On This Modern Highway, Lost in the Jungle - Tropics, Travel and Colonialism in Czech Poetry

On This Modern Highway, Lost in the Jungle - Tropics, Travel and Colonialism in Czech Poetry
ISBN: ISBN 978-80-246-5112-5
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Jan Mrázek

On This Modern Highway, Lost in the Jungle - Tropics, Travel and Colonialism in Czech Poetry

In 1926, the communist avant-garde poet Konstantin Biebl (1898–1951) travelled from Czechoslovakia to the Dutch East Indies. In his texts, poetic and often comic, both landlocked Bohemia and the colonized tropical islands are seen disorientingly anew, like “mirrors looking at themselves in each other.” On This Modern Highway, Lost in the Jungle takes the reader on a journey crisscrossing the poet’s life and work, with particular attention to his travel writing and his dreams and memories of travel, as they mirror the book author’s own life experience as a Czech scholar of Indonesia living in island Southeast Asia. Biebl’s poetry and travels are also the book’s point of departure for a broader exploration of the intersections of travel and poetry, the attitudes to colonial/social injustice, and the representation of otherness in Czech literary and visual imagination, beyond Biebl’s times. In its attention to how poetic travel reflects the Czech historical experience in the shadow of imperial nations, the book moves scholarly reflection on literary travel, modernity, and colonialism to a new ground.

Jan Mrázek grew up in Czechoslovakia and lives on an island in the Malay Archipelago. He is Associate Professor in Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore and has published widely on Indonesia, seafaring, and Czech travel writing.

Obsah/ Table of Contains

List of figures

Part one/ The mirror of time
Parrots and monkeys
The first palm
Where grenades fall, there green palms grow
First Excursion/Parrots on motorcycles: exoticisms of the Czech
   avant - garde in the 1920s
Metaphors, dreams, travel
Workers... Indians!
Through the train window - Don´t worry, I am not going to Paris
Second Excursion/ His head that watches us over the century´s edge:
   poetic travels in the nineteenth century
The notebook that he lost somewhere on the ship
With the ship that carries tea and coffee
Half - back, you understand? Here you are to be careful!
New Icarus and the mestiza My Beautiful Arsiti
Again some Malay landscape
The jungle around us
Sailors of all seas unite!
Your longest and most adventurous journey
Again and again man is proving that he has no wings
Part Two/ A hundred rose petals, on them no words
Sounds, smells, tastes
Typography - optic configurations
Photographs, cinema, and the magazine Home and the Word
Picture postcards
Snapshots and reflections: poetry / travel / photography / death
Author´s note on translations and sources

Karolinum Press, Praha 2022, 235 x 165 mm, 628 str., čb., anglicky, ISBN 978-80-246-5112-5