Prague Tales

Prague Tales

Prague Tales

Prague Tales


A collection of Jan Neruda's intimate, wry, bitter-sweet stories of life among the inhabitants of Mala Strana, the Little Quarter of nineteenth century Prague. Prague Tales is a classic story whose influence has been acknowledged by generations of Czech writers.


I happened to be in London in August 1968 at the time of the Soviet invasion – that is, I was in my favourite foreign city and a country I greatly admire – yet I decided not to stay. I remember justifying my decision to return to Prague with a comment that must have sounded absurd: most of London’s street names have no associations for me.

It was not absurd to me. We visit any number of cities in our lives. We have walked through thousands of streets, seen all kinds of sights. We are inveterate tourists. Yet home is still the place where the streets and buildings have more to say to us than the eye of any foreigner can perceive.

Neruda Street is not only the most beautiful street in Prague; it has every reason to bear our author’s name. The entire district of Malá Strana – indeed, all Prague, or, rather, its shape and history in the not so distant past, the spirit of the place – comes down to us largely through Neruda’s words and images.

Not that the images are necessarily positive. Having returned to Prague after the invasion, I was often called in for questioning by the police. The first time I went . . .

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