Nová rada k starým sporům: báseň Smila Flašky v zajetí historie
New advice on old disputes: Smil Flaška’s poem in thrall to history
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The poem Nová rada (New Council) written by Smil Flaška in the 1390s has an extensive interpretative history, thanks in particular to the fact that it has always been found attractive not only by literary scholars but also historians. In previous research it has served primarily as an illustration of political history, and to a lesser extent as testimony to late medieval intellectual literary culture and poetics. Research into the poem has primarily sought proof of its link with the era and the reign of Václav IV rather than the meaning of the work within the preserved context, i.e. in manuscripts from the latter half of the 15th century. This study first presents the manuscript context of New Council. It then analyses evidence on the ways of perceiving New Council in humanist literature, while polemicizing against the previous research interpretations of the intertextual links between New Council and literary works of the 16th century. A presentation is also made here of the variously inspiring perspectives of research during the 19th and 20th centuries, with the emphasis upon the central interpretational approaches which the author subsequently expounds in detail. The extraordinary scribal framing, thanks to which transcriptions of the poem consistently record the precise date of origin, the title of the work and the name of the author, is perceived within the context of late medieval cultural revisits to pre- Hussite times. At the time the poem was demonstrably being transcribed and read, it clearly functioned not as an exclusive lesson for the upper classes or as criticism of the king (sophisticatedly hidden within an allegory), but as a long-tried-and-tested “edutaining” text that was accessible to recipients from various social groups. While an approach based on associating the poem with a critique of Václav IV is not entirely demonstrable and inappropriately closes the text off from interpretation, interest in its meaning at the time and the material context of its preservation shows it to be part of the more broadly available intellectually educational and entertaining literature. The main aim of this study is to present New Council as a representation of the polyphonic created world, wherein the animals are not merely a source of learning for man as representative symbols, but also in themselves, thus compelling the recipient to enter a space between man and animal, relinquish the misleading categories of allegory, irony, satire and moral teaching, and submit to the actual subjective effects of God’s word coming from non-human mouths.
The animals’ utterances in New Council are based on religious teaching and lead to a transformation of the recipient’s conscience and perception.
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