Mystification, Coming-of-age Novel and Murder Mystery: Three Fragments of Byzantium in Czech Literature



Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Presence of Byzantium in modern Czech literature is as rare as were the contacts between the Czech lands and Byzantium in the Middle Ages. Saints Cyril and Methodius are perhaps the only Byzantines who, for obvious reasons, acted repeatedly as inspiration for the Czech (and Slovak) literature and became widely known outside of the narrow scholarly circles. However, there can be found some noteworthy cases of the use of Byzantine history in Czech literature. The focus of my paper will be three such examples written in different periods of modern Czech literature. The first one is a short story from the collection entitled Apocryphal Tales (first published in 1936) by Karel Čapek, the leading Czech novelist of the interwar period, which renders a fictional dialogue. This dialogue takes place (most probably) at the beginning of the 8th century between a layman art lover and an abbot, a former icon painter, and its topic is the cult of icons. My second example will be a YA novel (published in 1980) set during the time of the fourth crusade. The last and the final example is a book by a young promising writer František Kalenda, a historical crime story set in the 14th century Peloponnese. By using these three examples I will try to demonstrate three distinct approaches to (Byzantine) history in Czech literature of 20th and 21st cent.
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