Friday, May 28, 2021

the last book I ever read (Philip Roth: The Biography, excerpt nine)

from Philip Roth: The Biography by Blake Bailey:

Klímová introduced Roth to the writer Ivan Klíma (no relation), who lived in the Prague suburb of Nad Lesem with his wife, Helena, and their two children. A child during World War II, Klíma and his family had miraculously survived four years of internment at Theresienstadt, the camp for Czechoslovak Jews that Nazis insisted was only a ghetto with its own government—the only Nazi camp where the Red Cross was permitted to visit; however, inmates there were regularly transported to death camps, and only nine thousand or so survived from an original population or more than seventy-five thousand. Klíma (who “looked like an intellectual Ringo Starr”) had been teaching at the University of Michigan during the 1968 invasion, but elected to return to his country, where he refused to recant public speeches and writings in support of the Prague Spring. Now forbidden to publish, he was routinely interrogated and allowed only menial jobs; likewise his wife, a journalist and psychotherapist, was reduced to working as a typist, while their children were not allowed to pursue higher education unless their father conceded that the Soviet intervention had been necessary and also agreed to help the government “normalize” the political situation.

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