ON MY BOOKSHELF
Written in 1935 at the height of Czech Surrealism but not published until 1945, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a bizarre erotic fantasy of a young girl's maturation into womanhood. Drawing on Matthew Lewis's The Monk, Sade's Justine, K.H. Macha's May, and Murnau's Nosferatu as well as the form and language of the pulp serial novel, Nezval has constructed a lyrical, menacing dream of sexual awakening involving a vampire with a taste for chicken blood, changelings, a lecherous priest, a malicious grandmother desiring her lost youth, and an androgynous merging of brother with sister.
In his Foreword Nezval states: "I wrote this novel out of a love of the mystique in those ancient tales, superstitions and romances, printed in Gothic script, which used to flit before my eyes and declined to convey to me their content." Part fairy tale, part Gothic horror, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is a meditation on youth and age, sexuality and death — an exploration of the grotesque that juxtaposes high and low genres, with shifting registers of language and moods that was a trademark of the Czech avant-garde. The 1970 film version is considered one of the outstanding achievements of Czech new-wave cinema.
I first read this book some years ago but don't remember how I first came to know of it. Ever since it's been a source of mood and inspiration but I never did own a copy of my own. When I was in Austin last weekend, I stopped by my favorite bookstore, Farewell Books, and they had a copy of it. So now it's finally been added to my collection! This is a perfect addition to the Magical Books Club. If you haven't read it yet, please do so as soon as you can! I think you will really enjoy it.
Add me on Instagram at mujermagica so that you may keep up with the series and posts! I created the hashtag magicalbooksclub. Feel free to tag your photos of magical books so everyone can find something new. You can also follow my other book-related hash tag mariandherbooks for other book inspiration.