Karel Hynek Mácha

Karel Hynek Mácha (Czech pronunciation: [ˈkarɛl ˈɦɪnɛk ˈmaːxa]) (16 November 1810 – 5 November 1836) was a Czech romantic poet.

Karel Hynek Mácha
Karel Hynek Mácha
Karel Hynek Mácha
Born16 November 1810
Prague, Austrian Empire (now Czech Republic)
Died5 November 1836 (aged 25)
Litoměřice, Austrian Empire (now Czech Republic)
Resting placeVyšehrad, Prague
EducationPrague University
Notable works"Máj"
PartnerEleonora Šomková
ChildrenLudvík Šomek


Mácha grew up in Prague, the son of a foreman at a mill. He learned Latin and German in school. He went on to study law at Prague University; during that time he also became involved in theatre (as an actor he first appeared in Jan Nepomuk Štěpánek's play Czech and German in July 1832 in Benešov[1]), where he met Eleonora Šomková, with whom he had a son out of wedlock. He was fond of travel, enjoying trips into the mountains, and was an avid walker. Eventually he moved to Litoměřice, a quiet town some 60 km from Prague, to prepare for law school exams and to write poetry. Three days before he was to be married to Šomková, just a few weeks after he had begun working as a legal assistant, Mácha overexerted himself while helping put out a fire and soon thereafter died of pneumonia.[2] The day after his death had been scheduled as his wedding day in Prague.

Mácha was buried in Litoměřice in a pauper's grave. Recognition came after his death: in 1939, his remains were exhumed, and they were given a formal state burial at the Vyšehrad cemetery in Prague. A statue was erected in his honor in Petřín Park, Prague.[2] In 1937 a biographical film, Karel Hynek Mácha, was made by Zet Molas (a pen name of Zdena Smolová). Lake Mácha (Czech: Máchovo jezero) was named after him in 1961.

Macha was honored on a 50 Haleru and a 1 Koruna stamp on 30 April 1936, Scott Catalog # 213-214. The stamp depicts a statue of Macha that is found in Prague and was issued by the postal agency of Czechoslovakia ('Československo'). He was again honored on a 43 koruna postage stamp issued by the postal agency of the Czech Republic ('Česká Pošta') on 10 March 2010. This 43 koruna postage stamp is presented on a miniature souvenir sheet. The Scott catalog number for this postage stamp honoring Macha is Scott #3446.


Karel Hynek Macha statue.jpeg
Statue of Karel Hynek Mácha in Petřín Park, Prague

His lyrical epic poem "Máj" (May), published in 1836 shortly before his death, was judged by his contemporaries as confusing, too individualistic, and not in harmony with the national ideas.[2] Czech playwright Josef Kajetán Tyl even wrote a parody of Mácha's style, "Rozervanec" (The Chaotic). "Máj" was rejected by publishers, and was published by a vanity press at Mácha's own expense, not long before his early death. Josef Bohuslav Foerster set May for choir and orchestra as his Op.159.

Mácha's genius was discovered and glorified much later by the poets and novelists of the 1850s (e.g., Jan Neruda, Vítězslav Hálek, and Karolina Světlá) and "Máj" is now regarded as the classic work of Czech Romanticism and is considered one of the best Czech poems ever written. It contains forebodings of many of the tendencies of 20th-century literature: existentialism, alienation, isolation, surrealism, and so on.

Mácha also authored a collection of autobiographical sketches titled Pictures From My Life, the 1835–36 novel Cikáni (Gypsies), and several individual poems, as well as a journal in which, among other things, he detailed his sexual encounters with Šomková.[2] The Diary of Travel to Italy describes his journey to Venice, Trieste, and Ljubljana (where he met the Slovene national poet France Prešeren) in 1834. The Secret Diary describes his daily life in autumn 1835 with cipher passages concerning his relationship with Eleonora Šomková.[3]


  1. ^ Albert Pražák: Karel Hynek Mácha, Prague 1936, p.21
  2. ^ a b c d Marcela Sulak, "Introduction," in Mácha, Karel Hynek (2005). May. Marcela Sulak (trans.). Prague: Twisted Spoon Press. pp. 7–18. ISBN 80-86264-22-X.
  3. ^ Karel Hynek Mácha: Deníky. Zápisníky. Korespondence. Prague 1929

External links

1836 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1836.

1836 in poetry

Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature (for instance, Irish or France).


Cikáni (in English Gypsies) is an 1835 novel written by Czech poet Karel Hynek Mácha with typical tokens of Romanticism: old castles, night scenery and a romantic complicated plot. It is Mácha's only completed novel.

Diary of 1835 (Mácha)

The Diary (often referred to as the Secret Diary or Cipher Diary) was written in 1835 by Karel Hynek Mácha, the best-known Czech romantic poet. After deciphering of the parts recorded in code, there was a discussion of the decision to publish the author's private affairs.

Eleonora Šomková

Eleonora Šomková (in Mácha's Diary as well as in literary books referred to as Lori, 25 February 1817 – 31 October 1891) was the fiancée of Karel Hynek Mácha. The poet died two days before their intended wedding. Intimate details of their relationship were revealed by deciphering Mácha's Diary of 1835.

Gypsies (1922 film)

Gypsies (Czech: Cikáni) is a 1922 Czech silent drama film directed by Karl Anton and starring Hugo Svoboda, Olga Augustová and Theodor Pistek.

