Jean Boutan (Paris-Sorbonne University / EUR’ORBEM) – Sterne and Wieland: Western Patterns of Šebestián Hněvkovský’s Mock Epic Děvín
Written at the very beginning of the Czech National Revival, Šebestián Hněvkovský’s ‘heroicomical’ epic Děvín (1805) met with the heartfelt approval of both the Praguian literary circles and the general public, including the lower levels of the non German-speaking society in Bohemia. Despite his claim to embody a genuine national genre, by illustrating such a typical Czech legend as the Maiden’s War, Hněvkovský draws not so much from classical literature as from some western models of the eighteenth century, beginning with Blumauer’s parody of this archetype of epic poetry–Virgil’s Aeneid. To this tradition Hněvkovský’s early work owes its wit, characteristic of the previous century, as exemplified most of all in Wieland’s Oberon (1780). Apart from these literary influences, Děvín also claims its place in the larger European context thanks to the reception it received, which has been in explicit comparison with the most important authors of the Enlightenment, such as Voltaire and Sterne, although Hněvkovský’s preromantic style and patriotic intentions associate him even more with the new generation of Czech writers. The shift from the western models to the romantic national topics defines, according to the author himself, a Czech national genre that will not only be conceived as a tribute to western literature but also, in its original burlesque style created by adapting the culture of the “great nations”, as an affirmation of the specific context of the smaller ones.
Sylvain Briens (Paris-Sorbonne University / REIGENN) – Lightness As an Exception. Entertainment Culture and Modern Northern Literature
Although Northern literature keeps the traditional image of a serious literature leaving little room to lightness, it is still possible to envision another history of such literature from the standpoint of entertainment and joie de vivre. In a Protestant society with its rigorous morals, lightness isn’t accepted but as an exception, and most of the time kept within specific timings (holidays) and spaces (the ‘foreign’ South and its exotic places). A literary trend nonetheless managed to make the most of such exceptionnal times and spaces, and developed narratives intermingling humor and jocundity, which pertained to both a popular culture (such as the detective and adventure novels) and more elitist cultures (as developed in avant-garde and modernism). Four such moments of this other history of Northern literature will be highlighted here: Sophus Claussen and the bohemian lifestyle; Verner von Heidenstam, East and joie de vivre; Artur Lundkvist, jazz, eroticism and Africa; and Frank Heller, the gentleman thief.
Veronika Čapská (Charles University in Prague) – Whose Laughter? What Subjects? Diversion and Entertainment in the Circles of Silesian Nobility Between Enlightenment and Romanticism
In my presentation I will use the region of Upper Silesia as a laboratory to explore major forms of pastime and diversion activities of the local nobility and broader circles of people who took part and shared in their practices of distraction (such as servants or subjects). In the second half of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Upper Silesia was both a provincial and highly multicultural region newly split between the Habsburg monarchy and the Prussian state.
Drawing on a wide spectrum of sources, such as chateaux and libraries inventories, diaries, correspondence and travel accounts, I will explore the gender and class aspects as well as exoticism and eroticism in the noble entertainment and its local contexts. Various sources provide multiple perspectives and thus allow for a very dense, complex picture of the noble pastime and diversion.
I would also like to invite the conference audience to join me in embracing three particular historical actors I will gradually introduce to guide us through the (en)tangled web of distraction and entertainment practices. I will intertwine my analysis with the life stories of two women, a French one and a Czech one (if one can say Czech in case of the then quite cosmopolitan nobility). The French lady, Colomba Bouquenet (†1776), was a gouvernante who served in the households of the Chorinský and Skrbenský families and notwithstanding her rather discreet presence she participated in her employersʾ pastime activities. The other lady, Gabriela Sobková (1773−1808), came from an old Bohemian noble family called Sobkové z Kornic and she kept a German diary I co-edited. Her journal provides valuable glimpses into the lives and practices of the local noble society.
Our third guide will be a foremost Maecenas and organizer of social life, Albert Josef count Hoditz (1706−1778) who made his chateau in Rudoltice/Rosswald a preeminent centre of noble sociability. I will draw attention to his large-scale use of his own subjects for elaborate musical and theatrical performances as part of his strategy to attract prominent visitors to his rural retreat.
At the end I will outline the channels and patterns of communication, circulation and transmission of books, other material items as well as social and cultural practices. I will pay special attention to aspects of adaptation and recontextualisation.
