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Twisted Spoon Press

PO Box 21 - Preslova 12, 150 21 Prague 5, Czech Republic

K.H. Macha


Statement by the
Czech Surrealists

The Mácha Cult

  karel hynek mácha

Karel Hynek Mácha was born on November 16, 1810 in an old part of Prague where his father was the foreman at one of the city's mills. At school he learned Latin and German, the two languages approved by the Hapsburg authorities, and later studied law at Prague University. His great model was Byron, with whom he shared a romantic idealism, wandering the Bohemian countryside to visit castle ruins, always making sketches and notes describing the natural beauty surrounding him. He also walked the length of Moravia and Slovakia as well as making a journey to Venice on foot.

Much influenced by the Czech intellectuals who were trying to revive the language at the beginning of the nineteenth century, Mácha wrote May and many of his poems in Czech (though his early writing was in German, the compulsory language of his education). In this way he identified himself with the Byronic hero who gives his life to a cause.

Mácha died of pneumonia on November 5, 1836 just shy of his 26th birthday. He was to have been married in Prague to the mother of his son three days later. Buried in a pauper's grave in Litoměřice, his remains were exhumed in March 1939, as Nazi German was occupying the country, and given a formal state burial at Prague's Slavin Cemetery on Vysehrad among the great Czech dead. In addition to May, Mácha in his short life wrote a number of poems, short prose sketches, and a journal where he explicitly describes his sexual encounters with his wife to-be, Lori.


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