians who, in spite of a war going on around them and being closely monitored by the German military, still find time to laugh, share stories, and, in one instance, discuss the romantic affairs of the train dispatcher. So, yeah, read this, laugh a little, cry a little, and just enjoy the read.
Mar 07, 2014 Deanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books-2008, war
Beautifully written short book, set in czechoslovakia at the close of the second world war. Milos a young man works on the railway, watching the trains pass filled with soldiers, animals and ammunition.
There's a diverting scandal and interesting characters, most of them family members. Milos himself has only recently come back to work after being off work for 3 months. Do like the idea of him and his girl painting the fence and falling in love.
Milos does seem a little innocent but there's some
A few decades back when I was exploring the world of "foreign film" for the first time, the 1966 Czech movie adaptation of this Czech novella turned up frequently in the film reference compendiums, listed among the "great foreign films" or "greatest films." I think I first saw reference to it in one of Leslie Halliwell's retrospective movie essay books. I don't notice the movie being as discussed or reverently mentioned as it once was, which is natural as the world turns, as more movies get made ...more
Apr 25, 2013 Bjorn rated it really liked it
Shelves: czech, czechoslovakia
It's short and to the point, boiling down to a big bang finale that might be straight out of an action movie within just over 100 pages, covering some very heavy subjects (war, resistance, holocaust) in between... and yet it manages to lull you into a false sense of security with its burlesque charm. Like all of Hrabal's heroes, the young train station attendant Miloš Hrma comes across as a pretty simple guy - both in the sense of not having any huge aspirations and in the sense of not being the ...more
Feb 18, 2014 Behzad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
یک شاهکار سلاخی شده. برخلاف صحبت هایی که شنیده بودم، ترجمه ضعیف نبود؛ شاید به زیبایی کاری که پرویز دوایی در تنهایی پرهیاهو انجام داد نباشد، ولی به نظرم در مقایسه با ترجمه هایی که این روزها زیاد می خوانیم خوب رو به بالا بود. دو نکته - با این حال - صدمات ناراحت کننده ای به اثر زده:
اول اینکه ترجمه نه از زبان اصلی، که از انگلیسی انجام شده. به نظر من نباید یک اثر ترجمه شده را بار دیگر ترجمه کرد؛ مهم نیست کیفیت چقدر بالا باشد، زیرا به هر حال دست چندم است و صادقانه به نظر نمی آید. با این حال این نکته ق
Mar 08, 2015 David rated it really liked it
This is some quite powerful prose, and I'd never even heard of it before. The sentences are dense, but purposefully so given the setting and subject. It's a brutal situation, but impossibly intermingled with wit, lust, and humor. No plan or force can remove these things from the human experience, bound up irrevocably as they are. The result is the book is fast, moving, and intensely human. I really should check out some of Hrabal's less 'acceptable' works.
Filip Đukić
Dec 12, 2015 Filip Đukić rated it liked it
Iako je Kundera podosta hvalio djelo i autora, meni nije ispunilo sva očekivanja, ali nije ni podbacilo. Dosta zanimljive dosjetke i humor - slavenskog tipa - (Zdenkini otisci štambilja na stražnjici - ili, Milošev djed protiv tenkova) ala Jiri Menzel koji je i adaptirao film po Hrabalovom djelu 66 ete.. (to budemo pogledali). Pokušaj melo drame na kraju djela koja je i uspjela, ali dijametralno suprotna prvim početnim dijelovima gdje ima malo težih opisa (uginule životinje u vlakovima) no ipak ...more
Negar Khalili
یک داستان خوب نه فقط در ارتباط با جنگ جهانی دوم که در وصف یک مفهوم : "جنگ"...
هرچند که کتاب شدیدا دستخوش سانسور شده بود و خیلی نکات رو من به مدد توضیحات کاملا به جای مترجم در انتهای کتاب فهمیدم، ولی باز هم خیلی دلچسب بود خصوصا نیمه ی دوم کتاب...
