Notes from Underground

Roger Scruton. Beaufort (Midpoint, dist.), $24.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-8253-0728-7
Philosopher and activist in Eastern Europe Scruton (The Meaning of Conservatism) weaves references to literature, the subway, and dissident movements into both his title and this bittersweet tale, set in Prague during the twilight of Communist Czechoslovakia. Jan Reichl is a young man living on the fringes of society whose mother has just been arrested for underground publishing. What she conceals from the police is that her son is also “Comrade Underground,” author of Rumors, a collection of his impressions of the lives of fellow passengers on the Metro. It is this book that leads to his romance with Alžbeta Palková, or “Betka,” as she is known. Betka introduces Jan to an alternative Prague, where ideas are freely discussed behind closed doors. Decades later, Jan reflects from suburban Washington, D.C., on his brief romance with Betka and the tumultuous times that they lived through. A familiarity with Czech culture and history will enhance the reader’s experience, but Scruton’s prose will satisfy anyone with an interest in this place and period. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/13/2014
Release date: 03/01/2014
Paperback - 244 pages - 978-0-8253-0785-0
Open Ebook - 216 pages - 978-0-8253-0661-7
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