Erben, Karel Jaromír

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Erben, Karel Jaromír


Born Nov. 7, 1811, in Miletin; died Nov. 21, 1870, in Prague. Czech poet and folklorist.

Erben graduated from Charles University in 1837. During the Revolution of 1848 he belonged to the liberal bourgeois wing of the national movement.

Erben published Czech literary and historical texts, including works by J. Hus, and works of Slavic folklore in such collections as Czech Folk Songs (vols. 1–3, 1841–45), Czech Folk Songs and Proverbs (vols. 1–2, 1862–64), and One Hundred Slavic Folktales and Legends (1865). In his treatment of folklore, Erben was an adherent of the mythological school. He himself wrote folktales.

In his collection Bouquet (1853; expanded edition, 1861), which contains ballads based on folk motifs, Erben expressed his faith in the Czech people and displayed masterful poetic skill; the work reflects, however, a certain idealization of the patriarchal morality. Erben translated into Czech the Primary Chronicle (1867), The Tale of Igor’s Campaign (1869), and the Zadonshchina (1869). He was the author of a number of studies on Czech history and ethnography.

Erben was named a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1856.


Dilo, vols. 1–5. Prague, 1938–40.
In Russian translation:
Ballady Stikhi, Skazki. [Introductory article by S. V. Nikol’skii.] Moscow, 1948.


Bogdanova, I. A. “K. Ia. Erben.” In Ocherki istorii cheshskoi literatury, XIX–XX vv. Moscow, 1963.
Dĕjiny české literatury, part 2. Prague, 1960. Pages 542–66.
Dolanský J.K.J. Erben. Prague, 1970.