Short Stories from the Balkans/Vrchlický
Yaroslav Vrchlický—whose real name is Emil Frida—is perhaps the most important personality in modern Bohemian literature. He was born in Laun in 1853, and was carefully educated in several different preparatory schools before going to the University of Prague where it was his intention to study theology. He changed his mind however and gave his time to philosophy, languages and literature. In this same university later, he held for many years the professorship of modern literature.
As a writer his productivity has been almost unparalleled, and it has expressed itself for the most part in the domain of poetry. Some thirty volumes of lyric verse have been published by him, and a number of volumes of poetic plays. It is as lyric poet that he ranks highest, being gifted with imagination and a sensitive ear.
In his position as professor of literature, he wished to introduce to his countrymen, and make easily accessible, in cheap editions, as many foreign writers as possible. He not only urged others to help do this, but he set an example himself. The leading poets of Germany, France, Italy and Spain, in their entirety, Yaroslav Vrchlický gave to his nation, in wonderfully fluent and sympathetic renderings. His translations are among the great monuments of modern scholarship.
His work in prose is less considerable, both as original writer and translator. His best prose works are “Bits of Colored Glass” and “Ironic and Sentimental Tales.”
The story, “Brother Cœlestin,” which we give, is from one of these collections and it is his most celebrated story. It would be difficult to underestimate the influence of Vrchlický upon the youth of Bohemia who have for so many years come under his inspired tutelage. Yaroslav Vrchlický died in 1912.
None of the prose stories of Vrchlický have been published in English except one, and of his verse we have seen but one small fragment, the exact name of which we do not remember, but it was written to the beautiful hands of a woman.