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The page of Borovský, Karel Havlíček, English biography

Image of Borovský, Karel Havlíček
Borovský, Karel Havlíček
(1821–1856)

Biography

Karel Havlíček Borovský (Borová, today Havlíčkova Borová October 31, 1821 - Prague, July 29, 1856) was a Czech writer, poet, critic, politician, journalist, and publisher. He lived and studied Gymnasium in Německý Brod and his house on the main square is Havlíček Museum today. He moved to Prague to study philosophy at Charles University in 1838 and influenced by the revolutionary atmosphere before 1848 he decided to become a patriotic writer. He devoted himself to studying Czech and world literature and after graduation from philosophy he began studying theology because he thought the best way to serve the nation is from the position of a priest. He was expelled, however, after one year for "showing too little indication for spiritual ministry".
He failed in finding a teacher's job so he left for Moscow to become a tutor in a Russian teacher's family (he was recommended by Pavel Josef Šafařík). He came as a russophile but after recognizing the true reality of the Russian society he took the pessimistic view that "panslavism is a great, attractive but feckless idea". His memories on the Russian stay were published first in magazines and then as a book under the name Obrazy z Rus (Pictures from Russia).
After he returned to Bohemia in 1844 he expressed his newly acquired critical skills in criticising the public view of accepting everything written in the recently re-born Czech language on an example of a novel by Josef Kajetán Tyl. František Palacký put Havlíček through to get a job of the editor of the government Pražské noviny newspaper in 1846.
In April 1848 he became the editor of Národní noviny, first newspaper of the Czech liberals. He was concerned with the preparations of the Congress of the Slavs in Prague and in July he was elected a member of Austrian Empire Constituent Assembly in Vienna and later in Kroměříž. He finally gave up the seat in favour of his journalist mission. Národní noviny became popular especially for his sharp-tongued epigrams.
The revolution in the Austrain part of Habsburg monarchy was defeated in March 1848 with dissolution of the Kroměříž assembly but Havlíček continued in criticising the new regime. He was brought to court for trial but he was found not guilty. Národní noviny had to discontinue in January 1950, however Havlíček did not stop his activities. Since May 1950 he published the magazine Slovan in Kutná Hora that was an exclusive target of censorship. The magazine had to stop in August 1851 and Havlíček stood again at the court. Anyhow, he was found not guilty again. Against the sense of law he was arrested by the police on the night of December 16 and expatriated to Brixen. He was depressed from the exile but he also wrote his best masterpieces there: Tyrolské elegie (Tirol Laments), Křest svatého Vladimíra (Baptism of St.Vladimir) and Král Lávra (King Lavra). When he returned from Brixen in 1855 he found out that his wife had died a few days earlier. Most of his former friends afraid of the Bach system stood aloof from him. Only a few of them publicly declared support for him. He died from tuberculosis, aged 35. Božena Němcová put a crown of thorns on his head in the coffin.
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