البته واقعا در مقابل تنهایی پر هیایوکم میاورد یقینا...با این حال لذت بخش بود...
A great novella that inspired a geat film, Hrabal had an eye for the prosaic in the huge events, and wove both together fabulously. A delightful tragedy. The film version, from 1966, is one of the great moments of the events leading up to the Prague Spring.
Jose Luis
Jun 24, 2013 Jose Luis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Obra maestra
Jan 12, 2012 Rafa rated it it was amazing
Dec 27, 2014 Ema rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La 22 de ani, Miloš Hrma a avut deja o tentativă de sinucidere, dintr-un motiv aparent frivol: deși este bărbat în toată regula, când trebuie să o dovedească, atunci pălește ca un crin. Într-o țară aflată în război, în care se petrec lucruri mult mai grave, acest fapt este, pentru el, un motiv serios de a-și lua viața. Este anul 1945, iar trupele germane se retrag din Cehoslovacia. Trenurile ajung cu întârziere de câteva ore, numai cele cu prioritate ale nemților - transportând soldați, spitale ...more
Sep 24, 2010 Pete rated it it was amazing
Good writing:

"Just the day before yesterday an enemy fighter shot up a German pursuit plane over our town, and blew one wing clean off it; and then the fuselage burned out, and crashed somewhere out in the fields. But this wing, as it tore loose from the fuselage, ripped out a few handfuls of screws and nuts to spatter down over the square and peck at the heads of several women there, and the wing itself went on hovering over the town, and everybody who could stood and watched it, right to the m
Mar 01, 2009 James rated it really liked it
This dramatic and moving tale from the pen of Bohumil Hrabal is almost poetic in its sparse intensity. His story tells the fate of Milos Hrma, an apprentice signalman, who must deal with his own shortcomings even as he faces the onset of the German army. The novel’s young protagonist, Miloš, has just gotten out of an asylum after slashing his wrists and returns to work at the local train station, where that night he ends up taking part in the sabotage of a trainload of Nazi munitions. Through a ...more
Edgar Trevizo
Mar 02, 2015 Edgar Trevizo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La primera mitad es extraña. Empieza magníficamente bien y luego viene una porción bastante amplia en que no se entiende gran cosa de lo que está pasando. Luego una dolorosa escena sobre los animales transportados en los trenes, terrible. Y luego la segunda mitad: el vuelo del humor y Miloš que se yergue como un personajazo hacia un final bellísimo a pesar de ser tan triste. Bello libro. Sí paga el tenerle un poco de paciencia al inicio.
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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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“Even in my bad luck I have always been lucky.” 7 likes
“Аз стоях между коловозите и усещах как някой ме гледа, обърнах се и в отвореното прозорче на мазето видях очите на госпожа началничката, там, в тъмното, тя хранеше гъсока си и ме гледаше. Аз обичах госпожа началничката, тя обичаше надвечер да седне в канцеларията, плетеше голяма покривка за маса и от нейната плетка струеше тишина, под пръстите й се появяваха нови и нови цветя и птици, на телеграфната маса тя поставяше малка книжка и надничаше в нея да види как се събират нишките в следващите фигури, сякаш свиреше на цитра и четеше нотите. Но всеки петък тя екзекутираше зайци, вземаше от зайчарника едно зайче, притискаше го между краката си, а после забиваше във врата му тъп нож и почваше да коли животинчето, което пищеше, пищеше дълго, после гласчето му започваше да стихва, но госпожа началничката гледаше точно така, сякаш плетеше голямата покривка. Казваше, че когато кръвта на заека изтича бавно, месото му е много по-вкусно и крехко Отсега виждах как ще заколи големия гъсок, ще го яхне както кон, ще притисне оранжевата му човка към гърлото , както се затваря джобно ножче, първо грижливо ще му скубе перата отзад, после кръвта му ще тече в тенджерата, птицата ще отмалява, докато се отпусне напълно, госпожа началничката ще се дръпне и е клечи, подпряла задник на петите си.” 2 likes
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