Czechoslovak Stories/František Xavier Svoboda

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Czechoslovak Stories  (1920) 
František Xavier Svoboda by Šárka B. Hrbková


(Born October 25, 1860, in Moníšek.)

The love of out-of-doors, due to his country birth and bringing up, breathes through each of Svoboda’s stories even when they concern themselves with the life of the effete and those whose interests are far from those of nature. Svoboda’s technical education in the substantial realities of every-day life prepared him for a position as official in the city bank in Prague, where he remained until 1911, but it did not crush out of him appreciation and love for all that nature gives so generously.

Mr. Svoboda has been almost equally active along three lines of literary expression:—as a poet, as a dramatist and as a novelist and short-story writer.

His early activities were in the line of poetical production, the first fruits being his “Básně” (Poems) of 1883–85. More keen and far deeper are his later collections—“Nálady z Minulých Let” (Moods of Former Years), 1890, and “Květy Z Mých Lučin” (Blossoms from My Meadows), 1891. Other books of lyrics and epics have followed since that time.

As a dramatist, few modern writers excel him in realism, verisimilitude and character delineation.

The dramas, “Márinka Válkova” and “Olga Rubešova,” both named for their leading female characters; “Rozklad” (Disintegration); “Směry Života” (Aims of Life); “Útok Zisku” (The Assault of Acquisition); “Podvracený Dub” (The Overthrown Oak); “Odpoutané Zlo” (The Unbound Evil); “Přes Tři Vrchy” (Over Three Mounts) and “Démon” (The Demon) reveal him as a profound psychologist. His best plays in lighter, but no less genuine, vein are his “Fialka” (The Violet); “Dědečku, dědečku”. (Grandfather); “Rozveselená Rodina” (The Merry Family); “Lapený Samsonek” (Samson Made Captive); “Mlsáničko” (The Dainty Bit); and “Poupě” (The Bud).

It is Svoboda, the short-story writer, who effectively gives a cross-section of life as he knows it in various fields. The realism evident in his initial collection of “Povídky” (Stories), published almost as early as his first book of poems, holds his readers as strongly as his sketch “Probuzení” (The Awakening), which probes the soul of a student to its depths. The author is not always concerned with the social, national or philosophical significance of a deed, but is often the teller of a story for the story’s own sake.

His scenes and characters are selected from all sorts and conditions of life and are usually objectively presented with much illuminating and lively dialogue. Among his very readable collections of stories are: “Náladové Povídky” (Stories of Moods), “Drobné Příhody” (Minor Incidents), “Pestré Povídky” (Motley Tales), “Z Brdských Lesů” (From the Brd Forests), “Válečné Sny Františka Poláka” (War Dreams of Frank Polák), “Vášeň a Osud” (Passion and Fate).

His brief romances, entitled “Srdce Její Vzkvétalo Vždy Dvěma Květy” (Her Heart Ever Bloomed with Two Blossoms) and “Až Ledy Poplují” (When the Ice Flows), have been very popular.

The ability of the author as a realist possessed of the keenest dramatic instinct, expressed by an art so great that it is wholly unapparent is shown in this simp tale of a soldier of the Hapsburg army “Every Fifth Man," is selected from his “War Dreams of Frank Polák.”

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.

The author died in 1948, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.