Eastern European Project

I thought maybe for the second half of the year, after I’ve stopped reading my TBR pile, I’d return to another project I had in mind towards the end of last year but never put forward (I did at least stack all the books in a pile on my shelf), which was an Eastern European project. My nouveau roman project, after all, seems to have gone quite well so far, so maybe I will get somewhere with this one too, for it seems to me Eastern European literature is probably the most overlooked literature, with the highest percentage of masterpieces, of any area in the known world. (Or something of the sort). This project, like all good projects, has a few arbitrary rules, and Eastern Europe I am going to define thus:

  • Eastern Europe comprises all the countries that were part of the communist bloc, with the exception of Russia and its associated environs
  • or, Eastern Europe comprises all the countries which were once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
  • or, Eastern Europe comprises the following languages: Czech, Serbo-Croat, Hungarian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Polish

Yes, I think the last definition will do. I am not therefore including anything written in either Russian or German, on the supposition that those languages are already too dominant in our Western European c20th literary discourse. For as we all know, if Franz Kafka had written in Czech, he’d have remained lost in obscurity; while if Karel Čapek had written in German, he’d have been the greatest writer of the c20th. So here’s my list of books:

  • Bosnian Chronicle, by Ivo Andrić (Serbo-Croat)
  • The Manuscript Found In Saragossa, by Jan Potocki (Polish)
  • Celestial Harmonies, by Péter Esterházy (Hungarian)
  • Mr Theodore Mundstock, by Ladislav Fuks (Czech)
  • The Sorrowful Eyes of Hannah Karajich, by Ivan Olbracht (Czech)
  • The Fictions of Bruno Schulz, by Bruno Schulz (Polish)
  • One of Garden, Ashes, The Encyclopaedia of the Dead or The Hourglass, by Danilo Kiš (Serbo-Croat)
  • Fathers and Forefathers, by Slobodan Selenić (Serbo-Croat)
  • Cobblestone, by Peter Langyel (Hungarian)
  • The Door, by Magda Szabo (Hungarian)
  • Ferdydurke, by Witold Gombrowicz (Polish)
  • Polish Writing Today, by Various (Polish)
  • The Kiss and Other Stories, by Various (Hungarian)
  • Imperium, by Ryszard Kapuściński (Polish)
  • A Concise History of Poland, by Lukowski and Zawadski (English)
  • One or more of An Ordinary Man, Hordubal or Meteor, by Karel Čapek
  • Catapult, by Vladimír Parál (Czech)
  • The Little Town Where Time Stood Still, by Bohumil Hrabal (Czech)
  • Life with a Star, by Jiří Weil (Czech)
  • One or more of Sunflower, The Crimson Coach and The Adventures of Sindbad, by Gyula Krúdy (Hungarian)
  • Relations, by Zsigmond Móricz (Hungarian)
  • The Case Worker, by György Konrád (Hungarian)
  • The Faithful River, by Stefan Żeromski (Polish)
  • The White King, by György Dragomán (Hungarian)
  • Dark Angel, by György Moldova (Hungarian)
  • Prague Tales, by Jan Neruda (Czech)
  • 9, by Andrzej Stasiuk (Polish)
  • The Anthropus-Spectre-Beast, by Tadeusz Konwicki (Polish)
  • Madame, by Antoni Libera (Polish) **Gave Up**
  • Wondermaid, by Dezső Kosztolányi (Hungarian)
  • The Doll, by Bolesław Prus (Poland)
  • One of The Dark Diamonds and The Man With The Golden Touch, by Mór Jókai (Hungarian)
  • Metropole, by Ferenc Karinthy (Hungarian)
  • The Palace, by Wiesław Myśliwski (Polish)
  • Apocryphal Tales and Tales from Two Pockets, by Karel Čapek (Czech)
  • The Damned Yard and Other Stories, by Ivo Andrić (Serbo-Croat)
  • A few from The Futurological Congress, Eden, Peace on Earth and Hospital of the Transfiguration, by Stanislaw Lem (Polish)
  • The Arsonist, by Egon Hostovský (Czech)
  • Poland Under Black Light, by Janusz Anderman (Polish)
  • The Banquet in Blitva, by Miroslav Krleža (Serbo-Croat)
  • The Siege of Beszterce, by Kálmán Mikszáth (Hungarian)
  • The Pendragon Legend, by Antal Szerb (Hungarian)
  • Barbarian in the Garden, by Zbigniew Herbert (Polish)

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