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See note on methodology

This one is a slightly tough call, though I don't think either of the options is surprising. The book most often tagged "Czech" on Goodreads and LibaryThing is a well-known novel of the Cold War, first published in French in 1984, and memorably filmed in English in 1988. It's certainly the most widely-owned book on both LT and GR which was originally written in Czech. But in terms of number of owners, it ranks only second on GoodReads, and though it tops the ranking on LibraryThing, a bit of digging gives me suspicions which I will explain below. Anyway, it is:

The Unbearable Lightness of Being / Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí, by Milan Kundera

The top-ranked "Czech"-tagged book on Goodreads by ownership appears, appropriately enough, in a number of different shapes on LibraryThing (which is generally more fussy about keeping editions separate). Adding together the top ten (of dozens) of the various editions on LT, one easily surpasses the Prague Spring novel's total, so I am counting it as the winner for today. Published in German in 1915, and possibly the shortest book I'll mention in this series of posts at a mere 53 pages, it is of course:

The Metamorphosis / Die Verwandlung, by Franz Kafka

Close behind those two - but clearly behind both - is another tale of Habsburg paranoia by the same writer, published in 1925, the year after his death. It is:

The Trial / Der Process, by Franz Kafka
(NB he always used the spelling "Process", though standard German is of course "Prozeß".)

Bubbling under: Jaroslav Hašek, Bohumil Hrabal, Karel Čapek


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 16th, 2015 07:04 pm (UTC)
I recall reading Kundera's novels more or less in chronological order in the '80s. The Unbearable Lightness of Being was rather disappointing after The Joke, Life is Elsewhere etc. and I would consider it his weakest book, although I haven't read any of his work subsequent to it. The film was even more disappointing - I felt it lacked the depth of the book.
Feb. 16th, 2015 09:23 pm (UTC)
I suspected a Kafka would get into this.
Feb. 17th, 2015 06:25 am (UTC)
How'd The Good Soldier Schweik show?
Feb. 17th, 2015 08:07 am (UTC)
I was expecting this one - it was the only Czech book that sprang to my mind.
Feb. 17th, 2015 11:38 am (UTC)
Bubbling under, as I said in the last line. 6,294 on GR and 2,152 on LT to the Unbearable's 178,375 on GR and 15,702 on LT.
Feb. 17th, 2015 10:21 am (UTC)
Keep it up
'appropriately enough, in a number of shapes' :)

Enjoying these posts and your methodological approach to them Nicholas, I think this ranking merits a site of its own.

Feb. 17th, 2015 11:43 am (UTC)
Re: Keep it up
Cheers! (I know two people called Nils - are you the one based in the Netherlands?)
Feb. 18th, 2015 02:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Keep it up
Yes I am the one from the Netherlands. I have to admit I was surprised to see 'The Dinner' by Herman Koch had done so well. Koch, next to being a now apparently an internationally renowned author, is most famous in the Netherlands still for his many years writing and acting in absurdist sketches in a three man ensemble called 'Jiskefet'.
Feb. 20th, 2015 02:37 am (UTC)
Completely amazed Kafka not top. The power of cinema!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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