Others' Paradise: Tales of Old Prague by Paul Leppin / paperback / ISBN 9788086264530 / paperback from Twisted Spoon Press
Toward the end of his life Leppin wrote: "Prague remains my deepest experience. Its conflict, its mystery, its rat-catcher's beauty have ever provided my poetic efforts with new inspiration and meaning." Others' Paradise represents one of the most intense expressions of this experience. Beginning with the highly imagistic "The Doors of Life," the eight stories contained in this volume detail the contours of the lives and visions of a collection of Prague inhabitants, from a prostitute bound to the decay of the old Jewish quarter, to a man caught in the memory of a lost love, and a shoemaker whose knowledge of the world has been constricted to the view from the window of his cellar workroom. Amidst their differing circumstances what these characters share is an intense desire for lasting human contact and the fated disappointment of all such aspirations. Binding their personal histories, woven into their most intimate details, is Prague itself, the city whose nature, mythical and yet all-too-real, gives shape and force to their desires while simultaneously determining their frustrations.
"Leppin (1878-1945), a civil servant revulsed by bourgeois life who reactively plunged into decadence, reads like the missing link between Baudelaire and the scalding satirical artist George Grosz." ―Roy Olson, Booklist
"For Leppin Prague, and particularly its Jewish quarter, is the quintessential dead city ... [His] fairy tales are unique, however, in their combination of lyricism with a modernist disjointedness, concern with metatexts, and lack of completion pointing toward surrealism." ―SEEJ
Paul Leppin was born in Prague on November 27, 1878. Beginning with the appearance of his first novel, The Doors of Life, in 1901, his poetry, prose, and criticism appeared regularly in Prague and Germany over the next thirty years. Leppin was also one of the few German writers to have close contacts with the Czech literary community, and his contribution to the city's literature and culture was recognized both in 1934, when he was awarded chiller Memorial Prize, and in 1938, when he received the Czechoslovak Ministry of Culture Award. He died in Prague of syphilis on April 10, 1945.
Edited by Alex Balgiu and Monica de la Torre