Egon Hostovský: Úkryt (The Hideout)

The latest addition to my website is Egon Hostovský‘s Úkryt (The Hideout). The novel was first published in 1943 but has just been reissued by Pushkin Press. It tells the story of an unnamed narrator, a Czech engineer who has invented a revolutionary anti-aircraft gun sight. However, the Munich Agreement has happened. As he does not want it to get into the hands of the Germans, the Czechs have no use for it and he is not prepared to give it to the British or the French, as they betrayed his country, he destroys the blueprint, to his boss’s consternation. He then flees the country. Much of what he does, we learn from a letter he is writing to his wife, Hanichka, as he is hiding out in Normandy, under German occupation, in the house of a French friend, and about to embark on what seems to be a suicidal mission. As he lives in the basement in permanent darkness, he isn’t happy and fantasises but also gives his wife a limited account, before we get a more detailed account of what happened to him and why. Hostovský tells an excellent story of man caught up in a grim predicament, partially of his own making but mainly because he is caught up in the war.

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