“There is one kind of literature which never reaches the voracious masses. The work of creative writers, written out of the author’s real necessity, and for his own benefit. The awareness of a supreme egoism, wherein laws become significant. * Every page should explode, either because of its profound gravity, or its vortex, vertigo, newness, eternity, or because of its staggering absurdity, the enthusiasm of its principles, or its typography. On the one hand there is a world tottering in its flight, linked to the resounding tinkle of the infernal gamut; on the other hand, there are: the new men. Uncouth, galloping, riding astride on hiccups. And there is a mutilated world and literary medicasters in desperate need of amelioration.”
– Dada Manifesto, by Tristan Tzara
Today is the 94th anniversary of the first reading of Tristan Tzara’s Dada Manifesto (as noted in Today in Literature). Read it and it seems as fresh and relevant today as ever, more so than the Surrealist Manifesto. And will remain so as long as the mutilated world is so full of literary medicasters.
Czech goalies and presidents
Czech writer Patrik Ouředník has launched a new website with content in four languages (Czech, French – he has lived in France since 1984 – English and Italian). Ouředník will be at the upcoming Prague Writer’s Festival, which I will have a lot more about here very shortly.
At The Nation there is a very long (as in, I’ll finish reading it when it’s not quite so warm and sunny) article on Václav Havel. I admit to never knowing that at prep school the resident adviser in Havel’s dorm was Miloš Forman. Did they discuss theater and film or was there interaction confined to rules about drinking and having girls in their rooms?
The article recounts Havel’s lack of regret for many of the controversial positions and statements he took as president. One thing he did regret was ever trusting current president Václav Klaus, the presiding spirit of today’s corruption and ineptitude on the Czech political scene.
And at everybody’s favorite source for literary news, The International Ice Hockey Federation, there is an account of a new book by Austrian writer Josef Haslinger that deals with the story of Bohumil Modrý, goalie on the Czechoslovak national team in the1948 Olympics, and the subject of twisted and brutal persecution by the Soviet regime intent on eliminating any competition for the Soviet national team.
Modrý was sent to the uranium mines in Jáchymov (the title of Haslinger’s novel), where the prisoners had to mine uranium without any protection from radiation. After five years was released, already fatally ill from the exposure. He died in 1963 at the age of 47.
The book has been published in German and a Czech edition is forthcoming. Modrý was posthumously inducted to the IIHF Hall of Fame last year.