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The Czech Avant-Garde Literary Movement Between the World Wars

edited by Ondrej Sládek and Michael Heim

Thomas G. Winner

Edited By Ondrej Sládek and Michael Heim

The Czech Avant-Garde Literary Movement Between the Two World Wars tells the little-known story of the renaissance of Czech literary arts in the period between the two world wars. The avant-garde writers during this period broke down the barrier between the elite literary language and the vernacular and turned to spoken language, substandard forms, everyday sources such as newspapers and detective stories, and forms of popular entertainment such as the circus and the cabaret. In his analyses of the writings of this period, Thomas G. Winner illuminates the aesthetic and linguistic characteristics of these works and shows how poetry and linguistics can be combined. The Czech Avant-Garde Literary Movement Between the Two World Wars is essential reading for courses on modern Czech literature, comparative literature, and Slavic literature.
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Preface

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The emergence of a Renaissance of Czech literary arts in the period between the two world wars has been little known to the artistic world, despite the fact that this avant-garde movement was in close contact with a sister movement in Paris. Reminiscent of Mikhail Bakhtin, the Czech writers of this avant-garde period vowed to break the barrier between elite literary language and the vernacular, between high and low art. They thus turned to spoken language, to substandard forms of language, to everyday sources such as newspapers and detective stories, and to forms of popular entertainment such as the circus and the cabaret.

My husband, Thomas G. Winner, died in April, 2004, before he could see this book in print. His overriding interest was in the marriage of poetry and linguistics, a topic interwoven throughout this study. The Czech avant-garde is a profound example of this artistic interrelation. My husband was completing this project until his death. The manuscript has gone through several phases of editing. I first edited and compiled the chapters, with the help of my daughters, Ellen and Lucy Winner. Our late friend and colleague, the Slavic scholar and translator Michael Heim, then read and edited the manuscript, but he unfortunately died in 2012. Ondřej Sládek, Head of the Theory Department at the Institute of Czech Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, was indispensable to this project. He revised the entire text again in both form and...

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