Xavier Galmiche (Paris-Sorbonne University / EUR’ORBEM) – From Diversion to Entertainment – a Trivial Apophasis?
Popularization of entertainment strikes as a question for the sociology of culture, as it pertains to a longue durée process of democratization and massification (from Renaissance to today?) and is connected to the spread of the printing press and the diversification of ‘popular’ shows.
This may be the reason why French divertissement or English distraction, today more or less synonyms for ‘leisure’, have shaded their more ancient theological acception, by which ‘divertissement’ was meant as a transfer of contemplation from God to the world (B. Pascal). Understanding this compensatory process, through which one speaks of something else instead of an inexpressible key matter, seems to have been a main obsession in the 17th century thought and keeps on stirring questions. Indeed, the importance of such apophasia in the birth of modern conscience has been stressed out in the last decades (see Derrida, Sauf le nom).
This ‘something else’ one speaks of is the I: confronted to a world deserted by grace, the I catches itself in its tragic isolation. Such moment grounds the crisis of subjectivity and reflexivity, which illustrated itself in literature by self-referential writing. My hunch is that such writing comes with an assent to triviality: texts invaded by comical objects, ironic stances and comical registres go hand in hand with a sharpened consciousness of discourses within their possible conditions. I laugh ergo I understand. Such could be the formula explaining why entertainment got popularized on a social and geographical levels (since its areal transfers is the topic of this conference), but also on an intellectual one.
Gyöngyi Heltai (Loránd Eötvös University, Budapest) – The “Drame Militaire à Grand Spectacle” and the “Féerie” – Cultural Transfers between Paris and Budapest (1860-1875)
I’ll examine the consequences of György Molnár’s (1830-1891) – actor, stage director – visit to Paris in 1863. In the pamphlets and books published after his trip Molnár linked urban development and the supposedly positive socio-cultural impact taken by a popular theatre. By promoting “Parisian” entertainment genres like the historical pageant (drame militaire à grand spectacle) or the fairy play Molnár revealed the applicability of visual spectacle based entertainment in the nation-building program.
For outlying his transfer practice I’ll compare two historical pageants. Marengo by Adolphe d’Ennery premiered in Paris, in Châtelet Theatre on 28th of February in 1863. The play glorified Bonaparte and enhanced the French national sentiment. In his theatre in 1868 György Molnár also staged a version of the play by re-contextualizing it in the period of Hungary’s War of Independence in1848/49, replacing Bonaparte with Józef Zachariasz Bem, Polish general – hero of the Hungarian War of Independence.
Molnár has also reinterpreted the importance of the ”visual spectacle” in stage composition. He attended ten times the representation of the fairy play Pilules du diable in Theatre Porte-Saint-Martin in order to memorize its special scenic effects. Molnár took up the challenge to outline a new theatre esthetics, whose main objective was not the interpretation of the dramatic text but the construction of a breathtaking visual spectacle. The Hungarian version of the Pilules du diable staged by Molnár was a long-running show. It had more 100 representations.
Thanks to Molnár’s intellectual and professional efforts the first popular theater, specialized in entertainment – Popular Theatre of Pest – opened up in 1875.
Olga Granasztói (Debrecen University) – Languages and Genres of Entertainment According to the Hungarian Library’s Sources (1780-1790)
Book trade in Hungary in the last three decades of the eighteenth century marks the beginning of a new era in the history of Hungarian book culture. The Turkish occupation left the country ravaged and it was only by that time that damages could finally be repaired. The period of recovery corresponded with the last years of Maria Theresa’s reign, and more importantly, with the decade of Joseph II’s rule.
On the other hand, the boom that took place in the book trade of the 1780s also coincided with the first conscious steps towards furthering the cause of Hungarian literature and culture. But for several decades to come, book trade in Hungary still based its existence mainly on the offer of German – and in the 1780s, partly French – book markets. As for distribution, Bratislava and Pest-Buda established direct contacts with German book trade networks, as in the mid-1770s several German (mostly Bavarian) booksellers set up shop in Hungary, soon connecting the country into the circulation of Western European book trade. But these booksellers had to satisfy their readers’ expectations in a multi-national country, which was not an easy task. The use of Latin, both in writing and colloquial speech, had been predominant for a long time, and Hungarian became the official language only in the second half of the nineteenth century. The act issued by Joseph II in 1784 making German the official language, raised the statistics of German books only temporarily; as a reaction, it rather stimulated efforts promoting the national language, which became even stronger, playing in turn a major role in the rapid increase of works written in Hungarian.
