“Too Loud a Solitude” by Bohumil Hrabal
(First publication: 1976 / This edition: Harcourt Inc., 1990)
Taken with orange gerbera I got at a market near my house
I have to admit I’ve been dreaming, dreaming in a land of great beauty, I’ve been in the very heart of truth. (pg.7)
Just want to make a quick post about this book. I actually posted a quote from this book before (here) but felt like I should dedicate a more personal one as well.
Unfortunately, I got home later than I expected—but I’ve been itching to blog about this for days so, here goes… (and unlike how I usually write, I’ll just do it in point form.)
I read this novella almost half a year ago. The reason I got it is because the contrast in the title caught my attention and I became curious. The fact that one of my toptopTOP favoritest authors, Milan Kundera, said that Bohumil Hrabal is “our very best writer today” also made me feel that no matter what, I need to read this.
It’s been a while, but the story is memorable and it remains vivid in my mind half a year later. I wouldn’t say that it’s a favorite or that it changed my life or that I felt enlightened or transformed in anyway. But I still remember the story and how it made me feel.
- It makes me think of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” — about how with the army of tractors rising, people lose touch with farming, and farming become soul-less. In “Too Loud a Solitude”, it’s kind of the same vibe, but with books. The main character’s job is to work a hydraulic press that compacts books. However, he loses way to time and advancements of technology, and gets left behind with his books, his time, and his mind.
- It also makes me appreciate physical books more, and wish people who prefer e-books would understand my love for physical books. (No offense, haha). But to each his own. If anything, it makes me wish the newer generations and even more of those in my age group would appreciate books more—and for them to stop dismissing books as being “old-fashioned” or “a waste of time”.
- Here’s my favorite passage from the book. I’m just re-posting it again (from here) because I feel that I can relate so much to it, and it makes me realize how important and essential books are to me:
“(…)and pick up a book, and my eyes open panic-stricken on a world other than my own, because when I start reading I’m somewhere completely different, I’m in the text, it’s amazing, I have to admit I’ve been dreaming, dreaming in a land of great beauty, I’ve been in the very heart of truth.
Ten times a day, every day, I wonder at having wandered so far, and then alienated from myself, a strange to myself, I go home, walking the streets silently and in deep meditation, passing trams and cars and pedestrians in a cloud of books, the books I found that day and am carrying home in my briefcase.
Lost in my dreams, I somehow cross at the traffic signals, never bumping into street lamps or people, yet moving onward, exuding fumes of beer and grime, yet smiling, because my briefcase is full of books and that very night I expect them to tell me things about myself I don’t know.” (pg.7)