Czech Republic Literature Part II

From 1870 the current of the májovci was overcome on the one hand by young people grouped around the nationalist almanac Ruch (Movement) and on the other by the lumírovci (from the name of their magazine Lumír) who hoped for an expansion of the Czech literary horizon through contacts with Western cultures. The greatest exponents of the Ruchovci were S. Čech, E. Krásnohorská and L. Quis, while JV Sládek ended up taking an intermediate position between the rigid nationalism of the ruchovci and the cosmopolitanism of the lumírovci. The most significant exponent of the latter – among which J. Zeyer, a good prose writer, as well as a poet – was undoubtedly the original poet and fruitful translator J. Vrchlický. Meanwhile, the historical novel flourished with A. Jirásek, Z. Winter and V. Beneš Třebízský; the realistic novel was cultivated by J. Herrmann, F. Herites, KV Rais, J. Herben, T. Nováková, J. Holeček. Between the end of the century. XIX and the First World War various poetic currents came to intersect: the national and historical realism of JS Machar was contrasted by the symbolism of O. Březina, K. Hlaváček’s decadence, A. Sova’s impressionism; a sparkling vital charge characterized the work of V. Dyk and P. Bezruč found moving and intense accents to sing the social reality and national problems of his native Silesia. From the group of modernist poets, mainly anarchists, such as F. Šrámek and K. Toman, SK Neumann broke away, moving from youthful attitudes of revolt to a meditated analysis of contemporary problems. Meanwhile, social themes were grafted onto the traditional historical and folkloric motifs still cultivated for example by A. Stašek and KV Rais in the work of J. Š. Baar, by T. Nováková and by MA Šimáček, and especially in that of naturalists, such as the brothers A. and V. Mrštík, JK Šlejhar, and especially KM Čapek-Chod, an acute observer of urban environments. Historical and social arguments also aroused the interest of theater authors, such as J. Kvapil, A. Dvořák and J. Hilbert. Under the stimulus of a combative criticism (whose main representative was FX Šalda), Czech literature developed in all fields.

The distressing and surreal atmospheres of the works of F. Kafka dominate the period, who writes his works in German. After the First World War, two important currents followed one another: that of “proletarian poetry” and that of “poetry” which, elaborating theoretical principles derived from the symbolists and French Parnassians, as well as the Futurists V. Nezval Italians and Russians, affirmed the intention of transforming every human manifestation into a poem intended as an instrument of delight, in a sparkling kaleidoscope of images and sensations. According to intershippingrates, some of the poetists later came to surrealist or existentialist positions. Often tormented maturations characterized the artistic journey of some poets who, having started their activity around 1920, continued it until the period following the Second World War. While J. Wolker completed his short parable in the context of only two collections,from his poetic beginnings he turned to surrealist experiences and was finally a singer of the new Czechoslovakian reality; complex evolutions also had F. Halas, J. Seifert (Nobel Prize for literature in 1984) and K. Biebl; J. Hora, after having made his debut as a proletarian poet, sang the motions of the human spirit; V. Holan alternated with intimist lyrical political themes; J. Zahradníček was the greatest Catholic poet. In the context of fiction, J. Hasek created the captivating character of the Good Soldier Svejk , to whom he smiled worldwide fame; I. Olbracht and E. Hostovský dealt with psychological reasons; M. Majerová, AM Tilschová, B. Benešová, M. Pujmanová focused their attention on socio-political problems; J. Čep and F. Křelina dealt with the farming world; R. Medek and J. Kopta were inspired by the First World War; V. Vančura and J. Durych wrote novels with a historical or social background; K. Poláček, like the aforementioned Hašek, distinguished himself in humorous and satirical fiction; K. Čapek, one of the greatest Czech writers, set his sights on the surrounding world and proposed futuristic subjects, both in narrative prose and in plays.

On the eve of the Second World War, the verses of poets such as F. Hrubín, J. Kainar, J. Kolár and O. Mikulášek appeared, which remain, with F. Halas, V. Holan, J. Seifert and V. Nezval, among the larger after the war. In the field of fiction, among the writers who established themselves after 1940 include J. Drda, J. Glazarová, V. Neff, V. Rezác, J. J. Otčenášek, J. Mucha. One author in particular, J. Škvorecký, emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, representing the link with post-war fiction. After the Prague Spring, Czech literature developed in three directions. The first, the official one aligned with the regime, was mostly composed of authors of little value (I. Skála, J. Pilar, J.Kozák). The second, the opposition one (B. Hrabal, L.Vaculik, J.Gruša), managed to survive clandestinely by publishing a few texts in a few typewritten copies, the so-called samizdat. The third, that of the emigrants, was published abroad. In the latter category, above all M. Kundera established himself internationally. In the seventies, alongside Kundera, L. Fuks stood out, B. Hrabal, V. Páral, I. Klíma, J. Procházka, some fine humorists such as I. Vyskocil, M. Macourek and J. Suchý, as well as prose writers persecuted by the regime for their description of socialist reality, such as K. Pecka, K. Sidon, A. Kliment, E. Kriseová. Only after 1989 were the various literatures in fact unified. Many authors canceled from the publishing scene, returned to be published at home (Kundera, J. Deml, E. Hostovský, L. Klíma). Alongside the dissidents, in the 1990s, new authors emerged such as M. Huptych, J. Topol, F. Dryje, J. Kratochvil, D. Hodrová, Z. Brabcová and M. Viewegh.

Czech Republic Literature 2