Too Loud a Solitude

by mistersoto

My first reading of anything by Bohumil Hrabal, (an author I’ve been aware of for some time, but have only now come to read), and what a gargantuan ninety eight pages it is. Originally written in 1976, the translation was by Michael Henry Heim, and published by Abacus, many of the chapters begin with Hant’a reminding us that he has spent the last thirty-five years compacting wastepaper, amongst the paper Hant’a seeks out classics of philosophy, scraps of quotations from Hegel, he recalls his first love, Manca, who has a lot of bad luck, of a scatological nature, and also of his relationship with an enigmatic gypsy girl who follows him home to his house, and then into his room. Hant’a is a drinker, a visionary, he sees Jesus and Lao Tzu, and his world view is one imbued with the world of the classics, the architecture and thinking of ancient Rome, his mission of seeking out these discarded pearls of wisdom from the paper he bales seems to be threatened and thwarted when he visits a neighbouring modern compacting plant, with workers dressed in modern stylish protective clothing, ripping out pages indifferently of the books contents, has his work truly been in vain?. The book inspires the reader to read up the many books mentioned, one in particular being; Karel Hynek Macha’s poem – May.

“From here on in, my boy, you’re on your own. You’re going to have to go out and see people and enjoy yourself, playacting until you give up the ghost , because from here on it’s just one melancholy circle after another and going forward means coming back, that’s right progressus ad originem equals regressus ad futurum and your brain is nothing but a hydraulic press of compacted thought”.