The Achievement of Josef Skvorecky


221 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-0512-8
DDC C891.8'63




Edited by Sam Solecki
Reviewed by Bruce Meyer

Bruce Meyer teaches English at Trinity College, University of Toronto.


This collection of essays on the works of Josef Skvorecky represents the
most comprehensive portrait to date of this expatriate author. George
Woodcock contributes a paper on The Engineer of Human Souls. Perhaps the
most daunting and profound of all of Skvorecky’s works, it concludes
the Danny Smiricky saga, which began with the author’s first novel,
The Cowards. Jan Kott offers a Czech perspective on the same work, which
makes for fascinating reading. The Engineer of Human Souls, he points
out, is also Skvorecky’s most Canadian novel, a commentary on a
passive society that is ignorant of the kinds of political realities
that history has burned into the Czech experience. Peter Petro offers
both a Czech and a Canadian perspective on the same novel. As a whole,
this collection, with its wide range of contributors (novelist André
Brink among them), offers a series of useful signposts to the reading of
a major writer who has established himself in mid-air between two
literatures, two languages, and two polities.


“The Achievement of Josef Skvorecky,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,