Saturday, June 18, 2016

"I learned that feeling victorious makes you victorious ..." - Bohumil Hrabal #QotD

2016.06.15-DSC06693Bohumil Hrabal (28 March 1914 – 3 February 1997) was a Czech writer, regarded by many Czechs as one of the best writers of the 20th century. [Wikipedia]. For my trip to Prague, a read a collection of short stories, Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult and the novel, I Served the King of England.

Here are some quotes from I Served the King of England by Bohumil Hrabal

So I learned that money could buy you not just a beautiful girl, money could buy you poetry too.

Here, in the Hotel Tichota, I also learned that the ones who invented the notion that work is ennobling were the same ones who drank and ate all night long with beautiful women on their knees, the rich ones, who could be as happy as little children.

Mr. Brandejs gave me a warm welcome and took me to my temporary quarters, a little room in the attic with such a pretty view of Prague that I decided, because of the room and the view, to try to stay there permanently.

I pushed the hangers together and hung up my clothes, and then looked out over the rooftops of Prague, and when I saw the shimmering Castle, the home of Czech kings, I was flooded with tears and forgot all about the Hotel Tichota, and I was glad they’d suspected me of trying to steal the Bambino, because if my boss hadn’t believed it, I’d still be raking the paths and tidying the haystacks, nervous, wondering where the next whistle would come from and who would be blowing it, because by that time I’d figured out that the porter had a whistle too and was acting as the boss’s eyes and legs, and he’d watch us and then whistle just like the boss.

... also saw rare Mosel and Rhine wines, and our own Bzenecka wine from Moravia, and Czech wines from Melnfk and Žernoseky. As he walked from cellar to cellar Mr. Skrivánek would caress the bottle necks fondly, like an alcoholic, though as a matter of fact he didn’t drink, at least I’d never seen him drink, and I suddenly realized I’d never seen him sit down either, he was always standing.

I learned that feeling victorious makes you victorious, and that once you lose heart or let yourself be discouraged the feeling of defeat will stay with you for the rest of your life, and you’ll never get back on your feet again, especially in your own country and your own surroundings, where you’re considered a runt, an eternal busboy.

2016.06.15-DSC06621 When I walked through Prague now, I didn’t wear a tie, I didn’t want to be a bit taller than I was, I no longer tried to decide which of the hotels I walked by on Prikopy or Wenceslas Square I would buy. I was happy with myself in a gloating sort of way, glad that I’d ended up as I had, that the way forward was now my own way, that I wouldn’t have to bow and scrape anymore or be careful to say my good-mornings and good-afternoons and good-evenings and de-lighted-to-see-yous or keep an eye on the staff or, if I was one of the staff myself, make sure that the boss didn’t catch me sitting down or smoking or filching a piece of meat.

When I was a waiter I used to love it when at least once a day all those doormen and superintendents and stokers would come out of their buildings, turn their faces upward, and from the abyss of the Prague streets gaze at the strip of sky overhead, at the clouds, to see what time it really was, according to nature and not by the clock.

2016.06.15-DSC06609I knew for certain that this girl could never be happy, but that her life would be sadly beautiful, and that life with her would be both an agony and a fulfillment for a man.

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