Thursday, December 08, 2005

The End of Nezval (for now)

This afternoon, after not having gone to the archive in about a week (although I had gone to the library a few times), I returned and rather quickly discovered that Nezval’s 1937 diary ends in April. There is no 1938 diary in the collection (or, for that matter, 1936).
I felt curiously disappointed, even though Nezval never goes into much detail about anything (except perhaps when mentioning which type of wine he had at dinner) and his handwriting is never ideal.
Yesterday, while lunching with Megan and talking about our projects, I had to think about my research in a rather different manner than usual. Megan is one of a new category of Fulbright grantees for the Czech Republic, who help teach English part-time in schools and also try to pursue some sort of research topic. Eventually, she plans to go to graduate school, possibly in anthropology. Thus, she is curious how one goes about different sorts of research, and how I think about what I’m undertaking.
It’s true that when you read someone’s diaries for weeks on end—even the relatively impersonal sort, like Nezval’s—you begin to live vicariously in their world to some extent. I haven’t been so involved in Nezval’s life that I dream about the Prague surrealists (I’m not sure I ever have), but I do think about whatever I’m reading about in his life. And, naturally, he and the people in his life take on a more complex existence in my mind as I read seemingly mundane details about which cafes they frequent.

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