Poezie ve sbornících britského válečného exilu
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POETRY IN VOLUMES PUBLISHED BY CZECH WARTIME EMIGRES IN GREAT BRITAIN
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This article considers four volumes of Czech verse, which were published by Czech émigrés in Great Britain in the early years of the Second World War. They are 'Hlasy domova/Krik koruny ceské' (Voices from Home/The Cry of the Bohemian Crown, 1939), 'Domu...' (Homewards, 1939), 'Ústy domova' (The Voice of Home, 1941), and 'Z lyriky války' (Lyric Verse in Wartime, 1941). The author first seeks to provide an overview of the literary culture of the Czech wartime émigrés in contemporary context. Apart from quotations from hard-to-access source material he also provides a summary of verse of this origin. He chose the topic owing to both the involvement in it of writers who later became important figures in Czech literature and the arts, including the theatre director Ota Ornest (1913-2002), the writer Jiri Mucha (1915-1991), and the poet Josef Lederer (1917-1985), and a certain neglect of émigré literature from the Second World War and afterwards. In this respect the author takes issue with the some rather hard criticism, such as that expressed by the literary historian Václav Cerný (1905-1987) - namely, that this work was marginal, mere versifying without much aesthetic value, obsessed with the idea of returning home. The writing, argues the author of this article, maintained faith in the Czech language, gave moral strength to writers and readers and also integrated them, and in some cases (for instance, the work of Lederer, writing under the pseudonym Jiri Klan), the writing even constitutes a timeless achievement. The article also seeks to raise questions about the general reception of émigrés in Czech society, a topic that to this day remains controversial. Nor did other waves of émigrés, upon returning home, receive the recognition they merited, instead encountering the simplification and even trivialization of the overall problem of a leading a life in the arts outside one's own country. Samples of verse from these volumes are appended to the article.
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