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Valerie and Her Week of Wonders [Paperback]

By Vitezslav Nezval, David Short (Translator) & Kamil Lhotak (Illustrator)
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Item description for Valerie and Her Week of Wonders by Vitezslav Nezval, David Short & Kamil Lhotak...

Written in 1935 at the height of Czech Surrealism but not published until 1945, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a bizarre erotic fantasy of a young girl's maturation into womanhood. Drawing on Matthew Lewis's The Monk, Sade's Justine, K. H. Macha's May, and Murnau's Nosferatu as well as the form and language of the pulp serial novel, Nezval has constructed a lyrical, menacing dream of sexual awakening involving a vampire with a taste for chicken blood, changelings, a lecherous priest, a malicious grandmother desiring her lost youth, and an androgynous merging of brother with sister. Part fairy tale, part Gothic horror, the novel is a meditation on youth and age, sexuality and death - an exploration of the grotesque that juxtaposes high and low genres with shifting registers of language and moods, thus placing it squarely in the tradition of the Czech avant-garde.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   226
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 7.5"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 10, 2005
Publisher   Twisted Spoon Press
ISBN  808626419X  
ISBN13  9788086264196  

Availability  0 units.

More About Vitezslav Nezval, David Short & Kamil Lhotak

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Horror Fiction > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
4Books > Subjects > Romance > Contemporary
5Books > Subjects > Romance > Fantasy, Futuristic & Ghost

Reviews - What do customers think about Valerie and Her Week of Wonders?

Surrealism Lite  Jan 31, 2006
Vitezslav Nezval was a leading surrealist writer in a time and place not hospitable to imagination. Faced with an increasingly hostile situation, he chose cooperation over martyrdom and turned his attention to more realistic subject matter. In recent years the Czechs have been re-exploring their literary past and freed from the burden of state-imposed social realism, they have rediscovered their surrealist past. This is at least the third translation of Nezval's works to appear in English, and it may be the most familiar to fans of fantasy since it provided the basis for a well-regarded film of the same name.

The novel itself is a fusion of surrealist dreamtime with the conventions of gothic fiction. Thus Valerie finds herself surrounded by evil relatives, handsome young fellows in distress and a master-criminal/vampire who lives off the blood of chickens--and may be Valerie's father.

"Valerie and Her Week of Wonders" is a good introduction to surrealist fiction, not as demanding as the works produced by Breton, Crevel and other more hardcore members of the movement.
Thanks Twisted Spoon  Nov 5, 2005
Vitezslav Nezval (1900-1958) is acclaimed in his native land as one of the greatest Czech poets. He is a vastly important figure in 20th Century Czech culture given his role in founding the Czech Surrealist Group, which continues to this day. Nezval's literary abilities, evident throughout his voluminous output of the '20s and '30s, are even sufficient for Czechs to forgive him his services to the Czechoslovak Communist regime in the '50s. Unfortunately, much of Nezval's poetry, because of its punning and playful use of Czech, is very difficult to translate, especially into English, and thus his work is almost completely unknown in the English-speaking world.

However, 'Valerie and Her Week of Wonders', a novel Nezval wrote in 1935, is not so impervious to the efforts of translators, and I am very grateful to the indispensable Prague-based English-language publisher Twisted Spoon Press for issuing a first, long overdue English translation of this extraordinary novel. I first read this novel in Czech a couple of years ago, and while I can't pretend that nothing has been lost of the lyrical qualities of Nezval's writing, 'Valerie' is more concerned with narrative than with the poetic possibilities of language, so the essence of the novel has been preserved in translation.

I'm delighted that it's been translated because it makes a great introduction not only to Nezval's work, but also to the Surrealist novel, of which it is an uncommonly accessible example. The protagonist of the story is a girl on the threshold of puberty, and the plot concerns her often frightening adventures at the hands of a treacherous grandmother, a lecherous priest and an aged vampire who may be Valerie's father. Whether or not the outrageous, convoluted plot is taken seriously, whether these events are seen as 'real' or as an expression of Valerie's burgeoning sexuality, depends on the reader's personal interpretation. Nezval concocted the story from elements of the Gothic novel (especially Lewis' 'The Monk'), de Sade, Murnau's 'Nosferatu' and 'Alice in Wonderland', but its sexual preoccupations and oneiric ambience make its author's Surrealist leanings fairly explicit. If the book seems somewhat novelettish or even 'trashy' in its implausibilities and lurid details, then this is intentional, as Surrealism was deeply preoccupied by popular, unrespectable literary genres for their ability to evoke the form and content of dreams. And if you have read and enjoyed this book, check out also Jaromil Jires' equally compelling, better-known film version from 1970 - though buy the UK Redemption version rather than the US Facets one.

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