The Cowards

  • Paul I. Trensky


The Cowards (Zbabělci) was written in 1948–49 when Škvorecký was twenty-four years old. However, since by then Socialist Realist dogma had begun to be enforced, its publication was unthinkable. It was not until 1958, when the Thaw was fully underway, that its first publication took place. Even then, however, its appearance proved premature. The conservative wing of the Party was ready for a counteroffensive, and so it used The Cowards as one of its principal arguments against liberalisation. The book was banned in short order, and Škvorecký was severely reprimanded. Those responsible for the publication were demoted or dismissed from their positions. The novel was republished in 1964, in an already substantially changed cultural climate, and was greeted almost universally as a major work of post-war Czech prose.


Depression Europe Schizophrenia Expense Mane 


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  1. 2.
    Josef Škvorecký, Samožerbuch. Autofestschrift (Toronto: 68 Publishers, 1977), p. 112.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    George Gibian, ‘Škvorecký’s The Cowards Twenty Years Later’ in World Literature Today (vol. 54, no. 4), Autumn 1980, pp. 540–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Paul I. Trensky 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul I. Trensky
    • 1
  1. 1.Fordham UniversityNew YorkUSA

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