The Axe

Trade Paper – $18.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-1018-2
Publication Date
December 1994
Page Count
223 pages
Trim Size
5 1/8 x 7 3/4

The Axe

Ludvik Vaculik

Alongside Kundera's The Joke, The Axe was one of the most influential novels to appear in Czechoslavakia during the cultural awakening of the 1960s.

In late Sixties Czechoslovakia, communist ideology is failing. A disillusioned middle-aged journalist retreats from the politics of Prague to the Moravian countryside of his youth. There he rediscovers the complex relationship with his dead father, a communist crusader. But when the journalist is accused of disgracing his father and his proletariat background, he realizes that he, too, is a leader--and that the stakes are now reversed.

About the Author

One of the outstanding Czech novelists of the postwar generation, Vaculik has been a shoemaker, teacher, soldier, and journalist. His first novel, The Busy House, appeared in 1963. He edited Literarni Listy from 1966 until 1968, when it was suppressed by the government. His novel The Axe, published in 1966, made Vaculik famous in Czechoslovakia. Neal Ascherson describes this novel as "the story of a lonely farmer who deliberately destroys his own family relationships and friendships to bring socialist collectivization to his village in Moravia and who---through the very challenge that his own integrity offers to the corrupt Stalinist bureaucracy of the new order---is himself destroyed. "Among the writers who criticized the Novotny regime at the Writers' Union Congress in 1967, Vaculik was expelled from the party but was readmitted during the Prague Spring of 1968. At this time Vaculik wrote the Two Thousand Word Manifesto, which was signed by thousands and which some believe contributed to the Soviet leaders' decision to intervene militarily.
"Vaculik's stunning success if in his shifting, playful technique, dazzling in its variety of tones, and great fun to read." --The Nation
"[Vaculik], simply, is a joy to read." --Josef Skvorecky