Chapter

Introduction

Alfred Thomas

in Prague Palimpsest

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780226795409
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226795416 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226795416.003.0001
Introduction

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The visitor to Prague, one of the oldest sites in Europe, cannot fail to be impressed by the architectural diversity of this lovely city: Romanesque, Gothic, baroque, Sezession, and cubism succeed each other in a dazzling layering of styles. A major reason for Prague's miraculous preservation is the fact that it was spared the wartime destruction that reduced to ashes other central European cities such as Warsaw, Berlin, and Dresden. In a particularly ironic twist of history, Adolf Hitler deliberately preserved the remains of the city's ancient Jewish Quarter—including the medieval Old–New Synagogue and the nearby cemetery—as a museum of Europe's “extinguished race.” This book presents Prague as a constantly rewritten or revised text in which history and imagination, memory and forgetting have been impossible to disentangle. Most cultural accounts of Prague treat the city either as an unbroken historical continuum or as a site of the imagination tout court.

Keywords: Prague; central Europe; Franz Kafka; Bohumil Hrabal; Milan Kundera; Gustav Meyrink; Jan Neruda; Vítězslav Nezval; Rainer Maria Rilke; Adolf Hitler; tout court

Chapter.  6085 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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