Initially, the target audience of booksellers in Bratislava and Pest-Buda was mainly the aristocracy and secondly, the urban bourgeoisie as well as gentry and middle-class intellectuals. (The number of the latter in Hungary around 1790 was approx. fifteen thousand, amounting to only 0.3% of the population.) But the composition of the audience was constantly changing as the number of readers increased.
Readers of different social backgrounds utilized their knowledge of foreign languages in different ways when selecting their books: reading in French, German, Latin or Hungarian was associated with different types of reading. A typical manifestation of this phenomenon was that reception of the literature of entertainment varied according to the language of the books.
The genres of literary entertainment became increasingly marketable products; such works available in French in the 1780s were mainly sought after by representatives of the aristocracy, and also by the German urban bourgeoisie. In those days French books were mostly available at the Leipzig Book Fair, and after 1787/88, also directly from the Société Typographique de Neuchâtel, a Swiss publisher. Among popular genres, collections of various – humorous, erotic, thrilling, etc. – short stories, anecdotes, tales, etc., were especially popular. Their popularity is well-attested not only in the catalogues of booksellers of the time, but also in their archival documents (orders). To be able to navigate in the ocean of French publications, booksellers and readers alike were looking for special key-words hidden in the titles: these gave them clues as to the content of a given book. Key-words of the period up until 1790 (Anecdotes…, Étrennes… [New Year’s gift], Loisirs… [Hobbies], Mélanges [Miscellanies], Mille et une… [One thousand and one], Passe-temps [Pastime], Recueil d’histoires… [Collection of stories], etc.) represent the lightest but still humorous genres of entertaining literature. The Leipzig Book Fair remained a constant source of second rate works of French fiction published by German publishers. Popular works in German had a wider range, as well as a wider audience. Among them, novels were the most important, which in the early days were mostly German versions of originally French or English works.
Entertaining literature in Hungarian was for the time being present only in the bud. By the end of the century, however, certain members of the then forming literary and intellectual circles (among others, Ferenc Kazinczy) began to advocate the most popular, but also the most deeply despised genre of entertaining literature: the novel, in order to increase the number of readers in Hungarian. It was true that more and more people were reading in Hungarian, but the trend was evidently due to the new and popular novel translations and adaptations from French and German.
In the 1780s, huge masses of newly published foreign books reached Hungary and the demand for them was growing. But because literary publicity and literary institutions were still non-existent, this created a temporary situation in which the role and activity of booksellers were very much appreciated as actors in the processes of cultural transfer.
Diana Grgurić & Svjetlana Janković-Paus (Rijeka University) – Mediterranean Culture in Processes of Cultural Mobility–Rijeka’s canzonette fiumane
The aim of this paper was to research social reflections and functions of canzonette fiumane, namely, popular songs that marked the cultural history of the city of Rijeka in the period from 1880 till the beginning of the Second World War. Canzonetta fiumana is a kind of popular song, a specific cultural product created as a result of the political project of Italianisation of citizens, marked by an intensive political struggle for supremacy between the Italians and the Croats in the city of Rijeka, a highly perspective industrial town in the Mediterranean in that period of history.
The analysis is based on the original material and comprises the corpus of 50 songs. Using the method of corpus analysis and the analysis of semantic register, we studied the complexity of canzonette fiumane, with regard to its Italian genre origin, acculturated genre in Rijeka that had functioned both in the Italian cultural propaganda process and in the construction of the specific Fiume identity. As a cultural form of Italian provenance and a popular communicative genre (Miller, 1994), it took its place, changing as a genre in the transfer and culturally adapting to the place of colonised Rijeka.
Despite the passive cultural and civilisation framework (firstly, Rijeka was administratively and culturally colonised by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and, secondly, by Italia), authors of canzonetta in their lyrics showed subversion and established a code of popular resistance, thus redefining the function of canzonetta as irredentist agitation model exclusively.
In our research, canzonetta fiumana is regarded as a cultural transfer because of privileged concession that the Italians granted to the authors of the lyrics by allowing them to use the Fiuman dialect as a language basis of their identity. Furthermore, the lyrics of canzonette fiumane written after the Second World War by esuli (the Italians who were exiled from Croatia to Italy after WWII) are another cultural sign of their exodus marked with their nostalgia to Rijeka.
