The Golden Age

The Golden Age by Michal Ayvaz

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Heir to the philosophical-fantastical tradition of Borges, Calvino, and Perec, The Golden Age is Michal Ajvaz’s greatest and most ambitious work.

The Golden Age is a fantastical travelogue in which a modern-day Gulliver writes a book about a civilization he once encountered on a tiny island in the Atlantic. The islanders seem at first to do nothing but sit and observe the world, and indeed draw no distinction between reality and representation, so that a mirror image seems as substantial to them as a person (and vice versa); but the center of their culture is revealed to be “The Book,” a handwritten, collective novel filled with feuding royal families, murderous sorcerers, and narrow escapes. Anyone is free to write in “The Book,” adding their own stories, crossing out others, or even appending “footnotes” in the form of little paper pouches full of extra text — but of course there are pouches within pouches, so that the story is impossible to read “in order,” and soon begins to overwhelm the narrator’s orderly treatise.

267 pages, published in
Michal Ayvaz

A book by Michal Ayvaz

Michal Aivaz (b.

30.10.1949) is a modern Czech prose writer, poet, essayist and philosopher. Czech critics unanimously rank him among the cohort of the most outstanding and original living Czech writers. This assessment is confirmed with the release of each new work by Aivaz. Aivaz was born in 1949, studied at the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University, but did not graduate from it. I was forced to do unskilled work, changed several professions. Until 1989, he was deprived of the opportunity to publish. He made his debut relatively late - in 1989 (still in samizdat) his book of poems "Murder in the Intercontinental Hotel" was published, which became a milestone in the development of modern Czech poetry. In it, for the first time, the author turns to the themes that later became characteristic of his work - the rethinking of the famous image of "magical Prague", the search for the magic of the city in the modern wings, non-traditional philosophical teachings, etc. His debut in prose took place in 1991, when Aivaz published a book of stories, The Return of the Old Monitor, which immediately made him one of the most interesting authors of modern Czech Republic. In 1993, Aivaz`s first novel, Another City, was published, perhaps the most famous text by the writer, dedicated to the “second”, “parallel” Prague, invisible to an outsider`s eye and the hero`s path to comprehending the unknown world, which is beyond the borders of our familiar world. In 1994, Aivaz published a collection of philosophical essays entitled "Sign and Being"; in the following years, collections of his stories and notes were published several times. In 2003, Aivaz`s large literary and philosophical work about the work of Jorge Luis Borges appeared. The novel entitled "The Golden Age" became a "free continuation" - not even of the plot, but of ideas familiar to the reader from "Another City" and an attempt to penetrate even deeper into the secrets of the "second" civilization, whose habitat this time is not Prague, but an island lost in the vastness of the ocean. Ayvaz is a unique phenomenon in modern Czech literature. He largely follows in the footsteps of the famous "magic realists" of Latin America, and his encyclopedic knowledge in the field of history, philosophy, art reminds of H.L.

Borges, beloved by Aivaz. There are also many features that bring Aivaz`s work together, for example, with Umberto Eco. However, particular interest to Aivaz`s texts is given by their Prague localization. Aivaz continues the centuries-old tradition of "Prague literature", which flourished in such well-known Russian readers as "Golem" by Gustav Meyrink and "The Trial" by Franz Kafka. Without the books of this writer, it is already impossible to imagine modern Czech literature - they are a very curious element in the direction of world literature, which can be conventionally called "philosophical fiction." The plot of the main novel by Aivaz is more and more deep immersion of the hero in the secrets of the parallel world, "Another city" (so named because it exists in the backstage of everyone familiar with Prague), his acquaintance with the history, culture, philosophical teachings of its inhabitants. On the way to knowledge, the hero has to go through a lot of adventures (he escapes from the pursuit of sea reptiles along the night streets of Prague, enters into battle with a shark at the top of the Lesser Town Church, makes his way through the jungle that grew out of library books, etc.) The hero finds out that our “Worlds” exist very close to each other - and in order to leave for this “second city” forever, without fear of becoming a “foreigner” for its inhabitants, it is enough to “open your consciousness” and stop thinking about returning. The hero makes his choice in favor of leaving. The style of the novel is very interesting and original. On the one hand, it often contains lengthy philosophical digressions, stories about the peculiarities of the second city, about the hero`s experiences associated with his search. On the other hand, there are pictures of Prague that make you remember Meyrink`s novels. On the third, there is a rapid alternation of unexpected events, sometimes reminiscent of a real thriller, humor, with which one or another misadventure of the hero or the strange laws of a parallel world are described. In general, it can be said that The Other City continues the traditions of Czech and world philosophical and fantastic literature. You can find in it features of similarity, for example, with Gulliver`s Travels by Swift, but to a much greater extent, of course, with Borges` Fictional Stories or Eco`s Isle of Yesterday. © Ekaterina Bobrakova-Timoshkina

