The Cowards

The Cowards The Cowards is Josef Skvorecky s blackly comic tale of post war politics that was immediately banned on publication In in Kostelec Danny is playing saxophone for the best jazz band in Czech

  • Title: The Cowards
  • Author: Josef Škvorecký
  • ISBN: 9780141047676
  • Page: 308
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Cowards 1958 is Josef Skvorecky s blackly comic tale of post war politics that was immediately banned on publication In 1945, in Kostelec,Danny is playing saxophone for the best jazz band in Czechoslovakia Their trumpeter has just got out of a concentration camp, their bass player is only allowed in the band since he owns the bass, and the love of Danny s life is iThe Cowards 1958 is Josef Skvorecky s blackly comic tale of post war politics that was immediately banned on publication In 1945, in Kostelec,Danny is playing saxophone for the best jazz band in Czechoslovakia Their trumpeter has just got out of a concentration camp, their bass player is only allowed in the band since he owns the bass, and the love of Danny s life is in love with somebody else But Danny despairs most about the bourgeoisie patriots in his town playing at revolution in the face of the approaching Red Army not least because it ruins the band s chance of any good gigs.

    One thought on “The Cowards”

    1. We got to the bridge. I looked up at Irena’s window and hoped she was watching, but she wasn’t. Naturally. She should see me now. But no such luck. I could already imagine fighting the Germans off in the woods and Irena hiding down in the cellar or somewhere. The whole thing lost all its charm if Irena couldn’t see me. Why in hell was I letting myself in for this?This book could have a lot of titles, among them ‘The Confused’ or ‘Teenage Testosterone’ or ‘Life Goes On’. But ‘ [...]

    2. Reviewing this book was not easy. Not that the prose is difficult. It is a simple narrative style and easy to follow. The genre of this book is not very clear. It could pass off as historical fiction, satire or comedy.A little background knowledge is required. This is a semi-autobiographical work of Josef Skvorecky. The town of Kostelec in the story is based on his home town of Nachod. It was written in 1948, a few months after the Communist coup d’état, but it was not published till 1958 and [...]

    3. Although Skvorecky has written half a dozen novels that I like more than the Cowards, it still has tremendous merits. Nothing is more dangerous for civilians than a retreat which involves a moving front. The retreating army is nervous and trigger happy which results in civilian deaths. The advancing army is also scared and armed which means that civilians get killed. Individuals on both sides of the conflict use the confusion to settle scores. In the Cowards, Skvorecky looks at one type of the n [...]

    4. Škvorecký zjevně není mým šálkem čaje. Nebavilo mě to číst, i když to nebylo tak hrozné, jak jsem se bála. Pár scén bylo fajn (nejakčnější scéna předposlední den, ubytovávání Angličanů, některé civilní momenty s Dannyho slečnami), něco mě docela vtáhlo do knihy. Ale jako celek nic pro mě. Nevím proč, proud myšlenek mi většinou nevadí. Možná mi nesedly postavy (přitom Danny byl docela fajn a Pápen/Benno taky)? Styl vyprávění? Téma? Fakt nevím. Ro [...]

    5. This book was criticised for " betraying the heroism of Czechs in the war" by the communist regime. Well, most people are not heroes. This is warm,as well as cynical, funny as well as sad, the experience of a small Czech town at the end of WW2. AN experience many Europeans had. It is a war book with a difference.

    6. Young people at the edge of history. A week in May 1945: Hitler is dead, the war is winding down, so it's last chance to be a hero, at comparatively low risk, as the Germans are exhausted and just want to get home. We see how occupations end, with the collaborators hastily trying to reinvent themselves as resisters, apprehensive about whether the communists or the old regime will assert themselves afterwards. Meanwhile Danny is just as obsessed with sex and fantasies of ideal women, immature ide [...]

