Preface to Vávra’s Collection

Author Tomáš Štítný ze Štítného (Thomas of Štítné)
Genre Treatise
Keywords 14th century, foreword, Old Czech, treatise
Title (in Czech) Sborník Vávrův: předmluva
Title (in English translation) Preface to Vávra’s Collection
Editor Andrea Svobodová – Kateřina Voleková
Translator Walter Schamschula
Edited source Praha, Národní knihovna České republiky, XVII D 31, ff. 1r-2v
Introduction Walter Schamschula – Andrea Svobodová
TEI P5 XML Encoding Jan Čermák – Michal Mocňák – Ondřej Tichý
Summary of content Preface to the second volume of essays from 1376, reworked in Vávrův sborník (‘Vávra’s Collection’) from 1492.
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Introduction to the Text

The lay theologian Tomáš Štítný ze Štítného (‘Thomas of Štítné’, c. 1333–1405) is an extraordinary figure in Old Czech literature. He was the first to use the vernacular in theological literature and thus to try to enrich the lexicon and the means of expression of the Czech language. He was also the first prose writer to address the lay public and to introduce his audience to religious concerns; he tried to establish an immediate relationship between the believer and God, as it was fostered later on by Hus and his followers. From a religious point of view, Tomáš was a representative of the Devotio moderna, a reform movement which anticipated some of the ideals of Hussitism. Nevertheless, he emphasized the private devotion for which his writings were intended.  The use of the Czech language in particular is a way of making Christianity less dependent on outward form and traditional devotional patterns by having the believer speak with God in his own language. For more details about Štítný’s life see Schamschula 1991, p. 243.

Tomáš’s work, which does not pretend to be highly original (indeed, many of his essays are translations or adaptations of other authors, such as St. Augustine, Albertus Magnus etc.), was written in eight volumes which he called kníhy, i.e. ‘books, writings’. These collections consist of varying numbers of essays, called knížky, i.e. ‘booklets’. ln his lifetime Tomáš did additional editing and rearranging of the volumes. Among others he reworked the second volume of essays from 1376, entitled Sborník klementinský (The Clementinum Collection’) in 1389, calling this version nevertheless his ‘first book’. Our selection is taken from the preface to this book called Sborník Vávrův after the copyist Vávra z Jivjan (‘Vávra of Jivjany’).

Introduction to the Sources

The text of the preface is available in two different textual versions, the first preserved in the so-called Klementinský sborník (‘The Clementine Collection’) from 1376 (Praha, Národní knihovna České republiky, XVII A 6, ff. 4r-5r; available online), and the second preserved in the so-called Vávrův sborník (‘Vávra’s Collection’) from 1492 (Praha, Národní knihovna České republiky, XVII D 31, ff. 1r-2v; available online).

About this Edition

The given transcription was made according to the Vávra’s manuscript, taking into account the edition of Walter Schamschula (cf. Schamschula 1991, see Existing editions below).

The present translation has been taken, with the permission of Walter Schamschula, from the text of his edition (cf. Schamschula 1991, see Existing editions below). Only a few textual changes have been made to the text (as recorded in the footnotes). The introductory information, based on Schamschula´s edition, has been supplemented from new contributions on the topic.

Existing Editions

Výbor z české literatury od počátků po dobu Husovu, Bohuslav Havránek a kol. (eds.), Praha 1957, pp. 701-706 [ms. XVII D 31; standardized transcription].

Sborník Vávrův: předmluva/Preface to Sborník Vávrův, in: An Anthology of Czech Literature. 1st Period: from the Beginnings until 1410, Walter Schamschula (ed.), Frankfurt am Main – Bern – New York – Paris 1991, pp. 243-253 [ms. XVII D 31; standardized transcription].

Štítný ze Štítného, Tomáš: [štítenský sborník klementinský], Andrea Svobodová (ed.), Praha 2012 [ms. XVII A 6; standardized transcription]. Available at: https://vokabular.ujc.cas.cz/edice/StitKlem

Existing translations

Sborník Vávrův: předmluva/Preface to Sborník Vávrův, in: An Anthology of Czech Literature. 1st Period: from the Beginnings until 1410, Walter Schamschula (ed.), Frankfurt am Main – Bern – New York – Paris 1991, pp. 243-253 [ms. XVII D 31].

Further Reading

Lehár, Jan: Tomáš ze Štítného, in: Lexikon české literatury 4/I (S–T), Praha 2008, pp. 768-771 [encyclopedic entry listing editions and literature up to 2008]. Available at: https://service.ucl.cas.cz/edicee/lexikon/lexikon/248-lexikon-ceske-literatury-osobnosti-dila-instituce-4-i-s-t

Rychterová, Pavlína: Pursuing the Truth. The Czech Lay Theologian Thomas of Štítné (c. 1330–c. 1400) and his Delight in Doing Miscellanies, in: Collecting, Organizing and Transmitting Knowledge. Miscellanies in Late Medieval Europe, Sabrina Corbellini – Giovanna Murano – Giacomo Signore (eds.), Turnhout 2018, pp. 115–130.

Preface to Vávra’s Collection

Edition


MECZ [online], Preface to Vávra’s Collection, ed. Tomáš Štítný ze Štítného (Thomas of Štítné), trans. Walter Schamschula. KREAS Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Retrieved 12.08.2022, from https://mecz.kreas.ff.cuni.cz/publication/preface-to-vavras-collection/ Bibtex citation

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