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Anne’s Bohemia

Czech Literature and Society, 1310-1420

1998
Author:

Alfred Thomas
Foreword by David Wallace

Anne’s Bohemia

The first book in English on medieval Czech literature.

Considers the development of Czech literature and society from the election of Count John of Luxembourg as king of Bohemia in 1310 to the year 1420, when the papacy declared a Catholic crusade against the Hussite reformers. This period is of particular relevance to the study of medieval England because of the marriage of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, the figure around whom this book is focused.

Anne’s Bohemia blazes a very new trail. Alfred Thomas’s thorough knowledge of the subject and the unique comparative perspective he provides make this book a most welcome contribution to medieval studies in both the West and Central Europe.

Jan Čermák, Charles University, Prague

Anne’s Bohemia is the first general book in English to introduce the little-known riches of medieval Bohemian culture. Alfred Thomas considers the development of Czech literature and society from the election of Count John of Luxembourg as king of Bohemia in 1310 to the year 1420, when the papacy declared a Catholic crusade against the Hussite reformers. This period is of particular relevance to the study of medieval England because of the marriage of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, the figure around whom this book is focused.

Anne’s Bohemia provides a social context for the most important works of literature written in the Czech language, from the earliest spiritual songs and prayers to the principal Hussite and anti-Hussite tracts of the fifteenth century. The picture that emerges from Thomas’s close readings of these texts is one of a society undergoing momentous political and religious upheavals in which kings, queens, clergy, and heretics all played crucial roles. During the reign of Charles IV (1346-78), the Bohemian Lands became the administrative and cultural center of the Holy Roman Empire and Prague its splendid capital. Comparing and contrasting the situation in Bohemia with the England of Richard II, Anne’s Bohemia charts the growth and decline of the international court culture and the gradual ascendancy of the Hussite reformers in the fifteenth century. Expert but accessibly written, the book offers an engaging overview of medieval Bohemian culture for specialist and nonspecialist alike.

ISBN 0-8166-3053-4 Cloth $49.95xx
ISBN 0-8166-3054-2 Paper $19.95x
232 pages 6 black-and-white photos 5 7/8 x 9 April
Medieval Cultures Series, volume 13
Translation inquiries: University of Minnesota Press

Anne’s Bohemia

Alfred Thomas is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Humanities at Harvard University. He is author of The Czech Chivalric Romances Vévoda Arnost [note diacritic above s] and Lavryn in Their Literary Context and The Labyrinth of the Word: Truth and Representation in Czech Literature.

David Wallace is Judith Rodin Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, and coeditor of the University of Minnesota Press Medieval Cultures series. His most recent book is Chaucerian Polity (1997).

Anne’s Bohemia

Anne’s Bohemia blazes a very new trail. Alfred Thomas’s thorough knowledge of the subject and the unique comparative perspective he provides make this book a most welcome contribution to medieval studies in both the West and Central Europe.

Jan Čermák, Charles University, Prague

Anne’s Bohemia is a splendid portrait of diversity in religion, ethnicity, class and gender which serves to illuminate, rather than obfuscate, the concomitant change and continuity giving birth to a unique phenomenon in Central Europe at the end of the Middle Ages.

The Medieval Review

Anne’s Bohemia is well informed and informative, and will amply reward interest in the cultural traditions Anne of Bohemia represented.

Arthuriana

Thomas’s purpose in writing this ambitious and well-planned work was to investigate a literary period that proved not only to be prolific but, in many ways, very progressive. Thomas offers a highly readable and fascinating overview of a short period of great freedom for women, who returned to intellectual activity only with the National Revival of the nineteenth century.

Slavic and East European Journal

In making fully evident to those who have not studied Slavic languages and literature the importance of medieval Bohemian culture within Europe, and particularly its importance to the study of parallel or even directly related developments in England, Anne’s Bohemia fills a significant gap.

Literary Research

Scholars interested in the literature of late-medieval Bohemia will undoubtedly benefit from Thomas’s in-depth analyses of the major works of early Czech literature. The author seeks to anchor the Czech literary achievement firmly within the medieval western European cultural traditions while emphasizing its artistic creativity. Thomas should be commended for his efforts to identify the mostly anonymous Czech authors and their audiences. His focus on the reception of early Czech works contributes immensely to our understanding of ethnic and cultural tensions in medieval Bohemia before the Hussite revolution.

Isolde Thyret, Speculum

Anne’s Bohemia

Content

List of Illustrations
Foreword David Wallace
Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
A Note on the Use of Czech Proper Names

Introduction Anne’s Bohemia: Toward a Comparative Study of Medieval Czech Literature

1. Prologue: Literature in Old Church Slavonic, Latin, and Czech before 1310
2. A Literature of Their Own: Women Readers and Writers in Medieval Bohemia
3. The War of the Bohemian Maidens: Gender, Ethnicity, and Language in The Dalimil Chronicle
4. Alien Bodies: Exclusion, Obscenity, and Social Control in The Ointment Seller
5. ABohemian Imitatio Christi: The Legend of Saint Procopius
6. The Radiant Rose: Female Sanctity and Dominican Piety in the CzechLife of Saint Catherine
7. Bohemian Knights: Reflections of Social Reality in the Czech Epic and Verse Romances
8. From Courtier to Rebel: Ideological Ambivalence in Smil Flasˇka’s The New Council
9. Writing and the Female Body: The Weaver, The Wycliffite Woman, and The Dispute between Prague and Kutná Hora
10. Epilogue: Continuity and Change in Fifteenth-Century Czech Literature

Notes
Bibliography

Index