We pay tribute to one of the leading Czech translators from English, Pavel Medek, who died on Tuesday at the age of 63. Mr Medek was best known for translating all seven books of the Harry Potter series, together with his brother Vladimír. Jan Velinger spoke to the translator back in 2003 and began by asking him if he recalled the first time he was introduced to the Harry Potter world:
“Paper is a tool of the learned, a raw material for bookmaking. Paper is the household furniture of the chancery, the treasure of scholars, a preserver of human friendship. O, my paper! You are indeed a splendid thing.” A quote by Abraham a Santa Clara, a 17th century priest, inscribed on a shop window of a small stationery in Prague’s Vojtěšská street, captures the philosophy of the small Czech design brand, Papelote, which has been around for more than five years. The tiny Papelote store only features a few tables and shelves to set off its products
While the number of moviegoers has been dropping in recent years, some cinemas have enjoyed an increasing number of visitors. One of them is Prague’s Aero, which has just received the Europa Cinemas award for promoting European films. Aero, along with Světozor and Oko, are run by the Aerofilms distribution company and have the highest turnout among the country’s smaller cinemas. I spoke to Aerofilms’ Ivo Andrle and first asked him what the Europa Cinemas award meant to him:
Photographer Eugen Kukla made several visits to Ukraine during the Maidan protests in Kiev in late 2013 and early 2014, documenting events that shook the country and getting close to several key players. Here in Prague he is a kind of man about town whose black-and-white photos from all kinds of arts and social events (and his favourite pub) have won him a large and devoted following on Facebook.
Every language has its own rhythms and melodies, and these influence the way we speak foreign languages too. However hard we try, we nearly always end up imposing the melodies of our native tongue onto the language we’re trying to speak. Would Greta Garbo saying “I want to be alone” or JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” have the same impact without the accent? This question is not just a curiosity. With so much of the world’s communication going on in English, a group of academics at the Institute of Phonetics of Prague’s Charles University is researching
The French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo recently made world headlines when Islamic radicals killed its editor-in-chief and leading cartoonists. Now Czechs have a unique opportunity to get acquainted with Charlie Hebdo at Prague’s DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, which has just launched an exhibition of more than 200 front covers of the magazine. I spoke to Leoš Válka, the founder of DOX, and first asked him what the thinking behind the show was.
After years of speculation regarding its future, the famous Werich Villa on Prague’s Kampa, once the home of the famous Czech actor Jan Werich, is set to get a new tenant. The Prague authorities have just decided to rent the historical building to the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation, which will turn it into the Voskovec and Werich Arts and Social Centre in honour of the great Czech acting duo.
Novelist Alex Vella Gera made headlines in his native Malta in 2009 when he found himself in court over a short story deemed obscene by the authorities. The piece had been written several years earlier, during a spell the writer – then in his 20s – spent living in Prague in the second half of the 1990s. Vella Gera has just been back in the Czech capital for the first time since then for a short visit. When he came into our studios, I asked what for him had been the appeal of ‘90s Prague.