The Spanish Civil War, 1936-39, represents an ideological watershed in European society, in connection with which the ideological polarization of interwar European culture took place. The article is devoted to the various reactions to this conflict as manifested in the Czech milieu at the time. The view of the Spanish Civil War in Czech literary life, and the arts in general in Czechoslovakia, followed three basic currents: leftwing and Communist, liberal humanist, and rightwing Roman Catholic. Using the example of three important representatives of these trends, Frantisek Halas, Karel Capek, and Jaroslav Durych, the article seeks to demonstrate the fundamental differences in interpretation when analyzing actual events in Spain. It concludes that the polarization of literary life was as intense as it could possibly get, and led to ontological Manichaeism. Halas' leftwing revolutionary attitude, unshaken even by the Stalinist show trials, Capek's humanist legalist democratic position, and Durych's almost un-Christian militant zeal for the victory of Roman Catholicism constituted a trialogue of voices embodying the ideological polarity of Czech literary life in the second half of the 1930s, including the second Czechoslovak Republic, from the Munich Agreement of late September 1938 to the German Occupation beginning in mid-March 1939. The clash of revolutionary collectivism, liberalistic individualism, and Roman Catholic universalism regarding the tragic events in Spain cannot, the author argues, be squeezed into an overly simple antithesis of democracy versus totalitarianism.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.