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But Crime Does Punish

But Crime Does Punish

Johanides, Ján

témata: beletrie
edice: Modern Slovak Classics

brožovaná, 112 str., 1. vydání
překlad: Sherwood, Julia - Sherwood, Peter
vydáno: červen 2022
ISBN: 978-80-246-5014-2
doporučená cena: 280 Kč



"So, as you see, I am familiar with the case. However, we can’t discuss it unless you learn more about some other court cases, so that you can compare your father’s trial with other, more baffling cases, and see it in the context of the madness that reigned at the time."

In Ján Johanides riveting Slovak novel, you the reader are thrust in medias res, assuming the role of a silent partner in a one-sided conversation with someone you know nothing about. As the pages turn, you must grasp onto significant details to piece together who you are, who the narrator is, and why you have sought him out. As the story unfolds you come to learn that the old archivist, who can’t seem to stay on point, has both a tragic history and the keys to unlocking your family’s darkest secret. A secret that may or may not involve the Czechoslovak secret police, American and Soviet intelligence, Israeli politics, and a tire full of 90,000 dollars.

Set after the fall of communism and the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, casual paranoia permeates the novel as it reveals how the madness of the Communist era has led to the instability of the present. Written in 1995, this haunting novel that evokes the spirit of John Le Carre and the style of Carlos Fuentes shines a searchlight on issues that plague post-Communist Europe today.


Julia Sherwood reads from Ján Johanides' But Crime Does Punish.

Johanides’s prose is sensitively translated by Julia and Peter Sherwood, who also provide useful footnotes to the paperback. The brief novel is completed by an exhaustive study of Johanides by the English scholar Robert B. Pynsent, a well-informed critic of modern Czech and Slovak literature. His essay, which runs to twenty-five pages in small print, is indeed thorough, but it raises the awkward question of whether most readers will manage to wade through its text in order to become better acquainted with the work, full of political cross-references and psychological insights, of a prolific author who has to this day failed to achieve the recognition he deserves.
George Gömöri (World Literature Today, červenec 2023)

The author embarked on his career as part of a burgeoning generation of young writers in the late 1950s who were determined to challenge the tenets of social realism and delve into the intimate and existential dimensions of the human experience. In later interviews, Johanides denied that he belonged to any particular movement and argued that the only thing he and his contemporaries had in common was the unfortunate circumstances imposed upon them by the communist regime. Johanides's writing is undeniably unique in many respects. Translations of dead authors, however, can be more difficult to market than those of living ones, so it is welcome news that Karolinum has published But Crime Does Punish as the first volume of a planned series of Slovak classic books in English.
Given these circumstances, the publication of this English translation of Johanides's work is even more significant. Julia and Peter Sherwood's translation conveys the idiomatic nuances and idiosyncratic qualities of Johanides's vocabulary, as well as his narrator's associative and occasionally elliptical syntax. Capturing these features of Johanides’s prose is especially important given that the novel’s impact hinges on the narrator's rapport with the reader. The translation is helpfully contextualized with translators’ notes explaining the novel’s many historical and cultural references. The afterword by the late Robert B. Pynsent, a leading scholar on Slovak literature in the Anglophone world, situates the key themes of the novel in the broader context of Johanides’s oeuvre.
Katarina Gephardt (Apofenie, 11. 7. 2023)

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