Purchasing old books in Prague

Julius Voček (1903-1943) is my favorite writer.

The reason why I have a special liking for this Czech writer is because I read his death row’s notes-“The Report under the Gallows” as early as in middle school. The light of optimism and idealism between the lines of humanity penetrated like sunlight. My mind. Since then, Volcik and “The Report under the Gallows” have become books that I spend my whole life reading. Goethe commented on Shakespeare: “I read his first page, and my whole life belongs to him.” For me, it couldn’t be more appropriate to borrow this sentence to express my love for Volček. In this way, I have a close connection with the Czech Republic, a small country in Central Europe.

Last September, I went to Prague to look in the footsteps of Voček.

One of the important contents of this trip is to read a few representative books about Voček. I heard about the boom in second-hand bookstores in Prague, but faced with the list of out-of-print books published more than half a century ago. I checked relevant information before the trip and learned that the Czech Republic has the largest second-hand book online store called Antikvariát, which has more than 200 franchised booksellers, similar to China’s Confucius Used Book Net, but the difference is that Antikvariát is sold online. Also opened a physical bookstore. There are nearly 70 second-hand bookstores in Prague, a city with a population of one million. Berlin, the center of European art and culture, has a population three times that of Prague and only 63 second-hand bookstores. In comparison, Prague has a high rate of bookstores per 10,000 people, which is really amazing. I found out the clues of Taoshu, I am full of expectations for the itinerary of Taoshu.

Kant Bookstore: Memory with temperature
Search the Antikvariát website and choose the Kant bookstore close to the Wenceslas Square where I am. Here you can find “Baozina Nemcova in Battle” published in 1940-this Volček about outstanding Czech women The monograph of the writer Nemcova (1820—1862) is the first comprehensive review of the literary value and social significance of her creative activities in the history of Czech literature.

After the bustling Havel Bazaar, we came to the secluded Opatovica Street 154. The Antikvariát Kant bookstore is located on the ground floor of an ordinary apartment. Against the backdrop of the surrounding ancient Baroque buildings, the dusty bookstore is very low-key, but the two floor-to-ceiling windows displaying books and paintings make the plain bookstore unique.

Pushing open the creaky glass wooden door, the store is spacious, with an area of ​​about 150 square meters, in the area of ​​Prague, which is full of gold, showing a sense of confidence. The interior furnishings are extremely simple, with no traces of decoration. The thumb-thick wires are walking on the top of the old white wall, and the branch-like pipelines are exposed on the pillars. It is very similar to the Xinhua Bookstore in China decades ago. It makes people feel intimate and intimate. . The maroon bookshelves scattered across the house are packed with books in foreign languages ​​like a heavenly book. For me, who doesn’t know Czech at all, I don’t know how to proceed. Asked an old clerk in his 60s at the counter to show him pictures of books on his phone. He smiled knowingly, nodded, and signaled me to wait. Soon, he returned to the counter with a beautifully bound booklet in red and black. Is Julius Fu the first thing that jumps into my eyes? ík, too familiar, Julius Voček! The bold boldface Bo? ena Němcová Bojující, there is no doubt that this is the title of the book “Baolina Nemcova in Fighting”!

The friendly old clerk said respectfully in English that it was not easy to publish this book by a famous Communist writer during the Nazi occupation! He pointed to the cover and raised his eyebrows and said: “Vuchik personally designed the cover and copyright page. He especially chose the red cover because it is the color of the red flag, the color of victory.” The old clerk had blue eyes. Flashing light, telling stories about the book endlessly. In March 1939, Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia and ransacked communists. In order to avoid the Gestapo’s pursuit, Voček came to his parents’ home in the village of Khotimnezh in Bohemia, where he engaged in Czech literature research and writing. In order to greet the 120th anniversary of the birth of Nemcova, who created the immortal work of Czech literature, “Grandmother”, the spirit of resistance and selflessness of the democratic writers during the Czech National Revival was used to inspire the people to resist the Nazi rule. Voček read it for a long time. And thinking, he started writing in early January 1940, and completed the monograph on Nemcova in 19 days. After that, Voček went to Prague to find a publisher. To publish works of well-known communists under the Nazi rule was a big problem. Progressive publisher Otto Gilgage took a huge risk and accepted Voček’s work without hesitation. In March 1940, “Baozina Nemcova in Fighting” was published. Under the white terror of the Nazis, the publication of this book has aroused great repercussions and inspired the people’s will and belief in victory against fascism. The famous Czech actor Vidra hugged Voček and said: “For the first time in the past year and a half, your masterpiece has rekindled the flame of striving to be a free man in my heart!”

