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Posts tagged ‘Max Brod’

My Prague: looking for Kafka & Palach in Olšany

Above/featured: A quiet leafy avenue in Prague’s Olšany Cemetery.

I can’t spend all this time in the Czech capital city, and leave without paying any respects to two 20th-century personalities of Prague. Franz Kafka was an early 20th-century German-Czech writer (e.g., 1912 Die Verwandlung/Metamorphosis), whose writings became known to the world posthumously, thanks to friend and fellow writer Max Brod. In the 1960s, Jan Palach was an important historical figure of opposition who died in protest against the Communist regime.

I’m in the underground metro, heading east from the city centre towards Vinohrady and beyond to Olšany. The sun’s out on a crisp mid-autumn day, and while deciduous trees are left wanting for leaves, the latter have piled like carpets of colour on the cemetery grounds. I’m looking for the graves of Palach and Kafka who are buried in Olšanské hřbitovy (Olšany Cemetery) and Nový židovský hřbitov (New Jewish Cemetery), respectively.


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Albert Einstein, Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Dům U Kamenného beránka, At the stone lamb, Staromestske namesti, Old Town Square, Prague, Prag, Praha, Czech Republic, fotoeins.com

My Prague: Brod, Einstein, & Kafka at Fanta Salon

Above/featured: it’s as if I just pointed out a famous meeting place to her right (left for the reader).

Prague’s Old Town Square is one of the most visited landmarks, dominated by the two tall spires of the Church of our Lady before Týn, Old Town Hall, and a prominent sculpture dedicated to Czech icon Jan Hus at the centre of the square.

At the southeast corner of the square is a building called (Dům) U Kamenného beránka or “At the Stone Lamb” at address Staroměstské námesti 551/17 #. To the right of the building’s main entrance is a memorial plaque with an inscription in both Czech and English. The memorial plaque was created by Czech sculptor Zdenĕk Kolářský and unveiled in 1998. Looking closer, you’ll recognize Albert Einstein’s face and his famous physics equation stating mass-energy equivalence and written in cursive script: E = mc2.

Over a 16-month period from 1911 to 1912, Albert Einstein lived in Prague with his family and was full professor of theoretical physics at the German Charles-Ferdinand University. Einstein enjoyed hanging out at a number of cafes for conversations, exchanges, and music, and he was a frequent visitor to this building where Czech liberal and intellectual Berta Fanta operated a literary-philosophical salon or lounge. The salon saw visits by many intellectuals, both domestic and international. “Domestic” writers Franz Kafka and Max Brod would have come here for the discourse as well, but it turns out little is actually known about whether all three arranged to meet or would have met here at the same time.

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