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International Journal of Literary Culture / Internationale Zeitschrift für literarische Kultur

Ed. by Biti, Vladimir / Liska, Vivian

CiteScore 2018: 0.12

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.122
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.329

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Volume 38, Issue 2


The Marathon Man

Thomas Elsaesser
Published Online: 2008-02-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arca.38.2.407


I have to admit I do not care for jogging. But I have always had an admiration for runners. “Nurmi Nurmi” were the first words I remember ever hearing on the radio. I had to ask what they meant, because – at that age – I had understood “nur mich, nur mich”. My first sporting hero was Emil Zatopek, maybe because I suspected him to be an outsider, on account of the ‘Z’ of his surname, the last letter of the alphabet. My father once tried to comfort me, by saying, after I told him that in the line-up in gym class I was always last, because of my height: “Mach dir nichts draus, die Letzten werden die Ersten sein”. Experience told me there was no reason to believe him, but Zatopek seemed to prove him right, and I still recall the Czech national anthem, played at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952. In November 2000, I chanced to read about Zatopek's death, and I suddenly had this image of a man running and running all these years, somewhere in the Moravian mountains, past Communists and Russian tanks, past the Velvet Revolution, past his country's partition and Vaclav Havel's presidency.

About the article

Published Online: 2008-02-27

Published in Print: 2003-10-14

Citation Information: Arcadia – International Journal for Literary Studies, Volume 38, Issue 2, Pages 407–413, ISSN (Online) 1613-0642, ISSN (Print) 0003-7982, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arca.38.2.407.

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