He was born in Prague as the son of a police officer. He studied the Gymnasium in Truhlářšká ulice, where he also first witnessed Nazi persecution of his Jewish friends. In 1942 he was forced to be a caretaker in Hodonín, as a part of the Arbeitseinsatz.
Later he studied philosophy, psychology and art history at the Philosophical faculty of Charles University in Prague, where, in 1949, he received a doctorate. After his studies, he was a member of the National heritage administration and after 1959 he worked in the national gallery. He became a professional writer in the 1960s. He attracted much attention with his debut work, Pan Theodor Mundstock (Mr. Theodore Mundstock), published in 1963, and a year later with his short story collection Mí černovlasí bratři (My dark-haired brothers).
In the socialist period, he, according to his own words "preferred to choose conciliatoriness and toleration, against headless resistance and courage to fall in the resistance" ("raději volil smířlivost a toleranci před bezhlavým vzdorem a odvahou padnout v odporu"). Some of his work from the 70s is strongly linked to the era in which they were created (for example, Návrat z žitného pole (The return from the rye field) is a novel targeted against emigration after the 1948 communist coup). He was also a member of the socialistic Svaz českých spisovatelů (Union of Czech Writers). Although he had obtained some international recognition, in the last years of his life he was left alone and friendless. He died in 1994 in his Prague apartment in Dejvice, in the street Národní obrany no. 15.
Further Readings :
Mr. Theodore Mundstock by Ladislav Fuks
Paperback: 223 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books, Inc. (January 1, 1969)
Amazon: Mr. Theodore Mundstock
As the elderly protagonist awaits capture by Nazis, he conjures fantasies to fill his agonizing moments and acknowledges the attempts of his desperate fellow Jews to deny that anything is happening.
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