The Bohemian Body examines the modernist forces within nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe that helped shape both Czech nationalism and artistic interaction among ethnic and social groups - Czechs and Germans, men and women, gays and straights. By re-examining the work of key Czech male and female writers and poets from the National Revival to the Velvet Revolution, Alfred Thomas exposes the tendency of Czech literary criticism to separate the political and the personal in modern Czech culture. He points instead to the complex interplay of the political and the personal across ethnic, cultural, and intellectual lines and within the works of such individual writers as Karel Hynek Macha, Bozena Nemcova, and Rainer Maria Rilke, resulting in the emergence and evolution of a protean modern identity. The product is a seemingly paradoxical yet nuanced understanding of Czech culture (including literature, opera, and film), long overlooked or misunderstood by Western scholars.
Alfred Thomas is professor and head of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of several books, including Anne's Bohemia: Czech Literature and Society, 1310-1420. He is also coeditor of Cultures of Forgery: Making Nations, Making Selves.