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The Bohemian Body
Gender and Sexuality in Modern Czech Culture
Alfred Thomas

A path to understanding modern Czech literature

The Bohemian Body examines the modernist forces within nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe that helped shape both Czech nationalism and artistic interaction among ethnic and social groups-Czechs and Germans, men and women, gays and straights.

By re-examining the work of key Czech male and female writers and poets from the National Revival to the Velvet Revolution, Alfred Thomas exposes the tendency of Czech literary criticism to separate the political and the personal in modern Czech culture. He points instead to the complex interplay of the political and the personal across ethnic, cultural, and intellectual lines and within the works of such individual writers as Karel Hynek Mácha, Bozena Nemcová, and Milan Kundera, resulting in the emergence and evolution of a protean modern identity. The product is a seemingly paradoxical yet nuanced understanding of Czech culture (including literature, opera, and film), long overlooked or misunderstood by Western scholars.

"Thomas's book is remarkable for its scope and intellectual coherence. He notes that the oscillation between the parochial concerns of a small nation under threat of cultural extinction, and a cosmopolitan impulse that is no less powerful, is evident in Czech literary scholarship. The Bohemian Body's novel point of view is bound to stimulate discussion across the field of Czech literary criticism."–Maria Nemcová Banerjee, Smith College, author of Terminal Paradox: The Novels of Milan Kundera

"Through a series of careful readings of modern Czech-language literature and film, Thomas deploys gender analysis to reveal a consistent interplay within the texts between the personal and the political, as well as between local and European identities. Wary of strict categorizations, he celebrates complexity and plurality. Engagingly written and well-argued, The Bohemian Body will challenge historians and literary critics alike to rethink how we interpret Czech works of art."–Chad Bryant, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Alfred Thomas is professor and head of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of several books, including Anne's Bohemia: Czech Literature and Society, 1310–1420. He is also coeditor of Cultures of Forgery: Making Nations, Making Selves.

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the cover of Bohemian Body is blue, with hard-to-see images in the background. Black drawings of what appear to be two nude female bodies with arms outstretched. There is also a circle motif.

June 2007

LC: 2006031796 PG
304 pp. 6 x 9

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