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548 SVĚTLÁ, Karolína (pseudonym; born Johanna Rottová) (1830–1899) Czech novelist and short fiction writer; founder and President (1871–1880) of the Ženský výrobní spolek český (Women’s Czech Production Society). Karolína Světlá was born Johanna Rottov á on 24 February 1830, into a patrician family that lived in Prague’s ‘Old Town.’ Her father, Eustace Rott, had come to Prague from the central Bohemian town of Český Brod, from a Czech family that, despite its enforced return to Roman Catholicism after 1620, had retained sympathy for Czech Brethren Protestantism , as Světlá’s writing would later show. After an apprenticeship in a trading house, Rott opened his own stationery business. Světlá’s mother was the daughter of a Rhineland German who had come to Bohemia during the Napoleonic wars, married a Czech woman and settled there. The influence of late eighteenth-century liberal thinking was also part of Světlá’s upbringing, but though her father attended the Sunday sermons of the theologian Bernard Bolzano, he actively discouraged his daughter’s love of letters and was not interested in the nascent Czech patriotism then emerging in the linguistic, literary and historical scholarship of the period. Karolina attended a German school, reportedly until a notebook of her early writings (in German) was found and she was removed from school and educated at home. It was there, at the age of fourteen, that she met Petr Mužák (1821–1892), the family music teacher whom she married in 1852 and from whose birthplace (Světlá pod Ještědem, in the hills near Liberec in northern Bohemia) she took her pseudonym: ‘Světlá.’ Mužák introduced the family to the ideas of the Czech scholar-patriots and, in 1849, introduced Světlá to Božena Němcová (1820–1862), then making her appearance as the leading Czech woman writer of the period. Němcová, who would profoundly influence Světlá’s intellectual development, corresponded with the young Světlá for several years and the two women exchanged ideas on the social and emotional emancipation of women and literature, particularly the works of George Sand. Both Němcová and Sand served as literary models for Světlá and the latter wrote under a portrait of Sand for the length of her literary career . 549 After the death of her daughter in infancy (1852), Světlá fell into depression and was taken by her husband to convalesce in his home region, where she threw herself into writing as a means of coming to terms with her loss. The region thus came to have a special significance for her and formed the setting of her most important and popular works. Her first short story, “Dvojí probuzení” (A double awakening), was published in 1858 in the first Máj (Spring) almanac. The almanac’s title, taken from the 1836 poem by Karel Hynek Mácha (1810–1836), suggested the ‘rebirth’ of Czech literary life after a decade of neo-absolutist repression. Máj marked the emergence of a major new generation of Czech writers, including Vítězslav Hálek (1835–74) and Jan Neruda (1834–1891), whose works display a shift away from the nostalgic idealism found in Němcová’s fiction, towards the techniques and thematic preoccupations of Realist writing. Close friends, Světlá and Neruda also became protagonists in one of Czech literature ’s best-known love stories. Neruda expressed his love for her openly and passionately , but Světlá chose to remain faithful to her husband, though she found him dull and uninspiring. Some critics have seen echoes of their relationship in Světlá’s portrayal of lovers kept apart by the strictures of social convention, especially in her artistically most successful novel, Vesnický román (A village novel, 1867). Here, the male central character is shaped into an ultimately ‘good man’ by the three women in his life but, having been married once, is dissuaded by his mother from marrying the woman he loves, both finally devoting themselves selflessly but joylessly to good works. In this context, Světlá’s refusal of Neruda may be seen as her own particular internalization of the philosophy of self-discovery through self-denial and altruism, elaborated by Rousseau in La Nouvelle Héloïse (1761). Světlá’s critical attitude to prevailing social norms is evident in her early short stories , set amid the Prague burgher and aristocratic society of her own upbringing. In these stories, her heroines...


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