I drink to our demolished house,
To all this wickedness,
The coarse, brutal world, the fact
That God has not saved us.
(1934, Trans. by D.M. Thomas)
Recently, my thoughts have turned to an old movie– a Czech historical drama from 1967 called Marketa Lazarová. Set in a bleak and uninviting version of the Middle Ages, in which small clans war perpetually with one another, it is a meditation, among other things, on the brutality of un-restrained power in a lawless world. In the film’s closing scene, an omniscient narrator foretells that two “strapping boys” would be born to the heroine but that, “alas... cruelty and love [...] would contend for mastery of their souls.”