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When that light begins to dim, fan the flame just enough to ignite something - Vladimir Mayakovsky

Farewell and Handkerchief - Poems from the Road

by Vitězslav Nezval

The poems of Farewell and a Handkerchief are composed of refl ections from Czech poet Vítězslav Nezval’s 1933 travels to Vienna, Paris, southern France, and Italy, during which he formed friendships with surrealist poets André Breton and Paul Éluard. Their infl uence and inspiration helped Nezval form the foundations of Czech surrealism,the only official artistic movement of its kind outside the borders of France. With its roots in the earlier avant-garde movement of poetism, the Czech group Devětsil (Nine Forces), of which Nezval was also a leading member, included such luminaries as Toyen, Karel Teige, Jindřich Štýrský, and Nobel laureate Jaroslav Seifert. Farewell and a Handkerchief was the proving ground of Nezval’s own shift from poetism to surrealism, and remains a powerful and enduring book by one of the most prolifi c poets of the twentieth century.

About the Author

About the Translator

Vítězslav Nezval was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth-century avant-garde. He was a leading founder of the Czech movement Devětsil (Nine Forces), a group that included individuals such as Nobel laureate Jaroslav Seifert, which evolved into the Czech Surrealist Group. He was born in 1900 in Biskoupky, a small town in southern Moravia. His works in English include The Absolute Gravedigger (Twisted Spoon Press, 2016), Prague with Fingers of Rain (Bloodaxe Books Ltd., 2009), Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Twisted Spoon Press, 2005), and Antilyrik and Other Poems (Green Integer, 2001). He died in 1958.

Roman Kostovski has a B.A. in Russian Language and International Relations from the College of William and Mary, and an M.A. in Russian Language and Linguistics from the University of Maryland. He also holds a Lecturer of Czech Certification from Charles University in Prague.  He has taught Czech at George Washington University. He translates poetry and prose from Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian, and Slovak into English. His translations  Arnost Lustig’s Porgess (Northwestern University Press in 2006), Viktor Dyk’s  The Ratcatcher  (Plamen Press, 2014). He founded Plamen Press in 2013, a print-on-demand publishing house for the promotion of literature from Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe throughout the English-speaking world. He works and resides in Washington, D.C.

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