22.2 – Spring 2009: Notes from the Editor

Our current issue features a variety of historical, literary, and cultural topics. In the past, Kosmas has published historical studies dealing with aspects of the Czech National Awakening in the nineteenth century; for example, our Fall 2007 issue included an article by Zdenek V. David on recent historiography related to that movement, as well as one by Andrew M. Drozd on the response of the Russian writer Aleksandr Pypkin to the “Awakeners.” In our current issue David follows up his earlier work with an article in which he makes a case for a strong Anglophone (especially British) influence on the Awakening, an influence which demonstrates a preference for realistic and empirical approaches to cultural and intellectual questions. The following article is also concerned with “political realism.” Josette Baer takes a close look at the nineteenth-century Slovak liberal politician Jan Palarik, who argued for Slovak-Magyar co­operation in the quest for Slovak autonomy within the Hungarian kingdom.

With Clarice Cloutier’s colorful title “The Nose Keeps Walking,” we turn to a literary topic: “black humor” in twentieth-century Russian, Hungarian, and Czech literature. I trust that readers will find this somewhat unusual article, with its emphasis on the influence of the Russian author Nikolai Gogol, both entertaining and informative. Then Anna Procyk’s article on the influence of the nineteenth-century Italian Giuseppe Mazzini and the Young Europe movement on Slays-including Czechs and Slovaks-continues the broad theme of cross-cultural influences in a wide European context that is central to this issue.

Jaroslav Ha§ek’s Good Soldier Svejk is of course one of the most famous characters in Czech literature, and in her article on “The Good Dissident Svejk” Heidi Bludau explores the concept of passive resistance associated with Svejk and with the Czech national character. She looks beyond the popular stereotypes and finds seven features that define “§vejkisim” as a unique form of resistance, with an emphasis on “the

totalitarian environments in which Czechs lived in the 20th century.”

Over the years we have included a number of articles that deal with the Czech-American “immigrant experience” in one way or another, sometimes focusing on cross-Atlantic correspondence between family members. In our Fall 2007 issue, for example, we published excerpts from letters written by the brothers Jan and Ferdinand Pribyl in the 1870s and 1880s, with commentary by Bette Stockbauer. In our current issue we offer Raymond D. Screws’s discussion of letters written by members of the Cajka family in Czechoslovakia in the 1920s to their relatives in Nebraska.

Readers will indeed find a wide range of topics in the essays appearing in this issue. Karen M. Burke describes her “Performing Revolution” exhibit on 1980s theatre productions in Czechoslovakia and other Soviet Bloc countries, an exhibit introduced at the 2007 SVU conference in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and scheduled to open at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts later this year. In her essay she focuses on three Czech theatres that will be featured in the exhibit. Next, Miloslav Rechcigl explores the possible “Bohemian identity” of Martinus Hermanzen Hoffman, who settled in colonial America in the seventeenth century. If Hoffman really was Czech, “this would be a significant find for Czech cultural history, as well as for American immigration history.”

Tracy Burns discusses Everyday Spooks, a “book of fables” by the Czech writer Karel Michal (1932-1984), who deserves to be better known. His stories are “timeless,” while offering special insights into Communist society. Then Robert Sklenar offers an in-depth reading of Jaroslav Vrchlickys poem “Sapfo,” addressed to the remarkable ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho, whose reputation has rested on surviving fragments of her work-most of which has been lost. Our final essay is a report by Tim West on the “Prague Spring” panel that was part of the “1968: A Global Perspective” conference held on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin last August. The panel, chaired by Hana Pichova, included papers by Yekaterina Cotey, Julia Friday, and West himself.

We conclude with a review of Elaine Weiner’s book Market Dreams: Gender, Class, and Capitalism in the Czech Republic by our Book Review Editor Mary Samal. Assistant Editor Ayde Enriquez-Loya worked hard on this issue and I appreciate the essential help of Managing Editor David Z. Chroust, as well. Jana Dre§erova also assisted with some of the editing. As this issue of Kosmas goes to press, we are looking forward to the 2009 Regional Conference of SVU which will be held here on the Texas A&M University campus June 5-7, 2009. Additional information about the conference can be found on the SVU Website: http://www.svu2000.org/

Clinton Machann, Editor