Olbracht, Ivan

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Olbracht, Ivan


(pen name of Kamil Zeman). Born Jan. 6, 1882, in Semily; died Dec. 30, 1952, in Prague. Czech author and public figure. People’s Artist of Czechoslovakia (1946). Son of the writer A. Stasek.

Olbracht studied at the universities of Berlin and Prague. From 1916 to 1920 he was editor of the newspaper Právo Lidu (The People’s Law). After his visit to Russia in 1920, Olbracht wrote Pictures of Contemporary Russia (1920–21), which was directed against the bourgeois slanderers of the Soviet republic. Olbracht was one of the founders of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (1921). From 1920 to 1929 he edited the newspaper Rudé Právo (Red Law). During the fascist German occupation of Czechoslovakia he fought in the resistance movement.

Olbracht began his literary career in the first decade of the 20th century with publicistic writings, essays, short stories, and novellas. Olbracht’s short-story collection On Evil Unsociable People (1913), his tale Brother Žak (1913, revised 1938; film version The Comedians, 1954), and his novelette Darkest Prison (1916) express his sympathy with the anarchist revolt of people who have been rejected by bourgeois society; however, they also show the fruitlessness of such a revolt. The complicated ideological and artistic conception of the novel The Strange Friendship of the Actor Jesenia (1917–19) is characterized by a striving to escape from the individualist isolation of man in the modern world.

In the 1920’s, Olbracht was one of the founders of socialist realism in Czech literature. Examples of his socialist realist works include Nine Jolly Stories About Austria and the Republic (1927), which satirizes the bourgeois regime in Czechoslovakia. However, the most important example of Olbracht’s socialist realism is the novel Anna the Proletarian (1928), in which the figure of a communist worker is created for the first time in Czech literature and the increasing class consciousness of the workers is depicted. In the novel Nikolaj Ŝuhaj, Bandit (1933; filmed 1947), Olbracht described an avenger of the people, a personification of the spontaneous struggle of the peasantry against their oppressors.


Spisy, vols. 1–15. Prague, 1947–61.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannoe. Moscow, 1956.


Kleiner, P. A. “I. Ol’bracht.” Ocherki istorii cheshskoi literatury XIX–XX vv. Moscow, 1963.
Národní umělec I. Olbracht. Prague, 1956.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.