Canzonetta fiumana as a cultural transfer within the cultural zone of the Mediterranean confirms that the Mediterranean is an intercultural and culturally dynamic place although the social and historical context of the second half of 19th century, all until World War II, was marked by strong ideological processes of constructing of fixed cultural identities of communities. It is precisely due to its geographic and political position that enables great cultural mobility that favours the cultural transfer and proves that the Mediterranean is not a hermetic cultural zone. It is also confirmed by our research on canzonetta fiumana, as one more overlapping between Italy and Croatia whose connections are traditionally realised through literature, language, institutions, etc.
Canzonetta fiumana, with its twofold genealogy, is treated as an acculturated form that developed from Italian canzonette in the sense of «difference and repetition» of a genre as «rhizome» (Deleuze, 1968), and as a specifically local song that emerged as a result of bifurcation in the cultural transfer process caused by the relations of the power politics (Werner and Espagne, 1985). In this sense canzonetta fiumana is presented as both Italian and Rijeka genre, thus demonstrating that the relations of power in the industrially developed Rijeka of that time, with the predominance of Italian culture, were of «rhizomatic» nature also, not monolithic or vertical, but acting alternately and dynamically. Firstly, through the centre in Italy, and secondly, through a network of organisations in Rijeka, such as school institutions, sports clubs in Rijeka, Literature Circle Society/Circolo letterario, as well as the Festival as a public event, when canzonette fiumane were performed, having been the most significant centres of Italian cultural propaganda in the city of Rijeka
Canzonetta fiumana as a cultural transfer between the Croatian and Italian cultural space fitted into the festival canon, which enabled its transformation into a different, socially inspired cultural memory. Through this festival the cultural memory of Rijeka opened itself to the interpretative reading of meanings, normally produced by public events due to their thick concentration of symbols, narrativity by which the structure of the world is interpreted. All of this was understood within the frame of various topics (political events, introduction of the tram, new working class society, memories of the exiles, etc.), confirming that canzonette were transformed into lively stories close to the ordinary man, primarily to the newly defined working class.
The multilayered social function of canzonette fiumane is thus disclosed not only through the paradigm of Italian cultural propaganda but also in the light of a music festival as model of cultural institutionalisation that is in the service of political and ideological power relations of logocentric rival cultures (Derrida, 1967), i.e. in the light of construction the resistance to the logocentric system.
Canzonette fiumane encompass a wide range of meanings that are based on their interpretation of multidimensional semantic and rhetoric layers in terms of the “song as text“ (Frith, 1996), through entertainment and the constructing of collective identity of citizens who stood up to the Italian culture with their specific dialect and the voice of their own world view. Also, our analysis included the dialogic concept (Bakhtin, 1981, 1986) and questioned relationships between the canzonette fiumane and other texts from the same historic period, such as canzonette from Italy and Istria, as well as other literary texts and folklore oral tradition. A special focus is given to the discourse of everyday life, important for the semiotic interweaving of socially constructed meanings (Hodge and Kress, 1988) within class and historical paradigms conditioned by politics and ideologies.
Markéta Holanová (Czech Academy of Sciences) – How did a detective novel become a detective novel. An insight into the evolution of detective genre notion
Based on secondary literature and later period responses several authors, whose work is considered essential for the development of a detective genre, were chosen. Three authors will be highlighted in this text–Edgar Allan Poe, Émile Gaboriau and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Edgar Allan Poe is viewed as a founder of the genre and an author of its narrative design (a crime the explanation of which at first seems logically impossible but it is feasible to find the solution by rational consideration). The aforementioned struc-ture is applied in a wider prose narrative in Émile Gaboriau’s novels. In the works of Arthur Conan Doyle a certain stabilization of genre rules and attempts to use them as prevalent formulas is observed.
From the feedback responding to the authors and their work a following periodization can be produced: a breaking point in forming the notion of the genre arises around the year of 1900; the prose published after this year already uses the “detective” (or “criminal”) attribute as a genre label in the subtitle in most cases (see É. Gaboriau: Monsieur Lecoq. Parisian Detective Novel, 1903; The Widow Lerouge. Novel, 1890). Until the year of 1900 the following phases of genre notion may be observed: 1. detachment of a group of texts with the same structure in the work of a particular author; 2. intuitive formulation of this structure (definition) as well as recognition of this structure in other authors’ texts; 3. an “act” of labelling the genre; 4. localization in both vertical and horizontal axis of the contemporary genre landscape.
