Toto mesto je vespolecne peci obyvatel. (This Town is Under the Control of its Citizens). Photographs by Miroslav Peterka. Texts edited by Bohumil Hrabal. Ceskoslovensky Spisovatel, Prague, 1967. 100 pp. Small quarto. First edition. Clothbound in graphically illustrated dust jacket. Gravure reproductions. Silk ribbon bookmark.
A scarce Czech title that will thrill those who may already know the only slightly more common book Na jehlach techto dni [On the Needle of These Days] by Jindrich Heisler and Jindrich Strysky. Hrabal was one of the most popular Czech writers of the 1960s. This title inaugurated the HU+SA (Humor a satira, Humour and Satire) series from the publishing house of the Czechoslovak Writers. The images display the sort of noirish surrealism and deadpan irony that marks much Czech photography. As Parr and Badger describe, it is an "urban meditation that uses photographic fragments, glimpses of the urban streetscape, to make a wider point about our political situation in the late twentieth century...The book's title may or may not be intentionally ironic. The dark, fragmented nature of the pictures indicate that it is, suggesting an anti-Communist critique made just prior to the 'Prague Spring...Peterka details a familiar iconography of photographic melancholia--abstracted signs, mysterious doorways, peeling and crumbling walls, miserable looking people on the streets, a broken mask lying by a lamp-post. With these apparent cliches, he creates an atmosphere of gloom and uncertainty, mirroring the alienated lives of modern man."
Fine in Fine, lightly tanned, dust jacket.