A Bouquet (of Czech Folktales)

Karel Jaromir Erben

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A Bouquet (of Czech Folktales) by Karel Jaromír Erben, translated from Czech and introduced by Marcela Malek Sulak / artwork by Alén Diviš / ISBN 9788086264417 / 174-page hardcover from Twisted Spoon Press

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Erben compiled and wrote A Bouquet based on his studies of Slavic folklore. First published in 1853, it is dotted with murder and mayhem : graves opening and the dead walking the earth, the animate becoming the inanimate and vice versa, ogres and monsters of lake and wood, human transformations reminiscent of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Written as ballads, Marcela Sulak's new translation perfectly captures their cadence and rhythm in an English that is fresh and energetic. Through the years A Bouquet has come to be regarded as a masterpiece and wellspring of inspiration to artists of all stripes, including Antonín Dvořák, who composed a series of symphonic poems to some of these tales. Of the many illustrators who have contributed to the various editions that have appeared over the past century and a half, Alén Diviš's artwork is generally considered the most powerful. This edition also includes Erben's own notes explaining the origins of many of these tales.

"Sulak’s translation admirably and faithfully renders the content while also tending to the various meters and rhyme schemes that mark Erben’s poetic style. The artwork by Alén Divíš helps set the tone for the text by emphasizing its darker and more foreboding elements. Readers new to Erben and nineteenth-century Czech literature will find her introduction helpful for explaining the origins of the text and its place in the Czech cannon. Those readers interested in folklore, especially tales with Slavic and German roots, will find the inclusion of Erben’s notes particularly illuminating. ... [T]his is a welcome much needed translation for readers interested in Czech literature, nineteenth-century poetry, and folklore."— Esther Peters

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