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서울 - 고은 시인과 함께한 <프라하 작가들이 사랑한 도시> 출판기념회

Acclaimed Korean poet and literature Nobel prize nominee Ko Un has launched the very first anthology of Czech short stories ever published in Korean language - „Prague: City Loved by Writers“. This publication of Seoul-based Happy Reading Books is also the first book by Czech writers to be published this year by this publishing house.

 

(r-l): Master Ko Un, Ambassador Jaroslav Olša,jr., wife of ambassador Michaela Vovková

all photos by Yoo Hyun-ryul

 

Prague: City Loved by Writers (프라하- 작가들이 사랑한도시) was officially launched at Seoul´s Czech Infocenter at Castle Praha Bldg. on March 31, 2011 jointly by famous Korean poet Master Ko Un and Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Republic of Korea Jaroslav Olša, jr. In a presence of seventy guests, including many journalists and writers, the book featuring sixteen stories by the most famous old and new Czech writers was for the first time presented to Korean public. Originally published in English as Prague: A Traveller´s Literary Companion, the Korean version is slightly abbreviated and added with a new material written by well-known Korean author and Prague-lover Cho Seong-kwan.

On this unique occassion, Master Ko Un wrote a short poem on Prague, the city he has visited a few years ago and where he is heading this May. He will take part in Prague´s international book fair Svět knihy (www.svetknihy.cz) where he will launch the second book of his poems published in Czech translation.

Publication of the book Prague: City Loved by Writers in Korean translation is a remarkable achievement both for Korean tourists visiting Prague in tens of thousands every year, but also for those interested in foreign literature. As the city of Prague has inspired a lot of fine literature the publication of this book made Korean readers a vast favor – thus not surprisingly the launch was supported by Czech Tourism office in Seoul. The stories included are classics by the world-known Prague German-language writers as Franz Kafka and Gustav Meyrink, or Czech classics as Karel, Čapek, Alois Jirásek and Jan Neruda, as well as the youngest generation of writers as Jáchym Topol and Michal Ajvaz. There are autobiographical pieces, fiction, legend, stories from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, tales from the Soviet regime, and contemporary pieces from the Czech Republic. Ivan Klima's introductory piece is titled "The Spirit of Prague," and after reviewing Prague's history--cultural and political--he concludes that paradox is at Prague's heart, and irony and ridicule are its primary tools. He also stresses that it was its multiculturality, which has inspired people's creativity by the blending of three cultures that lived side by side for decades, even centuries: Czech, German and Jewish. Both devices are employed deftly throughout the anthology, providing clever, lyrical, and moving snippets of Prague's complex reality.

Not only this book make Korean-language translations debut to many – as yet unknown to Korean public – Czech writers, but it also shows all ups and downs of Prague, the beautifful city. The stories shows the city in which "the best people in the country were often imprisoned, tortured or executed." But it also shows that Czech writers deal with such injustices with a subversive sense of humor. It shines in " Josef Škvorecký's rendition of President Clinton's sax playing at the Reduta jazz club, Egon Erwin Kisch's "The Case of the Washerwoman," and Jaroslav Hasek's sendup of The Society of Teetotalers. To see human comedy in the midst of great suffering allowed the spirit of Prague to prevail, and that is the genius of the authors presented here. These stories, arranged by the areas of the city they illuminate, are a literary banquet for readers who already know and love "the city of a hundred spires." As such, they are designed, according to editor to reveal "a deeper truth about the psyche of the people of Prague than perhaps direct description could." Also included are biographies of contributors and translators and a historical chronology of Prague.

See articles in The Korea Herald and The Korea Times

http://www.koreaherald.com/lifestyle/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20110403000309

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/special/2011/04/176_84338.html