Read Closely Watched Trains by Bohumil Hrabal Edith Pargeter Josef Škvorecký Online


Hrabal's postwar classic about a young man's coming of age in German-occupied Czechoslovakia is among his most beloved and accessible works. Closely Watched Trains is the subtle and poetic portrait of Miloš Hrma, a timid young railroad apprentice who insulates himself with fantasy against a reality filled with cruelty and grief. Day after day as he watches trains fly by, hHrabal's postwar classic about a young man's coming of age in German-occupied Czechoslovakia is among his most beloved and accessible works. Closely Watched Trains is the subtle and poetic portrait of Miloš Hrma, a timid young railroad apprentice who insulates himself with fantasy against a reality filled with cruelty and grief. Day after day as he watches trains fly by, he torments himself with the suspicion that he himself is being watched and with fears of impotency. Hrma finally affirms his manhood and, with a sense of peace and purpose he has never known before, heroically confronts a trainload of Nazis.Milan Kundera called the novel "an incredible union of earthly humor and baroque imagination." After receiving acclaim as a novel, Closely Watched Trains was made into an internationally successful film that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film of 1967. This edition includes a foreword by Josef Škvorecký....

Title : Closely Watched Trains
Author :
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ISBN : 9780810112780
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 85 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Closely Watched Trains Reviews

  • Carol
    2019-02-22 23:18

    A couple of months ago, I bought this slim volume at the Globe Bookstore and Cafe in Prague on the last afternoon of a 9-day school tour with my 15-year old daughter and several of her classmates. We had perhaps 45 minutes in which to identify purchases, enjoy beverages, split a salad, and read passages to each other from the books we selected. At the time, I shared with her portions of one of the other books I bought, and saved this one until now. I will remember that afternoon, the Globe and the time we spent in each other's company in Prague for some time to come. Closely Observed Trains takes place in Czechoslovakia near the end of WWII. First published in 1965 and one of Hrabal's best known novels, it is part coming-of-age, part war-is-hell, part fantastic. The first 80 pages reminded me of many, unremembered and unremarkable classics I've read through the years. The last five pages are unforgettable. This book is a 4-star read for me, in part, because, on every page, I recalled our time together in Prague and was grateful again for the opportunity to walk its streets, begin to appreciate its rich history and still recent experience of war and occupation, and to spend that time with my daughter. I will look for more Hrabal novels.

  • Nicole~
    2019-02-05 16:41

    The coming-of-age story of Milos Hrma - a young, naïve railwayman - unfolds in a small lethargic train station, set in North Bohemia, Prague during the last two weeks of WWII, 1945. Milos narrates a tale which covers a timespan of 48 hours in a series of flashbacks, where it is revealed how the scars on his wrists came to be and how three generations of Hrma men managed to besmirch their family name. Milos's day is spent dreamily watching military trains pass through to the front transporting the injured and dying; displaced refugees who had lost their homes in bombings; even dead or dying animals - evoking a clear picture of the chaotic period as a result of the impending German collapse.The plot moves surrealistically, from a natural to humorous manner: the daily lives and interactions of the townfolk; the histrionics of his forebears; the German Occupation and movement of Nazi troops from the front; Milos's humiliating 'first time' with his girlfriend that later prompted a suicide attempt; the licentious scene with dispatcher Hubička, inkstamping the derrière of the female telegraphist. I found such ribald scenes and periodic, foolish, digressive banter to be quite amusing, highlighting Hrabal's skill at veiling human drama with his distinctive sense of humor. About Milos's grandfather who thought himself a "hypnotist:"In this tank waist-deep in the cabin stood an officer of the Reich, with a black beret with the death's- head badge and crossed bones on his head, and my grandfather kept on going steadily forward, straight toward this tank, with his hands stretched out, and his eyes spraying towards the Germans the thought: 'Turn around and go back!'And really, that tank halted. The whole army stood still. Grandfather touched the leading tank with his outstretched fingers, and kept pouring out towards it the same suggestion: 'Turn around and go back, turn around and...' And then the lieutenant gave a signal with his pennant, and the tank changed its mind and moved forward, but grandfather never budged, and the tank ran over him and crushed his head, and after that there was nothing standing in the way of the German army.Milos's youthful idealistic view of Hubička, and a personal, perhaps subconscious, drive to remove the stigma from his family name -particularly his grandfather's doomed effort- lead him to accept a dangerous mission that culminates in a dramatic heroic deed, as he mercilessly exclaims:"You should have sat at home on your arse..."War fictionistas who have read All's Quiet on the Western Front would note echoes of a similar fateful and humanistic scene.Bohumil Hrabal's short, postwar novel is a stunning blend of humor, humanity, tragedy and heroism, justifiably earning the appellation of "masterpiece." Highly recommend. Other books I've read by Bohumil Hrabal here.******From Hrabal (Czech pronunciation: [ˈboɦumɪl ˈɦrabal]) (28 March 1914 – 3 February 1997) was a Czech writer, regarded by many Czechs as one of the best writers of the 20th century. During the war, he worked as railway labourer and dispatcher in Kostomlaty, near Nymburk, an experience reflected in one of his best-known works Ostře sledované vlaky (Closely Observed Trains).

