Letter to Václav Černý (1946)

Brno, 1946
Dear Václav,
Since you have not responded to my first letter after six years, or to the book that I sent you, or to my messages and greetings, I do not know if I am still permitted to use the familiar tone that I use in addressing you, or if it is not unpleasant for you. I would greatly regret this. But you know me well enough that you will not consider this letter an intrusion.
I have just read Antonín Hrubý’s report on my Chudobky (Daisies) and am baffled by the degree of irresponsibility with which this review is written. I never thought that I would react to any criticism or pseudo-criticism at all. So far, I have found only Šalda, often Arne Novák, almost always you and Miloš Dvořák worthy of respect – that’s about it, the others didn’t interest me much or at all. I also wouldn’t really care if you took a hatchet to any of my books. To be clear: I myself wouldn’t care if its favourable or unfavourable– I would know that it is justified, and I’d ponder everything very honestly because you’re a critic and you know something. But the piece written by Antonín Hrubý (who either doesn’t even know that it’s not a debut, or phrases it so poorly that it seems that he in fact does not know) can hardly be called criticism, but much more resembles an arbitrary and malicious review. When you read Chudobky (Daisies) you will have to admit that, apart from the empty phrases that irritate me and for which I have so respected your resistance to them (“an inclination towards a vital and creative literary line”), the review’s main faults lie in an absolute, or even pitiful misunderstanding, or, even worse, spitefulness. Mr. Hrubý writes about “the loftiness of the contemplator, of the pose”. – so be it: If he is unable to detect the trueness of the whole book, then he does not have a pure heart and it is his business; he would then not be capable of understanding the genuineness even if he knew the circumstances from which the prose arose.
But to speak of “neo-Tomistic themes” in places where the human heart is concerned, to want the usual prose structure (because how else can “a prose structure at least as much as tailors cut”) in prose formation that has been exacted by quite specific themes – to speak in the beginning of Chudobky as unusually beautiful and balanced and on the other hand of its scholastic style (this does not even show solid thinking, let alone the will to understand the thing from it itself, and not to go into it with some a priori templates!) – and then there’s that wretchedness with Vančura, which really made me laugh since that man knows nothing about Vančura if he sees his imitations in Chudobky (yet he has such audacity – I’m sorry, but I know of no other way to describe that scribbler), how dare he rebuke and lecture me, with the implication that I should read Vančura again to better understand the purpose of Vančura’s comments, etc.)
Mr. Hrubý most aptly phrased that “disease of aimlessness and reluctance to be original”. I feel that I know very well what I want and would advise, if I were you, that Mr. Hrubý adopt a greater degree of originality. If he is indeed hopelessly copying, Mr. Hrubý is copying you and I could send him an exact breakdown of my statement, in adding that he lacks one small thing: your acumen and will to be objective.
I am sorry that you allowed something so irresponsible, for it is unjust, to be published in Kritický měsíčník. Do understand me: I would not be bothered by criticism, no matter how negative, as long as it is backed by evidence (Mr. Hrubý would be hard pressed to find a single, I dare say, similarity of my style with Vančura, and he would probably hideously try to squirm out of it, if I challenged him to do so, since this would best show the degree of his ignorance and insensitivity) – and I would ponder it seriously and with true intent, for you know me and you know that for me it’s not about writing books, but that I construct a work of art as best and as honestly as I can.
Many things about our situation today bothers me – I am doing what I can, perhaps you see it in the periodical List that I edit. I will judge by your reaction to this letter whether the intensity of my relationship with you is unnecessary or not.

Sincerely yours and with very best wishes,
Robert Konečný
And you can share this bibliography with Mr. Hrubý so that he doesn’t live in the belief that it was my first book: Spáč pod plamenem (The Sleeper Beneath the Flame), Studnice zapečetěná (The Sealed Well), Písně z cely (Songs from a Cell), Má vlast (My Country).
(Brno, Rezkova 53)
Subject: In the network
Author: Konečný, Robert
Title: Letter to Václav Černý (1946)
Licence: Free license

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