Literary map of Prague

In a bid to obtain the status of a “UNESCO Creative City of Literature,” Prague’s Municipal Library has put a literary map of the city online that locates both Czech and international writers in various parts of the city. At the moment the map is only in Czech (which I would think might hinder their chances of getting a good reaction from UNESCO, aside from the Czech speakers there).

Clicking on the name of a writer in their respective district of Prague brings you to their library page where you can reserve one of their books or look them up on Wikipedia. A select group of nine writers – Čapek, Hašek and Jáchym Topol among them – have special links that lead to pages sporting quotes from the specific work cited.

While some of the writers are located on the map where they currently (e.g. Václav Havel) or formerly (e.g Bohumil Hrabal) lived, others are placed where scenes from their books took place, such as Michael Chabon being located in the Old Town of Prague 1, right near Franz Kafka, because of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

Laurent Binet is another foreign writer who gets a place on the map for HhHH and its story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by Czech paratroopers that had such devastating consequnces in Prague 8.

With these and other international writers given their place it is interesting to note that the writer who has evoked Prague most recognizably for a majority of readers, Milan Kundera, is noticably absent from the map. It could be argued that he wasn’t born in Prague, but then neither were Božena Němcová or Vítězslav Nezval. The real reason more likely has to do with Czech ambivalence towards Kundera, which is aired in the newspapers with predictable regularity and seems unlikely to end any time soon.

Still, the project looks interesting and, there just happens to be a blank space on the map on the edge of Prague 6 between Havel’s house and the link for novelist Miloš Urban, which just happens to be where I live . . . just saying.

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Categories: Literary Events


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