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Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders Paperback – June 10, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Gothic sleazefest, menstrual fantasy, dime-store pulp fiction—an important early-century surrealist novel only now translated from its native Czech into English. -- New York Press

About the Author

Vitezslav Nezval (1900-1958) was an original member of the Czech avant-garde.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Twisted Spoon Press (June 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 808626419X
  • ISBN-13: 978-8086264196
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,374,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. L. Owen on November 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Vitezslav Nezval (1900-1958) is acclaimed in his native land as one of the greatest Czech poets. He is a vastly important figure in 20th Century Czech culture given his role in founding the Czech Surrealist Group, which continues to this day. Nezval's literary abilities, evident throughout his voluminous output of the '20s and '30s, are even sufficient for Czechs to forgive him his services to the Czechoslovak Communist regime in the '50s. Unfortunately, much of Nezval's poetry, because of its punning and playful use of Czech, is very difficult to translate, especially into English, and thus his work is almost completely unknown in the English-speaking world.

However, 'Valerie and Her Week of Wonders', a novel Nezval wrote in 1935, is not so impervious to the efforts of translators, and I am very grateful to the indispensable Prague-based English-language publisher Twisted Spoon Press for issuing a first, long overdue English translation of this extraordinary novel. I first read this novel in Czech a couple of years ago, and while I can't pretend that nothing has been lost of the lyrical qualities of Nezval's writing, 'Valerie' is more concerned with narrative than with the poetic possibilities of language, so the essence of the novel has been preserved in translation.

I'm delighted that it's been translated because it makes a great introduction not only to Nezval's work, but also to the Surrealist novel, of which it is an uncommonly accessible example. The protagonist of the story is a girl on the threshold of puberty, and the plot concerns her often frightening adventures at the hands of a treacherous grandmother, a lecherous priest and an aged vampire who may be Valerie's father.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 29, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This surrealist story brings Dalí's paintings to mind: absurd and impossible, but so precisely drawn that it captivates the viewer. Instead of linear storytelling with clear premises and resolution, this seems to approach its major characters repeatedly, from different angles, as if trying to find some point of view that Valerie can understand. Instead, the hallucinatory visions circle around the central characters until they evaporate, in the end, like morning fog.

Reading this book might be easiest if you have strong visual imagination. Imagery includes bizarre revival tent exhortations, supernatural transformations, dank crypts, and more. Somehow, these scenes beg to be brought to life.

This isn't for everyone. It leads the reader through a very personal vision, populated by mythic beings of uncertain meaning. If that, plus a vivid pictorial sense can pull you in, then you'll find a remarkable experience between these covers.

-- wiredweird
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Mangravite on January 31, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Vitezslav Nezval was a leading surrealist writer in a time and place not hospitable to imagination. Faced with an increasingly hostile situation, he chose cooperation over martyrdom and turned his attention to more realistic subject matter. In recent years the Czechs have been re-exploring their literary past and freed from the burden of state-imposed social realism, they have rediscovered their surrealist past. This is at least the third translation of Nezval's works to appear in English, and it may be the most familiar to fans of fantasy since it provided the basis for a well-regarded film of the same name.

The novel itself is a fusion of surrealist dreamtime with the conventions of gothic fiction. Thus Valerie finds herself surrounded by evil relatives, handsome young fellows in distress and a master-criminal/vampire who lives off the blood of chickens--and may be Valerie's father.

"Valerie and Her Week of Wonders" is a good introduction to surrealist fiction, not as demanding as the works produced by Breton, Crevel and other more hardcore members of the movement.
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