Prose writer, poet, essayist, journalist. Winner of the City of Brno Prize. He was born in Znojmo on 6 June 1936.
He studied art history at the Arts Faculty; in 1958 his dissertation was not accepted, so he finished his studies without a degree. He was part of the generation of the Thirty-Sixers along with the likes of Jiří Kuběna and Václav Havel. He went through a number of manual occupations, and after the Velvet Revolution he worked as a journalist and a lecturer at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts.
His debut work was the book Anonymní povídky (Anonymous Short Stories, Blok, 1967); it took three years before Ludvík Kundera succeeding in getting it published. The book was not acceptable to critics at the time and so Švanda’s next work, Zázraky v malém ráji (Miracles in a Small Paradise, Rozrazil, 1991), was not published until after the revolution. This was followed by Portréty (Portraits, Atlantis, 1994), the aesthetic collection Zkušenosti (Experiences, Atlantis, 1995) and the poetry collection Na obou březích (On Both Banks, Atlantis, 1996). The short stories Libertas a jiné sny (Libertas and Other Dreams, Atlantis, 1997) with the subtitle Snové příběhy i filosoficky laděné grotesky (Dreamlike Stories and Philosophical Farces) deals with the relationship between freedom and surrender.
A romantic novel with a detective-style plot, Hodinka profesora Bojera (Professor Bojer’s Lesson, Atlantis, 1998) depicts a student’s relationship with a mature woman.
This was followed by the feuilletons and essays Věčný nedostatek věčnosti (An Eternal Lack of Eternity, Atlantis, 1999) and the next poetry collection Noemův deník (Noah’s Diary, Atlantis, 2000), in which the author observes the situation of contemporary man and compares him to Noah and the Flood. The novel Krajina s trnem v oku (Landscape with Eyesore, Atlantis, 2002) reflects the feelings of children and adolescents of the wartime generation; the two heroes spend time in endless battles without knowing why. The inner theme of the book is guilt surrounding the death of a friend, the backdrop is Brno at that time, and the atmosphere is laden with the oppressive circumstances and acute fear of the fifties.
The eleven essays Monstrum a jiná domácí zvířata (The Monster and Other Domestic Animals, Atlantis, 2002) deal with Czech-German relations, the constraints of Normalization and the world of that time as a breeding ground for collective psychological experience. This was followed by the collection of poems Cestou z Kainova pohřbu (Journey from Cain’s Funeral, Atlantis, 2004) and another set of essay-memoirs, Paměť esejisty (Memory of the Essayist, Atlantis, 2006). The collection O intelektuálovi, který se necítí dobře (The Intellectual Who Does Not Feel Well, Atlantis, 2012) is described by the author thus: “The essay as a genre can best be perceived in the rhythm of free inhalations and exhalations, not as a breathless accumulation of evidence for the prosecution.” This is a collection of reflections on current topics as well as ones of permanent interest to Švanda.
Pavel Švanda’s latest book is entitled Kulturní i nekulturní záznamy, střepiny, pomluvy (Highbrow and Lowbrow Notes, Fragments and Gossip, JAMU, 2014).