Peter Demetz is a German scholar of world renown, translator, writer, essayist, and professor emeritus at the prestigious Yale University in New Haven. As well as being the author of important works on German literature of different centuries, he is an expert on Czech history and culture and translator of The Grandmother by Božena Nemcová and the poems of Halas and Orten. He was born in Prague in 1922, to a Czech-German family. His father was a director and dramaturge at the German Theatre in Prague, an environment in which from an early age Peter Demetz met many Prague German intellectuals. Having graduated from Charles University in Comparative Religion, German and Czech, he was awarded a doctorate in 1948. One year later he left the republic in dramatic circumstances for Germany, where he worked briefly for the Culture Department of Radio Free Europe as a colleague of Pavel Tigrid’s. He then continued his studies in German and Comparative Literature at universities in Switzerland, England and the USA. He has lived in the USA since 1953.
In recent years the following works by Peter Demetz have appeared in Czech: T. G. Masaryk, Polemiky a eseje (TG Masaryk: Polemics and Essays, Austrian Cultural Forum, 1995), České slunce, moravský měsíc: eseje a vzpomínky (Bohemian Sun, Moravian Moon: Essays and Memoirs, Tilia, 1997), René: pražská léta Rainera Marii Rilka (René: The Prague Years of Rainer Maria Rilke, Aula, 1998), 1909: aeroplány nad Bresciou (1909: Aeroplanes over Brescia, Prostor, 2003), Dějiště: Čechy (It Happened in Bohemia, Paseka, 2008), Praha ohrožená 1939–1945 (Prague in Danger: 1939–45, Mladá fronta, 2010), Praha černá i zlatá (Prague in Black and Gold, Prostor, 2012).
Paul Wilson is translator, editor, radio producer and writer who lived in Czechoslovakia from 1967 to 1977, where he learned Czech and was a member of the underground group the Plastic People of the Universe. After his expulsion from Czechoslovakia, he co-founded the record company “Boží Mlýn”, and ¬released albums by the Plastic People and other Czech underground musicians. He has translated over thirty books of Czech literature into English, ¬including major works by Václav Havel, Josef Škvorecký,Ivan Klíma and Bohumil Hrabal. A collection of his essays and articles on Czech themes, (Bohemian Rhapsodies), was published in Prague in 2012 by Torst. He is currently working on a translation of Bohumil Hrabal’s early stories, and collaborating on an anthology of Havel’s writing on theatre.
Ruth Bondy was born to a family of Prague Jews in 1923. In July 1942 she was transported to Theresienstadt, in December 1943 to Auschwitz, and from there to Germany; she went free at last from Bergen-Belsen. After her return to Prague she worked as a translator. In 1948 she moved to Israel, where she worked for more than thirty years as a journalist (principally for the leading Hebrew daily Davar). Between 1985 and 1994 she taught Journalism at Tel Aviv University. She has translated into Hebrew works by many Czech authors (e.g., Hašek, Kundera, Hrabal, Havel, Weil) and is the author of several monographs and books of essays and feuilletons. Ruth Bondy has also published an important work on the fate of Czech Jews in the Holocaust. She has long studied the history of the Theresienstadt ghetto. Her monograph on Jakob Edelstein has been published in Czech, as have More By Luck Than Reason (a memoir), Small Comforts, Said between You and Me (about the speech of Jews in Bohemia and Moravia), Family Inheritance (about the names of Jews in Bohemia and Moravia), God’s Feast (about what Jews in Bohemia and Moravia.
From 1976 Andrzej Jagodziński was associated with the democratic opposition in Poland and Czechoslovakia; his roles included acting as intermediary in the early days of contacts between the Committee for Social Self-Defence (Worker’s Defence Committee) and Charter 77. In the years 1977–89 he worked with Polish independent periodicals and non-legal publishing houses and in the 1980s with the Czechoslovak emigré magazines Svědectví (Paris), Rozmluvy (London) and Obrys (Munich). From 1984 to 1989 he was an editor on the independent literary magazine Wezwanie. His works of journalism, interviews and literary translations were printed in the independent press, in organs including the periodicals Zapis, Puls, Biuletyn Informacyjny, Przegląd Humanistyczny, Tygodnik Wojenny, Tygodnik Mazowsze, Tygodnik Małopolskiego, Obecność, Obóz and Wezwanie.
His book translations of Czech literature (including works by Havel, Kundera, Škvorecký, Hrabal and Kohout) were published by independent imprints, eg., NOWA, Przedświt and Krąg; after 1989 they have been issued by publishing houses including Świat Literacki, Pogranicze, PIW, Czarne, Atut and Znak. Jagodziński is the author of Vyhnanci [Exiles], a book of interviews with Czech emigré writers. In 1988 he received Nagroda Kulturalna Solidarności [the Solidarity Prize for a Contribution to the Arts]. He is also the editor of Sokratův stín / Sokratov tieň (Brno/Bratislava 1998) – a collection of the journalism and essays of Adam Michnik – and co-editor (with Antoni Pawlak) of a second collection of writings by the same author entitled Zlosť a hanba / Harag és szégyen (Bratislava/Budapest 2006).