  • Sawsan
    2019-01-24 19:39

    رواية للكاتب التشيكي بوهوميل هرابال وجمال السرد الذي يكمن في التفاصيلالراوي ميلوش هرما الموظف المتمرن في سكك الحديد على تنظيم حركة القطاراتفي محطة صغيرة في مقاطعة تشيكية قرب نهاية الحرب العالمية الثانية يراقب القطارات تحت الحراسة المشددة التي تحمل المؤن والأسلحة لقوات الاحتلال الألمانية ويحكي عن عمله وحياته وأسرته وعلاقته بحبيبته, ويصف تفاصيل كل مكان وحدث وشخصية يعرض هرابال عبثية الحرب وضحاياها في لقطات مميزة ويكتب بأسلوب فكاهي جميل

  • Orsodimondo
    2019-02-02 16:28

    TRENI ACUTAMENTE OSSERVATI Nella stazioncina il capostazione aspetta di essere promosso ispettore, ha la divisa nuova già pronta nell’armadio, e alleva colombi: prima della guerra allevava i bagadesi di Norimberga, ma quando i tedeschi invadono la Polonia, li strozza tutti e li sostituisce con altri, le linci polacche.I treni passano da est a ovest e da ovest a est, con vagoni a volte pieni di soldati e infermiere, a volte crivellati di pallottole, a volte pieni di animali ridotti alla fame e disidratati immersi tra compagni già cadaveri.Il capomanovra a mezzanotte ha sollevato la gonna della telegrafista, l’ha fatta stendere sul tavolo, le ha sfilato le mutandine e le ha stampato sul sedere tutti i timbri, almeno la metà dei quali in lingua tedesca. Lei, adesso tutta timbrata, sembra più bella di prima e pensa di darsi al cinema. Lui subisce un processo per il suo gesto oltraggioso e decide di far saltare in aria un convoglio.Con l’aiuto di Milos, giovane apprendista manovratore, ma non così giovane da non poter conoscere l’amore di Masa e da non poter conoscere la morte: ma così giovane da soffrire di eiaculazione precoce, così giovane da perdere la verginità con un’artista di circo, così giovane da arrampicarsi fin dove non c'è più ritorno.E, alla fine, la scoperta! La scoperta che anche i tedeschi sono umani, più umani dei capretti, di tutti gli animali e ... di qualunque cosa subiva una disgrazia...Sembra una favola, un bel racconto, divertente e un po’ folle: e invece, parla della Seconda Guerra Mondiale, dell’occupazione nazista della Cecoslovacchia. Parla dell’orrore - ma in un altro modo. Nel modo e nella forma dei grandi.Tutte le immagini sono tratte dal film omonimo del 1966 diretto da Jirí Menzel.

  • BlackOxford
    2019-02-18 23:40

    A Noir Farce. In the closing months of WW II in provincial Czech, the social system of the national railways copes with the German military, allied raids, and the sexual fetishes of the local dispatcher. Amidst the detritus of war - dead and dying live-stock, wrecked railway carriages, crashed fighter planes, the dead and wounded returning from the front - the station-master's concern is principally the well-being of his Polish pigeons and the sanctity of his Turkish-themed office. But an undercurrent is also clear: 'The Germans are swine but they're our swine and they will be victorious and we will have a Free Europe' is the attitude of one German-speaking official. Resistance takes place but only about as casually as collaboration. Closely Watched Trains was first published in 1965 while Czechoslovakia was united and Communist. Soviet tanks were to roll through within three years during the Prague Spring. The theme of keeping one's head down with the dominant force must have caused a stir despite the black comedy that dominates the book.What is important to all the characters is really not the outcome of the war, or even whether German or Czech is the official national language, but the experience of their own lives. Or inexperience, as the case may be. A young man's sexual inadequacy, a young woman's hopes of cinematic stardom, organisational advancement, the disciplinary process of the railways. Life, in other words, goes on, petty details are important even, perhaps especially, in the midst of chaos. Ultimately Hrabal's pointed irony is probably the only way to deal with the powerlessness in such an overwhelming condition.

  • Dagio_maya
    2019-01-31 15:30

    "Mi dico, tanto i tedeschi sono matti.Matti pericolosi.Anche io ero un po’ matto, ma a danno mio, mentre i tedeschi sempre a danno degli altri." Letteralmente il titolo sarebbe: "Treni acutamente seguiti". Così veniva segnalata ai ferrovieri l'attenzione particolare che si doveva a dare a treni carichi di ogni sorta di arma e munizione.Treni che dovevano avere sempre il semaforo verde: precedenza assoluta alla morte!In un'amalgama di tragicità e comicità si racconta questa storia di cui il protagonista é Milosh Hrma: un ferroviere apprendista che torna al suo lavoro dopo un tentativo di suicidio.Tra personaggi stravaganti e situazioni grottesche Milosh vuole diventare uomo. Emblematicamente il nome della donna che porterà soddisfazione al ragazzo è(Vittoria Libera..). e nel momento dell'orgasmo i piaceri del corpo si confondono e si fondono con i boati della bombe:"Dresda brucia!"Destini individuali e corso della Storia s'intrecciano e rendono protagonista un giovane ferroviere che non vuole più proteggere la morte che passa sferragliando sulle rotaie ma, per una volta, fermarla e cantare un inno alla vita.

  • Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
    2019-01-24 23:19

    Originally written in Czech. I have a suspicion this translation by Edith Pargeter lost a lot, but it is still good enough for me for a perfect GR score. DREAMLIKE, it there’s a word for it. Reading it gave me this experience: when disparate dreams come in sequence at night, each one understood completely as they pass before the eyes which open when one is asleep, each dream segment seeking to connect with the others, then backing off, one at a time, as if saying goodbye, yet making wordless promises to return when your need to remember comes. Then you wake up with the residual memory of your experience. And in those lazy moments between sleep and complete wakefulness you say to yourself that you will remember this dream, so funny, or sad, or strange. Your father, long gone, laughing at some joke, flashing his small, rotten teeth in glee. What could this mean? You will tell your wife later…But then you forget.Imagine if you could write like Bohumil Hrabal and make your readers feel as if they are WATCHING such dreams. They are no longer the dreamers, but an audience. Probably even the dreamt of, watching themselves live inside other people’s subconscious, seeing themselves reflected in a mirror.

  • Steve
    2019-02-19 22:18

    Actually, 3.5 stars...Set in the final year of the Second World War,Ostře sledované vlakyweaves together the rather exaggerated personal story of a young apprentice for the Czech national train company (embarrassed by premature ejaculation, he tries to commit suicide; his grandfather tries to stop the invading German army solely with his mental powers of suggestion - his family has to go to Prague to recover the skull from the tread of a tank; he beds a beautiful complete stranger (a German, at that) on the station master's couch merely by telling her that he is virgin) with the bits of the greater tragedy which can be seen from the platforms of a provincial train station. Hrabal (1914–1997) initially employs rapidly changing flashbacks whose pace slows as the broadly humorous strand of events at the station house converges with the tragic and ominous strand of events occurring in the outside world to meld into an event in which participate black humor, sentimentality, tragedy and the absurd. Though I find aspects of the structure of this novella to be more imposed than organic, it is remarkable what a range of life Hrabal manages to fit into 91 pages...

  • Bettie☯
    2019-02-14 22:22 It is 1945. For gauche young apprentice Milos Hrma, life at the sleepy railway station in Bohemia is full of complex preoccupations. There is the burden of dispatching German troop trains; the shocking scandal of Dispatcher Hubicka; and the vexing problem of his sexual performance. Classic comedy drama from a celebrated Czech writer.Director/Producer Gary BrownCLOSELY OBSERVED TRAINS, which became the award-winning Jiri Menzel film of the 'Prague Spring', is a classic of postwar literature, a small masterpiece of humour, humanity and heroism which fully justifies Hrabal's reputation.Milos is played by John Bradley who is Samwell Tarley in 'Game of Thrones'. This is John's first radio play.

  • Jale
    2019-02-09 18:41

    Savaş eğlenceli bir şekilde anlatılabilir mi? Evet, anlatılabiliyor. Savaşın gündelik hayata yansımasını kahramanımız Miloş'ın basit anlatımıyla dinliyoruz. Biz Hrabal'ı çokça tanımıyoruz belki, ama Milan Kundera hayranı... Ve son cümlenin ağırlığı; "Son ana, kendi kendimi gözden yitirinceye kadar ölü erle eleleydik ve ben, erin sağır kulağına, bahtsız Almanları Dresden'den getiren marşandizdeki tren şefinin söylediği sözü tekrarlayıp duruyordum:"Evinizde oturup kalsaydınız da götünüzün üstünde...""

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-02-10 15:44

    A coming-of-age story of a young railwayman in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) was a Czech writer said to be the greatest Czech novelist of the 20th century. Previous to this book, the only popular writer I have read was Milan Kundera (born 1929). In this book's back cover, this is what Kundera says about the book:"an incredible union of earthly humor and baroque imagination.". Although this is true, I think Kundera's oversimplification of the novel's central idea does not do enough justice to what this book is all about.The story opens with Miloš Hrma enjoying his new railway man uniform. It is his first day at work as a predecessor of his father who has just retired as a railwayman. He is still a virgin and so he is being picked on by his older co-worker, train dispatcher Hubička. He has a crush on conductor Máša but when they make out, he ejaculated prematurely. So Hubička arranges for a Viktoria Freie, a Resistance spy to teach Miloš how to properly make love to a woman.All these with Hitler's army and the repression of Czechoslovakia serving as a backdrop. I've read many books about the Holocaust including the 1959 Gunter Grass' opus The Tin Drum. Although I liked those books that directly tackle Holocaust, like Thomas Keneally's Schindler's List (4 stars), Ellie Wiesel's Night (4 stars), Primo Levi's Survival in Auschwitz (4 stars), etc., especially because of the movies too, I think I have read so many of them that I have in a way already have a solid idea on what when on in the concentration camps. So, if there is a novel that is set outside the concentration camp especially in the German occupied countries, it is a welcome relief.What makes this book remarkable are the parts where the author concentrates on what's going on in the mind of his protagonist. The innocence of a young man who is idolizing this happy-go-lucky father and the sexual awakening is probably reflective of the countries that fall in Hitler's claw. Did countries at that time become disillusioned as they became powerless? This novel seems to be telling me that. This is something similar to the young people in the Philippines when the Americans or Japanese colonized the country during the tumultuous World War II.I agree with Wiki that Hrabal is a great novelist. This book is just thin and short but it is huge in message and can be interpreted in so many ways that if you don't find it great, I am not sure which book you can classify as that.

