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A stranger with a magical fife promises to rid the rat-infested town of Hamelin of its vermin for the sum of one hundred Rhine ducats. But when the town refused to pay him for services rendered, who does he lure under the spell of his fife.  Viktor Dyk’s rendition of the medieval Saxon legend of the pied piper masterfully blends lyrical prose with early twentieth century modernism, and has held its own among works of Eastern European literature for over a hundred years. Now this Czech classic is introduced in English translation for the first time.

Viktor Dyk’s The Ratcatcher first appeared in the magazine Lumír published as a series under the title A Tale of Truth  between 1911 and 1912.  It was printed as full-length novel in 1915 with Zlatokvet Publishing House and has since become one of the most read literary works in the Czech Republic, influencing some of the most prominent figures in Czech culture. Holocaust writer Arnošt Lustig’s mentions The Ratcatcher  his novel Dita Saxova.  Dyk’s interpretation of the old Saxon legend has laid the foundation of two movies of the same title, an animated version by Jiři Barta  (1985) and a cinematic drama (2003) directed by F.A. Brabec. Rock musician Daniel Landa wrote and starred in a musical based on Dyk’s interpretation of The Ratcatcher. The musical was first featured shortly after the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

 

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