THE CHARLES BRIDGE
What could be more interesting than a gigantic 19th century style novel about the 1848 revolution in Prague? I don’t know either, but I had to write this thing. It took two years, and hundreds of hours of research, and all the time I knew it would be a long shot to get published, but I couldn’t stop. The core of the book is a series of conversations between a reactionary old aristocrat and a younger man, a liberal, who is employed to help with the old man’s memoirs. The picaresque tale from the ancien regime is contrasted with what is currently happening: the growing tension in the city of Prague as the political situation drives irresistibly toward rebellion, repression and a historical catastrophe. The old man has met everyone from his era—Mozart, Casanova, Goethe—has fought against the Turks and the armies of revolutionary France and the conversations he has with the young liberal who opposes everything he stands for may serve as a model of civil disputation. The book is full of sword fights, cavalry charges, riots, bombardments, red-hot love affairs, and other kinds of sexual la-di-da. I never wrote a historical novel before and won’t again, but this one is pretty good once you get into it.