Marketa Lazarova (Hardcover)
Twisted Spoon Press, 9788086264431, 183pp.
Publication Date: July 6, 2016
Medieval Bohemia, the petty nobility nothing more than highwaymen, literally robber barons, and the king has to dispatch troops to restore order. Marketa Lazarova was promised to God at birth, destined to live her life in a convent, but she is abducted by one of the neighboring Kozlik clan and discovers her sensual self. Told in shifting perspectives, mixing the archaic with the modern, the elevated with the vulgar, Vancura's tale is a compressed epic, less historical novel (the history of his ancestors) than paean to honor, courage, life, carnality, and above all a love that undermines conventional notions of the profane as it shifts to a sacred outside the sanctions of religious dogma. In so doing, he shows the nexus between Crown and Church to subjugate those who prefer to follow their own natures over following imposed laws and precepts. Cinematic in approach to draw the reader into the action, as if it were happening right before one's eyes, Marketa Lazarova deserves its place among the classics of interwar modernism, and it was awarded Czechoslovakia's State Prize for Literature upon its publication in 1931. Yet the novel has been largely known by Frantisek Vlacil's 1967 film adaptation, generally considered one of the greatest achievements of Czech cinema, and unavailable in English until now.