Prague at the end of the nineteenth century. Bohemia is part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and there is social and political unrest in town between patriotic Czechs, who are becoming more and more active in their striving for independence, and the German speaking population, who holds the power, and in between them both the Jews. There are fierce disputes about the language that has to be used in the civil service: next to German Czech is also acknowledged as an official language in the civil service. There are riots in the street, martial law is proclaimed and the Austrian secret police is infiltrating the Czech reform movement. Besides that the centre of Prague has to undergo a radical redevelopment, which will lead to the complete destruction of the so-called Jewish quarter. Completely new buildings will arise along Paris like large boulevards.
In this setting, when machines are starting to demolish houses and there is turmoil in the streets, we meet Adi, count Arco, who lives in the centre of Prague. A young man in his thirties, not interested in politics whatsoever, comfortably living from an apanage, a financial allowance. He left the estate of his parents in the countryside, not willing to live there or to be subject to an arranged marriage, and went to Prague. Adi is a kind of an idler, lacking a real goal in life, he has several concubines, visit brothels, drinks absinth in pubs, and likes to fence with real swords with his Jewish friend Soli (Solomon). And he is very good at fencing. His only problem is his health, he suffers from a lung disease, and can’t stand the dirt and dust in the streets, which gives him attacks of terrible coughs. The wisest would be for him to be cured in a sanatorium, but that is of course out of the question: he wants to enjoy life with his friends, with his concubines, in the brothels and pubs in the Jewish quarter.
Selected published translations (4)
Lord Mord Spanish
Mord in der Josefstadt German
Lord Mord English
Lord Mord Polish