The Czech writer Ivan Klíma turns 90

September 14, 2021 by archyde

AWhen Ivan Klíma put together fairy tales by Czech poets in the late 1970s, the German-language collection “Die Zauberwurzel”, illustrated by Janosch, was created, strange in two respects. First, because Klíma did not find what it was looking for in the rich literary history of his country, but was able to win over important contemporary authors, including Pavel Kohout, Jan Trefulka, Václav Havel and Ludvík Vaculík – some, like Havel, first had to be persuaded to write fairy tales for Children to write.

And secondly, because Klíma addresses his young readers in a foreword that seems harmless and yet clarifies the purpose of this collection: Klíma writes that he actually wanted to write a fairy tale about a country in which it was suddenly decided that the Minister innkeeper and innkeeper should become judges and everyone else should also change their professions until the policeman becomes a minister and the ranks come to an end – “but when I looked around, it occurred to me that I was not starting a fairy tale, but an ordinary one Report on how we are doing “.

Report or grotesque?

Ivan Klíma, born in Prague in 1931 as Ivan Kauders, had the experience early on that this is precisely why a report of actual events can have the traits of a grotesque fairy tale. Because of his Jewish origins, he was brought to Theresienstadt with his parents and younger brother in December 1941, which he described clearly and emphatically from the perspective of a child much later in the novel “Judges in His Own Cause”. And in an interview with Martin Doerry, he described a visit by a delegation from the International Red Cross to the camp in 2005, which was suddenly turned into a Potemkin village in order to deceive the visitors – children who otherwise had to wait with a tin bowl for potatoes suddenly became Served by waitresses in their own dining room and got meat and chocolate that day.

Klíma survived the camp, went to school, became a journalist, a member of his country’s Communist Party and soon afterwards a dissident. He wrote novels and plays, went abroad and returned to Prague in 1970, where he worked, among other things, in the city cleaning department. His novel “Liebe und Müll” from 1988 made him known in Germany. His theme, the question of the moral integrity of the individual within a system that is designed to undermine it, also shapes other Klíma novels, not least the “Waiting for Darkness, Waiting”, which emerged under the impression of the “Velvet Revolution” of 1989 on light ”. He tells of a filmmaker working for Czech television who was caught trying to escape as a young man and then imprisoned. Now Pavel is making propaganda films, lying in his pocket and dreaming of other, self-determined, sincere works, which, however, he is no longer able to do in the new freedom.

Klíma tells all of this in elegant prose, which starts from reality and alienates it until, for example, Pavel’s life and the film script he is drafting form an almost indissociable connection. Ivan Klíma has often subtly associated this fluctuation with the loss of values ​​and constantly asked the question of cause and effect anew. Today he is celebrating his ninetieth birthday.

PUT 1xbet
Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my