The old clerk opened the title page enthusiastically and pointed me to the publisher Otto Gilgar’s name, and said softly that Voček mentioned Gilgar gratefully in “Reports Under the Gallows”: “I I love his unquestionable courage, and dare to publish my “Baozina Nemcova in Battle” during the occupation period…”

He turned on another page, pointed to the handwritten Czech text on it, and said that this was the signature of Voček’s friend Izh Santovsky. Santovsky (1909-2000) studied at Charles University in the same way as Voček in his early years. He joined the Czech Communist Party in his youth and joined the Left-wing Art Pioneer Group. In the 1930s, when Voček served as the editor-in-chief of the weekly “Creation” and the editor of the Czech Communist newspaper “Red Rights”, the two worked together and he was also a well-known Czech communist. After closing the book, the old clerk proudly said that a few years ago, the bookstore sold a copy of “Baolina Nemcova in Battle” signed by Voček and presented to Santovsky, which was quite rare. His smiling face showed a look of pity for me, and I couldn’t help thinking back to the scene described in the letter from Chick to his wife: “How happy I am! My book was adopted. This is something I never dreamed of… …My fingers are numb, and I have to sign everywhere…”

Suddenly, I felt that this monograph containing Vochik’s creative passion and Santovsky’s body temperature was alive. I heard it speak, felt its breathing, and touched its pulse. The Sri Lankan has passed away, and the fruits will last.

The old clerk solemnly handed over the book to me. The moment I touched my fingertips, I felt its heavy weight. It is not only a precious book, but also a living history, full of passion, belief, and humanity.

Podzemní Bookstore: The most beautiful encounter
With a warm mood, walk through the crowded Old Town Square and walk along Bosca Street for about ten minutes, turn left, and the navigation instruction No. 1008 is the Podzemní Bookstore.

Nearby, a Podzemní billboard with white letters on a black background hung on an ancient building beckoning to me. I didn’t see the facade of the bookstore, there was only one passage in front of me. Stepping in doubtfully, a strong artistic atmosphere rushes over, as if in an art gallery. The Baroque-style wall is divided into two, with religious figures painted on the upper part and fine arts displayed on the lower part. Looking up along the arc-shaped column, four huge portraits of religious figures occupy the square vault, looking down on sentient beings from the perspective of God, making people feel small. Orange lights hit the screen, time and space are still, only the light and shadow intertwined with religion and art are singing and singing.

Stepping on the quiet stone ground and turning right, there is another corridor. From the top of the corridor to the wall, large-scale paintings with the theme of Czech folk tales cover the sky. The style is bright and creates a magical color of the Wizard of Oz. Walking through it, as if traveling through a long time and space, towards the ancient wasteland.

The big words Antikvariát on the lintel in the middle of the door made me feel puzzled-the hidden Podzemní bookstore finally arrived. Stepping into the entrance corridor, the rotating wooden ladder leads people underground. The exquisite paintings hanging on the wall and placed on the stairs attracted me to slow down.

A fairytale underground castle is displayed in front of you, magnificent and stunning. The arched porch, the curved roof, the heavy walls, the mottled walls, the floor paved with cobblestones…the old time has come, a kind of vitality rushing out from the depths of the years instantly brings people melt. On the walls inside and out, there are exquisite works of art such as oil paintings, prints, sketches, and photography. The high and low bookshelves are full of English, Czech, and German books, waiting for its soulmates. The warm yellow lights sprinkled in the old time, exuding a solemn and tranquil atmosphere, making people feel clear.

I always thought that if I searched for a copy of “Born for Joy-The Biography of Julius Voček” by the famous Czech literary critic and literary historian Grigar, published in the 1950s in the second-hand book market, shouldn’t difficult. I asked a Czech friend to help me find the book. He regretted to tell me that the last time this book appeared in the second-hand book market was two years ago. In this way, the times have changed and the publicity of Voček has returned from exaggeration to normal. Grigar’s biography of Voček is still cherished and collected, showing its vitality. The Podzemní bookstore recently launched the book exclusively. I came at the right time. It must be a special fate. It will be very meaningful to visit Mr. Grigar in a few days and ask him to sign this book.

Showed a picture from her mobile phone to a woman working in front of a computer. She tapped the keyboard a few times and got up and fetched the long-awaited “Born for Joy” for me. Thirty years ago, it was this Chinese translation of Volček’s biography and the “Report under the Gallows” that superimposed into a vivid, rich, amiable and lovely image of Volček, deeply resident in my heart.

