Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Shakespeare a Synové

Shakespeare's is one of the great institutions of the Czech Republic. Despite the similarity in name to the great Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Co., it's an entirely independent enterprise, though infected by the same spirit, a combination of learning and pleasure.

There are three stores altogether, two in Prague and one in the attractive southern Bohemian town of Český Krumlov. All of them specialize in new and second-hand English-language books and newspapers, but this one provides food for both body and soul thanks to its bar and café, which regularly attract a good local crowd and a number of would-be bohemian writers, poets and musicians.

Most nights find this place, on Krymská (Crimea Street), alive with conversation and argument, chess, backgammon, occasional drunken song and a positive, creative energy.

Back in November, I ran across a team of British radio journalists who had turned up at the bar to interview a number of Praguers about their experiences of the Velvet Revolution. Who are you? I asked one of them. 'I'm John Simpson' he replied. It clearly was not John Simpson, who is known to all British viewers as the larger-than-life foreign correspondent for the BBC. 'You're right,' replied the man from Auntie. 'I'm actually John's producer - but he can't be here because he's ill at the moment'. A few weeks later they put out the broadcast anyway, with John Simpson's separately-recorded questions spliced in - a curiosity the truth of which was known only to those of us who had been in Shakespeare's that night.

Anyone interested in looking over the latest stock might like to visit the store's official site.


Julie said...

Praguers. They are called Praguers. Okay.

Alex said...

Hi Julie. Just back from holiday in an internet-free zone, and catching up with e-mails. Yes! Residents of Prague are called Praguers. I'm uncertain when the term was first used, though I'm pretty sure it's a German expression originally. Pražané, the Czech version, is used, particularly in the press, though Google translate occasionally renders this (oddly) as 'lobsters'

Jilly said...

I love bar shots and this is super, Alex.

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