Hana Hamplová | CC BY-SA 3.0

If an ordinary person is silent, it may be a tactical maneuver. If a writer is silent, he is lying

Jaroslav Seifert, one of Czech avant-garde pioneers and writers who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1984

Jaroslav Seifert was born and raised in Prague, a part of Austria-Hungary at that time, to a work-class family. During his time at secondary school, the future poet developed an interest in writing poetry and journalism. That was the primary reason why Jaroslav left school and started working on the communist newspaper Rudé Pravo. The publication embraced socialist ideas to the citizens. 

His first debut as a writer was in 1918, and at the age of 20, his first collection of poems, Město v slzách, was published

město-v-slzách
Josef Peitz via www.artbook.cz 

During the 1920s, he became a member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) that impacted his life position and values. He became the editor of famous Czech newspapers and magazines, including Rovnost, Sršatec, and Reflector. His early poetry was mainly focused on the expectations for the future of communism and the Soviet Union. At the same time, he was working at the communist publishing house and a bookstore. In 1929, he and his fellow collegues, writers, have to left the party. The reason for this was the signing of a manifesto protesting against Bolshevik Stalinist tendencies. 

Jaroslav was one of the leading participants of the avant-garde movement in Czechoslovakia. He established the journal Devětsil and continued working as a journalist during the 1930s – 1940s. In the publication, he was a critical editorial person, and he was focusing on the translation from the French language publication. He was contributing his writings in the social democratic press, such as Pestré kvety and Ranní noviny. 

His book Zhasněte světla (1938), emphasizing the Nazi regime, was published during the occupation period

Zhasněte světla
 Markýz Gero via ČBDB

In writing, Jaroslav covers the crucial aspects of Czechoslovak history, such as the Munich agreement. The country was annexed to Germany. Prague was also the living musé for the author: such books as Světlem oděná (1940) and Přílba hlíny were inspired by the megapolis. 

In 1949, Seifert decided to leave his career as a journalist and focused his life on literature. Jaroslav was famous for his poetry, and it was awarded national prizes in the years – 1936, 1955, and 1968. In 1967, he was nominated with the award – National Artist. Seifert was one of the writers who convicted of the Soviet invasion but was later silenced by the government. In the following year, he became the Czechoslovak Writer’s Union chairman, where he spent a couple of years. 

In the last years of his life, in 1984, Seifert was nominated and awarded with Nobel Prize in Literature. Two years later of this legendary event, Jaroslav passed away due to bad health. He never saw the freed society from the Soviet oppressors, nevertheless, he experienced two World Wars and the communist regime, which led to the Cold War. Sadly, people became aware and conscious of the phenomenal works of avant-garde writer only after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Sofia Chesnokova

Sofia Chesnokova

Passionate about digital marketing, copywriting, and Prague!
Sofia Chesnokova
Sofia Chesnokova