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ČE mensi

This page is dedicated to the Encyclopedia of Czech Literary Samizdat 1948-1989, which was compiled by a team from the lexicography department of the Institute of Czech literature both in Prague and Brno. The encyclopedia aims to include samizdat editions, magazines and major non-periodical collections focused on the field of fiction, literary criticism and journalism or simply related to the field of arts and humanities and also arrange them in several summarising, contextual entries. Work on individual entries should be completed in December 2017, 2018 is reserved for accoutrements and editorial work, and in 2019 we will complete the image editing and the book should be published in the same year.

The editorial team consists of Michal Přibáň, Petra Čáslavová, Michal Jareš and Alena Přibáňová, co-authored by Eduard Burget, Marta Edith Holečková, Veronika Košnarová, Pavel Šidák and Andrea Vítová. Our consultants are Jiří Gruntorád, Martin Machovec and Tomáš Vrba.


Why an Encyclopedia?

Czech samizdat (i.e the independent literature of the period between February 1948 and November 1989) was not long ago an unknown phenomenon, and now it stills remains a somewhat mysterious one. Immediately after the fall of the communist regime the library ‘Libri Prohibiti’ was established in Prague. Over twenty-five years it managed to gather approximately 17000 books and 450 titles of samizdat journals. Alongside its samizdat collections, various archives, museums and academic workplaces were gradually established. However, the literary history of many secret publishing operations is still not known. A few biographical lists were acquired, many articles, studies and books were published, which descriptively and analytically characterise the various publication series’s, journals and works of various publishing and distributing circles. However, a publication which would give the public and experts a comprehensive amount of basic information, so to speak, “under one roof” is still missing. Becasue during the course of our work we often felt the absence of such a publication we decided to lay the ground work for it ourselves.


What will you find in the Encyclopedia (but not yet)

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The working index of the encyclopedia  (journals,editions,anthologies) is so far focused on literary samizdat, and involves so far more than 200 entries of known and important serial publications, journals, and selected non-periodical anthologies. While the number of entries is continuously growing, the full samizdat activity outside Prague or Brno has not yet been reflected in a comprehensive manner. The public appearance of the Index must appear to be one that is constantly functioning: holding consultations with candidates that can possibly help to supplement the data, correct errors, clarify information that we have managed to gain and so on. The index will be frequently supplemented and updated and, where appropriate, we will have to make cuts. Due to the fact that we are limiting the index to the areas of fiction, literary criticism and essays, academic arts and related disciplined with which we usually specialise, it may mean that it is not quite as final and definitive. Yet when we become closer to our goal we will begin to work closely with political scientists, historians, sociologists, art-historians and other researchers and attempt a second step: expanding our encyclopedia into other fields into which samizdat publishing had penetrated.

            The purpose of these pages is not to present complete entries, which will become components of a physical book publication. But instead we aim to create ‘thumnails’ of different types of entries that allow a researcher to more accurately and throughly orient themselves within the index.

One of the basic principles of samizdat was of course its secrecy. Therefore, today we have minimal written documentation and samizdat writing that didn’t appear in journals remains in the private archives of former readers and publishers. Literary historians have to work with a limited number of sources. Work on previous publications (such as the recent book Czech Literary Publishers 1949-1989) taught us that some important information still remains only in the memories of former participants in certain events or publishing operations. Therefore we ask for help and cooperation from you, if you took part in samizdat activities, whether as an editor, copyist, painter, bookbinder, or distributor. Within these pages you can read drafts of entries and provide us with missing information or correct our mistakes. You can notify us of the shortcomings in the index, provide us with information about publishers, whose names and actions are still a secret to us. We hope that, with you help, we can provide the next generation with information about a perhaps closed chapter of Czech history, and if possible, in a non-simplified and undistorted manner.


Contact: Ústav pro českou literaturu AV ČR, v. v. i., Na Florenci 3, 110 00 Praha 1

Telephone: 222 828 160

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.