Prague is at the core of everything both wonderful and terrible in Western history, but few people truly understand this city's unique culture. In Prague in Black and Gold, Peter Demetz strips away sentimentalities and distortions and shows how Czechs, Germans, Italians, and Jews have lived and worked together for over a thousand years.
With a native's sense of this beautiful city and a scholar's knowledge of it, Demetz, who left Prague in 1949 and is now emeritus professor of German literature at Yale, gives an engrossing account of the city's history and culture by focusing on epic events as well as heroes, villains and martyrs throughout the millennia of its existence. He shows us the city both at its moments of glory and at its depths of decay--as a center of European commerce and high culture; a refuge from religious bigotry; a model democracy and a victim of tyrannical regimes; and a popular destination for travelers in different eras. He examines its legends; its multiethnic composition; its role as pawn and critical player in central European politics; the development of its literature and language, with their Latin, German, Czech and Hebrew strains; and the dichotomy between its persecution of its Jews and the influence on its culture of Jewish philosophers, writers, musicians, scientists and artists. A highly literate panorama of a focal point of European culture.