Es una novela sobre la contradicción que es vivir, sobre el conflicto irresoluble entre soledad y libertad, entre pensamiento y acción, entre el temor a perder a quien queremos y ahuyentar a quien deseamos por el temor a perderlo, entre la simpleza de lo yerkish que no despoja de lo mejor de nosotros y la complejidad de los pensamientos que fingen ser necesarios, útiles o hermosos, entre razón y sentimiento, entre verdad y mentira, entre amor y basura.
As seems to be the case with all the Czech novelists I've read, this strong focus on human relationships and love, sex, intimacy is major theme as well.
Over those years there grew within me a longing for something to happen, something that would change my life, while at the same time my timidity, which I had inherited from my mother, increased and made me shy away from any kind of change and from all strangers. Thus my home became for me both a refuge and a cage, I wanted to remain in it and yet also to flee from it; to have the certainty that I would not be driven out and also the hope that Id escape one day. ...A few days later she sent me a card to say she would come round to see me, giving the clay and the hour, and hoping shed find me in. But maybe shed seen something after all, because otherwise she wouldnt have wished to meet me again, she wouldnt have voluntarily set out on a pilgrimage which, in moments of anger, she was to proclaim had led her only to pain... But she was mistaken: in her presence I usually forgot that I sometimes tried to invent stories, and I would watch her so closely only because I wished to understand the language in which she spoke to me when she was with me in silence. Perhaps it was the forgotten shape of my mother or a recollection of my first visions and dreams of the woman I would love one day. For in paradise there is no such thing as isolation, man lives there in the company of angels and in the proximity of God. In paradise we shall be ranged in a higher and eternal order, which eludes us on earth, where we are cast, where we are outcast.
Klíma's early childhood in Prague was happy and uneventful, but this all changed with the German invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938, after the Munich Agreement. This remarkable and unusual background was not the end of the Klíma's introduction to the great historical forces that shaped mid-century Europe. For his writing abilities, Ivan Klíma was awarded Franz Kafka Prize in 2002 as a second recipient.