Czech writer Vítezslav Nezval (1900-58) was one of the leading Surrealist poets of the 20th century. He was perhaps the most prolific writer in Prague during the 1920s and 30s. An original member of the avant-garde group of artists Devetsil (Butterbur, literally: Nine Forces), he was a founding figure of the Poetist movement. His numerous books included poetry collections, experimental plays and novels, memoirs, essays and translations. His best work is from the interwar period. Along with Karel Teige, Jindrich Štyrský, and Toyen, Nezval frequently travelled to Paris, engaging with the French surrealists. Forging a friendship with André Breton and Paul Éluard, he was instrumental in founding The Surrealist Group of Czechoslovakia in 1934 (the first such group outside of France), serving as editor of the group’s journal Surrealismus.
Vítezslav Nezval was published in the Penguin Modern European Poets series in Three Czech Poets (1971), a volume shared with Antonín Bartušek and Josef Hanzlík, translated by Ewald Osers and George Theiner. More recent translations of his work include Antilyrik and Other Poems, tr. Jerome Rothenberg & Milos Sovak (Green Integer, 2001), Edison, tr. Ewald Osers (Dvorák, 2003), Edition 69, tr. Jed Slast (Twisted Spoon, 2004), Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, tr. David Short (Twisted Spoon, 2005), and Prague with Fingers of Rain, tr. Ewald Osers (Bloodaxe Books, 2009).
Books by Vítezslav Nezval