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Working Knowledge [Paperback]

Petr Kral , Frank Wynne

Price: CDN$ 14.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Jan. 1 2008
Over the course of one hundred brief and evanescent texts, Král brings together, as his compatriot Milan Kundera writes in his introduction, "this strange and beautiful existential encyclopaedia of the everyday". Whether describing twilight, a toothpick, the ritual of shaving or the act of going upstairs, his gaze is ingenuous, humble, and amazed. Mute objects, fleeting gestures, changeless passions: Král forces us to look at them anew. Each limpid, graceful essay is a brief voyage of discovery in which lowly objects and everyday actions, so often unobserved, are transfigured. Petr Král has the unerring ability to perceive, to catch the commonplace by surprise and with the unsettling clarity see beyond the everyday to the fabric of life beneath.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press (Jan. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1901285731
  • ISBN-13: 978-1901285734
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 11.9 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,042,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"It is our blindness, existential blindness which makes the world around us so mysterious. In his discreet way, Petr Král lifts the veil." - Milan Kundera

"With Král’s virtuosic ability to get at the meat of a thing [...] we’re treated to a sober and bittersweet and painfully observant volume." - Jeff Waxman, Review of Contemporary Fiction

"Elegant and incisive meditations [...] Král hints at the metaphysical ramifications of whatever he comes across." - John Taylor, Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Petr Král, born in Prague in 1941, was a leading member of the Czech surrealist movement, studied cinema and moved to Paris in 1968. A poet, essayist and screenwriter, he has lived in Prague since 2006. His books Working Knowledge (2008) and In Search of the Essence of Place (2012) are also published by Pushkin Press.

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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SIMPLE LANGUAGE WITH LAYERS OF MEANING Nov. 23 2012
By David Keymer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
. Working Knowledge is a book of apercus -short, lyrical, often waxing philosophic about some common object or activity in our mundane world: the first cup of coffee on a Saturday morning, the feeling of a clean shirt, the pleasure of relieving oneself by the side of the road after having drunk too much wine.... Kral is a Czech, now long naturalized in Paris -he fled Czechoslovakia for France in1968-- and a surrealist poet. This, my first encounter with him, has been generally positive. Although each musing is short -usually a page or two--they're not to be rushed through. I've enjoyed them most reading just one or two each morning. That way their effect sinks in. They can't be rushed. There is al lovely reflection on doors -on what they mean to us--which includes this half-sentence that I liked so much that I've included it as an epigram in a piece I'm writing: "We hold the key to the door, but not to the day that lies beyond." The sentence continues: "--which key remains constantly to be found, and we do so in the manner in which we cross the threshold."

The translator deserves praise for his work on this little book. Prose like Kral's, which uses common language and common constructions but enfolds layers of meaning, is hard to capture in a translation but Wynne has done an exceptional job of it.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sublime Concerto Dec 18 2009
By Luca Graziuso and Marina Ross - Published on Amazon.com
In Petr Kral's "Working Knowledge" the passions for the ordinary are rendered in a lyrical aura that glows and flows in a mysterious serenity that pervades the most accepted conventional habits of human affairs. The pulse of these prose poems seems to be taken from the sleep of memory when dreams are cradled in a state of trance and advance beyond the sensibilities of the conscious divide that separates the absolute with the mundane. There is much to lament whenever the existential condition is generalized through particular microcosmic epiphanies, but the the orchestral compulsion to glean the ordinary and srain the pathos of being human from such quotidian happenings is a characteristic that makes of every glance, every gaze an ogling into the the mesmerizing champber of solitude from which we seek to embrace and assimilate the strnage ordeal of being alive. There is poetry in every chance encounter and Petr Kral, the Czech surrealist is only guilty of this nomenclature by association with a brand of artistic tendency that finds beauty in the wisdom of displacement. If we think of Andre Breton here we are misguided. rather this is a prose of a magical realism that unlike the Latin Ameirican guise surmises hidden gems in the most muddled situation, and lifts the fog whenever we feel compelled to become accostumed to the normalcy of the now, wherein the sublime is strained within slivers of time that rythmically stupify but when seen through the eyes of Kral becomes congeries of stupendous hypersensitivity. Translated from the French "Notions de Base" by Frank wynne we are introduced to a writer that will intensify your life experiences and excite your desire to stop assuming anything is mean and commonplace.
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars forced meaning July 6 2009
By J. Dixon - Published on Amazon.com
firstly,i inherently rebel against the false identity of "we"in which this book is written.abstract thought cannot take on objective meaning,even the profoundest truths of psychotherapy are mere models.the individuals experience cannot be reduced to generalities that encompass a certain figure of "we".we can only hope to speak for ourselves and in so doing find correspondance in others.my experience may reflect yours but i stand short of assuming i know you.only a philosopher could make this mistake,even physicists are questioning this arrogance.
secondly he has over analysed and in so doing killed beauty."you pretend to know "said celine to miller"and this what kills the world"he has become a collector of encyclopedic inanity.his truths dont spring spontaneously to mind but are laboured and murdered in their detail.
i expected an opening into an inner life rich beyond mundane place and circumstance,but instead found a litany of forced associations about outward things it wouldnt of hurt us to reamain ignorant of.i believe
meaning should spring incidently as part of legitimate storyline.its just a question of focus.

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