Karel H. Mácha's Philosophical Challege to the Catholic Enlightenment in Bohemia
|Keywords||Austro-Bohemian Catholic Enlightenment, Baroque scholasticism, Biedermeier, Counter Reformation, Idealism, German, Karel Hynek Mácha, Czech Romantism, Polish Romantism, Thomistic realism, Utraquism|
|Citation||DAVID, Zdeněk V.. Karel H. Mácha's Philosophical Challege to the Catholic Enlightenment in Bohemia . Acta Musei Nationalis Pragae – Historia litterarum. Prague: National Museum, 2011, 56(1-2), 3-14. ISSN 0036-5351. Also available from: https://publikace.nm.cz/en/periodicals/amnphl/56-1-2/karel-h-machas-philosophical-challege-to-the-catholic-enlightenment-in-bohemia|
One of the channels through which Romantic mentality was intruding on the more traditional Czech sober-mindedness was through Polish literature, deeply saturated with Romanticism in the post-Napoleonic era. Romanticism, like philosophical Idealism, had a tendency toward an ontological dissolution of the individual, whether through a pantheistic embrace or through the organic interconnectedness of society – or even the world. The principal personage who served as a conduit of the full-blooded Romanticist thought into the Czech cultural scene was the famous Karel Hynek Mácha. The highly negative criticism of Mácha’s poetry and prose by the contemporary literary and intellectual establishment of Bohemia, particularly by Josef Kajetán Tyl, Čelakovský, Josef K. Chmelenský, Jan S. Tomíček and others, revealed the contrast between philosophical Idealism and the unitary metaphysics of Romanticism on the one hand, and the realism, empiricism and ontological individualism of the typical Bohemian world outlook stemming from the Austro-Bohemian Enlightenment on the other. One can examine another, closely related, source of resentment against Mácha’s literary style. It was the reflection of elements of the Baroque mentality (visionary, passionate and irrational), which had survived the intervention of the Austro-Bohemian Enlightenment. Along these lines, parallels have been discerned between his work and the literature of the Counter Reformation era (particularly, the poetry of Fridrich Bridel). Thus, it seems evident that Mácha’s devotion to Polish-style Romanticism and harkening after the mystique of the Counter Reformation clashed with the Czech sobriety and realism of the Catholic Enlightenment, a legacy reinforced by the earlier tradition of the Utraquist mainstream of the Bohemian Reformation. What caused resentment in Bohemia assured Mácha a favorable reception in areas under the sway of German Romanticism and philosophical Idealism, especially in Poland and in Slovakia, and attests to the presence of two philosophical traditions in east-central Europe. Thus, the case of Mácha can also serve as a prism through which to distinguish the two cultures of east-central Europe in the early nineteenth century.