Summer of Caprice (paperback)
paperback, 106 pp., 1. edition
translation: Corner, Mark
published: october 2016
recommended price: 280 czk
In Summer of Caprice (the classic novel of the Twenties that was adapted into the beloved film of the Czech New Wave in the Sixties) the arrival of a magician and his girlfriend to a sleepy spa town sets off a series of events that will turn the lives of everyone in Little Karlsbad upside down. Set over the course of just three days in June, this poetic and comic novel beautifully captures the atmosphere of a small town, as Vančura juxtaposes the mundanity of life with the majesty of language.
The playful narrative, linguistic dexterity, and metatextuality that has only become richer over the decades are hallmarks of this brilliant work of interwar modernism.
“The witty conversation and ingenious dialogues surpass
the plot itself.”
“Certainly, Vladislav Vančura’s language is a test for any translator’s mettle.”
—Alice Horáčková, MF Dnes
„(What makes Vladislav Vančura unique) is that all of his avant-garde searching
finally led him to the epic’s classical approach, which enabled him, like no other prose
writer in the world, to appropriate all the fundamental epiphanies of modern lyric poetry.”
—M. Kundera, The Art of the Novel: Vladislav Vančura’s
Journey in Search of the Great Epic
Vančura's tale follows four people – a colonel, a priest, a bathhouse owner and his wife – and how their lives are altered by the arrival of a magician-acrobat and his assistant. "Vančura is difficuIt, "Corner admits." But Caprice is a lovely, bittersweet book. It's about dreaming dreams."
Corner successfully captures the essence of this, particulary in the last lines of the daydreaming wife, who imagines the life of a traveling performer: "How wonderful to be thinking no more than three days ahead, to be peregrinating from one town to another. How marvelous to plan a performance from beginning to end and then to repeat it day after day before people not one of whom, besides ourselves, knows what's going to happen next."
The first edition of Vančura's Rozmarné léto included illustrations by that other great tragic Czech artist, Josef Čapek. Karolinum Press has also insisted on illustrating Comer's translations, with the renowned Adolf Born supplying illustrations for Saturnin, while Summer of Caprice is filled with the work of artist Jiří Grus, making for very attractive packaging.