It is an adaptation of the 1835 novel Cikáni by Karel Hynek Mácha. Along with Anton's later silent The May Fairy, it is credited with initiating the tradition of lyricism in Czech cinema.


Jarmila is a Slavic origin female given name. Derived from the Slavic elements jary fierce, strong and mil favour. Similar names are Jaromíra and Jaroslava. Nicknames are Jarka, Jarcza, Jara, Jarina, Jaromilka, Jarmilka, Mila, Jarulinka.

The meaning of the name is derived from word "bujarý" which means sprightly, hilarious.

Journey to Italy (book)

Diary of Journey to Italy (Deník or Denník na cestě do Itálie, 1834) is a travel book by Czech poet Karel Hynek Mácha, which was likely not meant to be published.

Kameni, přicházíš...

Kameni, přicházíš... (You are coming, stone...) is a poetic book by Czech author Vladimír Holan. It was first published in 1937. Later it was included into the first volume of poet's collected works, named Jeskyně slov that was printed in 1965. It was published once again in 1970. Among poems in the book there are Služebnost, Není více, Antaios, Jaro, Smrt Larisy Reisnerové, Cestou Alpami, Monolog, Zpěv pastýřův, Hudba and Listopadová vichřice. Another important poem is K.H.M. dedicated to Karel Hynek Mácha, the greatest Czech romantic poet. Poems in the book are written chiefly in irregular iambic verse. There are excellent examples of alliteration, too.

Karel (given name)

Karel is a given name in Dutch and Czech, equivalent to Charles, meaning Free Man.

Lake Mácha

Lake Mácha (Czech: Máchovo jezero) is an artificial lake (fish pond) (now 2.84 km²) in the Liberec Region of the Czech Republic, near Doksy and Bezděz Castle.

During Cenozoic a large lake existed at this site (as a remnant of an older sea). During the last Ice Age the lake drained away, leaving only a peat bog. Between 1366 and 1367 Charles IV ordered a large pond to be established here.

Its older name was Velký rybník ('Big Pond', or in German Großteich) or Hirschberský rybník ('Big Hirschberg Pond', or in German Hirschberger Großteich). Its current name was established after 1945, officially since 1961. The name refers to the romantic poet Karel Hynek Mácha.


Maj may refer to:

Major, a rank of commissioned officer in many military forces

Máj, a romantic Czech poem by Karel Hynek Mácha

Máj (literary almanac), a Czech literary almanac published in 1858

Marshall Islands International Airport

MAJ or mise à jour - French expression meaning "update"

maj or majuscules, the name used on French language AZERTY keyboards for the Shift key

Mág (film)

Mág (Magician) is a 1988 Czech film directed by František Vláčil. The film is about Czech poet Karel Hynek Mácha. It is Vláčil's last film. The film received mixed reviews and critics called it a reflection of Vláčil's previous work.


Máj (Czech for the month May; pronounced [maːj]) is a romantic poem by Karel Hynek Mácha in four cantos. It was fiercely criticized when first published, but since then has gained the status of one of the most prominent works of Czech literature; in the Czech Republic, the poem now is memorized by schoolchildren and continuously in print.

Máj (literary almanac)

Máj was a Czech literary almanac published (in 1858, 1859, 1860 and 1862) by a group of authors centred around Jan Neruda and Vítězslav Hálek.


The Májovci ("May School") were a significant group of Czech novelists and poets of the second half of the 19th century, who were inspired by the work of Karel Hynek Mácha, Karel Havlíček Borovský and Karel Jaromír Erben.

After the fall of Metternich's absolutism in the Revolution of 1848, there appeared on the scene a young generation preoccupied with urban life and contemporary social problems, and determined to reintroduce Czech as a literary language. Politically they promoted the cause of liberty, democracy, and social justice, fighting the reactionary Bach government and making efforts to improve the status of the Czech nation within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The first yearbook of the group was published in 1858. Named Máj ("May") after Mácha's great poem, it included contributions by Jan Neruda and Vítězslav Hálek, as well as Adolf Heyduk, Rudolf Mayer, Karolina Světlá, Jakub Arbes, Karel Sabina, Josef Václav Frič and Gustav Pfleger-Moravský. Their verse tales were described as Byronic although the closer influence was probably Pushkin. Their efforts were to a great extent responsible for bringing Czech literature into the European mainstream.

They were major advocates of the National Theatre of Prague, for which the foundation stone was laid in 1868. Their reformist concerns were also reflected in journalistic endeavours. Newspapers and magazines associated with the Májovci include Národní listy, Čas, Lumír, and Květy.

Later groups included the Lumírovci (connected with the newspaper Lumír) and the Ruchovci (connected with the National Theatre).


A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.

The work of a poet is essentially one of communication, either expressing ideas in a literal sense, such as writing about a specific event or place, or metaphorically. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary greatly in different cultures and periods. Throughout each civilization and language, poets have used various styles that have changed through the course of literary history, resulting in a history of poets as diverse as the literature they have produced.

Střekov Castle

Střekov Castle (German: Schreckenstein) is perched atop a cliff above the River Elbe, near the city of Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic. It was built in the 14th century to protect the waterway and collect duties on transported goods, the castle is renowned for its impressive views. It has enchanted a variety of visiting artists, most notably Goethe, Richard Wagner, and Karel Hynek Mácha.

Works by Karel Hynek Mácha
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