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. Prague Pictures: A Portrait of the City (Writer and the City.) [John Banville] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The fourth book in. Prague Pictures: Portraits of a City (Writer and the City) [John Banville] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Prague is the magic capital of.

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Prague Nights is published by Viking.

Prague Nights by Benjamin Black review – murder in the city of masks

I don’t think it’s terribly funny. But, of course, we know Svejk, which is not as funny a book as many people find it. A lovely little tour around some of my favorite old stomping grounds of Prague. Given the range of preoccupations and inspirations that are apparent in your books, you have been described as more of a European writer than an Irish one. Czech photographer in Cambodia: Banville’s quirky view of Prague – his limited visits during the cold war 80’s, a later visit after the fall of communism, a skewed history of the city, a chapter on Tycho Brahe and Kepler, Over the last 10 years the seven Quirke books have established Black as a master of high-class crime fiction, literary noir in the tradition of Georges Simenon and Raymond Chandler.

Near the beginning, as he approaches Prague for the first time, Banville betrays himself by talking of “unpronounceable stations”.

Banville has two adult sons with his wife, the American textile artist Janet Dunham. Banville has not written a guidebook but rather, in his own words, “a handful of recollections, variations on a theme”–snapshots, if you like, of the city’s past and present.


This is a perfect book for those under Prague’s spell. It has a peculiar power, which is not quite healthy.

But there would be other mealtimes, oh, there would, from which memory averts its gaze. Prague is intelligent but deeply biased.

To know enough – pragie, even more than usual, because what you are selling is facts – you have to know too much. I regret not taking that four years of getting drunk and falling in love. The joun begins with the author’s first visit to Prague, during the cold war, but as babville go deeper into the book, we also go deeper into the city’s From Here is the latest installment in Bloomsbury’s fascinating Writer in the City series, which matches well-known writers with cities with which they are intimately familiar.

One of the things that has kept Eastern Europe being Eastern Europe and behind the walls that the Societ Union had put up is our sentimental notion that people from Prague, Budapest and Warsaw were somehow ennobled by their suffering. I adore Prague and this does not reflect her. 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 is the magic pratue of Europe.

Maybe it has something to do with Prague’s traffic system. I kept wondering as And now, from the man who doesn’t know how to write a bad sentence, a travel book that isn’t a travel book at all, but rather an elegant and witty appreciation of a city with many pasts. And we know Karel Capek who invented robots.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. A conventional whodunit would be fatally undone by so feckless a protagonist, but Prague Nights is not a conventional whodunit. I had no idea this Booker-prize winning Wexford man had such a connection with the Czech capital, but his historical and literary-themed ponderings are a treat for any thinking person based here in CZ.


In Kepler, Banville’s achievement in capturing the atmosphere of Prague is all the more remarkable considering the fact that he wrote the book before he actually made his first trip to Prague in the s at the height of the Cold War. Banville’s writing makes it a joy to read One can eat badly anywhere. At times, Banville sounds a little like WG Sebald with a Dublin brogue, sifting the boneyards of European conflict, pyschoanalysing the tracery of empires past.

Prague Pictures: A Portrait of the City by John Banville

He also paints a portrait of the Prague of today, reveling 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. This is a love story not about a women but a city. This has the right balance of interesting facts, personal observati This is a love story prageu about a women but a city.

I remember several years ago writing a banvile more modest guide to the city than Banville’s, tramping through the starlit snow for a week, mostly on a pilgrimage from one Pilsner to the next, with Ripellino’s book either in my pocket or open on a bar-room table. And what about the inoffensive-looking green salad which I ate without a second thought in a little lunch place off the tourist trail one glorious autumn afternoon in Oaxaca, which infiltrated into my digestive system a bacillus, busy as a Mexican jumping bean, which was to cling to the inner lining of my intestines for three long, queasy, and intermittently galvanized months?