Just last month—on October 28th, to be precise—the Czech Republic celebrated the 100th anniversary of the establishment of independence when, after the First World War, the Czechoslovak Republic was declared. This whole year has been full of micro-celebrations of this event, including symbols that cross over geographical borders in terms of cultural significance—one such example is the grand return of Alphonse Mucha's "Slav Epic" to its country of origin.
Here at Apofenie Magazine, we decided to participate in these celebrations by presenting contemporary Czech literature in translation. One of its common themes is the desire to resolve various traumas that the country suffered during the 20th century, from being occupied by Nazi Germany to the long forty years under communist rule. That is not to say that Czech prose and poetry only focuses on these themes; even then, however, a certain kind of dark, tongue-in-cheek humor pervades the national mentality as if to shield itself from the very serious matters-at-hand. Especially now, when much of Europe, Czech Republic included, deals with the repercussions of populist politics, adopting this attitude seems necessary.
This is our second country-themed issue. Every romantic teenager picks up a copy of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being at some point during their youth, but what of Hrabal? of Nezval? of Klíma? of Čapek? of… well you understand us, don’t you? So enjoy, and we hope that you’ll fall in love with contemporary Czech literature!