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Literary Collections Essays

The Achievement of Josef Skvorecky

edited by Sam Solecki

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1994
Essays, Eastern, Canadian
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1994
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The noted scholar and critic George Steiner has called the Czech-Canadian author Josef Skvorecky ‘one of the major literary figures of our time,’ yet to date few books on him and his writing have appeared in English. The Achievement of Josef Skvorecky is the first collection of essays in any language to be devoted to his work.


Skvorecky was born in 1924, and his life spans most of the major historical events of twentieth-century Europe. An exile who left Prague after the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968, he is among those distinguished writers and artists who produced much of their major work in exile. From this first book, The Cowards (1958), his novels have offered an indispensable fictional account of nearly a century of Czech life and history. Though Skvorecky is essentially a comic and anti-political writer, his novels engage some of the largest and most pressing political, historical, and ideological issues of the century: fascism, communism, the nature of totalitarianism, the fate of religion. Skvorecky is that rare being, a creative writer who is also a teacher, a man of letters, and an intellectual.


Sam Solecki has collected and commissioned essays from around the world that provide an overview of Skvorecky’s work, place him in a larger cultural and international context, and offer readings of his fiction. Among the contributors are such well-known writers and scholars as Milan Kundera, Jan Kott, George Woodcock, Andre Brink, George Gibian, Igor Hajek, and Stanislaw Baranczak.

About the author

Sam Solecki is a professor of English at the University of Toronto and a former editor of The Canadian Forum.He is also editor of Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, Starting from Ameliasburgh: The Collected Prose of Al Purdy and Rooms for Rent in the Outer Planets: Selected Poems 1962-1996. His most recent books are Ragas of Longing: The Poetry of Michael Ondaatje and The Last Canadian Poet: An Essay on Al Purdy.

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Other titles by Sam Solecki