I Can't Believe I Missed This, or a Prelude to Misreading Mácha

Radio Prague (poorly) profiles the Czech Avant-Garde poet (and later government official) Vítěslav Nezval. A really good introduction to Nezval is provided by Alfred French in his book The Poets of Prague, if you're interested.

What really struck me is the following quote by Nezval from 1936, which I don't know, but which is loaded with meaning (and which I'm going to contact them about):

Poetry that was written in the past doesn't continue to mean exactly the same as it did when it was first written. Even if its structure stays the same. Even if the poem itself remains the same, some of its components come to stand for different things. Poetry is like a moon which appears each night slightly altered in the ever-changing sky of history and time.

The centennial of the Czech Romantic poet Karel Hynek Mácha's death was celebrated in 1936. Nezval even edited a volume of Surrealist studies and art about Mácha in protest to the official celebrations. The title? Neither Swan Nor Moon, which is also the title of a poem by Mácha. Nezval and his friends committed some of the most celebrated misreadings ever. Mácha was transformed into the first Surrealist. But now it is time to make dinner. More on Mácha tomorrow.

(link via Langour Management)


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