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Running: A Novel by Jean Echenoz

Running: A Novel (edition 2009)

by Jean Echenoz

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1851863,896 (3.65)15
Title:Running: A Novel
Authors:Jean Echenoz
Info:New Press, The (2009), Hardcover, 128 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:Olympic Games, Soviet era, Czechslovakia, Prague Spring, Novel, Emil Zatopek, French literature, Running, Marathon

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Running by Jean Echenoz


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Showing 3 of 3
...the story of Zapotek and the story of Czechslovakia and its people, during a difficult time. Emil Zapotek loved running and also loved his country. He smiled a lot and found it hard to say No. He was often called 'gentle'...

For more see http://awayofwriting.blogspot.co.nz/ ( )
  michalsuz | Dec 29, 2012 |
Esta es una biografia breve, escrita en forma de novela, sobre la vida del atleta Zatopek, que gano medallas olimpicas y consiguio establecer muchas veces records del mundo en varias de las categorias del atletismo. Una obra original sobre un personaje muy interesante que vivio durante la epoca del comunismo en Checoslovaquia. Una obra muy recomendable! ( )
  alalba | Sep 13, 2012 |
"Running" is a fictionalized account of the life of the Emil Zátopek (1922-2000), who reluctantly took up competitive running in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia as a young man, and became one of the premier long-distance runners of the mid-20th century, winning gold and silver medals at the 1948 Olympics, three gold medals at the 1952 Olympics, and setting world records in nine different events.

Zátopek's running style was most unorthodox, which Echenoz describes in detail in this brilliant passage:

"Emil, you'd think he was excavating, like a ditch digger, or digging deep into himself, as if he were in a trance. Ignoring every time-honored rule and any thought of elegance, Emil advances laboriously, in a jerky, tortured manner, all in fits and starts. He doesn't hide the violence of his efforts, which shows in his wincing, grimacing, tetanized face, constantly contorted by a rictus quite painful to see. His features are twisted, as if torn by appalling suffering; sometimes his tongue sticks out. It's as if he had a scorpion in each shoe, catapulting him on. He seems far away when he runs, terribly far away, concentrating so hard he's not even there—except that he's more than than anyone else; and hunkered down between his shoulders, on that neck always leaning in the same direction, his head bobs along endlessly, lolling and wobbling from side to side."

Videos of several of Zátopek's races on YouTube are readily available, which would make any running coach cringe in horror.

Zátopek is hailed as a national hero, and joins the Czech army, which uses him as a tool to promote communism. He is restricted from traveling abroad during the Gottwald regime, and his comments to the press are censored and rewritten by the party. However, he has a good life, with a happy marriage to another Olympic champion, and a good career, until public comments in support of Alexander Dubček during the Prague Spring of 1968 led to his dismissal from the Communist Party and internal exile.

The descriptions of Zátopek's running style and accounts of his most famous races were excellent, and the highlights of the book for me. His life in communist Czechoslovakia is covered in lesser detail, especially his exile after 1968. I would have liked more detail into his personal life outside of running, but I suspect that these details were not available to Echenoz or were sanitized by communist censors. However, "Running" was a fabulous and quick read, and is highly recommended. ( )
1 vote kidzdoc | Oct 26, 2009 |
Showing 3 of 3
Jean Echenoz's twelfth book, his second historical novel, throws into relief the difficult and remarkable life of Emil Zátopek, a Czech long-distance runner. The story might be merely inspirational if Echenoz did not tell it so truthfully.
added by Shortride | editBookforum, Matthew Ladd (Dec 1, 2009)
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"Czech runner Emil Zatopek, a factory worker who, despite an initial contempt for athletics as a young man, is forced to participate in a footrace and soon develops a curious passion for the physical limits he discovers as a long distance runner. Zatopek's determination and uniquely brutal training regime lead him to break numerous world records, culminating in an unparalleled win of three gold medals at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Despite being heralded as a national hero and adored around the world for his astonishing physical accomplishments, Zatopek becomes a victim of the controlling communist regime that once supported him"--Jacket.… (more)

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