Harlequin's Millions

Czechoslovakia s greatest living writer Milan KunderaIn this moving, absorbing novel, we meet the eccentric residents of a home for the elderly who reminisce about their lives and their changing country Written with a keen eye for the absurd and peppered with dialogue that captures the poignancy of the everyday, Harlequin s Millions is a sensual delight.Bohumil Hrabal Czechoslovakia s greatest living writer Milan KunderaIn this moving, absorbing novel, we meet the eccentric residents of a home for the elderly who reminisce about their lives and their changing country Written with a keen eye for the absurd and peppered with dialogue that captures the poignancy of the everyday, Harlequin s Millions is a sensual delight.Bohumil Hrabal 1914 1997 worked as a railway dispatcher during the Nazi occupation of then Czechoslovakia, a traveling salesman, a steelworker, a recycling mill worker, and a stagehand His novels were censored under the Communist regime and have since been translated into nearly thirty languages.
Harlequin s Millions Czechoslovakia s greatest living writer Milan KunderaIn this moving absorbing novel we meet the eccentric residents of a home for the elderly who reminisce about their lives and their changing count

  • Title: Harlequin's Millions
  • Author: Bohumil Hrabal Stacey Knecht
  • ISBN: 9780981955735
  • Page: 101
  • Format: Paperback
  • 1 thought on “Harlequin's Millions”

    1. A Gulag for the AgedAn old peoples' home is to Hrabal what a cancer ward is to Solzhenitsyn and an Alpine sanatorium to Mann: an allegorical setting for a society in the process of disintegration. Czechoslovakia, however, was a far less malign society than the Soviet Union or even fin de siecle Europe - an amateur one might say, in the techniques of repression and self-delusion. Nonetheless, the old people's home is part of the Czechoslovakian Gulag, less overtly oppressive but no less dismal th [...]

    2. Harlequin's Millions is the third portion to Bohumil Hrabal's biographical trilogy which started with Cutting It Short and The Town Where Time Stood Still. The story takes place in an old castle once owned by Count Špork, now converted into a retirement home, where the unnamed narrator and her husband, Francin have joined his aged, disabled brother, Uncle Pepin already residing in the medieval stoned edifice, perched on top a hill overlooking Nymburk, the town where time stood still.Within its [...]

    3. And there was music coming from the speakers, a string orchestra played "Harlequin's Millions," the melody swirled around the pensioners and everyone who heard it was entranced, but the music didn't sound like a reproach, it was more like a melancholy memory of old times One of Hrabal's last novels, Harlequin's Millions shows his preoccupation with death and the persistence of memory. The opening scene describes a long avenue of shaded trees, leading away from "the small town where time stood s [...]

    4. Burns with a quiet laugh and points up and out from itself -- two qualities another Hrabal narrator claimed were required for lit that's worth its salt. Big snowstorm en route and the salt's all sold out across the area. Perhaps not so coincidentally I started to slip about midway through this -- I admired the playfully gothic retirement castle and the chapters that began cogently before devolving into blessed confabulatory nostalgia for the golden years, with the title being a song that serves [...]

    5. Bohumil Hrabal, even his name is like an incantation, inviting you into the incredible music of his prose.

    6. set in a "little town where time stood still," bohumil hrabal's harlequin's millions (harlekýnovy milióny) is an elegantly written work of reminiscence and remembrance. full of exquisite, expressive prose, the late czech writer's novel features an aged female protagonist/narrator reflecting on years past and moments elapsed. hrabal's rhythmic sentences and chapter-length paragraphs reveal the nameless lead's life story (personally, politically, and professionally) - as well as those of her hus [...]

    7. Part III of Hrabal's autobiography/biography of his mother, that started with Cutting It Short (I've yet to find Part II in translation) is more of the same: at times hilarious in the way it trips, slapstick-like over itself to find the time to tell all the stories it wants to tell, and at times filled with grief for that which has gone and will never come again.She is old now, and together with Francin and his senile brother Pepin they've checked into a retirement home; it used to be a castle b [...]

    8. [4.5] Far from the gritty, serious-faced equivalent of the British kitchen sink novelist / Angry Young Man I'd imagined Hrabal to be, the first book of his I've read is like a musical in novel form. (The previous impression wasn't helped by some review I ran across last year - of another book - about him being sexist; this probably meant I'd just consider him a typical bloke of his time, but I so much could not be bothered with the debate. Glad I did give this one a try because it was rather fun [...]

    9. "Outside the little town where my time stood still is a small castle, and in that castle is a retirement home"."Here in this castle I lived every day in the mystery, in the strata of human destinies of people who had long since been buried, but I brought them back to life, thanks to the memories of the old witnesses, Vaclav and Karel and Otokar, my three dear friends, who each day pointed their fingers to show me things in the little town, where what could no longer be seen was still very much a [...]

    10. Before we start this review let’s go straight to the font of all knowledge, . “Bohumil Hrabal (28 March 1914 – 3 February 1997) was a Czech writer, regarded by many Czechs as one of the best writers of the 20th century.” There is then a reference to James Wood’s article in the “London Review of Books, Vol 23 No.1, 2001). I think that article contains a little more depth to the greatness of Hrabal’s work. You can read it here if you’re interested lrb/v23/n01/james-wo“Harlequin [...]

    11. Written in cooperation with three witnesses to old times, Harlequin's Millions chronicles the goings on in Count Sporck's castle which is now and old people's home, near the town where time stood still. The narrator recounts the best of times, and the worst of times, while wandering round the corridors and gardens of the Count's castle to the sounds of Harlequin's Millions pouring from the PA system, accompanied by the three witnesses to old times.

