Josef Mlejnek

* 1946  

  • “The director of the library was supposed to read us employees a declaration refusing Charter 77. We gathered up in her office, and I was biting my lip, and when the others left, she called me up and said: ‘I was so worried you’d start speaking!’ I should have said that I didn’t agree with it... But like this, she just read us something as a formality, and there was peace.”

  • “My grandfather used to go earn money in America before World War I; he told me about America when I was a little boy. I saved up my small change in a piggy bank, and when I was five or six, I took the piggy bank and set off to the train station, wanting to buy a ticket to America. A thing like that would have normally just garnered a smile, except the year was 1951 or 1952. The lady in the booth reported me, and she even complained that her daughter supposedly had worse marks because of me being a kulak’s son. They came to investigate Granddad in the matter, but Mr Čančura the director stood up for him and argued that Granddad had only told me how black people are being persecuted in America, and that I wanted to go to America to start a national liberation revolt.”

  • “When I came to Granddad’s one time, he and Dad were listening to [Radio] Free Europe, and Granddad said something to Dad that just stuck in my memory: ‘Communism is a plague. It’ll outlast me, you, and maybe even you.’ And he pointed his finger at me.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 08.02.2016

    duration: 02:10:47
  • 2

    Praha, 16.02.2016

    duration: 01:03:31
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...and other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth fruit

Josef Mlejnek (2016)
Josef Mlejnek (2016)

Josef Mlejnek was born on 3 December 1946 in Žatec. He graduated in philosophy from the Brno university. In the 1970s he worked at the district culture centre, district cinema, and district library in Havlíčkův Brod. In 1981 he signed Charter 77, left the district library, and earned a living doing manual labour until the Velvet Revolution. After moving to Prague in 1983 he edited the samizdat magazines Pražská komunikace (Prague Communication) and Střední Evropa (Central Europe). In 1990 to 1996 he devoted himself completely to publishing Střední Evropa; he was then employed as a culture journalist at the nation-wide daily Lidové noviny. In 1998 he switched to the daily Mladá fronta DNES. H spent three years (2003-2006) as a freelancer, before going into early retirement. He now lives alternately in Prague and in Lípa; he writes critiques, translations, and poems for Revue Politika (Political Review), Perspektivy (Perspectives) - a supplement of Katolický týdeník (Catholic Weekly) - Divadelní noviny (The Theatre Reporter), the cultural bi-weekly A2, and other periodicals.