I Served the King of England

Author Bohumil Hrabal
Published 1989
Rating 7/10
Status Finished on 2020-06-16

The narrator’s earnestness was the most powerful bit of this. I get that it serves as a backdoor Czech history, but I found it more compelling as an evolution of this man’s aspirations and grief.


When I started to work at the Golden Prague Hotel, the boss took hold of my left ear, pulled me up, and said, You’re a busboy here, so remember, you don’t see anything and you don’t hear anything. Repeat what I just said. So I said I wouldn’t see anything and I wouldn’t hear anything. Then the boss pulled me up by my right ear and said, But remember too that you’ve got to see everything and hear everything. Repeat it after me. I was taken aback, but I promised I would see everything and hear everything.

I learned that feeling victorious makes you victorious, and that once you lose heart or let yourself be discouraged the feeling of defeat will stay with you for the rest of your life, and you’ll never get back on your feet again, especially in your own country and your own surroundings, where you’re considered a runt, an eternal busboy.