Consolation at Night: Jan Patočka and his Correspondence with Comeniologists
Jan Patočka (1907–1977) approached Johannes Amos Comenius as a fellow-philosopher, while admiring him also for his intellectual and moral steadfastness. He studied Comenius as a philosopher from the thirties onwards, stressing the latter's unique position in the history of Czech and European thought. Patočka's many Comeniological publications were analysed and highly appreciated by fellow-Comeniologists. In the first volume, containing correspondence with Czech friends and colleagues, letters start in the early thirties, but Comeniology, including the vicissitudes surrounding the edition of Comenius's complete works, come to the fore from the late fifties onwards. Correspondents include friends and colleagues such as Josef Brambora and Antonín Škarka and a few older colleagues. A large number of letters was exchanged with Comenius's biographer Milada Blekastad and with the young philosopher Stanislav Sousedík. The second volume comprises letters exchanged with only a few foreign correspondents: next to the Ukrainian scholar Dmytro Čyževskyj and the French colleague Marcelle Denis, a personal friend of Patočka's, the greater part of the volume is filled with letters to and from the German scholar and personal friend Klaus Schaller. These two volumes add much to our understanding of Patočka's nearly lifelong and profound interest in Comenius's thought. The intellectual acumen and constant engagement reflected in these letters must have meant much to Patočka and his Comeniological correspondents in and outside Czechoslovakia. Maybe these exchanges of letters brought some light and consolation even in the darkest of times.