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Thirlwell on Hrabal

I don’t usually like to re-post things that have appeared on The Literary Review, mainly because I think our site and Michael’s have an audience Venn diagram that looks more like a single big circle than two overlapping ones, but this is too good to pass up.

This weekend, Adam Thirlwell had a piece in The Guardian about Bohumil Hrabal’s I Served the King of England:

Through his palavering narrators and theatrical characters, Hrabal discovered a crucial law of comedy: we are most funny precisely in proportion to how seriously we take ourselves – to how absolutely we have lost our sense of humour. A sense of humour, in Hrabal, is really a sense of proportion: the ability to diminish the things of this world to their true size. This, in the end, is the real way to be a hedonist: to be content with how small the world’s pleasures are, to be happy with humiliation. Ditie’s diminutive stature, which leads him to try to impose himself on the world in such grandiose ways, is really metaphysical. For everyone is miniature, but with such grandiose ambitions. So everyone is laughable.

If you haven’t read the book yet, you definitely should go pick up a copy right away. It’s incredible.



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