  • Pat
    2019-02-09 15:45

    In un paesino della Cecoslovacchia occupata dai nazisti, Milosh, allievo ferroviere ingenuo e timido, dopo essere “sfiorito come un giglio”, tenta il suicidio. Tre mesi dopo riprende il suo posto nella piccola stazione da cui passano treni “strettamente sorvegliati” carichi di munizioni, soldati e bestiame destinato al macello.Corrono i treni sui binari mentre il ticchettio dell’orologio scandisce lo scorrere della vita.L’atmosfera è cupa. È “quell’anno lì, il quarantacinque”. I tedeschi cercano di resistere all’avanzata russa. Dalla stazioncina s’ode il rombo delle esplosioni, si vede il rosso dei fuochi lontani.In un clima del tutto surreale si presenta, per Milosh, l’occasione di “rifiorire”. Diventerà uomo e, inconsapevolmente, eroe nel momento in cui perde di vista se stesso.Prosa immaginifica, folle, comicamente tragica. Il sorriso ha un retrogusto amaro. Milosh ha in sé tutta la forza dei semplici e la delicatezza dei puri. Dolce e malinconico, doloroso e gaio. Di una tenerezza infinita. Ci si affeziona, non si può fare altrimenti. E rimane lì, in fondo al cuore, anche dopo aver chiuso il libro.Bisogna essere bravi per mescolare orrore e poesia, Bohumil. Tu l’hai fatto.

  • Ana
    2019-01-23 22:30

    Neste livro, os "comboios rigorosamente vigiados" são comboios militares, sob vigilância especial, que transportam armamento e suporte para as tropas alemãs que, na frente leste, tentam evitar o avanço das tropas russas no período derradeiro da Segunda Guerra Mundial.Milos Hrma é um jovem de vinte e dois anos que trabalha como factor numa pequena estação ferroviária, algures na Checoslováquia ocupada pelos nazis e próxima da fronteira com a Alemanha. O pouco movimento da estação faz com que a Milos sobeje tempo para dar largas à sua imaginação e assim vai vivendo entre a realidade, o imaginário e algumas evocações do seu passado das quais ficamos a conhecer alguns dos seus antepassados: o pai reformado aos quarenta e oito anos e que agora recolhe ferro velho, o avô hipnotizador que tentou travar a invasão alemã hipnotizando tanques de guerra, o bisavô que recebia uma renda que gastava em rum e tabaco e andava à pancada pelo menos uma vez por ano.Milos vive atormentado pela falta de afirmação da sua masculinidade, porque na sua primeira experiência sexual, chegado ao momento crucial, “murchou como um lírio”. Recupera a confiança junto de uma mulher mais velha e o futuro acaba por lhe reservar o papel de herói.O meu comboio de munições ia chegar dentro de vinte minutos e eu poderia realizar uma grande coisa, porque já não era um lírio murcho. Comboios Rigorosamente Vigiados é uma narrativa peculiar, onde o humor, a ternura e a tragédia se misturam, e cuja maioríssima parte funciona como uma espécie de prólogo para o final. É o segundo livro que leio deste autor e, embora sem o deslumbre de Uma Solidão Demasiado Ruidosa, foi impossível não sorrir, não me enternecer e não deixar que os olhos se me embaciassem por momentos. Uma parábola que, com sensibilidade e subtileza, nos deixa uma mensagem sobre a falta de sentido das guerras, qualquer que seja o lado em que se combate.… e no entanto aquele soldado era um homem como eu ou como o senhor Hubicka, não tinha divisas nem condecorações, e tínhamos disparado uma bala um contra o outro (…) quando certamente, se nos tivéssemos encontrado na vida civil, teríamos simpatizado e conversado.Esta obra, originalmente publicada em 1965, foi adaptada ao cinema em 1966 e o filme ganhou o Oscar para melhor filme estrangeiro sendo, ainda hoje, considerado por muitos o melhor filme checo de sempre.

  • Francisco H. González
    2019-02-19 18:20

    El humor y el sexo -un narrador aquejado de eyaculatio precocs, un empleado para quien las nalgas femeninas obran de papel en el que lidiar su aburrimiento estampando en ese horizonte cárnico, cuantos sellos tienen a mano- contra la barbarie. Una sinrazón que siempre sale a flote y estalla. Un final memorable con dos hombres, un checo y un alemán, matándose recíprocamente en las postrimerías de la novela. Dos hombres que podían haber charlado, haber tomado algo juntos, haberse caído bien, dice el narrador. La guerra los convierte en enemigos. Europa en un cementerio. Trenes de paso convertidos en el heraldo de la muerte, ya sean la de animales o personas.

