Egon Hostovský

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Egon Hostovský (23 April 1908, Hronov – 7 May 1973, Montclair), was a Czech writer. He was related to the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig. Hostovský described Zweig as "a very distant relative";[1] some sources describe them as cousins.

He studied at the gymnasium in Náchod in 1927, then philosophy in Prague and at university in Vienna in 1929, but did not graduate.

He returned to Prague in 1930 and worked as an editor in several publishing houses.

In 1937 Hostovský joined the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in 1939 he was posted to Brussels, from where, after the occupation of Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939, he emigrated to Paris. After Paris was occupied in 1940, he fled to Portugal and then, in 1941, travelled to the United States, where he worked in New York City at the Czechoslovakian (exile government's) consulate.

As Jews, his family were subject to prosecution from the Nazis. His father, sisters, and their families died in the Nazi concentration camps.[2][3]

After World War II he returned to Czechoslovakia and again worked at the Foreign Ministry, but in 1948 he left into his second exile, to Denmark, and then to Norway and finally to the United States, where he worked as a Czech language teacher and later as a journalist and editor at Radio Free Europe. Several of his novels, including The Midnight Patient and Three Nights, were translated in the late 1950s and early 1960s by Philip Hillyer Smith, Jr., a scholar of linguistics and the Czech language.

After Hostovský's death, a literary prize—the Egon Hostovský Prize—was founded in his name by his third wife. Their son Paul (b. 1959) is a poet[4][5]


His work is influenced by his Jewish origin and exile. His literary heroes fight (inner) evil, due to political situation are forced to leave their country and search for lost certainties and roots. Before his first emigration his work was influenced by expressionism.

  • Zavřené dveře, 1926
  • Stezka podél cesty, 1928 – psychological novel
  • Ghetto v nich, Pokrok, Praha 1928
  • Danajský dar, 1930
  • Případ profesora Kornera, 1932
  • Černá tlupa, 1933
  • Žhář, 1935 / Melantrich, Praha 1948
  • Dům bez pána, 1937
  • Listy z vyhnanství, České Národní Sdružení v Americe, Chicago 1941
  • Sedmkrát v hlavní úloze, New Yorkský Denník, New York 1942
  • Úkryt, 1943
  • The Hideout, from Czech (Úkryt) by Fern Long, Random House, New York 1945
  • Seven times the leading man, from Czech (Sedmkrát v hlavní úloze) by Fern Long, Eyre & Spottiswoode, London 1945
  • Cizinec hledá byt, 1947
  • Osamělí buřiči, Lidové noviny, Brno 1948
  • Manipulation of the Zhdanov line in Czechoslovakia, National Committee for a Free Europe, New York 1952
  • Nezvěstný, 1951 / 1955
  • The Midnight Patient, 1954, from Czech (Půlnoční pacient) by Alice Backer and Bernard Wolfe
  • Dobročinný večírek, 1957
  • The charity ball, from Czech (Dobročinný večírek) by Philip H. Smith Jr., Doubleday, Garden City N.Y. 1958
  • Půlnoční pacient, 1959, (The Midnight Patient)
  • The plot, from Czech (Všeobecné spiknutí) by Alice Backer and Bernard Wolfe, Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y. 1961
  • Tři noci, Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences in America, New York 1964
  • Literární dobrodružství českého spisovatele v cizině (aneb o ctihodném povolání kouzla zbaveném), Nový domov, Toronto 1966
  • Cizinci hledají byt, Odeon, Praha 1967
  • Osvoboditel se vrací, Index, Köln 1972 – drama
  • Všeobecné spiknutí, 1961 / Melantrich, Praha 1969 / 68 Publishers, Toronto 1973 – partly autobiographical, (The plot)
  • Tři noci. Epidemie, ed. Olga Hostovská, Nakladatelství Franze Kafky, Praha 1997

His work is included in:

  • Hundred towers: a Czechoslovak anthology of creative writing, L. B. Fischer, 1945
  • The Jews of Czechoslovakia, Philadelphia and New York, 1971, pp-148-154: Hostovský contributed a chapter (“The Czech-Jewish Movement”).

References to him are made in the following books:

  • Lexikon české literatury : osobnosti, díla, instituce, Vladimír Forst et al. Praha : Academia, 1993. 589pp. ISBN 80-200-0468-8.


  1. ^ “Egon Hostovský: Vzpomínky, studie a dokumenty o jeho díle a osudu”, Sixty-Eight Publishers, 1974
  2. ^ Publisher's notes to “The Arsonist”, Twisted Spoon Pr (December 1996), ISBN 80-902171-0-9.
  3. ^
  4. ^ “Fathers and Sons, Poems and Oboes: An interview with Paul Hostovsky”, Newsletter of the Embassy of the Czech Republic, January 2007.
  5. ^

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