Saunter (a novella) ; and, Girl on the City Streets (an essay)

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Pavla moves uncertainly through Prague, a city on the brink of revolution in 1989. On November 17, she is on the streets with her lover Charlie and best friend Milena, along with tens of thousands of students, demanding freedom. That night, as the protest reaches fever pitch, Pavla and Charlie are cornered in a narrow side street and truncheoned. Pavla is taken to hospital where she gives birth to a baby daughter and sleeps for weeks. When she wakes, she has missed seeing the revolution unfold and Charlie has disappeared. Eleven years later, Pavla returns to Prague and needs to relearn how to move through the city in order to make sense of it. The theoretical essay mirrors the novella by examining questions of mobility and flânerie/flâneuserie, understood as a ‘way of reading the street.’ Flâneuserie is invoked as a literary metaphor for the mobile urban observer that is also connected with the influence of surrealism and questions of gender difference. The term has been used in a range of literatures to signify issues of changing city life, irrespective of time and place. Together, the novella and essay suggest that the protagonist/flâneuse, while sauntering through the flux of bodies, encountering the vitality of the city, as well as the exclusionary and disorienting practices enacted within it, grows and accumulates the power to transgress and re/write her own city narrative.
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