Blanka Hemeliková (Czech Academy of Sciences) – Translation of Humour in Czech Humorous Magazines: A Case Study of The Humorous Papers and The Goblin (Between Entertainment and Nationalist Orientation of Literature)
Specialized periodicals, humorous and satirical, are an underused source for the study of circulation of entertainment in the 19th century, especially through translation of literary humour.
However, in the Czech context, there is evinced a clear link between nationalism and translation.
For, magazines had often contradictory programmes, developing and rejecting ideals and intentions of translation at the same time, due to the nationalist movement bonds (politicization of humour in the national interest; the effort to create own national Czech „high“ humour to avoid every contact with polluting outside sources).
This nationalistic limitation and obstacles to the cultural flow directs our attention to the interestingly complicated effects in period´s field of entertainment: the ideal of English humour; the perception of French „frivolous, piquant“ humour; the resonance of the popular image through American humour; or the effort to avoid translation at all.
The paper focuses on Czech humorous magazines as a case study and embarks on an analysis of two important magazines for Czech public: The Humorous Papers (edited by J. R. Vilímek) and The Goblin (edited by Jakub Arbes).
It looks at the period between 1860 and 1881, i. e. a period following the new constitutional era in the Bohemian Lands in the Hapsburg monarchy, but preceding the period when the rigid national literature bonds were loosened by the „Modern“ movement. These years seem less decisive than the final quarter of the century for entertainment, but they were a period of more intense developing Czech perception, when foreign humour and its theory, especially English, began to attract the magazine editors, with the effort to confront Czech culture with especially Western European humour. The interest evolved over time from looking for the best (of the leading European literatures and America) to showing the multi-faceted image of the foreign (all in the frame of the disputes over the nature of the national literature, generally avoiding all German, with the effort not to harm the interests of national literature; which was connected with the support of the nationalist orientation of humour as well).
Julien Labia (Sorbonne Nouvelle University) – The affinity of esthetical Formalism for light music: a philosophical paradox
We never had a more serious theory, a more austere philosophy of music than the one which was brought by Formalism and its successors. However, the original defenders of this extremely serious position on music had the feeling that the development of light music, especially operetta and comic opera (opéra-comique) had to be stimulated. The Austrian idea of rigour (Strengheit), the strictness and precision expected in every scientific field, even or especially in musical matters, seems to be in contradiction with the deep feeling for operetta or comic opera in an Austro-Hungarian space which was the ground for the foundations of human sciences, the defence of the most solid music and the enactment of what I once called a “new objective spirit”. Eduard Hanslick, initiator of the most serious studies upon music as a Professor in Vienna, and one of the most gifted writers of all 19th century’s music criticism, had a very strong affection for light music and especially for the French “opéra-comique”. He insisted on the lightness brought by librettos and music, far away from any metaphysical pretention. He enjoyed Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies against his Faust- or Dante-Symphonies because he couldn’t find in them any scar of philosophy of Religion or History; he also pointed against Wagner’s Parsifal libretto the existence of the comical counterweight, in Wolfram of Eschenbach’s original Parzifal, of Gawain’s adventures. He once fled, in Paris, a performance of a Racine Tragedy to see and hear again Auber’s Fra Diavolo.
We would like to bring into focus the importance of light music for all Central Europe, insisting on the philosophical idea of Man that lies behind. The impression of lightness, which really differs from flat casualness or frivolity, hasn’t, sadly, been studied by the philosophy of music. The simple joy brought by music was however for Hanslick the only really, purely musical feeling.
Holt Meyer (Erfurt University) – Is Sklovskii’s Formalist-Comic Reading of Tristram Shandy a New Discovery? Russian Romantic, Realist and Symbolist Backgrounds for the Sternian Ostrannie-Syuzhet Link
In his Berlin exile in the 1920s, Viktor Shklovskii turns to the works of Lawrence Sterne both as a theoretician and as a writer of fiction, and at the same time takes a stronger interest in the phenomenon of the comical. Particularly the author of the epistolary novel Zoo is an active participant in ironic comedy. At the same time, in his article on “The Laws of Cinema”, written in Berlin at the same time as his work on Sterne, Shklovskii quotes Charlie Chaplin, whom he takes up in several writings, to the effect that “automatism is comical”. Shklovskii notes that Chaplin’s definition of the comical is the same as that of Bergson, probably having in mind Bergson’s definition as “[…] something mechanical in something living”. It is not difficult to connect this to ostranenie, defined, among other things,as “deautomatization”, but also often having comic potential. The task of my project is to give this work in Shklovskii’s present a historical perspective, particularly as concerns Shklovskii’s place in the history of the comic in theory and praxis. This means viewing the man of the avant-garde Shklovski against romantic, symbolist and particularly realist backgrounds.