    7. Naprosto přesně si pamatuju, kdy jsem se s touhle knížkou setkala poprvé, co za úryvek jsme tehdy četli. A trochu se stydím, že jsem se k dílu vrátila až teď. Ale je to pořád lepší než nic. Danny Smiřicky mi není nikterak blízký, přesto mě oslovil. A pak je tu samozřejmě to důležité historické pozadí, které se dostalo do popředí Dannyho života. Květnová revoluce, příjezd Rudé armády, konec války. vysvobozena/2017/

    8. (Czech edition)I stalled on this book for a long time. I think it fell between stools since I wasn't quite reading it purely for pleasure (I started out reading the Czech and English translation beside each other to see exactly what tack the translator had taken in dealing with the various ways the two languages differ), and neither was I reading it for an particular project I was working on. It tended consistently to lose out to other books I was reading at the time, both Czech and English. For [...]

    9. Oh well, it seems like after being done with Czechoslovakia as seen by Marius S. I had to go straight to a Czech novel wrote by an author mentioned several times in Gottland.But this is just a coincidence. For The Cowards was already with me for a few months.This novel is written in a very impulsive and passionate style with that sort of boyish impetuosity which is explained by the fact Skvorecky was only 24 when he delivered it. The fact that it took 12 years more for this novel to get publishe [...]

    10. This book was given to me as a gift from the mother of my Intern/Student roommate from the Czech Republic. The author provided his very own Preface, or Forward, so I will not even begin to dissect this book on a formal or ontological level. I will only say that the characters, the dialogue, and the situations drove me to such deep care that I was dreading an horrific demise of the main character of Danny. His fascination with getting a sub-machine gun (this was the ending of WW2) drove me crazy; [...]

    11. Buď jsem na tuhle knížku moc mladá (tj. nezažila jsem ani válku, ani komunistické represe), nebo moc stará, protože nedokážu ocenit páskovství hlavního hrdiny. Danny mi lezl upřímně na nervy, hlavně ve chvílích jeho přemítání o lásce a o sobě samém, a možná to vyzní povýšeně, ale já (ani nikdo z mých kamarádů, co můžu posoudit) takhle povrchní zkrátka nebyla ani ve třinácti. Samotný Dannyho pohled na revoluční události jsem si ale přečetla se záj [...]

    12. První kniha přečtená, respektive dočtená, v roce 2016. A ještě ke všemu povinná četba. Ale mně se to líbilo.

    13. Kromě povídek kdysi dávno, tato kniha byla první, co jsem od Škvoreckého četla. Nejvíc mě zaujal popis, vystižení vnitřních myšlenkových pochodů hlavního hrdiny Dannyho, na které lze nahlížet i s vědomím kontextu doby.Hrdina ve svých myšlenkách není rozhodně puritánský nebo morální, ale je upřímný. Jeho touhy a sklony nejsou jen podvědomé, ale uvědomuje si je, přiznává si je. Někdy své myšlenky zdá se nemá pod kontrolou, jindy si je podle potřeby sp [...]

    14. An interesting inside look at an ordinary town in German-occupied Czechoslovakia at a time when the Germans were going out and the Russians were coming in. From the point of view of a selfish, narcissistic 20-something kid who sees the war as another layer of annoyance on top of daily life. I liked this book because it told the WWII story through the eyes of a nobody, not a hero and not really a victim - at least not in the sense that so many others were. The townspeople treat the war as somethi [...]

    15. The reviews here are so eloquent. This took me a while to read. Nothing seemed to happen, yet it was an interesting snapshot of what that time and place might have/did look like. Perhaps that the thought that was in my head the most is that when Danny, the protagonist, declares that his life and his Jazz would go on. Little does he know what the future has in store for him. I don't know if jazz was banned, but it being such an American icon, I can't imagine the Communists leaders would have appr [...]

    16. Rozhodně zajímavý pohled na květnové povstání tehdejšíma očima (zejména ve srovnání s tím, čím nás krmili ve škole). Hodně lidí se pozastavuje nad Dannyho sobeckým přístupem, ale mně připadal spíš naprosto upřímný. I když samozřejmě děsně legrační z mého dnešního pohledu ;-)

    17. Kdyby nebyl Danny takový pitomec, možná bych si knihu užila víc - na čtyři hvězdy, ale nemohla jsem hlavního hrdinu vystát. Hlavně jeho šílenou "lásku" k Irene.

