Rusalka

A Lyrical Fairy-tale in Three Acts

Jaroslav Kvapil

Rusalka

Jaroslav Kvapil

Distributed for Karolinum Press, Charles University

Translated by Patrick Corness
100 pages | 20 halftones | 5 x 7 1/2
Paper $12.00 ISBN: 9788024643816 Will Publish April 2020 Not for sale in the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic
Famous as the libretto for Antonín Dvorák’s opera of the same name, Jaroslav Kvapil’s poem Rusalka is an intriguing work of literature on its own. Directly inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s famous “The Little Mermaid,” Kvapil’s reinterpretation adds an array of nuanced poetic techniques, a more dramatic tempo, and dark undertones that echo the work of eminent Czech folklorist Karel Jaromír Erben. All of these influences work in tandem to create a poetic work that is familiar yet innovative.
 
Transposed into the folkloric topos of a landlocked Bohemia, the mermaid is rendered here as a Slavic rusalka—a dangerous water nymph—who must choose between love and immortality. Thus, Rusalka, while certainly paying homage to the original story’s Scandinavian roots, is still a distinct work of modern Czech literature. Newly translated by Patrick John Corness, Kvapil’s work will now find a fresh group of readers looking to get lost in one of Europe’s great lyrical fairy tale traditions.
Review Quotes
Edward Rothstein | New York Times, on Kvapil's libretto for Antonín Dvorák's "Rusalka"
“Redolent . . . with forbidden realms of desire. . . . A composite of legends and literary sources, combining aspects of the French tale of Undine, Gerhart Hauptmann's elf, and Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid. The water nymph falls in love with a prince. A witch allows her to enter the human world, but at the price of losing her voice. If she also loses her love, she will be forever doomed to lure men to their deaths in her cold embrace.”
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