The poet Karel Hynek Mácha (1810-1836) was intensively occupied, from his university days, with Czech history, and he chose themes from Czech history in his poetical and prose works. His view of history was partly formed by his reading of the older historical sources (Hájek’s Czech Chronicles), and partly by his reading of commonly available handbooks interpreting history in the spirit of Catholic-dynasticism. A basic shift in Mácha’s conception of Czech history occurred in mid-1833 when the poet became acquainted with the almanach Mephistopheles, which was published in Leipzig by the German-language journalist and author of historical novels with Czech themes, the Prague-born Karl Herloszsohn Herlo (1802-1849). Herlo in the almanach challenged Czechs to stop believing the interpretation of history which was presented to them by official Austrian historiography, and to start to take seriously their own heroes, especially figures of Hussitism and the Czech Reformation. Mácha’s scholars have already shown the influence of Herloszsohn’s almanach on Mácha’s poetical work. The present study investigates the influence of this source on Mácha’s prose work, that is on his unfinished novel The Executioner (Kat), especially on the only part that was published in Mácha’s lifetime entitled Křivoklad. In the concluding part of the study the relation of Mácha’s worldview to Platonism is characterised.
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”.