    18. The first time I heard of Josef Škvorecký was in the Art of Fiction interview the Paris Review did with him. For me it was one of the most memorable interviews because Škvorecký has a strong understanding of the workings of ideology after witnessing one particular ideology - that being Communism - doing what it did in former Czechoslovakia. Though I was already becoming a fan of Czech literature this put the lesser known Škvorecký higher on my list. The first book I read by Škvorecký was [...]

    19. A coming of age story set in Czechoslovakia at the end of WWII as the Germans are leaving and the Russians are replacing them, full of innocence, longing, hopefulness, illusion, delusion, sadness, and yearning.

    20. We were all sitting over at the Port Arthur and Benno said, ‘Well, it looks like the revolution’s been postponed for a while.’‘Yes,’ I said and stuck the reed in my mouth. ‘For technical reasons, right?’ I happened to have been searching out Czech literature written behind the Iron Curtain recently, which is how I stumbled across The Cowards.Set in the final week of the Second World War, The Cowards tells the story of Danny, saxophonist in the best jazz band in Czechoslovakia. Dann [...]

    21. Konec druhé světové války v městečku Kostelec (ve skutečnosti v mém rodném městě Náchod) z pohledu nadrženého mladíka, který myslí jen na holky a na jazz. Danny Smiřický, alter ego Josefa Škvoreckého, je zvláštní hlavní hrdina. I když má jistý šarm, tak se mu u holek moc nedaří, což ho přivádí k temným myšlenkám, například si přeje co největší válečné masakry, aby mohl být za hrdinu a jeho soci v lásce zemřeli. Celkově jeho touha po dobrodružst [...]

    22. Potom sem se jí zeptal: "Zý sind ajne luftwafehilfefrauenfunkršýlerin?" jenže sem to nemoh vyslovit, a ona se zasmála a řekla: "Jawól -" a v tý chvíli sem si umínil, že si s ní něco začnu. Já nevím, třeba vám to je proti srsti, jak vám to tady vypravuju, že sem si klidně namlouval Němku a lidi zatím umírali v koncentrácích, ale jednak, koukejte, bůhví co kdo dělal, a jednak s Němcema já se taky vůbec nebavil, ale tohle byla hezká holka a krom toho já pojal úmy [...]

    23. In The Cowards, Skovrecky's first novel, his 20-year-old alter ego Danny Smiricky delivers a stream of consciousness account of the last week of WWII in a small town in Bohemia near the German border. Fittingly for one his age, Danny mostly obsesses about jazz and girls, with enthusiasm for both and a fair dollop of self-pity regarding his luck with the latter, but the larger fate of the people in his town and Europe as a whole intrudes as the week progresses and the front draws nearer to the to [...]

    24. The end of World War II, its final days, is the most chaotic period in the whole 20th century in Europe. Armies, POWs, concentration-camp-escapees roam across the continent, headed for the Rhine, PRague, Berlin or just home. Skvorecky describes the chaos in a Czech provincial border town, whose inhabitants change sides as soon as they know which is the next army that passes through town. All the while, the main character conscribes to the local army, figths the nazis, plays jazz in a band and fa [...]

    25. I really did enjoy this novel written by a 24 years old in the very last days of the WW2 in Czechoslovakia (novel is set in a week in 1945 and written in 1948), with uncertainty hanging in the air, with the banality of evil and the change over from Nazis occupation to the arrival of the Red Army. It felt there was a lot of maturity in the voice of the main character mixed with an uncertain optimism and very real desires for the things that really did matter: jazz, music and girls. Reminiscent of [...]

    26. The best thing about this book is that it's super authentic. Sometimes you can feel like the main character even though he's being a pain in the ass and you want to slap him. Honestly. I get that guys probably think like that but to me as a girl it was too much sometimes. I'm not hating on the book, the book's cool. The main character is just insufferable. Also it's written in a dialect from the other side of the country so some of those words were just What? That's not how people talk omg. But [...]

    27. Poslední dny 2. světové války na českém maloměstě.Velké dějiny a malé osudy. Malí hrdinové a velcí zbabělci. Konec něčeho, co nebylo nic moc, ale uměli jsme v tom chodit. Začátek něčeho nového, co trochu vítáme a trochu se toho bojíme.Je to hodně živé - když končil socialismus, nešlo sice o život, ale prožíval jsem to hodně podobně (včetně té "hormonální" části).

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