When Viktor Shklovskii picks up on Lawrence Sterne in the 1920s, both in theory and in literary praxis (above all in his own Sentimental Journey), he explicitly goes back to Pushkin’s writing-reading of Sterne in the form of the verse novel Evgenij Onegin, and also to other Romantic writers of the Pushkin period, notably Alexander Veltman.
As an extremely well-read connoisseur of Russian letters, he was certainly aware that the young L.N. Tolstoy was heavily influenced by Sterne and even himself began to translate Sterne’s “Sentimental Journey” into Russian before then giving up on the project and beginning to write his autobiographical trilogy (something Shklovskii’s formalist colleague Boris Ejchenbaum noted in his extended essay on the young Tolstoy, also from the 20s).
When Shklovskii quite aggressively attacked symbolist poetics in his epoch-making essay “Art as Device” – or “Art as PRIËM”, he found in this formation an “economy of forces” – here he would find (or admit) no inspiration, though he must have known that Aleksandr Blok, particularly on the stage of Mejerchol’d, and Andrei Belyi in his theoretical writings were preparing the way for ostranenie. It was famously Tolstoy, beginning his path as a Sterne fanatic, who provides the material for this theory, above all with a text which records the voice of a speaking horse. It is this configuration which is the point of departure for my reflection on Shklovskii and his material as and in a history of the comical. One might sum it up with the formulation: “from the hobby horse to the talking horse”.
When asking what is new in the Shklovskii’s ‘rediscovery’ of Sterne as a(n Enlightenment) comic source in a formalist and avant-garde context, this Tolstoy link is of key importance for providing historical contours. The reconstruction of these historical contours is the object of my research.
Jakub Machek (Charles University in Prague / Metropolitan University Prague) – Adapting Global Patterns of Sensational Press to Local Audiences: The Examples of Illustrirtes Prager Extrablatt (1879-1882) and Pražský Illustrovaný Kurýr (1893-1918)
The paper is focused on the emerging Czech popular press in the period of the most rapid urbanisation. It is based on the analysis of the specific way in which the publishers of the Czech sensational press adapted a global sensational press pattern to suit the Prague-based readership.
The first illustrated Prague based newspaper was the Illustrirtes Prager Extrablatt. Its Czech supplement was rather unusual and entirely atypical for a newspaper of the time. Whilst it was a newspaper by form it was not so in its content, which was closer related to examples of early print culture such as chap books, almanacs or prints of murder ballads. It followed the formal pattern of the Illustrirtes Wiener Extrablatt, which inspired the Czech publisher not only by its concept and name, but also by its graphic layout. This is most clearly visible on its cover pages, where the main article and a large illustration created the main attraction of a particular issue. Cover stories were often fantastic and thrilling tales disguised as regular news with headlines such as ‘Fight in the air’ or ‘Crucified by madmen’. Even the cover illustrations were different to those of the Wiener Extrablatt. Although both were printed using engraving technique those in the Prager Extrablatt seemed to imitate the technique of the less sophisticated woodcut illustrations to be found in almanacs and chapbooks. This is evidence of the editor’s effort to address the cultural habits of its readers, whom he supposed to be more accustomed to older forms of printed material and not ready for the format of the sensational newspapers in their modern form. Thus the Publisher was inspired by the modern sensational illustrated press and tried to imitate their form, but he decided to follow the proven means of early printed culture in terms of its content. He assumed the population of Prague to be unprepared to read about everyday events from around the world and thus offered them a compromised blend of traditional folk and modern urban culture: fantastic stories instead of fresh news, a traditional format of graphic representation instead of a ‘realistic’ depiction of events.
