Too Loud a Solitude

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Too Loud a Solitude


First self-published edition
Author Bohumil Hrabal
Original titlePříliš hlučná samota
Translator Michael Henry Heim
Country Czech Republic
Language Czech
Genre General Fiction – Political
Publisher Harcourt Brace (English)
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print
Pages 112
ISBN 0-15-190491-X

Too Loud a Solitude (Czech : Příliš hlučná samota) is a short novel by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. Self-published in 1976 and officially in 1989 due to political censorship. It tells the story of an old man who works as a paper crusher in Prague, using his job to save and amass astounding numbers of rare and banned books; he is an obsessive collector of knowledge. The book was translated into English by Michael Henry Heim.

Czech language West Slavic language spoken in the Czech Republic

Czech, historically also Bohemian, is a West Slavic language of the Czech–Slovak group. Spoken by over 10 million people, it serves as the official language of the Czech Republic. Czech is closely related to Slovak, to the point of mutual intelligibility to a very high degree. Like other Slavic languages, Czech is a fusional language with a rich system of morphology and relatively flexible word order. Its vocabulary has been extensively influenced by Latin and German.

Novel narrative text, normally of a substantial length and in the form of prose describing a fictional and sequential story

A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, normally written in prose form, and which is typically published as a book.

Czechs European nation and an ethnic group native to the Czech Republic

The Czechs or the Czech people, are a West Slavic ethnic group and a nation native to the Czech Republic in Central Europe, who share a common ancestry, culture, history, and Czech language.


Plot summary

The entire story is narrated in the first person by the main character Hanta. Hanta is portrayed as a sort of recluse and hermit, albeit one with encyclopedic literary knowledge. Hanta uses metaphorical language and surreal descriptions, and much of the book is concerned with just his inner thoughts, as he recalls and meditates on the outlandish amounts of knowledge he has attained over the years. He brings up stories from his past and imagines the events of whimsical scenarios. He contemplates the messages of the vast numbers of intellectuals which he has studied. The novel is vibrant with symbolism. A simple but obscure plot is present, however.

"Because when I read, I don't really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop ...." Library Walk 38.JPG
"Because when I read, I don't really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop ...."

"For thirty-five years now I've been in wastepaper, and it's my love story" says Hanta in the opening line of the book. He goes on to describe his methods for work, and for using his job to "save" incredible numbers of books for reading and storage in his home.

The main theme of Too Loud a Solitude is of the permanence and intangibility of ideas which may, for a time, come to manifest themselves beautifully in the form of books and words. Another theme involves the conflict between Hanta's simple way of life and that of the new and ambitious socialist order.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

A live action film adaptation was released in the Czech Republic in 1996, [1] one year before Hrabal's death.

In 2007 a stop-motion film was released, directed by Genevieve Anderson and starring Paul Giamatti in the role of Hanta. [2]

Paul Giamatti American actor

Paul Edward Valentine Giamatti is an American actor, comedian, and producer. He first garnered attention for his breakout role in Private Parts (1997) as Kenny "Pig Vomit" Rushton, which led to him playing more supporting roles such as Sergeant Hill in Saving Private Ryan (1998), Bob Zmuda in Man on the Moon (1999) and John Maxwell in Big Momma's House (2000).


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  1. Too Loud a Solitude (1996) on IMDb
  2. Too Loud a Solitude (2007) on IMDb