Nejedlý, Zdenek

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Nejedlý, Zdeněk

 

Born Feb. 10, 1878, in Litomysl; died Mar. 9, 1962, in Prague. Czechoslovak scholar and public figure, musicologist, historian, and literary critic. Member of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Arts (1907); founder and president (from 1952) of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. Member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia from 1929.

Nejedlý was the son of the composer and educator R. Nejedly. He graduated from the department of philosophy at Charles University in Prague. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1900. Nejedlý was a professor at Charles University from 1909 to 1939 and 1945 to 1962 and at Moscow University from 1939 to 1945. He was a member of numerous learned institutions abroad, including corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1947).

Nejedlý was one of the first scholars in the West to welcome the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia. From 1921 to 1930 he edited the journal Var (Ferment). He was a founder (1925) and the chairman of the Society for Cultural and Economic Rapprochement With the New Russia and one of the leaders of the League of Friends of the USSR (founded 1930). He traveled to the USSR many times. He aided in the founding (1935) of the Czechoslovak Action Committee to Strengthen Peace. He was chairman of the Committee of Friends of Republican Spain (he visited Spain in 1936 with a delegation of Czechoslovak cultural representatives). From 1939 to 1945, during the German fascist occupation of Czechoslovakia, Nejedlý lived in the USSR.

In the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Nejedly was minister of schools and public education in 1945–46, minister of labor and social security from 1946 to 1948, and minister of schools, sciences, and arts from February 1948 until January 1953. From January to September 1953 he was deputy prime minister and in September 1953 he became a minister without portfolio. He served as a deputy to the National Congress in 1945 and a member of the Central Committee and Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1946. In 1945 he became chairman of the Union for Czechoslovak-Soviet Friendship, chairman of the Slavic Committee, and a member of the Czechoslovak Committee for the Defense of Peace.

Nejedlý’s scholarly interests were chiefly concerned with the cultural, ancient, medieval, and modern history of Czechoslovakia. He was especially interested in two periods of Czech history: the Hussite revolutionary movement of the 15th century, in which he saw not only a religious and national movement but, more significantly, a large-scale social struggle, and the Czech national renaissance that began in the late 18th century and lasted through the middle of the 19th. Nejedly’s History of the Czech People (vol. 1; Russian translation, 1952) was awarded the State Prize of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. Nejedlý also wrote Lenin (vols. 1–2, 1937–38) and A History of the Soviet Union (1948).

Nejedlý was one of the founders of the Czechoslovak democratic school of musicology. He studied the works of the composer B. Smetana (the major monograph Bedřich Smetana, vols. 1–4, 1924–33), the history of Czech Hussite songs (A History of the Hussite Song, three books, 1904, 1907, 1913), opera, and the national theater. Nejedlý wrote works on the history of world music, including Soviet Music (1936), and articles on contemporary Czechoslovak composers.

In his works on literary criticism, including Communists— Heirs to the Great Traditions of the Czech People (1936), On True Realism and Pseudorealism (1948), and On the Tasks of Our Literature (1949), Nejedly investigated the democratic and realistic traditions of Czech literature. He wrote a number of studies demonstrating the social significance of the works of A. Jirásek and also wrote a monograph about B. Némcová (1927). He published articles on Russian classical writers in Czechoslovakia as well as articles on Czech literature in the USSR.

Nejedlý, along with Soviet scholars, trained Slavicists and laid the foundations of Marxist Slavic studies.

Nejedlý was awarded two Orders of Lenin, three Orders of Klement Gottwald, the Order of the Republic, and the Bulgarian Order of Georgii Dimitrov.

WORKS

Sebrané spisy, vols. 1–17, 19–31, 35–51. Prague, 1948–56.
In Russian translation:
Izbr. trudy. Leningrad-Moscow, 1960.
Stat’i ob iskusstve. Leningrad-Moscow, 1960.

REFERENCES

Zdenek Needly—vydaiushchiisia obshchestvennyi deiatel’i uchenyi. Moscow, 1964. (Collection of articles.)
Cervinka, F. Zdenék Nejedlý. Prague, 1969.

N. M. PASHAEVA