Jiří Kratochvil

Jiří Kratochvil: Baksheesh

Original title: Bakšiš

Genre: novel


Větrné mlýny, 2018

ISBN: 978-80-7443-258-3

Pages: 132


The original title of the grotesque comedy Bakšiš / Baksheesh was Báj / A Myth. It’s as if the writer wishes to suggest to the reader that the story is the work of an anonymous narrator – one who has mythologized their life before telling it. He has even inserted him into the action, as manipulator of the fates of his heroes, the stupendously beautiful tart Daniela and the young male virgin Jakoubek. The dream hunter is a goblin who lives in the hollow of a holm oak, from which he ousted a little owl, as well as in the folk tales of village-dwellers, known here as ‘ratei’, there as ‘kres’, and elsewhere as who knows what. “Those who have met me or whose dreams I have got mixed up in, are mistaken to think me a wicked creature. I am beyond good and evil. I’m the only goblin who will do you no harm but no good either.” The goblin takes great pleasure in his storytelling. He adjusts the fates of his heroes as the tailor adjusts the wedding suit of Jakoubek the male virgin – taking their measure, stitching them up, making little alterations, unpicking then refastening them, padding their shoulders, a little more here, a little less there, adding some lace, tearing the fabric, lengthening the legs, straightening the pockets, inserting new fates and different stories, sewing in the lining. And that lining is Jiří Kratochvil himself. He is the goblin with a fascination for humans in the hollow of the tree. The goblin confesses to us: “My greatest urge is to set some jolly story in motion. Then to tell it to the end with gusto. I make stories only in order to tell them, you know.” The word ‘baksheesh’ is Persian for ‘gift’. Through his goblin narrator, Jiří Kratochvil has gifted us an original take on the eternal story of man and woman.       

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