Prague is the magic capital of Europe. Since the days of Emperor Rudolf II, "devotee of the stars and cultivator of the spagyric art", who in the late 1500s summoned alchemists and magicians from all over the world to his castle on Hradèany hill, it has been a place of mystery and intrigue. Wars, revolutions, floods, the imposition of Soviet communism, and even the depredations of the tourist boom after the Velvet Revolution of 1989 could not destroy the unique atmosphere of this beautiful, proud, and melancholy city on the Vltava.
John Banville traces Prague's often tragic history and portrays the people who made it: the emperors and princes, geniuses and charlatans, heroes and scoundrels. He also paints a portrait of the Prague of today, revelling in its newfound freedoms, eager to join the European Community and at the same time suspicious of what many Praguers see as yet another totalitarian takeover. He writes of his first visit to the city, in the depths of the Cold War, and of subsequent trips there, of the people he met, the friends he made, the places he came to know.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. He is the author of twenty-five novels, some of them under the pen name Benjamin Black, and his acclaimed works include The Book of Evidence, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and The Sea, which won the prize in 2005. He has also been awarded the Franz Kafka Prize, among others. Banville lives in Dublin.
“Ireland's finest contemporary novelist.” – The Economist
“Mr. Banville is that rare writer who can pack all five senses into one declarative sentence.” – The Wall Street Journal
“As remarkable a literary voice as any to come out of Ireland, Joyce and Beckett notwithstanding.” – The San Francisco Chronicle
“When he was younger, Banville notes, he believed that really to get under the skin of a city one had to fall in love there. Prague, promiscuous and secretive, appears to have offered him another possibility. To understand a little more of himself, he first had to fall in love with a city.” – The Guardian
“Each anecdote, each site, each person recollected in memory is wonderfully evocative of the place. This is a beautiful book, lovely to hold and admire.” – Washington Times