  • Mohamad
    2019-02-09 23:38

    اكثر ري ويو هاي فارسي كه براي اين كتاب نوشته شده، بيشتر در مورد ترجمه است تا خود كتاب. من هم بايد اضافه كنم كه ترجمه از بد گذشته و در واقع گنگ است و به ترجمه يك ستاره هم نمي شه داد. مترجم آخر كتاب يك نقد بيست و چند صفحه اي نوشته كه قابل قبول نيست؛ چون وارد قلمروهايي شده كه خود نويسنده تا اونجاها پيش نرفته. و اما خود كتاب، كه درش تأثير تسلط نازي ها بر اروپاي شرقي در يك ايستگاه قطار نشان داده شده.

  • Nigeyb
    2019-01-31 22:19

    'Closely Watched Trains' by Bohumil HrabalFor a book that is a mere 84 pages, and beautifully reissued in the wonderful Penguin Modern Classics imprint, it packs a heck of a lot in.22 year old Milos, is a depressed apprentice with low self esteem who works at a small and sleepy Czech railway station during the last months of World War 2. His life is full of worries: his failure to consummate his relationship with the pretty conductor Masha, the scandalous - and highly amusing - goings-on in the station master's office, his paranoia, and his family’s unpopularity in the community. 'Closely Watched Trains' is beautifully written (and translated) and is yet another example of just how much good east European literature there is from the mid 20th century. Other examples I have enjoyed include 'The Good Soldier Švejk' by Jaroslav Hašek, the work of Stefan Zweig, and doubtless many more I could remember when I have time to ponder it.This is an accomplished, moving, funny, compassionate, unusual, and informative novel with a strong sense of time and place. It's so enjoyable that I am moving straight on with another book by Bohumil Hrabal, 'Cutting It Short'.4/5Bohumil Hrabal met a rather tragic end...Suicide or accident?: The Death of the Sad King of Czech Literature, Bohumil Hrabal...When Bohumil Hrabal either jumped or fell from a fifth floor window of Prague’s Bulovka Hospital while feeding pigeons at 2:30 p. m. on February 3, 1997, it marked the end of a phenomenal literary career spanning six decades and contributing enormously to Czech culture. His death from the fifth floor has an undoubted symbolic dimension, whether sought or merely coincidental: In his works he wrote about philosophers and writers who had jumped to their deaths from the fifth storey and even confessed that he sometimes wanted to jump from the fifth floor window of his flat. Whether he did jump or whether he fell will forever remain a mystery. Yet one thing was for certain. The sad king of Czech literature was dead.The rest of the article is here...

  • Jeff Jackson
    2019-02-20 16:34

    Thank you to Goodreads for deleting my previous review. Did I slander Bohumil Hrabal by saying this short novel wasn't as exceptional as I SERVED THE KIND OF ENGLAND or TOO LOUD A SOLITUDE, but still worth your time? Or by mentioning the odd but largely successful mix of historical horror, ribald comedy, and subverted coming-of-age tropes? Or by pointing out that the novel seems intentionally disorienting for the first couple of chapters but eventually feels as precise as a stationmaster's pocket watch?

  • Tsung
    2019-02-08 19:40

    This is a surprising book. Not quite the grandiosity of I Served the King of England or the charm of Too Loud a Solitude, yet there is something different about this slender book of 84 pages. So unobtrusive is this book, that you might miss it on a shelf full of bigger books. Yet for a short book, it speaks volumes.Bohumil Hrabal is a great story teller. His inimitable style is evident from the first page. It is cheeky, hilarious, irreverent, naughty and ribald. But it is not all lightheartedness and he can give his tales a darker, more somber spin. The amazing thing is how he hides the gruesomeness amidst the frivolity, presenting catastrophic events innocuously and how he manages to change the tone of the book without being noticed. Set in 1945 in a Czech town, the Germans are on the back foot, but they are still making their presence felt. These German, closely watched trains, still pass through the train station and are given priority in passage. We follow the exploits of the station staff. The central figure is the hapless Milo Hrma, an unassuming, insecure young man with an embarrassing family history. He works at the station along with larger than life characters, including the pigeon-covered station master Lansky, the randy, libidinous dispatcher Hubicka, the floozy telegraphist Virginia and the conductress Masha. Despite their foibles and absurdities, there is a touch of longing and vulnerability which makes them human and worthy of empathy.Tucked between the hilarious tales were dark episodes. Two events stood out in particular. (view spoiler)[Living with the shame of a foolish grandfather and great grandfather, and the humiliation of not being able to perform with Masha, the love of his life, Milo attempted suicide. As he lay in the bathtub with both wrists slashed, it is described so artistically that it is easy to overlook the horror of it. …as though someone was drawing out from my wrists a long, feathery red bandage, a filmy, dancing veil… The second event was Milo being threatened by German soldiers. Ironically, it was the scars from his suicide attempt that got him off the hook. (hide spoiler)]Amongst his books, this novel is possibly Hrabal’s most powerful statement about war. While the characters express anti-German sentiment, Hrabal adds a different dimension to it. Juxtaposed in the background was the Allied devastation of Dresden. But now, as these Dresdeners came flocking here out of their city, I could no longer pity them, nobody could pity them, except they themselves. And those Germans knew it. Now one of them burst out weeping, in such a strange way, almost cooing, like the station-master’s pigeons when the raid disturbed them, and then his weeping became human, and only then did his body relax. And the other Germans began to blow their noses, and then they all burst into tears, every one in a different way, but fundamentally this was human crying, lamentation over what had happened.Then a twist in the plot. (view spoiler)[Milo, aided by Hubicka, turns from zero to hero, becoming a terrorist of sorts, bombing an ammunition laden closely watched train. Milo gets shot by a German soldier and shoots him in return. As he lay in the ditch, he has a revelation. He was a man, too, like me, or like Mr Hubicka, like us he hadn’t any distinction or rank, and yet we had shot each other and brought each other to death, although surely if we could have met somewhere in civil life we might well have liked each other, and found a lot to talk about. (hide spoiler)]”Sollten Sie am Arsch zu Hause sitzen.”

