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Vynálezci nového světa
The Inventors of the New World

Fantasy and Fantastical Literature after the First World War

Author(s): Václav Vaněk
Subject(s): Czech Literature, Theory of Literature
Published by: Památník národního písemnictví
Keywords: fantasy prose;fantastical prose;inventor;the First World War (WWI);utopia;dystopia;Decadence;occult literature;weapons of mass destruction (WMD);Karel Čapek;

Summary/Abstract: Fantastical prose experienced after the First World War a quantitative as well as a qualitative boom that has so far been only minimally reflected upon in domestic literary history. This is partly due to the lack of clarity concerning the delimitation of the genre itself. Therefore, the first part of the paper characterizes two opposing types of fantastical works in the post-war literature: fantastical prose growing out of the heritage of the Romantic movement and prioritizing magical and intuitive knowledge, and fantastical prose which is being formed during the process of the establishment of the industrial society at the end of the nineteenth century and which prioritizes rational methods of knowledge. Based on this analysis, the second part of the paper attempts to arrive at a framework typolo.y of fantastical prose of the given period. Concerning the novel, we can see the emergence of various soul-seeking texts exploring the limits of individual life on the one hand, and, on the other, we see novels attempting to model different possible ways of social life (utopias and dystopias). Short stories are dominated mainly by fantastical themes still stemming from decadent aesthetics and from occult traditions. But even here we see the emergence a new type of literary character: the inventor (engineer, medical doctor). The third part of the paper analyzes this literary character in selected texts. It is observed that the hero does acquire super-human, sometimes even god-like features on the basis of his ability to utilize his discovery (often derived from contemporary weapons of mass destruction) for the purposes of transforming human society. Karel Čapek’s novel Krakatit is seen in this context as an early warning, consigning the inventor back to human society.

  • Issue Year: 2018
  • Issue No: 50
  • Page Range: 126-146
  • Page Count: 21
  • Language: Czech