Karel Hynek Mácha

Karel Hynek Mácha (November 16, 1810November 5, 1836) was a Czech romantic poet.


Mácha studied law at university; during that time he also became involved in theatre, where he met Eleonora Somkova, with whom he had a son out of wedlock. He was fond of travel, enjoying trips into the mountains, and eventually moved into Litoměřice in order to have a relaxing atmosphere to prepare for law school exams and to write poetry. On the very day he was supposed to be married to Somkova, just a few weeks after he had begun working as a legal assistant, Mácha died after a short period of illness. The exact cause of his death is unknown, but both cholera and appendicitis had been suspected.

He is buried at the Vyšehrad cemetery in Prague, Czech Republic. A statue was erected in his honor in Petřín Park, Prague.

The biographic film Karel Hynek Mácha was made by Zet Molas (a pen name of Zdena Smolová) in 1937.

Máchovo jezero (English Mácha's Lake) was named after him in 1961.


His lyrical epic poem Máj (May), published in 1836 shortly before his death, was judged by his contemporaries as confusing, too much individualistic and not in harmony with the national ideas. Czech playwright Josef Kajetán Tyl even wrote a parody on Mácha's style, Rozervanec (The chaotic). Máj was rejected by publishers, and was published by a vanity press at Mácha's own expense, not long before his early death. Mácha's genius was discovered and glorified much later by the poets and novelists of the 1850s generation (for example Jan Neruda, Vítězslav Hálek, Karolina Světlá) and Máj is now regarded as the classic work of Czech Romanticism; it could be even be considered one of the best Czech poems ever written.

He also authored a collection of autobiographical sketches titled Pictures From My Life, the 1835–36 novel Gypsies, as well as several individual poems.

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