On the Czech Appropriation of Herder Cover Image
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K zápasu o J. G. Herdera u nás
On the Czech Appropriation of Herder

Author(s): Jaromír Loužil
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Ústav pro českou literaturu Akademie věd České republiky
Keywords: National Revival; nationalism; Slavs; Czechs; Germans; Herder; Johann Gottfried

Summary/Abstract: In the Bohemian Lands, Johann Gottlieb Herder was first mentioned in the Prager gelehrte Nachrichten in the 1770s. Pelc and Woigt, wrote there about Herder's conception of language as an expression of the national spirit. Durych informed Dobrovský in a letter of 9 May 1792 about Herder's prophecy of the glorious future of the Slavs. In Jungmann's translation, that almost became the Gospel of the Czech patriots. Soon, Herder's verse was also noticed in the Bohemian Lands, particularly when it related to Czech history. In his inaugurallecture as Professor of Czech at Vienna, in 1801, Jan Nejedlý referred to Herder's Breife zur Beförderung der Humanität (1793-97), and with Kollar's Slávy dcera (1824) the popularization of Herder's ideas came to a peak in the Bohemian Lands. Though somewhat less clearly, Herder's legacy is also visible in the works of writers such as Mácha, Neruda and Vrchlický. Interest, however, was concentrated on three areas: (1) the nation as a community of a shared origin, reflected in a shared language; (2) language as an expression of the character and philosophy of life of the nation (its 'soul'); and (3) Humanity as the metaphysical-mystical unity of all humankind ar, as the case may be, the criterion of a moral approach of individual nations towards that ideal goal. All attempts at a revival of Herder's intellectuallegacy or even its reinterpretation have always been linked with profound socio-political crises, such as World War I and World War II. The first modernization of Herderism is in the work of Tomáš G. Masaryk; the second is connected with Jan Patočka, and between the two men is the work of Emanuel Rádl.

  • Issue Year: 53/2005
  • Issue No: 5
  • Page Range: 637-653
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: Czech