Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/179

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The Bohemian Review

The Diary of a Reporter.

By Jan Neruda

Translation and introduction by Guido Bruno

Every nation has had its unfortunate, misunderstood men of letters, men who had to starve while alive and giving their best to their own nation, who had to fly to foreign countries and earn among foreigners the bread denied them at home.

And after they died—too often a tragic death—streets were named after them. Their works have been incorporated in the school curriculum and monuments erected to their everlasting memories.

Poor short sighted posterity stones its contemporaries and endeavors with stones to atone for the sins of its fathers.

Every artist created his own monument in his own work.

According to the greatness of his own work will his greatness be eternal.

Jan Neruda was born in Prague at the time that Bohemia’s national spirit had just been reborn.

A Palacký had written its history, demonstrating the glorious past of the Czech nation. The language that had been lost for so long had come back to life in all its beauty. Schools were erected everywhere. People were no longer ashamed to speak their own language in their own country. They realized that Bohemians had their own national characteristics, their own private lives, their comic and tragic figures on the streets and in their homes.

Neruda loved his country with all the ardor of the youthful artist. He knew that once you showed Bohemians their own lives mirrored from streets and houses, they too, will realize that they are a people, and not dependent, even in literature, upon other nations.

Neruda was a poet, who sang his beloved “Zlatá matička Praha”—“Golden little mother Prague”, into the hearts, not only of every Bohemian but also of every Slav in the Universe.

He originated the feuilleton in the Bohemian language. But his stories, full of color and temperament, were more appreciated at Paris, than in his own country.

Years have passed since his tragic death. Today he is the idol of the Bohemian enthusiast and the lifelong friend of every Bohemian inhabitant of the city of Prague.

Most of his books are translated into French, Russian, German, Polish and Serbian.

This is the first translation of Neruda into the English language.—The Translator.

Evening, August 1st.

AT last I am home again after a tedious, tiresome day of work; home in my new quarters. Quite a nice bachelor apartment! Of course it is in the sixth story and in reality, a garret, but such a habitation is extremely healthy. Not very spacious, but sufficient for my furniture. Bed, table, trunk, a chair, and a box for the books I steal from the editorial room, don’t need much space. I never receive visitors, but if one should come, he is welcome to the chair and I could have my choice between the trunk and the table. I think I’ll be quite happy here. I shall made a few dashes now and take off my shoes — — — — Ha! How free I am! In taking off my boots I feel that I am shaking off the reporter; as long as I keep them on my feet I am obsessed by a secret fear that I may have to run somewhere to interview somebody. Oh what a dreadful running about it has been today! But even at that ,the life of a reporter is most beautiful and luring. Today, for instance, I already know the news of tomorrow. In such a manner I am always ahead of time of my fellow citizens. Quite funny, the kind of thing that is fit for a news item! People may do whatever they please but a news item will be the final result! The most bitterly opposed political parties will unite in the reporter’s pocket and he will think that party right which gives him the most material to write the most lines—“at a penny the line”. I have to think of Heine: Heine was a born reporter. It’s too bad that he didn’t try his luck at reporting. He would have earned heaps of money. And then again think of the fun, if we get hold of somebody and drag him into the limelight of publicity where he finds a place as suitable as perhaps Pilate could find in the Credo. Then he gets mad and curses newspaper writers! We don’t bother about it. The respect of our readers? Do we wish the asses upon whose backs we are riding to bray?

Jan! Jan! I am afraid you are plagiarizing Bulwer. But what of it? Plagiarized stories are the main nourishment of a reporter. As such I am undoubtedly an authority: people read me more and laud me less. I am yawning! It is time to get to bed. And “nihil humani a me alienum puto”.

Morning, 2nd August.

So then, I passed my first night in my new quarters; it was anything but quiet. Some-