Historical View of the Languages and Literature of the Slavic eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 454 pages of information about Historical View of the Languages and Literature of the Slavic.

The second period comprises a full century, from Huss to the general diffusion of the art of printing.

The third period, the golden age of the Bohemian literature, comprises about the same interval, and extends to the battle at the White Mountain, A.D. 1620.

The fourth period, extends from the battle at the White Mountain to the revival of literature in 1774-1780.

The fifth period, covers the interval from 1780 to the present time.


From the first settlement of the Czekhes, A.D. 550, to John Huss, A.D. 1400.

Of the language of the Czekhes as it existed when they first settled in Bohemia, nothing is left, except the names they gave to the rivers, mountains, and towns, and those of their first chiefs.  All these names entitle us to conclude, that their language was then essentially the same as at the present time, though more nearly approaching the Old Slavic.  The first certain written documents of the language are not older than the introduction of Christianity.  There were indeed discovered, about thirty years ago, some fragments of poetry, which appear to lie derived from the pagan period.[11] The manuscript has been deposited in the Museum of Prague, and the high beauties and evident antiquity of these poems have secured them warm advocates and admiring commentators.  But the circumstance that Dobrovsky doubted their genuineness, induces us to regard this point at least as not incontestable in respect to the language; in respect to the manners they describe, and the institutions they allude to, they bear very strong evidence of a later origin.[12] Another highly valuable fragment is the celebrated manuscript of Koniginhof, discovered in the year 1817 by the librarian Hanka, half buried among rubbish and worthless papers.[13] This collection, the genuineness of which is subject to no doubt, contains likewise several poems, the original composition of which belongs evidently to the eighth or ninth century.  But the manuscript itself is not older than the end of the thirteenth century, and cannot therefore be considered as a sure monument of the language in an earlier age.  All these national songs have an historical foundation; they celebrate battles and victories; and their evident tendency is to exalt the national feelings.  They have not that plastic and objective character which makes Homer and the Servian popular epics so remarkable; and from which it appears that the poet, during the time of his inspiration, is rather above his subject; but like the Russian tale of Igor’s Expedition, the epic beauties are merged in the lyric effusions of the poet’s own feelings, who thus never attempts to conceal that his whole soul is engaged in his subject.

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Historical View of the Languages and Literature of the Slavic from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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