“The publishing house’s history is a tale of Germans and Czechs.”
About Our History
Vitalis Verlag was founded in 1993 and is based in Prague’s Smíchov district, where elegant villas cluster around Klamovka Park. A hand-picked staff produces top quality books in keeping with our justified reputation as an independent European publishing house in the continent’s Bohemian heart. Multilingualism is a key distinguishing feature – numerous titles are published in not only German, but also in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and sometimes also in Czech, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. It has been something of a rollercoaster ride from our beginnings in Prague’s Lesser Town to the respected publisher we are today, with occasional disasters along the way: in 2002, for example, Vitalis literally sank in the Vltava floods. From Hamburg to Graz, the papers reported on Prague’s “sunken literature”. The waters had barely receded before the presses were running at full speed again. The story of the flood, Prague Under Water, marked a successful return from catastrophe, which nobody would have believed possible: Vitalis’ sunken literature resurfaced. This was followed by hundreds of new titles in quick succession – non-fiction, illustrated books, prose, calendars.
About Our Books
Let us take a closer look at a few choice picks among the flowers in our collection. The roses in the entrance hall are quick to catch the eye: glorious illustrated volumes starring the Imperial Cities Prague and Vienna; guide books; cookbooks featuring the culinary delicacies of Prague and the Imperial and Royal Monarchy; lavishly illustrated biographies of key figures from Old Austria, such as Mozart, Klimt, Schiele or Empresses Sisi and Maria Theresa – you can’t miss the cultural history of the Austrian Empire towering over our walls.
Vitalis is also home to mighty literary oaks: Franz Kafka, Jan Neruda, Adalbert Stifter, Božena Němcová, Marie Ebner-Eschenbach, Gustav Meyrink, Rainer Maria Rilke or Paul Leppin. Our excellently typeset and designed literary editions are rooted in biographical works such as Last Night at the Café, Kafka's Vienna, With Kafka to the South or Gustav Meyrink – An Enchanted Life: monographs penned by Professor of Literature Hartmut Binder, which should find a place in every self-respecting Germanist’s library.
There is a colourful flowerbed in the form of Austrian and Czech Fairytales, lovingly collated by the South Bohemian illustrator Lucie Müllerová. Rübezahl also peeps in over the Giant Mountains: as father of the Bohemian-Silesian gods, he claims a home here by right.
A slight shadow falls over the rear of the garden: here we find books dealing with the dark themes of the past, such as Olga Fierz’ Childhood and destiny in post-war turmoil or Herma Kennel’s BergersDorf, which uncovered a bloody murder after 60 years and kept the Czech authorities on track until they were able to exhume the bones.
Don’t miss a visit to our herb garden, where you can read up on the cultural history of medicine in, for example, the anthology With Pen and Scalpel – Crossing the Border between Literature and Medicine. The major pictorial biography Once a Doctor, Always a Doctor was published to mark the 150th birthday of the poet and doctor Hans Kloepfer, and the highly-regarded The Spanish Flu commemorates 2018 the 100th anniversary of the pandemic.
After ploughing through so much earthy erudition, it is time to pick a flower or two from the colourful beds in the artists’ corner: our charming and ever-popular mini calendars on artists from Arcimboldo to Tolouse-Lautrec.
And how will the Vitalis garden grow next spring? We have already planted some very promising bulbs, which are currently putting down roots – you’re in for a pleasant surprise!