Josef Dobrovský

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dobrovský, Josef


Born Aug. 17, 1753, in Gyarmat, near Győr, Hungary; died Jan. 6, 1829, in Brno. Czech Enlightenment figure, one of the founders of Slavic studies, and a leader of the Czech Renaissance.

From 1768 to 1776, Dobrovsky studied in the philosophy department and later in the theology department of Charles University in Prague. In 1784 he became a member of the Royal Society of Sciences in Prague and in 1820 an honorary member of the Russian Academy.

Dobrovsky opposed the Austrian Empire’s policy of germanizing the Slavs. He founded the comparative study of the Slavic languages, as well as of Slavic culture and history. Dobrovsky was the first to establish the periodization of Czech literature and the Czech language. He provided a scientific description of the grammatical structure of the Czech language, using the literary language of the 16th century as the basis for a contemporary literary language. This helped to preserve many archaisms in the Czech language and at the same time showed its richness. Dobrovsky considered the period of Hussism to be the most important in the history of the Czech national culture, although he was critical of the activities of the Taborites. Dobrovsky unmasked the cult of St. John of Nepomuk, which symbolized the victory of the Catholic reaction over the Hussite Czech kingdom.

In a series of articles entitled “Critical Attempts to Purge Czech History of Recent Fabrications” (1803-19), Dobrovsky criticized Czech legends. In 1783-84, together with F. M. Pelcl, he published a collection of historical documents, Scriptores rerum bohemicarum. He also published the scientific Slavicist collections Slavin (1806-08) and Slovanka (1814-15). Of great significance for the development of Czech poetry were the prosodic rules formulated by Dobrovsky in 1795, which he based on the inherent features of the Czech language. Dobrovsky made a major contribution to the study of Old Slavonic language and writings (Glagolitic, 1807, and Principles of Old Slavonic, 1822). He also contributed to the strengthening of Czech-Russian cultural ties.


Spisy a projevy, vols. 5-23. Prague, 1936-63. (Publication incomplete.)
Výbor z dila. Prague, 1953.
Insituciones linguae slavicae dialecti veteris. [Vienna] 1852.
In Russian translation:
Grammatika iazyka slavianskogo po drevnemy narechiiu, parts 1-3. St. Petersburg, 1833-34.


Palacký, F. Biografiia losefa Dobrovskogo. Moscow, 1838. (Translated from German.)
Josef Dobrovský, 1753-1953: Sbornik studii k dvoustemu vyroci narozeni. Prague, 1953.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Josef Dobrovsky and the Origins of the Igor' Tale (2003) can therefore be read as a bold defense of a scholar's right to reexamine received opinion and advance any hypothesis that can be supported by a new and comprehensive reading of the existing evidence.
Keenan, Josef Dobrovsky and the Origins of the Igor' Tale (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, 2003), 306-7.
However, it is important to us that the interest of Slavists in Macedonia, the Macedonian dialects, literature and folklore dates back to the time of the founder of the Slavic studies, Josef Dobrovsky (1735-1829).
Prominent Jesuits, such as Josef Jung-mann ([dagger] 1847) and Josef Dobrovsky ([dagger] 1829), who had taken up secular studies after the suppression, showed no interest in the post-restoration order.
The Slavonic connection (apart from the three essays on Kafka and Hasek) appears in essays on Rilke, the Slovene/Czech journalist Otto Babler, and, mainly, on the "father of modern Slavic studies," Josef Dobrovsky, whom the author follows on his journey to Russia.
Keenan, Josef Dobrovsky and the Origins of the "Igor' Tale" (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003).
On the other side, Professor Keenan, I believe, would be surprised to hear how many historians seem to think that certain colleagues and I have pretty much destroyed his case for Josef Dobrovsky and the Igor' Tale.
Kurbskii and Tsar Ivan IV (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971); Keenan, Josef Dobrovsky and the Origins of the Igor' Tale (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003).
Keenan's Josef Dobrovsky and the Origins of the Igor' Tale (2003).