Machar, Josef Svatopluk

Machar, Josef Svatopluk

(yô`zĕf svä`tôplo͝ok mä`khär), 1854–1942, Czech poet and essayist. A leader of the realist movement in Czech poetry and a master of colloquial Czech, Machar was active in anti-Austrian political circles in Vienna. Many of his poems were satires of political and social conditions. In the poetic cycle The Conscience of the Ages (1901–21), of which Golgotha was the initial volume, he contrasted antique with Christian civilization, favoring the former. His Magdalena (1894, tr. 1916), a satirical novel in verse, concerns the oppression of women. Both Machar's use of colloquial diction and his brilliantly expressed skepticism greatly influenced Czech literature and public opinion.

Machar, Josef Svatopluk


Born Feb. 29, 1864, in Kolin; died Mar. 17, 1942, in Prague. Czech poet.

Machar was the son of a mill hand. He attended secondary schools in Prague between 1878 and 1886. From 1889 to 1919 he was a clerk in Vienna. From 1919 to 1924 he was an inspector-general in the Czechoslovak Army. Machar’s work from the turn of the century expressed the disillusionment of individualistic intellectuals with Czech and European reality; at a time when Czech art was under the influence of symbolism, Machar represented the realist movement and helped bring poetry closer to life. The poet exposed the monarchist feudal state with irony and sarcasm and criticized hypocritical bourgeois morality in the collections Confiteor 1-3 (1887-92) and Here Should Roses Bloom (1894), the verse novel Magdalen (1894), and collections of political verse such as Tristium Vindobona 1-20 (1893), Golgotha (1901), Satiricon (1904), and Topical Comments (1935). Believing that the Christian epoch marked a decline in human culture, Machar turned to antiquity in his search for an ideal. Examples include the cycle of poems The Conscience of the Ages (parts 1-9, 1906-26). He also wrote the reminiscences The Confessions of a Literary Man (1902) and anticlerical publicistic works, including Rome (1907) and Antiquity and Christianity (1919). In the works written during the years of the bourgeois republic, Machar abandoned progressive literary traditions in many respects.


Básné. Prague, 1954.


Pesat, Z. J S. Machar bdsnik. Prague, 1959.


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