Central Europe, the venue of all these essays, is seen here as a region with blurred edges, comprising mainly Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia - a region notorious for its national conflicts, but where reluctantly acknowledged family likenesses may one day prevail. The essays, most of them written over the last 25 years and revised, concentrate (though not exclusively) on the era since 1900. They represent a mixed bag of episodes from the literature, politics and philosophy of the region. Some were written to remind the reader that the heart of Europe has also been, and could once again become, the heart of darkness. Some are devoted to heroes of the resistance, others to philosophical fellow-travellers of one kind and another; some show how the revolutions of 1989 in the wake of defunct ideologies followed the same agenda in all the countries concerned; others again examine the relationship between literature, ideology and politics in the writings of Robert Musil, Jaroslav Hasek, Vaclav Havel and others. Since the author has tried to let each topic determine its own approach, the theory behind these essays is that there is here no theory - either "Marxist" or "Aryan", "critical" or "Postmodern", or any other. Throughout, the author has kept a close look at the language of his texts and its functions in different contexts, but that is, or should be, too obvious a procedure to merit the name of theory.
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