book cover of White Book

White Book

A novel by

Pavel Kohout's White Book is an elegantly written chronicle of the absurd, the story of Adam Jur0ek. a teacher of physical education and drawing in a Bohemian spa, who becomes the first person to break the law of gravity by rising gently in his own dwelling and planting his feet firmly on the ceiling. Comrade Juracek's private levitation becomes public. challenging the work of Comrade Isaac Newton and bringing down on himself the outraged and outrageous reactions of the state and the guardians of psychiatric dogma.

Pavel Kohout has constructed an elaborate satire. documenting Adam Juracek's adventures from the imaginary future of the 21st century. There is a "springtime" of high hopes when all the young people are on his side-a pamphlet issued on Juracek's behalf recalls those May days in 1968 when the youth of Prague were conjuring up the memory of the Reformation martyr, Jan Hus. Then the government declares a national emergency, and Juracek is tried and turned over to a succession of psychiatrists, all of whom he baffles-all, that is, but one. He emerges in the year 2000, following a United Nations amnesty, knowing only his identification number and reciting Newton's formula.

Noted Prague journalist Bedrich Utitz, in praising White Book, has said: "We live with absurdity, where acknowledged and proven truth is persecuted and the converse is declared to be truth. Kohout deals with this absurdity-not only with Socialist irrealism, but also with the absurdity he must live with in his homeland."

Genre: Literary Fiction

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