Zur Rezeption der deutschen Meditationsliteratur im tschechischen protestantischen Milieu des Späthumanismus
The Reception of German Contemplative Literature in Protestant Circles of Late Humanist Bohemia
The study deals with early modern literary works whose purpose was to improve the private devotion of the laity. In German-speaking lands, the term used for this genre is Erbauungsliteratur; in Czech-speaking lands it is called nábožensky vzdělavatelná literature (religious educational literature). There was a real boom of this type of literature in the German-speaking Protestant countries from the 1580s. This paper analyses how printed production in the Czech language coped with this phenomenon. It focuses primarily on books in which the genre of mediation dominates, and explores the prompt reaction to two authors active between approximately 1580–1620 who found intensive response in the Bohemian Lands. One was the non-conformist writer Martin Moller (1547–1606), whose activity was connected primarily with Lower Silesia. His two books written in German were published in Czech as early as 1593. One was the První díl Meditationes (First Part of Meditationes), compiled predominantly from the meditations of medieval mystics (translated by Tobiáš Mouřenín of Litomyšl); the other a volume of Passiontide meditations, Soliloqvia de Passione Iesu Christi (translated by Daniel Adam of Veleslavín). Our second author is the influential theologian of Lutheran orthodoxy Johann Gerhard (1582–1637), who worked mainly at the university in Jena and wrote in Latin. Gerhard's contemplative work was issued in a Czech version for the first time in 1616, under the title Padesátero přemyšlování duchovní (Fifty spiritual meditations). It was translated by the otherwise unknown burgher Pavel Lykaon Kostelecký from the Old Town of Prague. Gerhard uses impact of affects and elaborate rhetoric, and understands meditation as the comfort and healing of the sick soul. The dominant aim of the books analysed was not denominational influence, but the deepening of the burgher's private spiritual life and his self-improvement. The translations at the same time raise Czech religious prose to a new stylistic level, founded on linguistic expressiveness. The impulses of German contemplative literature later bore fruit in the work of Comenius, especially in his so called consolation writings of the 1620s and 1630s. From the 1710s, further interest in the more sophisticated writings on meditation can be traced in the Czech and Slovak environment, that is, among the Protestant exiles and Lutherans in Upper Hungary.