Karel Werner’s reluctance to write a book about his life was cleverly overcome by his wife, who started interviewing him onto a camcorder. She enjoyed hearing about his idyllic childhood in Jemnice, south Moravia, but ended up transcribing 46 hours covering the years up to 1968, when he emigrated. During the war he worked for a German firm in Brno, then obtained a doctorate and was poised for a professorship at Olomouc University. After the communist putsch in 1948, no teaching jobs were available to him. He became a good tram-driver but a less competent coal-miner and plumber. Unwittingly he gave the political commissar a nervous breakdown during his army service, most of which he spent sitting at a typewriter. From his teens he had been interested in oriental philosophy and was practising deep meditation, which helped him to stay true to himself during secret police interrogations and at other times of intense pressure. His research into the benefits of Hatha Yoga led to his writing the first book on it in Czech, and founding the Yoga Club in Brno, all under the eyes of the communist regime. Before he was deemed to be ‘illegally abroad’, the book had sold 95,000 copies.
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