Pražský Illustrovaný Kurýr (Prague Illustrated Courier) can be referred to as the first successful Czech illustrated daily newspapers. The distinguishing marks of the Courier were its large cover illustrations, often covering the whole page. It can be considered as daily that offered bourgeois press content adapted to the lower middle and upper part of the lower class. The core of this modification was sensationalism. Topics that were characteristic of the serious press such as policy and general information about societal life, were dramatized by adding a tone of emotional urgency. Editors also helped their readers to understand the meaning of certain news by mythologizing them.
The Prague Illustrated Courier was also a platform creating a shared sense life-style amongst the dwellers of Prague. This consisted of having detailed reports covering local and sensational events ranging from small injuries, street accidents, misfortunes, petty crimes through to reports about associations and entertainment to listings of funerals, bankruptcies and voluntary contributions. On the other hand, the paper assisted in shaping the collective imagination by bringing in news regarding ‘serious’ events from Prague as well as the rest of world. As these were not separated out within the layout of the paper, they created a kind of counterpoint to the urban everydayness. Nevertheless, these political news were not spared from being depicted as spectacles, alongside blood-crimes, disasters, and riots.
According to Jiří Štaif, the residents of Prague found themselves, at the turn of the twentieth century, in a conflict between their traditionally rural, small town mentality (which was the geographic origin of about half of Prague’s inhabitants) and trends of modernisation brought about by recent developments. The case of the popular press, closely related to the urban environment, serves as a reflection of this dialogue of tradition and modernisation. Compared to the sensational press of other Central European cities, the Courier did not offer their readers the same intensity of images of metropolitan life in the rest of the world. On the contrary, editors of the Courier specialised in reporting on local events. The kind of reporting that would cover small everyday mishaps (a broken leg etc.), with full names, addresses, as well as the person’s employer, is characteristic of towns of a certain size that had not reached the status of an anonymous metropolis such as Berlin or Vienna, where ordinary dwellers remained nameless.
According to research undertaken by Peter Fritzsche and Nathaniel D. Wood, Central European readers, being informed by popular press in the same way of local and interurban events and phenomena, began to differentiate themselves from their rural neighbours, starting to share a sense of urban self-identification, creating a sense of shared modern interurban identity – different to their local or national ones. However, analysing the content of Courier, we can see a different picture. Whilst there was less interest in foreign news and images of metropolitan life, there was a significant interest in politics and especially in intense militant nationalism. To achieve the needed popularity and following its readers preferences, editors of Pražský Illustrovaný Kurýr also needed to limit the otherwise typically inter-urban character of the illustrated daily in favour of Czech nationalism.
Claire Madl (CEFRES) – “Am Anfange war die Liebhaberei gross und immer viele Leser!” Reading Rooms and Lending libraries: How they Disseminated reading as an Entertainment Practice
Reading rooms and lending libraries are a topical object of research for the historians of the Enlightenment. They witnessed the process of readership’s widening and therefore are scrutinized for their political implications and because they were the cradle of new reading practices: one would read newspapers and journals, whose dissemination was increased; one would discuss public affairs with other readers. Reading rooms have been thus considered as typical institutions of the “public sphere” (Öffentlichkeit) as Habermas modeled it. In the Habsburg Monarchy they were often created by foreign booksellers and awoke the frank distrust of the authorities. The very fact that they were eventually prohibited in 1799 seems to confirm their political impact.
For want of archives or printed sources, we unfortunately don’t know what was available and what was actually read in these reading rooms. Official sources, advertisement in newspapers or guidebooks, nevertheless give an interpretation of their role opposite to the historians’. “Enlightened” authors despised them indeed. In fact, reading rooms were set up to compensate the meager benefits booksellers would draw from their ever faster deprecated stocks of books. Their owner hence tried to attract as many readers as possible with the most commonly attractive literature and a range of other entertainments.
Dalia Pauliukevičiūtė (Vilnius University) – Melodramatic Reading and Promises of Serial Fiction at the End of 19th Century Lithuania
Until the press ban was lifted in 1904, reading in Lithuania was a contingent, unstable and melodramatic practice. Thousands of books and illegal periodicals were printed outside the Russian Empire and smuggled into the country. Subscriptions to the illegal newspapers were frequently collective, and reading itself happened inside secret reading circles among trustworthy associates. Historians agree that continuous resistance to the ban became the main factor in the formation of modern national identity, so reading translates into what Rita Felski defines as a catalyst of recognition: a “claim for acceptance, dignity and inclusion in public life.”
