Plzeňské sympozia

Kateřina Piorecká

Machine Work. On the Technology of Writing before 1914

pp. 182–195, summary p. 195–196

The typewriter was a novelty in the Czech milieu at the beginning of the 1890s, which is evidenced by both the popularisation articles in dailies and professional journals and the first satires. Despite the parallel existence of multiple competing systems, the typewriter gradually found its application in administration (including the administration of publishing houses and periodicals), but very slowly in the creative sphere. A handwritten manuscript was considered to be an expression of the personality of its author and was highly valued in particular in connection with literary production. Generations of symbolists and decadents therefore placed emphasis on calligraphic writing. A writer initially selected a typewriter for very pragmatic reasons: 1) the health condition of the writer (a physical disability, especially blindness, chronic joint diseases etc.); 2) the legibility of the resulting text (as a consequence of changes in typesetting technology and its multiple acceleration, the requirements on the handwritten text became much stricter); 3) the anonymity of the text (unlike the handwriting, the typescript does not point directly to its author). As a compensation tool, a typewriter was used by Josef Kalousek or Eliška Krásnohorská. For Václav Tille and Karel Matěj Čapek Chod, it became a creative instrument which influenced their literary production.

Key words: Bohemian Lands, 19th century, cultural history, literature, typewriter,

writing

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