Do you love your Granny?

images (21)You sure as hell had better love your grandma. Even if, now, you don’t talk to her much. As a kid, you definitely loved her. She brought you sweets, and she told you stories, and she took you on outings. She had funny old friends, and remembered things that for you only belonged in books and TV.

The classic Czech novel, Babicka, translated as “Granny,” “The Grandmother,” and plenty more, is all about loving your grandma. The Granny (my version’s translation) is an archetypal grandma, who moved in with her kid to help with her grandma.

The whole thing is one of those odes to things past that anyone familiar with 19th century literature knows all about. The ideal countryside, the quaint folk remedies and stories, the smell of food cooking and roses blooming.

But I’m a history major. Notably absent in these accounts are polluted water, poor and/or abused servants, near-starving winters, religious persecution, and a whole lot of others.

The countryside, for Europeans, is the place of innocence. A place untouched by war, by government corruption, by empires. It’s a safe place, perfectly preserved in the pages of a novel like Babicka. The country life is the spiritual grandmother of European literature.


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