Thinking of Babel’s “Red Cavalry Army” which Voček participated in the translation, knowing there is no such thing, I still consulted the female shop assistant with a hint of luck. She searched, and multiple versions of “Red Cavalry Army” appeared on the screen, but unfortunately there was no version of 1928 that I wanted. The female clerk eagerly helped me place an order in the online store that sold the 1928 version, and told me that this was the only one available on the entire network. She said while writing down the store name, order number, address, telephone number, and transit on a small note. Car route. I looked at my watch and decided to rush there immediately. Even if it didn’t work, Quan was treated as a tour of the market.

Antikvariát11 bookstore: the rusticity hidden in the city
Embracing the book of treasure, jumped on the 24 tram. About a 20-minute drive, I came to Vlastislav Street in the 4th district of Prague.

There are no gorgeous Gothic and Baroque buildings, nor the jubilation and hustle and bustle of the old town and small towns, the prosperity fades, returning to the basics, the breath of common people, the texture of life is within reach.

Follow the navigation to the destination No. 1711. There are rows of residential buildings in front of you. The opposite seems to be a construction site surrounded by walls. The two big iron doors are closed, and there is no shadow of a bookstore. When he was wondering if he had gone wrong, a small iron door on the big iron door suddenly opened, and a young man walked out holding a stack of books. At a loss, I risked trespassing on my private territory and pushed open the small iron gate suspiciously and stepped in.

Two yards as large as basketball courts are displayed in front of you. In the center of the yard are piles of books like small hills and boxes of unopened cardboard boxes. At the end of the courtyard is a row of gray-white houses, similar to the simple sheds built on domestic construction sites, and the Antikvariát11 signboard is impressive. I was relieved and glad I found the right place. Suddenly, two sturdy black-and-white Labrador dogs ran over with a few small dogs. When the battle was about to encircle and suppress, I stopped in shock. A blond boy walked out of the house in response, shouting loudly, and the dogs obediently backed away. From his friendly voice, I guess he is explaining that the dogs are welcoming guests, don’t be afraid.

Step up the steps and enter the shed bookstore. Thousands of books are stacked high on bookshelves, countertops, and on the ground, as if people are in a sea of ​​books. Although it is closing time, there are still many readers browsing and selecting, relaxed and calm.

The clerk looked at my order number and put the book in front of me without any time. Bright red cover, gilded font, no, no, this is not the version I want! What I want is the 1928 version in which Volcik participated in the translation and Tiger designed the cover.

There are three reasons why I am obsessed with the 1928 version of “Red Cavalry Army”: First, this is the earliest translation in Europe and the world. In 1926, the collection of short stories “Red Cavalry Army” by Soviet writer Babel was published in Moscow. At that time, the 23-year-old Voček, who was the editor-in-chief of the book review magazine “Trunk”, keenly realized that this is a powerful and shocking world literary masterpiece with the unique insight and appreciation of literary critics, he decided Work with friends to translate the book and introduce it to Czech readers. In the spring of 1928, the Czech translation was published. In 1929, Western countries such as Britain, France, Germany, and the United States successively translated and published the book. Babel became the most respected master of short stories such as Borges and Hemingway. In 1986, Italian “European” magazine selected 100 best novelists in the world, and Babel ranked first. I was very surprised that such a young Voček had a literary aesthetic vision that surpassed his peers to see the future. Secondly, the cover was designed by Karel Tiger, a friend of Voček, a Czech modernist avant-garde artist, writer, and aesthetic critic. After the First World War, Tiger, together with a group of young left-wing intellectuals such as Vanzula, Seifert, and Volcik, established the “Invertebrate Flower Club”, leading a turbulent pioneering cultural movement and promoting Czech culture has become a cultural highland in Europe. Third, the young Voček specially wrote a postscript with nearly ten thousand words eloquently, and explained and commented on this book in detail. This edition is the first edition and out of print. Its literary status and historical value are irreplaceable.

The clerk was very puzzled when he saw my negative expression. The moment he opened the book, I suddenly realized that the cover designed by Tiger appeared in front of my eyes. It turned out that the original owner of the book wrapped a protective cover for it, and I almost missed it by making the mistake of taking the book by its appearance.

The setting sun was smoky and the light was faint. Finally fulfilled the wish of Taoshu, the joy of heart is as Su Jishi said, it is no more than “the poor are getting rich.”

The dotted bookstores, for readers, are the habitat of the soul, but also the cultural coordinates and cultural heights of a city. It marks the history of a country and a nation, and at the same time grows its future. Wandering around the cultural heights of Prague, I understood what Kundera said: “Although the Czech Republic is a small political country, it is a big cultural country.”

Yu Qian’s poem said: “The book is a passionate old friend, and every blind date in the morning and dusk.” Every time I read these old books with historical warmth, I will miss that distant and kind, strange and familiar Prague, the fragrance that grew out of the books. , Vivid and warm Prague, happy and wonderful inside.