Josh's Reviews > I Served the King of England

I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal
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Feb 11, 12


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 King of England is one of my favorite chapters in the Hrabalian human comedy: a deeply loveable masterpiece. It affirms without being coy and bubbles without being annoying, in part because B.H is never afraid of reminding us (as Hasek liked to) that his hero is an idiot. Not someone masquerading as an idiot, but an actual idiot. Does the trick sound familiar (Quixote, Mishkin, Homer Simpson)? Well then number Hrabal where he belongs, among Davenport's "secret Christians". Kind of like Friar Tuck.
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Kira Polevaya Thanks for the review! By the way, there's a movie based on the book. Have you had a chance to watch it?


Josh Kira: I haven't seen the movie. Are you a fan? Is it worth checking out?


Kira Polevaya Yes, I liked the movie a lot. It is definitely worth watching, although the book, as it often happens, is still better.
The Russian Wikipedia offers quite a big list of international awards or nominations the movie received.


notgettingenough Does the book have him married to a German woman who takes advantage of her job to steal from dead Jews? Did that seem okay in the book?


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