© 2018 by Czechia Civic Initiative

 

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Literature in Czechia is written mostly in the Czech language, although other languages like Old Church Slavonic, Latin or German have been also used, such as by author Franz Kafka, who—while bilingual in Czech and German—wrote his works in German.

 

Influential Czech authors who wrote in Latin include Cosmas of Prague († 1125), Peter of Zittau († 1339), John Hus († 1415), Bohuslav Hasištejnský z Lobkovic (1461–1510), Jan Dubravius (1486–1553), Tadeáš Hájek (1525–1600), Johannes Vodnianus Campanus (1572–1622), and Bohuslav Balbín (1621–1688). 

 

The Bible translations played an important role in the development of Czech literature and standard Czech language. The oldest Czech translation of the Psalms originated in the late 13th century and the first Czech translation of the whole Bible was finished around 1360. The first complete printed Czech Bible was published in 1488 (Prague Bible). The first complete Czech Bible translation from original languages was published between 1579–93 and is known as the Bible of Kralice.

 

Czech-language literature can be divided into several main time periods: the Middle Ages (Chronicle of Dalimil); the Hussite period (Tomáš Štítný ze Štítného, Jan Hus, Petr Chelčický); the Renaissance humanism (Henry the Younger of Poděbrady, Luke of Prague, Wenceslaus Hajek, Jan Blahoslav, Daniel Adam z Veleslavína); the Baroque period (John Amos Comenius, Adam Václav Michna z Otradovic, Bedřich Bridel, Jan František Beckovský); the Enlightenment and Czech reawakening in the 19th century (Václav Matěj Kramerius, Karel Hynek Mácha, Karel Jaromír Erben, Karel Havlíček Borovský, Božena Němcová, Jan Neruda, Alois Jirásek); the avant-garde of the interwar period (Karel Čapek, Jaroslav Hašek, Vítězslav Nezval, Jaroslav Seifert, Bohuslav Reynek); the years under Communism and the Prague Spring (Josef Škvorecký, Bohumil Hrabal, Milan Kundera, and more.

 

Jaroslav Seifert was the only Czech writer awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. A famous antiwar comedy novel The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek is the most translated Czech book in history. 

 

Czech literature and culture played a major role on at least two occasions, when Czechs lived under oppression and political activity was suppressed. On both of these occasions, in the early 19th century and then again in the 1960s, the Czechs used their cultural and literary effort to strive for political freedom, establishing a confident, politically aware nation.

 

(trom external sources)