    12. Schitterend verhaal over ouderdom, eenzaamheid en burgerlijkheid. Hrabals massieve stijl, vol knipogen en kwinkslagen, is eens te meer om van te smullen. De Hrabaliaanse paradox ten top: de euforische schoonheid van het leven verpletterd door het genadeloos blootleggen van de schone schijn. Alweer een prachtige vertaling van Kees Mercks.

    13. A lively but sad contrast between life in Czechoslovakia under Communism and the years between the wars. What could have been a boring exercise in nostalgia is so fanciful and told with the long, rhythmical sentences of a master (well captured by Ms. Knecht) that it’s a joy. The only thing that weighed it down somewhat, at least for me, were the stories of the three “witnesses to old times.”

    14. The Beautiful Absurdity of the GameI knew nothing, shame, shame on me!, of Bohumil Hrabal when I received Harlequin’s Millions as an anniversary present from my best friend. Until then, for me Czech literature began with Karel Čapek and finished with Milan Kundera (one of my all time favorites, it’s true) with nothing in between. Not anymore. I have made a solemn promise to myself to read at least two other Hrabal’s works - Closely Observed Trains and I Served the King of England as soon [...]

    15. This review originally appeared in monkeybicycle,Like the orchestral music blaring through the speakers during the entirety of Bohumil Hrabal’s Harlequin’s Millions, the story is expertly wound together in a bittersweet melody. Maryska, a character who appears in previous Hrabal works, is now an elderly pensioner living in a retirement home, which used to be the castle of the now dead Count Špork. The halls of the castle once used to entertain noble guests, but are now dedicated to bedridde [...]

    16. Rare are books that, as one reads them, one has the feeling of inhabiting, like a house where one can stroll back and forth, open and close different doors and cupboards to discover forgotten treasures. This is quintessential Hrabal. Harlequin's Millions, in Stacey Knecht's excellent translation, takes you on a curious sort of journey: you never get very far, you keep returning to the same spot, to the same motif, and you are utterly spellbound and wouldn't trade this for a journey around the wo [...]

    17. Always glad to read something new(ly translated) by Hrabal. Feels like the end of the line. The vignettes take place at an old people's home and the stories are about the losses of time and age. Sad but not only sad. Full of good humor and attentiveness to the ordinary. I have known a number of old folks pretty well and spent a certain amount of time visiting folks in retirement homes. This rang true (p. 146): "I can't help thinking that if war broke out, no one in the retirement home would noti [...]

    18. Death is a constant in Hrabal's works, sometimes a thing to dread, sometimes something to look forward to, but mostly as a kind of punctuation. Harlequin's Millions is Hrabal's meditation on dying itself, the slow process by which people in our society become irrelevant, then useless, then hidden away, and finally forgotten. His ruminations are delivered in the guise of his mother's thoughts as she and her husband Francin settle in a retirement home established in the chateau of the 17th century [...]

    19. delicious overall, one of my favourite paragraphs: "The foehn blows in from Austria and Bavaria, I daresay there are many people in Vienna and Munich who can't endure that steady wind and commit suicide, it is this same foehn that blows through South Moravia, as in the old folk song "The Wind Blows From Buchlov" In the evening the vintner is merry and in the morning he has hung himself, because just like so many others he couldn't endure the persistent breeze This same wind carries fine sand fr [...]

    20. Bohumil Hrabal is widely considered one of the greatest Czech writers of the 20th century and Harlequin’s Millions is a fine example of his trademark tales of ordinary people, funny, sad, full of observations and anecdotes and with the cadences of everyday speech. The narrator, her husband and brother have come to live in an old castle which has been converted into a retirement home. People by an eccentric cast of characters, who play out the last drama of their lives within this confined spac [...]

    21. This is one of those titles I may have to revisit in the future. The style is in a rambling-in-the-present-and-past stream of consciousness. It reminds me of looking at people and events through the window of a slow-moving trainey are here and then they are gone. The prose is crisp and the language is rich. The characters are quirky and eccentric, which matches the town in which they live. I don't know if I could handle the same piece of music playing in the background during all the daylight ho [...]

    22. 10 stars really. a beautiful and butter colored look at a disgusting and decrepit 'old folks home' where the reality can be manipulated by the imagination. just think about it, if you were put in a home, your family visits every once in a while, the inmates are mad, but also beautiful and intriguing. the gardens are a crumbing disaster, but really the fun part of the place too. the staff, monsters, but also they feed you.when you look at something grotesque and rotten, but see fresh flowers and [...]

    23. A meditation on time and place, set in the former castle of Count Spork, now a retirement home just outside of a little town where time stood still. Typical Hrabal, full of poignancy and humor.Revisited after reading The Little Town Where Time Stood Still. Still a wonderfully poignant book, just not quite up to the standard of the earlier works. Hrabal's "twist in the tail" left me feeling unaccountably let down.

    24. Exquisite, haunting, beautiful, and at times almost unbearably heart wrenching, Hrabal's languid prose is the literary equivalent of a film like LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD or the music of The Caretaker, its repetitions and distortions evoking the haze of memory, the alchemical synthesis of dream and recollection. The kind of book one dreams of floating through ad infinitum, just as its protagonist does the streets of Nymburk.

    25. Przypomniałem sobie wszystko za co uwielbiam Hrabala, choć ta pozycja jest jedną z najsmutniejszych w jego dorobku.

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