Monday, June 15, 2009

Prague in Black and Gold: Scenes From the Life of a European City by Peter Demetz


Category: Around the World 

Very informative book. I like how the author divided and explained these "scenes" from the long life of a city. Some of my favorite bits dealt with the origin myth and how it has effected Prague by starting out with a ruling class of women, or gynocracy with the three daughters of Krok. The three sisters were very impressive with their gifts and the youngest, Libussa, with her way of dealing out justice with compassion rather than an iron will, even if one dissatisfied man decided to shout "long hair short minds" throughout the hills. The maidens war was another example of the earlier gender conflicts that showed women as fierce and wanting respect. 
The latter chapters dealing with important emperors, noblemen, artists, and intellectuals is filled with research and clearly written by a man who as his heart and soul tied into his hometown.Prague has proven time and again throughout history to be ever-changing in it's tolerance and forever being strongly influenced many religions including Catholicism, Judaism, Protestantism, and Moor traditions, let alone ethnic and political influences. It is no doubt a town of magic and strength. Some of my favorite chapters were "Mozart in Prague" and "Prague in the Carolinium Era" My excitement to visit this city has only grown through reading this book. I also appreciate the author's helpful hints for pronouncing the complicated Czech language even though I am still at a loss for pronouncing many of the person and place names.

One more favorite tidbit: I learned the origin of the Czech tongue twister that contains no vowels.... 
the line translates as "stick your finger through your throat" written in Czech as "Strc prst skrz krk." As explained in the book this twister comes from a novel entitled "The Witch of Prague" and was actually used by a woman flirting and showing of her bewitching language skills to a foreigner who indeed becomes enamored with her.Quote-right

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