Transfigured Night

Transfigured Night

Moníková, Libuše

subjects: fiction
series: Modern Czech Classics

e-book, 1. edition
translation: Posten, Anne
published: may 2023
ISBN: 978-80-246-5302-0
e-book formats PDF, epub, mobi
recommended price: 400 czk



Leonora Marty, who fled Czechoslovakia decades earlier, has returned after the Velvet Revolution. Having concluded her ballet of The Makropulos Affair, the Czech choreographer wanders through Prague, meets old classmates, and visits obscure museums. Leonora is a cultural encyclopedia, so every encounter leads to reflections on the city, Czechoslovakia, and the world.
When Leonora meets a descendant of Germans driven from Czechoslovakia after World War Two, she must confront her relationship with the city of her youth, her homeland’s relationship with its past, and this new relationship with her German admirer.
Written in German and published in 1995, by an author whose life mirrored her protagonist’s, the novel employs a style as influenced by the operas of Leoš Janáček as the novels of Thomas Pynchon.

“A multilayered novel which takes us on a journey through the myths of Prague and the collective narratives of Czech-German conflict.”
–Lucy Duggan, author of Tendrils and Tiny Stories

“In Moníková’s novel, the alchemist laboratories of Prague’s Golden Lane open out onto imaginary landscapes: from the Valley of Wild Šárka, where female dissent was quashed during the mythological Maidens’ War, to the Valley of the Queens, where the mummified Pharaoh Hatshepsut survives undead.”
–Ulrike Vedder, professor of German literature at Humboldt University of Berlin


While Transfigured Night offers a snapshot of one character’s experience in Prague in the 1990s, the book’s themes, particularly the uncertainty about capitalism, are still relevant today. In the city center, vendors continue to sell Matrjoški painted with the faces of famous actors and military caps sporting the hammer and sickle. When the city shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, talks of reviving the city tourist center to a more authentically Czech space – or at least one devoid of the proliferation of imported junk – were renewed. Moníková’s final novel, therefore, presents English-speaking readers with familiar questions to consider about the city and our future, even for those familiar with the country’s past.
Anna West (apofonie, 12. 2. 2024)

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