Jonathan Bousfield’s essay on the “almost unknown” Czech underground writer and philosopher Egon Bondy is long and interesting from a sociological perspective, though Bondy doesn’t sound like my kind of writer (“he wrote a tremendous amount, but never appeared to edit”) or my kind of person (he collaborated with the secret police, and yes, I know these things were complicated). But he did invent a great swear word, for whose sake I will quote the beginning of the essay:
Nobody could write about beer and sausages with quite as much spiritual devotion as the Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal. One of Hrabal’s most famously beer-soaked scenes comes from the 1973 novel Nežny Barbar (The Tender Barbarian), in which a character named Egon (based on Hrabal’s real-life colleague Egon Bondy) lovingly smears the foam from a half-litre of beer all over Hrabal’s face.
Written in 1973, Nežny Barbar is the largely autobiographical account of a three-way friendship between Hrabal, Bondy and painter Vladimir Boudnik in the early Fifties. It was a time when they led a vagabond, bar-crawling existence on the fringes of a society just waking up to the realities of communist power. Filmed in 1990, it is a story that many Czechs remember for Egon’s repeated use of the expression Kurvafix!, a term the real-life Bondy invented by stitching together “kurva” (“whore”) and “crucifix” to create a swearword of comic absurdity. “Crucifuck!” might serve as a freely-translated English alternative.
There is also mention of U dvou slunců, where I may well have had a beer when I was wandering the Malá Strana district of Prague a couple of decades ago. Thanks, Trevor!