Rajendra Chitnis

Rajendra Chitnis

Ivana and Pavel Tykač Supernumerary Fellow in Czech, Associate Professor of Czech 


At Univ and in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, I teach classes in Czech and Slovak literature from the fourteenth century to the present and translation from Czech and Slovak into English. It’s my privilege every year to accompany students into the mysterious and fascinating multicultural space of Central Europe and explore from a Slavonic perspective the questions of identity, history, language and power that arise there from the medieval kingdom of Bohemia, through religious war, Habsburg rule and national awakening to twentieth-century totalitarianism and beyond. In our typically small class groups, my students have great freedom to choose the periods, writers and themes that interest them most, and I am able to tailor translation work to the needs and priorities of the group.

I welcome research student enquiries on any topic relating to Czech and /or Slovak literature in a broad range of cultural, historical, socio-political and comparative contexts. Among doctoral projects I have successfully supervised are studies of the portrayal of medicine in inter-war Czech and Russian literature and cinema, the role of Penguin Books in the translation of Russian classics, and BBC Czech-language broadcasts to the occupied Czechs during World War II.


In my research, I write mainly about Czech literature from the late nineteenth century to the present, and about Slovak and Russian fiction from the late Socialist period to now. I have written monographs on the ways in which Czech, Russian and Slovak fiction changed during and after the fall of Communism and on the leading Czech Avant-garde novelist and playwright, Vladislav Vančura, and studies on topics including post-war Czech writing about the Czechoslovak-German borderlands and the countryside in contemporary Czech fiction. I am currently writing about the portrayal in literature of silence as a response to occupation during the Second World War.

I am also interested in the international circulation of Czech and Slovak literature through translation, including in the broader comparative context of the circulation of less well known literatures. From 2014 to 2016, I was Principal Investigator of an AHRC Translating Cultures Research Innovations project, Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/research/translating-sen/). I keenly promote the translation of Czech and Slovak literature into English. I work closely with various publishers who specialize in Czech and Slovak literary translation and have contributed afterwords to book translations of writers including Ladislav Fuks, Jaroslav Durych and Daniela Hodrová. I also contribute frequently to discussions of Czech books on BBC Radio and Czech Radio’s English-language service.

Selected Publications

Monographs and Edited Books:

• Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations (lead editor, with Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, Rhian Atkin and Zoran Milutinović), Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2020.
• Vladislav Vančura: The Heart of the Czech Avant-garde, Prague: Karolinum Press, Charles University, Prague, 2007.
• Literature in Post-Communist Russia and Eastern Europe: The Russian, Czech and Slovak Fiction of the Changes, 1988-1998, London, New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005.

Articles and Book Chapters:

• ‘A Message from a Bohemian “Interculture”: Jan Patočka’s Translation of Durych’s Boží duha’, Bohemica literraria, 2020, 2.
• ‘A Need for Greater Openness: The Countryside in Czech Fiction since 1989’, The Slavonic and East European Review, 91 (2013), 3, pp.431-64.
• ‘Zbraně slabých?: Představa rolnického odporu v díle a životě Václava Prokůpka’ (Weapons of the Weak?: A Farmer’s Idea of Resistance in the Work and Life of Václav Prokůpek) , Česká literatura, 61 (2013), 5, pp.661-96.
• ‘“Moral Limits”: The Expression and Suppression of Guilt in Czech Post-War Writing About the Borderlands’, Central Europe, 10 (2012), 1, pp.18-54.
• ‘Putting Granny in a Home: Czech Writers and the Village in Kafka’s Lifetime’ in Engel, M. & Ritchie Robertson (eds), Kafka, Prag und der Erste Weltkrieg / Prague, and the First World War, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2012, pp.107-26.
• ‘Milan Kundera: The Idea of the Novel’ in Bell, M. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to European Novelists, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp.410-27.


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