Angelo Maria Ripellino goes beyond the tourist cliche of Prague as the "golden city" to bring out all the mystery, ambiguity, madness, turbidity, and hidden fascination of the city on the Vltava. He uses melodrama and ghost stories, the anecdotes of the enchanted traveler, and raunchy barroom tales to evoke the sorcery of the Bohemian capital in a wonderful mixture of fact and fiction. The point of departure for each vignette in this series inspired by the Czech capital may be a Prague neighborhood, monument, or artifact; it may be a historical figure or literary character associated with Prague. Ripellino, one of Italy's leading Slavists, is drawn to the haunting, mystical, even occult "city beneath the surface." He invokes the Golem, Prague's Jewish Frankenstein monster, as a recurring leitmotif and particularly relishes the excesses of the Gothic and Baroque eras and, in the twentieth century, the period of high modernism. As the book opens, Kafka and Hasek are still stalking the streets of the Old Town, chatting with their characters Josef K. and Josef Svejk. And on we go, through Prague's bordellos, theatres, alchemists' laboratories, cafes, and ghetto, with everyone from Rudolf II to Apollinaire and the Czech dadaists for company. The result of this imaginary guided tour is a deeper knowledge of the city than any conventional guidebook might provide and an introduction to Czech culture as intellectually rigorous as it is exhilarating.