Ivan Blatný was a Czech poet and translator. His first poems were published in 1933 in Studentský časopis (Student’s Journal). Later, he contributed to the Catholic journal Akord, artistic-literary review Kritický měsíčník (Critical Monthly), philosophic-artistic quarterly Listy and daily newspaper Lidové noviny. Ivan Blatný left Czechoslovakia for the UK in 1948 as an official delegation member of the Czech Journalists’ Syndicate where he, upon his arrival in the UK, announced on BBC radio that he decided to emigrate from Czechoslovakia because of the political pressure against artists. He applied for political asylum in the UK, and as a consequence, he was deprived of citizenship and property and became a banned poet in Czechoslovakia. He endured life in exile with great difficulties, became ill with paranoid schizophrenia and he was hospitalized for the first time in London in the autumn of 1948. Between 1948 and 1954 Blatný cooperated with the BBC and Radio Free Europe. However, he was permanently hospitalized in a various psychiatric hospital in England from 1954. Despite his hospitalization, Blatný continued to write poems. Nevertheless, Blatný became almost “forgotten” in Czechoslovakia. According to Czech poet and dissident Zbyněk Hejda, only Blatný’s four books published in Czechoslovakia before 1948 were known in Czechoslovakia until the 1970s as there was no information about Blatný’s life and works in exile. However, Blatný’s emigration poetry was published in Canada by the Czechoslovak exile publishing house Sixty-Eight Publishers. In the 1980s, it was also published in Czechoslovakia as a samizdat. Blatný’s life story became internationally known mainly thanks to the German magazine Stern, which published an article about Blatný by Jürgen Serke in 1981. A year later, the BBC and the Norwegian television broadcasted a documentary film about this Czech poet. Blatný’s work could be published in Czechoslovakia again after 1989. Nowadays, Ivan Blatný is considered an important personality of Czechoslovak literature, his name appears in school books and is regularly a topic of students’ theses. In 2007, Miloš Orson Štědron’s music revue “Ivan Blatný Cabaret” was performed in the Comedy Theater in Prague. However, as stated recently by Czech journalist Aleš Palán, Blatný is “one of the last important poets of the twentieth-century not fully discovered by the reading audience.”
- Brno, Czech Republic
Date of death
- Czech Exile Collection at Libri Prohibiti
- Czech Samizdat Collection at Libri Prohibiti
- Exile Collection of Czechoslovak Documentation Centre
- Ivan Blatný Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature
- Jindřich Chalupecký Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature
- Samizdat Collection of Czechoslovak Documentation Centre
- Václav Havel Library
Author(s) of this page
- Kůželová, Michaela
Palán, Aleš. 2017. "Martin Reiner rázně řízl do Ivana Blatného, básníka novým výborem vykopal z hlušiny." Last modified September 22. https://archiv.ihned.cz/c1-65889550-martin-reiner-ivan-blatny-jde-prazske-dite-domu-z-bia-kniha-recenze-druhe-mesto.
Hejda, Zbyněk. 1996. "Kolemjdoucí." Kritická příloha Revolver Revue, No. 6: 59–68.
Schreiberová, Jarmila. 2014. "Nad literární pozůstalostí Ivana Blatného." Literární archiv 46: 516–520.
Rambousek, Jiří. 2010. „Tak jdete pomalu po městě dětství…“ Duha [online] 24, No. 2. Accessible at https://duha.mzk.cz/clanky/tak-jdete-pomalu-po-meste-detstvi.
ÚČL AV ČR. 2006. "Slovník české literatury po roce 1945: Ivan Blatný." Last modified July 7. http://www.slovnikceskeliteratury.cz/showContent.jsp?docId=5.