Karel Havlicek-Borovský

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Havliček-Borovský, Karel


(pseudonym, Gavel Borovský). Born Oct. 31, 1821, in the village of Borov, near the present-day city of Havlickuv Brod; died July 29, 1856, in Prague. Czech political figure, poet, and journalist.

Havliček-Borovský was born into a merchant’s family. He studied at Charles University in Prague (1838-40) and later at a seminary, from which he was expelled for freethinking (1841). Study of the languages, literature, and history of the Slavic peoples brought Havliček-Borovský close to J. Jungman and P. Šafařik. During the years 1843-44 he lived in Russia. After returning to Bohemia, he began working as a journalist, editing (1846-48) the newspaper Pražske noviny and its literary supplement, the journal Česka včela. He published a number of articles in which he formulated the idea of Austro-Slavism, and at the same time he came out with articles in defense of the liberation struggle of the Irish people. With the beginning of the Revolution of 1848, Havliček-Borovský founded the political newspaper Národni noviny, in whose pages he defended the principle of national equal rights among the peoples of the Austrian Empire as well as constitutional reforms. In 1848 he was elected to the Czech sejm and the Austrian parliament. After the onset of reaction he spoke out sharply against the regime that had been established in the country, and for this action he was brought to trial in April 1849. After the banning (January 1850) of the newspaper Národni noviny and its satirical supplement Šotek, Havliček-Borovský published (until 1851) in Kutna Hora the newspaper Slovan, in which he continued to criticize the government. In 1851 he published the political pamphlets The Spirit of a People’s Newspaper and Kutna Hora Letters, which scourged absolutism and the church. In this same year he was secretly exiled to Brixen [Bressanone] (Tyrol); and it was only in April 1855 that the mortally ill Havliček-Borovský was allowed to return to Prague.

Havliček-Borovský’s fiction comprises satirical works that were, for the most part, distributed extensively in manuscript copies—for example, the narrative poem Tyrolean Elegies (1852, published in 1861), The Baptism of St. Vladimir (1848-54, completely published in 1876), King Lavra (1854, published in 1870), and epigrams. Havliček-Borovský’s creative work led to the establishment of realism in Czech literature and the development of civic and satirical poetry; it also democratized the Czech literary language.


Politicke spisý, parts 1-3. Prague, 1900-03.
Satira i stat’i. Moscow, 1950. (Translated from Czech.)
Izbrannoe. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from Czech.)


Riha, O. Karel Havliček-Borovský. [Brno] 1950.
Stanislav, B. Karel Havliček-Borovský. [Prague] 1954.
Vodicka, F. Havličkyv boj veršem a satirou. Prague, 1952.
Karel Havlišek-Borovský, 1856-1956. Havliškuv Brod, 1956.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.