Engagement with popular fiction coincided with the popularization of national aspirations and can be traced to failed attempts collectively to write a first positivist novel in the prominent illegal monthly periodical Varpas. Subsequently, positivist arguments were replaced by melodramatic strategies in translations of works by the Polish writer Maria Rodziewiczówna. The publication in illegal periodicals of the popular serial novels with a Lithuanian setting, Dewajtis and Szary proch, restructured readers’ experience of time, promising a sequel, and corresponded to the concerns of the national movement: who will inherit Lithuania?
Rodziewiczówna’s novels reveal a social landscape where positivist heroes consolidate the estate and establish authority through melodramatic manipulation, and the common reader adapts to the legend of conquering the land gained from illegal books. Later Lithuanian writers, such as Lazdynu Peleda, employ and parody melodramatic narratives, transforming previous triumphs of virtue into melodramatic complaint – the country is unified and peasants are deprived of the land, so reading itself becomes suspect as a vehicle for false expectations. While the Polish writer “gives” an imaginary homeland to the readers in a melodramatic fashion, embodying readers’ expectations in the figure of a positivist hero, Lazdynu Peleda reverses the trope and sets the stage for collective action, presenting a group of peasants fighting against unification of the land. Such a shift reveals the emergence of national and social tensions exemplified in melodramatic dialogue among Polish and Lithuanian literatures.
Ferenc Tóth (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) — French Literary Entertainment’s Ways towards Hungary in the Age of Enlightenment
It would be unnecessary to emphasize the influence of French authors’ works on Hungarian literature during the 18th century. However, the circulation of French ideas took often place by very particular ways. During this century many Hungarian writers considered that their mother tongue had to be renewed in order to produce modern literary works. The Empress and Queen Maria-Theresia was also conscious of the necessity of the reforms et facilitated the formation of the new Hungarian elite. The most important institution – the so called Hungarian noble body guard – was created in 1760 in Vienna. The members of this military unit lived in Vienna and had access to the Imperial Court mostly influenced of French ideas among them the literature of entertainment. From this point of view Vienna played a very important intermediary role in transmitting the enlightened ideas and the new literary trends. Other ways can be also indentified in the circulation of French literary entertainment towards the Hungarian general public. Some members of the Hungarian immigration in France (for example: Ladislas-Valentin Esterhazy, François de Tott) imitated in theirs writings the most important French authors of the literary Entertainment. Other cases can be observed also in the great private libraries in Hungary buying their books via Italy and Austria. We can also find some very special ways, like the famous texts of Kelemen Mikes, the secretary of the prince Francis Rákóczi II exiled into Turkey. This author described by Béla Zolnai as “jovial philosopher” is considered as one of the must famous entertainment writers of the Hungarian literature of the 18th century. He distinguished himself as translator of many works of entertainment (for example Journées amusantes of Madelaine-Angélique de Gomez). His Letters from de Turquie – a collection of imaginary letters – constitute a literary masterpiece of French inspiration. In my contribution, I also would like to present some of my researches’ results in the field of Hungarian-French intellectual connections.
Myriam Truel (Lille 3 University / CECILLE) – “The Count of Monte Cristo, The Beautiful Galaor, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and the Ice, I read these novels ‘straight through’”: Russian Publishers and Readers Looking for Entertainment in the Works of French Writers
The interest of Russian elites for French literature is well-known and many studies have been written on the reception of French authors by Russian writers and critics. However, some points are still to be explored, especially as far as the so called « popular » literature and « popular » writers are concerned: we do not know much about the interest for Dumas and Verne, and still know less about the fortunes of such writers as Paul de Kock, Ponson du Terrail or Xavier de Montépin.
Yet, these writers have been read by the elites from the start and in the 1870-1890s they became best-sellers of the fast-growing entertaining popular literature. In this popular literature, we can also find the works of the classics such as Victor Hugo, Chateaubriand or, among the English writers, Shakespeare, which is a point not usually mentioned in the studies about these authors. In both cases, the search for entertainment acts as an underestimated clue factor in the publishing and reading of French authors.
Referring to Michel Espagne’s cultural transfer theory, we will explore the ways these works entered the Russian literature. Novels were read in French by the elites and translated first in publications for the well-off, then, for some of them, in the popular literature. Publishers gave priority to entertaining novels full of love and adventure stories with a French touch of exoticism that was welcome in the Russian society, where French culture was prized by the elites. When needed, these specificities were emphasized in the translation.