Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 148–157 | Cite as

The affinity with the North American Indian in Czech literary discourse on the democratic roots of Czech national culture

  • Michal Peprník


This paper surveys the Czech cultural appropriation of the North American Indian in a historical perspective, through the three radical changes of the political paradigm: the first Czechoslovak democratic republic (1918–1938), the communist era (1948–1989), and the post-Velvet Revolution present. Although the American Indian was appropriated as a symbolic structure with surprisingly different functions in various social and political contexts, in most cases it figured in the democratic discourse.


North American Indian democratic discourse appropriation Czech tramping movement Czech pulp Karl May James Fenimore Cooper German movie Indians rock music weekend Indians 


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  1. 1.
    As Leslie Fiedler was quick to point out, ‘Primitivism is the large generic name for the Higher Masculine Sentimentality, a passionate commitment to inverting Christian-Humanist values, out of a conviction that the Indian’s was of life is preferable. From this follows the belief that if one is an Indian he ought to, despite missionaries and school boards, to remain Indian; and if one is White, he should do his best, despite all pressures of the historical past, to go Native.’ Leslie A. Fiedler, The Return of the Vanishing American (New York: Stein and Day), 169.Google Scholar
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    The publication data are taken from Marcel Arbeit, Bibliografie americké literatury v českých překladech I-III/Bibliography of American Literature in Czech Translations (Olomouc: Votobia, 2000)Google Scholar
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  12. 7a.
    See Vladimír Hulpach, Století Zděnka Buriana [The Century of Zděnek Burian] (Praha: Knizní klub, 2004), 107. The centrality of the Indian in Burian’s imagination is acknowledged by the editors of the two monographs of Burian: indeed, one book has his picture of the Sitting Bull on the cover, the other at least includes this picture among three smaller ones.Google Scholar
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    J.V. Sládek was a nineteenth-century poet laureate, valued by the communists also for his lower-class, country origin.Google Scholar
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    Jiří Veselý and Ondřej Hejma, ‘Indiánská dýmka míru’ [Indian pipe of peace], Psí kusy: ty nejlepší kousky [Dog pranks: the best bits], perf. Žlutý pes: Bonton Music, 1996.Google Scholar
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    Pospíšil and Sparling, 81.Google Scholar
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    Young people, who spent their weekend and their holidays living like the Indians.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Taylor & Francis 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michal Peprník
    • 1
  1. 1.Katedra anglistiky a amerikanistikyUniverzita PalackéOlomouciCzech Republic

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