  • Calzean
    2019-02-05 16:27

    There's a lot going on in this little classic.The last days of WWII, the Third Reich is in decline, the Czech countryside is full of dead, dying and the broken. In a small railway station, Milos, a young signalman, is the narrator. He tells of his attempted suicide, the sexual desires of the station master, pigeons, and watches the German trains pass to and fro.There is a sense of senselessness about the whole war and a need to do something before it is over. Milos fore-fathers have all failed to be what they wanted to be. Milos has to decide whether to try and risk his life or sit back and survive. The classic question in war.

  • João Reis
    2019-02-07 19:25

    This leaves you speechless. It resembled a journey to my own soul.

  • Camille Stein
    2019-01-23 17:25

    Y de pronto vi lo que seguramente había estado viendo todo el tiempo el factor Hubicka, que yo estaba perdido, que lo único que podía esperar era que aquel tren saltase por los aires, que eso tenía que bastarme en la situación en la que estaba, porque no podía esperarme otra cosa que la muerte, que si no moría del tiro me encontrarían los alemanes y me colgarían o me fusilarían, como era su costumbre, y entonces me di cuenta de que estaba destinado a una muerte distinta de la que había intentado allá en Bystrice....Miloš Hrma, un joven trabajador ferroviario en ciernes, se enfrenta, a sus veintidós años de edad y en las postrimerías de la segunda guerra mundial, a dos momentos decisivos en su vida. Todavía persiste la impresión, tras leer este libro, de haber asistido a la proyección de una película, tal es el encadenamiento de secuencias y la intensidad de las imágenes que Bohumil Hrabal es capaz de sugerir en el lector. Siguiendo las pautas del inolvidable soldado Švejk (arquetipo de ambigüedad, candidez y sabiduría), comicidad y tragedia se suceden en un argumento alternativamente desenfadado y brutalmente dramático: desde los peculiares antecedentes biográficos del protagonista hasta la extraordinaria escena final, en la que Hrabal pone de manifiesto su indudable pericia como escritor.

  • Ioannis Anastasiadis
    2019-02-07 17:29

    ..Ο Μποχουμιλ Χραμπαλ, ένας από τους σημαντικότερους μεταπολεμικους Τσέχους λογοτέχνες, ακολούθησε διάφορα επαγγέλματα προτού φέρει σε δημοσιότητα τα λογοτεχνικά του κείμενα, στα οποία συνεχώς συνέτρεχε κ διόρθωνε προς χάριν της τελειοθηρίας που τον διέκρινε ..Στα 'Τραίνα', μια από τις διακεκριμένες του νουβέλες όπου μεταφέρθηκε κ στον Κινηματογράφο (βλ. Γιρι Μενζελ), εξιστορείται η καθημερινότητα του προσωπικού ενός Τσεχικου σιδηροδρομικού σταθμού στα τελη του Β Παγκοσμιου Πολεμου ..ειδικότερα μεσα απο την τρυφερη ενηλικίωση κ την αντιστασιακή δράση ενός σιδηροδρομικού υπαλλήλου, του ονειροπόλου κ αγνού Μιλος, βιωνουμε τα παρελκομενα ενος ολετηρα πολεμου που καταληγει στον ενταφιασμο καθε ανθρωπινου ονειρου και δν αφηνει εν ζωη ανεξαιρετως κανενα απο τα εμβια δημιουργηματα της Φυσης ..Ωστωσο, στον πολυχρωμο λογοτεχνικό κόσμο του Χραμπαλ συνυπάρχουν όλες οι αποχρώσεις της ζωής με αρμονικό κ εξόχως εικονογραφημένο τρόπο: ο έρωτας κ ο θάνατος, ο μαγικός ρεαλισμός κ η φαρσοκωμωδία, η φρίκη του Πολέμου και η επίκληση της χαμένης τρυφερότητας, η χαρμολυπη της καθημερινοτητας

