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Adventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture

Narodni Muzeum Shindig

Prof. Kriz and co. held one of their gala receptions at the National Museum atop Wenceslaus Square. A fitting place, because the event was to highlight newly acquired and preserved illuminated manuscripts depicting the life of King Wenceslaus.

The 23 preserved illuminations give a persuasive testimony of the
Christian and charitable activities of St.Wenceslas, of his political
role and of themiracles that occurred after he was murdered in the
year 935.

King WenczelThe mss. date from the early 1500s, and are amazingly well preserved. The colors — vivid primaries and gold leaf — jump off the pages, and are artistic masterpieces 100 years after Gutenberg’s moveable type expanded printing possibilities (of course, eventually spelling the end of most illuminated mss.).

The evening began with a few speeches, from museum directors and currators, which by the time they were done speaking, people were dancing on their feet, anxious to a) eat, and b) go see the exhibit. Czech flutist Jiri Stivin played two songs, one quite ancient-sounding, befitting the event, and the other wildly sonorous. At one point he had to wood flutes in his mouth, playing bass and harmony together.

As usual, the food at a Kriz & Belina shindig was outstanding. Typical Czech fare—bone-in ham, mashed potatoes; fish with white sauce and rice; beef with red wine sauce; veggies and cold meats (including this type of smoked bacon thats cubed and is positively delicious). I talked with a few people, whom took me for what I am, American, and their English was quite good. We kicked around the political subject of the coming Czech elections. Their basic attitude is that all their politicians are crooks, and the people aren’t willing to rise up and through them out. (The Czechs have a history of throwing leaders out of high windows, but no one suggested that last night, though you could see it in their eyes)

Speaking of murder, King Wenzel was knifed to death on the steps of a church. Seems he was running into the church, a place of sanctity, back then, that protected you from such actions because of church law. Apparently, people respected that law. In this case, King Wenzel’s brother was behind the plot. I believe the brother was later murdered … by getting himself thrown out a window.

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