I thought that I spotted Zdena Salivarová on the street, recently, loitering by a bookstore barrow, as I might expect. Perhaps it was my imagination, or the effect of my “neurology,” for by the time I got there she had disappeared.

This woman is among my heroines. She did the typesetting for the Idler magazine, when it first started, and wrote the memorable novel, Honzlová (in Czech). It is a very warm book, about life in a cold war police state; translated as Summer in Prague, half a century ago. Zdena herself would now be ninety.

Another contributor to our magazine was Josef Škvorecký. He died, about that age, a dozen years ago. Mrs Salivarová, a singer and actress in the Czech land, was his young wife. They had been married for I don’t know how many centuries, before and after taking refuge in Cabbagetown (one of the provinces in Toronto). For some reason she hasn’t returned. I suppose it is harder to leave Cabbagetown, than Prague.

Reading Mr Škvorecký’s books, as an editor though illiterate in Czech, I noticed that each was dedicated by name to a different woman. Being a shallow person, I thought, “Typical Czech, playing the field.” This I believed so long as no one challenged it.

Škvorecký, author of the magnificent Engineer of Human Souls, wrote many delightful novels. It took me some time to discover the truth about him, however. You see, all of his books were dedicated to Zdena, but each under a different affectionate nickname.

A reader might form the wrong impression. He didn’t care.