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Czech literature ...all you want to know and where to find what

Always wondered who to watch in Czech literature..or where to find antikvariats in the Czech Republic?

Or do you want to have a concise history of the Czech literature 1900-2010?

Following the link you find a 101 pages long pdf with everything Czech literature has to offer.. http://www.culturenet.cz/en/Czech-in/literature/czech-literature-guide/

August 16, 2019



I was glad to find the names of Erik de Bruin and Kees Merckx mentioned as translators who made, amongst others, the works of Hrabal, Kundera, Jachym Topol, Rudis, Jiri Weil, Capek and Nemcova available to the Dutch public. Me being Dutch as you might understand.


The link and the document is really nice. I have just one issue with your comment.

"with everything Czech literature has to offer"

I'd argue that Czech literature has much more to offer than just the 1900- stuff. A lot of the older stuff is long and now boring, but not everything. Mácha, Neruda, Arbes, they have loads of shorter stuff and can be still very readable.


True, but these older books may be very difficult to read, sometimes a native speaker has a problem to understand them. Czech language was kind off different at that time.


With practice comes the experience. Natives who read books should not have problems to understand these. Especially Neruda and Arbes, poetry can be tricky sometimes and Mácha used some specific expressions. Although Arbes used many transgressives his style is very readable and the topics are not that heavy. You can try listening to Svatý Xaverius It is no difficult listening, rather a thrilling story.

Moreover, these issues are overcome by translations to other languages, although not that many probably exist and even fewer are available today. There seems to be a translation of Newtonův mozek. The story is reported to influence H.G. Wells and Zola was referring about Arbes too, so some translations did probably exist at the time. For Neruda the translations will be more plentiful. There should be more translations to German than to English.


I know all of these, I am Czech. :-) I just wanted to point out, that these old books are for advanced students. When I was reading Mácha's Máj, I was sometimes confused by some old words, which we don't have in our vocabulary anymore.


If you weren't Czech, surely I wouldn't link you a Czech audiobook.

Reading is the best way to expand your native language vocabulary.


It surly is. And because I love my language, I am still trying to learn new things. Czech is so various language, that even Czechs are making mistakes all the time and even don't understand words, which were used in these books.

I have a kinda funny example, it is verb "šukat". This word means "to f**k" nowdays. But in the book Babička by Božena Němcová is meaning of this word completely different. At that time it meant "to do housework" or, and this is even older meaning, "to look for steadily".

I think I am right, if I say, that words like this could easily confuse native Czech.

And I have to mention old Bohemian language, which is pretty similar to Czech language, but is really hard to understad to.

This is part of Petr Chelčický's "Sieť viery pravé.

"Protož tu jest sieť Petrova velmi zedrána, když jsta ta dva velryby veliká v ni vešla, to jest kněz najvyšší s panováním královským a se ctí nad ciesaře, a druhý velryb ciesař s panováním, s úřady a s mocí pohanskú pod kóží viery uvalil se. A když jsta se ta dva velryby hrozná v té sieti již obracela, tehda jsta ji tak zedrala, že jest jie málo co v celosti ostalo. "

I don't know, how experienced you are in Czech language, but this part is pretty hard to understand for me. This is just example, how old books could be written. And it shows the complexity of Czech language. :)


Well, I havent read any Chelčický, but I have read a fair bit of Jan Hus. It is quite fine to read even if very long and repeating. One does not really need a dictionary. Unlike the Dalimil's chronicle, that one is impossible without a good Old Czech dictionary. And the difference is just 100 years.

Of course you have chosen a confusing example full of duals, but it is not that difficult to get used to them. Id argue that imperfects and aorists are harder. I do not think an experienced reader should have a big problem with your citation. The verb zdrát/zedrat exists today as well so there are not really any confusing words in there, just the grammar.

But you really can't compare that and the latter half of the 19th century. And I repeat, the foreigner reading a translation could not care less.

We also do not have to read

Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,
Ther was a duc that highte Theseus;
Of Atthenes he was lord and governour,
And in his tyme swich a conquerour
That gretter was ther noon under the sonne.
Ful many a riche contree hadde he wonne;
What with his wysdom and his chivalrie,
He conquered al the regne of Femenye,
That whilom was ycleped Scithia,
And weddede the queene Ypolita,
And broghte hire hoom with hym in his contree
With muchel glorie and greet solempnytee,
And eek hir yonge suster Emelye.

We can just read a Czech translation and we do not care.


And I must stress again, when reading a translation, you couldn't care less about the older language of the original. When we read or watch Shakespeare in a modern translation, we do not have to worry about the older 16th or 17th century language he used.

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