Plzeňské sympozia

Kateřina Piorecká

Josef Kajetán Tyl’s Nocturnal Strolls. The Urban Periphery in the 1830s in Karel Hynek Mácha’s Scenes from My Life

pp. 342–351 (Czech), Summary p. 351 (English)

Around the mid-1830s, the genre of scene from life, subsequently renamed to sketch after its Russian model, found its way into the Czech literary context. It gradually established itself as a small-scale non-fiction prosaic form, or a short prosaic form with a simple plot and loose composition straddling the borderline between journalism and fiction, conveying the author’s individual view of its subject. In terms of content, the genre’s focus was notably on the subject of urban life and its social aspects. The everyday reality of a big city and its geographical as well as social periphery had been previously viewed, from the aesthetic perspective of Czech society of the time, as a shockingly inappropriate theme. J.K. Tyl’s unfinished series of sketches, Z nočních potůlek po městách pražských (“Nocturnal Strolls through Prague’s Quarters”), marked the first time Czech readers were confronted with the world of prostitutes, alcoholics and gamblers. In the mid-1830s, it represented, alongside Mácha’s Márinka, a unique attempt at introducing into Czech literature a previously tabooized theme, together with a new style of writing which could be defined as protorealistic.

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