The Sorrowful Eyes Of Hannah Karajich
by Ivan Olbracht
Translated by Iris Urwin Lewitová, with an
Introduction by Miroslav Holub
Ivan Olbracht (1882-1952) was an important Czech novelist
and journalist whose other major work, set in the Sub-Carpathian
region, is Nikola Suhaj, The Robber.
Miroslav Holub (1923-1998) was an outstanding contemporary
Czech poet and essayist. Much of his work was translated
into English, both in anthologies and individual volumes
including On the Contrary and Other Poems and The Fly.
The introduction to this novel was one of the last things
he wrote before his death in 1998.
The Sorrowful Eyes of Hannah Karajich is a lyrical,
deeply moving story of love and the pain of emancipation,
set in the now vanished world of rural East European
Jewish village life. Hanna is the most beautiful girl
in all Polona, a Hasidic community in the remote province
of Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia. Involvement in the exciting
new movement of Zionism takes her away to a commune
in a nearby town. But there she meets and falls in love
with the strangely named Ivo Karajich: a Jew, yet not
a Jew. The agonizing drama that follows, plants into
her beautiful almond-shaped eyes the hard grain of sorrow
that her children, too, will inherit.
Olbracht's novella is both a great love story and a
marvellous portrait of a world that modernity threatened
and Hitler destroyed.
"...a book like this is truly a gift. ...The story
of Hannah was ranked ninth on the list of 'the century's
best Czech books' in a recent poll." - Critique
"The translation by Urwin Lewitová preserves
the atmosphere and tone of the original and has lost
none of its power since it was first published in 1964.
The introduction by Czech poet and essayist Miroslav
Holub, written shortly before his untimely death in
1998 is an informative and insightful introduction to
Olbracht, his post-communist literary reputation, and
the Ruthenian Jews." - Slavic and East European
"I greatly enjoyed reading "The Sorrowful
Eyes of Hannah Karajich", which is arguably Olbracht's
...This is a haunting and unsettling story. As Hannah
and Ivo return to Slovakia in his little yellow car
we know that both of them have, and will always have,
A remarkable journey, a remarkable story, and a remarkable
writer complimented in this Central European University
edition by a wonderful introduction by Miroslav Holub
and a sensitive translation by Iris Urwin Lewitova.
A very fine read."- Amazon (extract from
a reader's online review)
ISBN 978-963-9116-47-4 paperback $17.95 / €13.95
Published in the series:
European Classics / CEU Press Classics