Women of Prague: Ethnic Diversity and Social Change from the Eighteenth Century to the Present

Women of Prague: Ethnic Diversity and Social Change from the Eighteenth Century to the Present

Women of Prague: Ethnic Diversity and Social Change from the Eighteenth Century to the Present

Women of Prague: Ethnic Diversity and Social Change from the Eighteenth Century to the Present

Synopsis

"The richness of the material and its skillful assembly make this a very readable volume...revealing a wonderful range of perspective, from personal, intimate reflections to timely comments on the politics and society of both Prague and the Czech Republic of the era under study."
• Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe "Wilma Iggers offers English-reading audiences fascinating new perspectives...in a sensitive introduction to the city's modern experience and translated sections from the writings of twelve women... This volume is particularly welcome since the work of most of these writers has not been readily available in English before."
• Gary B. Cohen, University of Oklahoma For many centuries Prague has exerted a particular fascination because of its beauty and therichness of its culture and history. Its famous group of German and Czech writers of mostly Jewish extraction in the earlier part of this century has deeply influenced Western culture. However, little attention has so far been paid to the roles of women in the history of thisethnically diverse area in around Prague. Based on largely autobiographical writings and letters by women and enhanced by extensive historical introduction, this book redresses a serious imbalance. The vivid and often moving portraits, which emerge from the varied material used bythe author, offer fascinating and new insights into the social and cultural history of this region.

Excerpt

The material on which this book is based comes in part from printed sources; the rest I found in literary estates. In the case of Magdalena Dobromila Rettigová, much of the literature by and about her is contained in the 1985 edition of her famous cookbook. Besides, I found a good deal in the National Literary Archives in Strahov. Some of the impressions I absorbed on walks in the town of Litomyšl where Rettigová seems to have been the most active also found their way into this book. This may also be true of Božena Němcová in whose life Litoinyšl also played an important role. I found most of the literature connected with her in the rich collection of the library of the University of Illinois in Champaign--Urbana. The unpublished diary of Josefa Náprstková was brought to my attention by Dr. Zdenek Šolle in Prague. The Leo Baeck Institute in New York permitted me to use the memoirs of Else Bergmann, the daughter of Berta Fanta. Dr. Martin Bergmann, Else Bergmann's son sent me a copy of his grandmother's diary. My trip to Jerusalem yielded several documents from Hugo Bergmann's estate in the Hebrew University Archives. Georg and Lilli Deiglmayr, Hermine Hanel's children lent me their only copy of their mother's autobiography and supplied additional information orally and in letters.

Almost all of my material about Gisa Picková-Saudková was supplied by Dr. Zbyněk Sedláček, the director of the archives of the town of Kolín East of Prague. I am especially grateful to Mrs. Bettina Adler and Professor Jeremy Adler in London, England for giving me permission to xerox unpublished material from Grete Fischer's estate, to Grete Fischer's niece Elizabeth Wolf in Darlington in Northern England and to a number of people in London who knew Grete well for rounding out my picture of her.

While I was working on Milena Jesenská, to begin with Professor Gibian of Cornell University handed me a suitcase full of material by . . .

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