I Served the King of England - Bohumil Hrabal, Paul Wilson

This is one of the rare cases where I saw the movie well before I read the book. In part, I think my reaction to the book is because of what I saw with movie. Tracing the rise and fall of a busboy during the mid-1900s, I Served the King of England is a brew of humor, strangeness and beauty. It is impossible, though the movie came very close; to capture the absolute beauty of the language, even as it appears in translated form.

 

                It’s strange because it is the beauty of the language that possesses the book, not any feeling toward the narrator who only really seems to become a member of the human race at the end, where he identifies with his animals.

 

                But the language in this novel. God, beautiful descriptions. The reader can understand the attraction.

 

                Perhaps, we are nothing more than animals after all.

                Perhaps, we are nothing more than Napoleon.

                Perhaps, we are nothing more than wisps, trying for something that we can’t adequately or even logically describe.

                Perhaps.