David Short taught Czech and Slovak at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, from 1973 to 2011. Books produced during that period were Czechoslovakia (1986, a bibliography); Teach Yourself Czech (1993 and 2003), since renamed Complete Czech (it was also translated—by others—into Polish and German); Customs and Etiquette in the Czech Republic (1996, and translated, ditto, into French and Dutch); Essays in Czech and Slovak Language and Literature (1996); and, as contributing editor, Bohumil Hrabal (1914–97): Papers from a Symposium (2004). He wrote widely on Czech language and literature, less so on Slovak, but throughout his career he was also a sporadic translator. Since his retirement the latter activity has taken over his life. He has translated for the fun of it, simply because this or that work seemed to merit the translation treatment—with or without the prospect of publication (though near-literary works by Michal Mareš, a journalist, and Vojtěch Novotný, an entomologist, did find publishers), or because he was approached by this or that publisher, or sometimes author, with the request to render into English a work known or believed to be worth the candle. His published translations have been both academic and literary, among the latter (whole, or extracts from) works by such Czech classics as Karel Čapek, Jaroslav Durych, František Gellner, Jaroslav Hašek, Bohumil Hrabal, Vítězslav Nezval, Gabriela Preissová, and Jaroslav Seifert, and by other established modern writers whose eventual rise to the status of classics remains to be seen—such people as Hana Andronikova, Antonín Bajaja, Daniela Hodrová, Karel Michal, Jáchym Topol, and Michal Viewegh.
Photo: Pavel Stojar