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Karel Hynek Mácha

photo:  (www.cojeco.cz)

A Czech poet and prose writer, he is the most important representative of Czech Romanticism and is one of the greatest Czech poets.


Called the founder of Czech modern poetry. He became famous chiefly due to his lyrical-epic work Máj (May) (1836), which is one of the most beautiful works of Czech literature. It tells a tragic romantic storey which was reputedly inspired by a real event.

During his short life he created many more works. He wrote poetry, prose and drama. He wrote his first poetic attempts in German, which he spoke perfectly. In prose he chiefly devoted his work to historic subjects. His most extensive prose is the work of fiction titled Gypsies. Other works by Mácha include: Křivoklad, Pictures from My Life (An Evening at Bezděz, Marinka), The Krknos Pilgrimage, Return, Sazava Monastery, Valdice, Discord Between Worlds and Dream. Mácha also intended to write an extensive four-part work of fiction, but his premature death meant that he only wrote the outline of this work. Karel Hynek Mácha died unexpectedly aged only 26 years. A large volume of his work was published posthumously.

Mácha was an enthusiastic traveller and avid walker. He sought out romantic historical sites and sites of natural beauty. He enjoyed wandering around the ruins of Czech castles and frequently drew them, as he also had artistic talent. 115 drawings and aquarelles of “Observed Castles” by Mácha have survived to date. In 1834 he made his longest journey by foot through Austria and over the Alps to Italy, writing his Diary of the Journey to Italy about the event.

During his life he had many critics (for instance J.K. Tyl), who accused him of insufficient national sentiment and that he was too influenced by Byron’s poetry. However, he also had his admirer’s who saw him as an exceptional poet. A number of writers openly declared their support of him and became well-known in Czech literature as Májovci, for instance Jan Neruda and others. You can find more information here . 
Author: Ivana Jenerálová
Added: 19.02.2010

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