Rambling On (Hardcover)

An Apprentice’s Guide to the Gift of the Gab (Modern Czech Classics)

By Bohumil Hrabal, David Short (Translated by)

Karolinum Press, Charles University, 9788024623160, 352pp.

Publication Date: April 15, 2014

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (1/15/2017)

List Price: 20.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Novelist Bohumil Hrabal was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and he spent decades working at a variety of laboring jobs before turning to writing in his late forties. From that point, he quickly made his mark on the Czech literary scene; by the time of his death he was ranked with Jaroslav Hašek, Karel Čapek, and Milan Kundera as among the nation’s greatest twentieth-century writers. Hrabal’s fiction blends tragedy with humor and explores the anguish of intellectuals and ordinary people alike from a slightly surreal perspective. His work ranges from novels and poems to film scripts and essays. Rambling On is a collection of stories set in Hrabal’s Kersko. Several of the stories were written before the 1968 Soviet invasion of Prague but had to be reworked when they were rejected by Communist censorship during the 1970s. This edition features the original, uncensored versions of those stories.

About the Author

Bohumil Hrabal (1914–97) was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and studied law. By his death, he was ranked among the greatest Czech writers of the twentieth century. His novel Closely Watched Trains was turned into an Academy Award–winning film.

A retired teacher of Czech and Slovak, David Short has increasingly worked as a translator. He is the author of a popular Czech textbook, coauthor of a number of publications in the field of linguistics, and the translator of a score or so of books from Czech.

Praise For Rambling On: An Apprentice’s Guide to the Gift of the Gab (Modern Czech Classics)

"An excellent introduction to the great Czech writer, in both content and form: the book is beautifully bound into a cloth cover and features an impressive number of collages by Jirí Grus that illustrate magnificently the whimsy of Hrabal’s prose. The book is a delight to hold and to read."

— Meghan Forbes

"Delightful tales of mischief and wonder set in and around the author’s Kersko hideaway. Short’s translation captures the rough jewels of Hrabal’s rhythmic and roaming phrase-making, which, more often than not, culminates in an astonishing tenderness laden with little wisdoms."

— James Hopkin

"Beautifully illustrated. . . . The stories humorously portray the surreal surroundings of a miniscule mountain community in the midst of a totalitarian regime, creating an exquisite fusion of calamity and comedy."

— World Literature Today

"The characters . . . ah, these creations are wonderful. . .  . The stories are funny and often frivolous, but they also take on a serious and bittersweet tone when broken dreams of what might have been come into play. . . . This collection would be an excellent starting point for a reader wanting an introduction to Hrabal's writing. Very highly recommended."

— Mookse and Gripes

“One of the great prose stylists of the twentieth century; the scourge of state censors; the gregarious bar hound and lover of gossip, beer, cats and women (in roughly that order). . . . In Hrabal’s work beauty, pity, sorrow and high silliness come tightly braided.”

— Parul Sehgal

“Hrabal is not only a consistently entertaining storyteller, but some of his novels and stories are comic masterpieces that I wouldn’t advise bringing on planes or to doctors’ waiting rooms, where those overhearing your cackling may get the wrong idea and summon someone in authority to intervene. Serious works of literature that make us laugh uncontrollably are rare. When one remembers that Hrabal lived in a country and at a time in European history when there was absolutely nothing to laugh about, one’s amazement at what he accomplished is even greater.”

— Charles Simic