Letter to Jaromír John (1942)

Prague, 16 Mar. 1942
Dear Mr. John,
Today I received your letter in which you asked the publisher Novina about the periodical Cesta za knihou (The Way to the Book). Allow me to take this opportunity to write you a few lines, long prepared and repeatedly put aside, when I received your letter after my review on Engelbert.
After my studies were interrupted and I was involved in a minor episode, I was left at the Novina publishing house and volunteer in the Venkov literary review. Not that I would consider myself a critic (I’d just like to experience and not attempt to define my experiences), but would like to help out good books in this uncultured and non-literary society, and to question what they consider to be values. I have many bitter experiences from this and am looking forward to leaving everything and remaining true to my poetry. Please do not hold it against me for taking up your time with personal matters but I feel that you should at least know a little about to whom you are speaking.
Your Moudrý Engelbert (The Wise Engelbert) is a beautiful book. Rarely is such an epithet so fitting and with such pure content. It is incomparable with those counterfeits that pretend to be art. I am grateful to you for it because I experienced it and still remember it. And yet, the age does indeed divide us: our generation has its pains and feelings that are quite distinct from that which preceded us and which the age yields. But you are aware of the life that we are headed for with distrust and anxiety. And you were able to show its depth and fulness, which makes it worth accepting and aesthetically conceived. I’m just telling you all this and hope that it doesn’t seem to you that it is coming from a banal and insignificant voice of a young man who loves art and poetry and is learning to love life as well.
I am now thinking of your Slatiňany where you live in seclusion and am looking forward to your new work. I was there once, for I have a grandmother in Možděnice u Trhové Kamenice where my father is from. I love that area and am much indebted to it.
I hope that you will accept these few words in an understanding spirit since you expressed an interest that I convey them to you. Finally, to answer your question: Cesta was shuttered last year.

Yours, Jan Pilař
Subject: In the network
Author: Pilař, Jan
Title: Letter to Jaromír John (1942)
Licence: Free license

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