Simon Winder is a particularly gifted triologist, with both the books I’ve read yielding dozens of superbly original phrases, exuberant, witty, entertaining. Here he comments on imagined histories of various central European states, and I liked too the ‘ethnographic hunch’ that coincidentally tallies with an artist’s fantasies.    

There is a particularly hysteria-edged frieze in the Western Bohemia Museum … imagining the arrival of the ancient Czechs in a forest, torturing and killing their enemies, tying them to trees, strangling them. In the usual proto-Art-Nouveau style, the sculptor follows through on an ethnographic hunch that surprising numbers of the tribal womenfolk would be in their late teens and free of clothing.

For a great sampling of Winder’s triologisms, and a quote-packed tribute to his earlier book on Germany, see our bestellar review.

 

Source: Simon Winder, Danubia: A personal history of Habsburg Europe (London: Picador, 2013), p. 25

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