  • Raúl Ricardo
    2019-02-18 18:29

    No tengo la costumbre de escribir reseñas, pero a ver qué sale.Conocí la película antes que al libro y eso condicionó un poco mi lectura. De paso adornaré la reseña con imágenes de la película.El protagonista es Miloš Hrma (pronúnciese Miloshi Jarma), un aprendiz de despachador de trenes que vuelve a trabajar después de tres meses de descanso por enfermedad (view spoiler)[(un intento de suicidio) (hide spoiler)]. Miloš viene de una familia de hombres que trabajaron poco y nada para vivir y también él eligió un trabajo en el que tiene que hacer muy poco, ya que en la Checoslovaquia ocupada por los alemanes los trenes de pasajeros viajan con poca frecuencia y los únicos que dan algún trabajo son los "trenes rigurosamente vigilados", es decir los trenes del Reich que van y vienen del frente oriental, donde los alemanes están siendo derrotados. A Miloš lo único que parece preocuparle es trabajar poco y probar que es hombre, lo que en su caso significa perder la virginidad. De manera fragmentada, pasando de los recuerdos al momento actual, el protagonista relata sus primeras vivencias amorosas y sexuales. Miloš se siente poco hombre. Pero al acercarse el fin de la guerra, decidirá arriesgarse y actuar como "un hombre sin miedo", en un final irónico, heroico y trágico.Los personajes secundarios son cómicos, como el jefe de estación que cría palomas y tiene aires de grandeza. También está el mujeriego despachador de trenes Hubička, quien está sujeto a un proceso por conducta inmoral en el trabajo y mal uso de los sellos oficiales del estado, y es envidiado por muchos (aunque no quieran admitirlo).Es un libro que se lee muy rápido, y sin embargo es profundo e inteligente. Se dice que al autor lo enorgullecían las "cosas pequeñas pero muy humanas", y este libro está lleno de eso a los largo de sus escasas 118 páginas.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • M. Sarki
    2019-02-03 17:16

    I liked it. Didn't think I would. Reminded me a bit of Robert Walser because of the narrator's childlike wonder of it all, except in this version, unlike the wandering and unlucky Walser, this hero gets laid. And in more ways than one.

  • Russell Bittner
    2019-01-29 23:30

    Milan Kundera, whose prose(and consequently whose thinking) I much admire, describes, on the back cover of the edition I recently found in a dusty old bookstore here in Manhattan Bohumil Hrabal’s Closely Observed Trains as “(o)ne of the most authentic incarnations of magical Prague; an incredible union of earthly humor and baroque imagination… What is unique about Hrabal is his capacity for joy.”I would be hard-pressed to question Milan Kundera’s appreciation of literature. Instead—and as I’ve had ample experience with this kind of thing in the fairly recent past—I’ll question whether the translation is a good one.Yes, I see Kundera’s point. And yes, my reading of Closely Observed Trains gave me flashbacks to my reading, once upon a time, of Michael Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita. But other than a few lite-comic episodes juxtaposed with the standard brand of Nazi (read=atrocious) behavior, I found the going sluggish. I’m not Czech—and so, I may’ve missed something. But I lived long enough in Vienna and in and around Eastern Europe at one point to have made a fair acquaintance with that peculiar brand of humor. The numb-nuts mindset of the train personnel assigned to duty (and to their tiny ambitions) in the midst—and middle—of a continent in which world powers are trying to shoot, bomb and burn themselves into extinction naturally lends itself to a surrealistic approach to story-telling. I’m just not sure I get (or got) it.RRB12/31/12Brooklyn, NY

  • Hassan Salem
    2019-02-01 23:25

    " كنت أبصق دماً، وألطخّ بزة الجنديّ، تناولت منديلي، لكي أمسح بقعة الدماء هذه، كانت أنفاسي متقطعة، وبدأت أشعر بالأختناق ، ولكني استجمعت ما تبقى من قواي، وانقلبت على نفسي ، ومددت يدي ، وأمسكت بالسلسلة التي كان الجندي يتشبث بها، وبدا لي أن وجهه بات هادئاً سوى أن ثقباً محروق الفتحة مكان عينه اليمنى كأنها عوينة زرقاء . انتزعت هذه السلسلة التي كان الميت يتشبث بها، وفِي ضوء القمر ، لاحظت أنها ميدالية؟ على أحد وجهيها نفلية خضراء ذات أربع وريقات ، وعلى الوجه الآخر كتابة حرز: فأل حسن ، ولكنها لم تجلب لنا الفأل الحسن هذه النفلية ذات الوريقات الأربع ، لا للجندي ، ولا لي أنا ، ومع ذلك ، كان الجندي رجلاً مثلي ، أو مثل السيد هوبيكا . كان بلا رتبة أو أوسمة . وها كل منا أطلق رصاصة على الآخر ، كل منا قتل الآخر ، بينما ، أنا على ثقة ، أننا لو كنّا التقينا في الحياة المدنية . لكنا أحسسنا بالود المتبادل ، ولكنا تبادلنا أطراف الأحاديث .،،،" كتاب واحد من كتب #بوهوميل_هرابال يختصر كل ما عجزنا نحن جمعياً عن تقديمه لأجل إنسان متحرر ، رغم كل ما نفعله بإيحاءاتنا و احتجاجاتنا الصاخبة "#ميلان_كونديرا،،رواية رائعة ✨

  • Adam Znasik
    2019-02-21 15:40

    Všelikto si myslí, že vie takto písať, ale nevie.