The Golden Age PDF

Michal Aivaz (b. 30.10.1949) is a modern Czech prose writer, poet, essayist and philosopher. Czech critics unanimously rank him among the cohort of the most outstanding and original living Czech writers. This assessment is confirmed with the release of each new work by Aivaz. Aivaz was born in 1949, studied at the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University, but did not graduate from it. I was forced to do unskilled work, changed several professions. Until 1989, he was deprived of the opportunity to publish. He made his debut relatively late - in 1989 (still in samizdat) his book of poems "Murder in the Intercontinental Hotel" was published, which became a milestone in the development of modern Czech poetry. In it, for the first time, the author turns to the themes that later became characteristic of his work - the rethinking of the famous image of "magical Prague", the search for the magic of the city in the modern wings, non-traditional philosophical teachings, etc. His debut in prose took place in 1991, when Aivaz published a book of stories, The Return of the Old Monitor, which immediately made him one of the most interesting authors of modern Czech Republic. In 1993, Aivaz`s first novel, Another City, was published, perhaps the most famous text by the writer, dedicated to the “second”, “parallel” Prague, invisible to an outsider`s eye and the hero`s path to comprehending the unknown world, which is beyond the borders of our familiar world. In 1994, Aivaz published a collection of philosophical essays entitled "Sign and Being"; in the following years, collections of his stories and notes were published several times. In 2003, Aivaz`s large literary and philosophical work about the work of Jorge Luis Borges appeared. The novel entitled "The Golden Age" became a "free continuation" - not even of the plot, but of ideas familiar to the reader from "Another City" and an attempt to penetrate even deeper into the secrets of the "second" civilization, whose habitat this time is not Prague, but an island lost in the vastness of the ocean. Ayvaz is a unique phenomenon in modern Czech literature. He largely follows in the footsteps of the famous "magic realists" of Latin America, and his encyclopedic knowledge in the field of history, philosophy, art reminds of H.L. Borges, beloved by Aivaz. There are also many features that bring Aivaz`s work together, for example, with Umberto Eco. However, particular interest to Aivaz`s texts is given by their Prague localization. Aivaz continues the centuries-old tradition of "Prague literature", which flourished in such well-known Russian readers as "Golem" by Gustav Meyrink and "The Trial" by Franz Kafka. Without the books of this writer, it is already impossible to imagine modern Czech literature - they are a very curious element in the direction of world literature, which can be conventionally called "philosophical fiction." The plot of the main novel by Aivaz is more and more deep immersion of the hero in the secrets of the parallel world, "Another city" (so named because it exists in the backstage of everyone familiar with Prague), his acquaintance with the history, culture, philosophical teachings of its inhabitants. On the way to knowledge, the hero has to go through a lot of adventures (he escapes from the pursuit of sea reptiles along the night streets of Prague, enters into battle with a shark at the top of the Lesser Town Church, makes his way through the jungle that grew out of library books, etc.) The hero finds out that our “Worlds” exist very close to each other - and in order to leave for this “second city” forever, without fear of becoming a “foreigner” for its inhabitants, it is enough to “open your consciousness” and stop thinking about returning. The hero makes his choice in favor of leaving. The style of the novel is very interesting and original. On the one hand, it often contains lengthy philosophical digressions, stories about the peculiarities of the second city, about the hero`s experiences associated with his search. On the other hand, there are pictures of Prague that make you remember Meyrink`s novels. On the third, there is a rapid alternation of unexpected events, sometimes reminiscent of a real thriller, humor, with which one or another misadventure of the hero or the strange laws of a parallel world are described. In general, it can be said that The Other City continues the traditions of Czech and world philosophical and fantastic literature. You can find in it features of similarity, for example, with Gulliver`s Travels by Swift, but to a much greater extent, of course, with Borges` Fictional Stories or Eco`s Isle of Yesterday. © Ekaterina Bobrakova-Timoshkina