  • Evan
    2019-02-07 19:18

    [I had recently marked a Hrabal novel "to read," and the author's name sounded familiar, so I looked into my archive and found I had indeed read a Hrabal novel in 2011: Closely Watched Trains. So, in that spirit, let's take another look at that review. Reading it, I can relive stuff I had completely forgotten; thus the beauty of writing these literary diaries.]A few decades back when I was exploring the world of "foreign film" for the first time, the 1966 Czech movie adaptation of this Czech novella turned up frequently in the film reference compendiums, listed among the "great foreign films" or "greatest films." I think I first saw reference to it in one of Leslie Halliwell's retrospective movie essay books. I don't notice the movie being as discussed or reverently mentioned as it once was, which is natural as the world turns, as more movies get made and the current generation gets further away from the receding buzz. At some point in the 1980s I finally did see the film and remember enjoying it, but only the sexual escapades and the heroic finale lingered on in my memory.I noticed the original 1964 book by Bohumil Hrabal listed on the back of the Polish novel, Ashes and Diamonds, which I recently read, and thought that this story merited another look. This book reminded me that the movie had strong magical realism elements that I had forgotten. I'm not a fan of magical realism, and for about half the way I found myself a little confused by the book. But 40 or so pages into it things began to clarify and the story ingratiated itself.The writing is choppy and full of clauses and is marked by the sudden appearance of dream sequences and similar flights of fancy intended to reflect the main character's state of mind, all or some of which may or may not be everyone's cup of tea. Much stock is put in the eccentric habits of the characters more than in the narrative itself. The story takes place at a train station in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. The main character is a young apprentice train dispatcher named Milos Hrma, whose primary preoccupation seems to be with his sexual prowess, or lack thereof. Seems he can't get it up and get it off for his best girl, Masha, and in a state of resulting depression he tries to kill himself. Hrma comes from a long line of layabout losers, and the book traces his journey from schlub to hero, although the outcome of that journey and fulfillment of self worth comes with a heavy price.Hrma looks up to his senior colleague, the dispatcher Mr. Hubicka, who seems to have a telfon skin to which nothing sticks. Young Hrma admires his confident mentor's accomplishments with the ladies, even the latter's apparent ability to evade punishment for sexual harassment of their train-station colleague, Virginia.The station is run by a junior-league Napoleon, Mr. Lansky, who berates his decent wife and has love for nothing but his loyal loft of cooing pigeons and his overstuffed office furniture.In describing certain incidents, including the cruelty to farm animals being freighted to slaughter--which obviously is meant to parallel the concurrent barbarities of the second world war--Hrabal is grimly effective. The book, which ultimately is a plea for human brotherhood and a condemnation of war, has a certain rough charm and enough memorable incident to be worth a look.(KevinR@Ky with new retrospective intro in 2016)

  • Noce
    2019-02-06 22:34

    Treni strettamente somigliantiSiccome mi son resa conto che spesso e volentieri scrivo recensioni troppo lunghe, per questa volta ho deciso di appoggiarmi a scorci letterari e visivi che non sono miei.“Provavo un'irritazione simile a quella di chi dal finestrino di un treno che corre a tutta velocità, cerca di leggere il nome delle stazioni. La stazione si avvicina e tu pensi: stavolta devo stare attento a leggere il cartello, ma non ce la fai. La velocità è troppa, La scritta si intravede, ma è impossibile decifrarla. Un attimo, ed è già alle tue spalle.” (Murakami) Eppure Buhamil, dal suo finestrino, ha fatto in tempo a vedere quella piccola stazione ferroviaria, e a scorgere l’ironia e il grottesco di certi esseri umani, che l’attimo prima di morire quasi per caso, si accorgono che siamo tutti sullo stesso treno, che guardiamo le stesse cose, che tutte ci ricordano casa, e che siamo gocce d’acqua in un mare a senso unico. Dal libro di Hrabal è stato tratto anche un film, che a parer mio poteva vincere l’Oscar come miglior film straniero, solo per la locandina, e avrebbe invece dovuto essere censurato, per la scelta del titolo italiano (Quando l’amore va a scuola o_O) sempre il libro, mi ha inevitabilmente ricordato il passaggio di un altro film, questa volta di Don Camillo, personaggio che amo da sempre. È un film che parla di altre cose, di altri tempi, di altre differenze ideologiche e di altri luoghi, ma c’è una frase detta in mezzo alla neve russa, che rimanda allo stesso messaggio lanciato da Hrabal. (mandate avanti fino al minuto 9,14) uomini “piangono tutti allo stesso modo”.

  • Wendy
    2019-02-09 15:38

    Closely Watched Trains is a vivid, often hilarious, devastating kick in the gut. Although written (and banned) in Soviet-era Czechoslovakia, the story hasn't lost much in translation or the passage of time. War tragedy and humorous youthful sexual burlesque rarely go out of style; taken together, if written well (as Hrabal does), the tragedy and humor amplify one other. Narrator Milos is a naive young apprentice train station agent near Prague during the German occupation. Having failed to please the girl he fancies, he decides that since he "isn't a man" he must take his own life. Milos's mentor and coworker Mr. Hubicka happens to know a lot about seducing the opposite sex, and becomes embroiled in allegations of a particularly "creative" sexual assault. Meanwhile the war, though distant and removed, rolls evidence past Milo's eyes in the form of strafed carriages, casualty wagons, and secret SS reconnaissance trains that must be "closely watched". It's hard to capture in a few words why I found this book absolutely brilliant. The chronological back and forth initially confused me, but once the the author's vivid imagery, acute characterizations, brutal yet somehow beautiful violence and uproarious humor all snagged me, I couldn't put this one down until the final blood-drenched page.