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In search of adventure: Ladislav Mikes Parizek, a Czech in the Congo.


Ladislav Mikes Parizek was the most esteemed authority on the Congo, and Africa in general, in Czechoslovakia from the early 1940s till the end of 1970s. However, the aim of this essay is not only to introduce a forgotten adventurer, traveller, writer and journalist, but also to focus on the creation of an African discourse in communist Central Europe. Through an analysis of some of Parizek's books on the Congo and of reviews of his books, I would like to point out how this discourse was (mis)used by the communist regime and at the same time how this discourse was (mis)understood by people living under this regime. Parizek's books on the Congo were not of a high literary standard, but because of the great number printed and the simplicity of style, they had a large impact on people in communist Central Europe and also contributed to the creation of a particular image of the Congo. These books, together with Parizek's articles and lectures, were often the only source of information on the Congo and had considerable influence on the general knowledge about this African country.

Ladislav Mikes Parizek was born on 19 November 1907 as the thirteenth child of a blacksmith in Ceske Budejovice in South Bohemia, which then still was a part of the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The idea of travel adventures fascinated Parizek even as a child. He discovered Africa for the first time on the bookshelves of the neighbouring apartment. He read everything he found that had something to do with the "Dark Continent" (Parizek 1967: 49-52). At that time, Parizek also learned about the existence of Belgian Congo through Henry Morton Stanley's book In Darkest Africa (1890) (Parizek 1982: 10).

After unsuccessful studies at a business academy Parizek left the country at the age of 17 and travelled to France. At first he lived in his sister's house in Paris but he soon ran out of money and became an ideal target for people recruiting young men for the French Foreign Legion. The major part of his service Parizek spent in Northern Africa. He left the Legion after three years because of a serious injury sustained in Algeria and moved to Marseille. In 1927 Parizek started to study journalism at the Ecole libre des sciences politiques in Paris. From 1928 onwards he earned his money as a journalist and a writer, writing about his great interest--Africa.

The first journey Parizek made as journalist in 1928 took him again to Northern Africa. He wrote reports, scientific articles, popular articles and even a travelogue in French. He became a member of the "French Society of the Friends of Equatorial Africa"--a society founded in 1926 with the aim of supporting Congolese nationalists (Parizek 1967: 79). Those who sponsored his membership were Parizek's friends, Claudius Mgeba, originally from Senegal, and the journalist, Maurice Lefebvre.

However, to Parizek Northern Africa still was not the Africa he had read about. He felt strongly attracted to the forests of Equatorial Africa, to the Congo, where the maps said hic sunt leones. His dreams of this exotic Africa came true a year later, on 16 April 1929, when Parizek first put his feet on the soil of Belgian Congo. This journey was partially funded by the Society of the Friends of Equatorial Africa and by the advances for articles Parizek was supposed to write for the magazines Matin and Miroir du Monde (Parizek 1967: 79). Parizek also claimed to have signed a contract with the Belgian state to write down the distances between villages situated in an unmapped area he was supposed to visit during his journey (Parizek 1967: 80).

Parizek's first "real" African journey began in Dar es Salaam in the former Tanganyika. There he took a train to Ujiji and after crossing Lake Tanganyika, he hired a native guide called Kpveke-vo and started the journey through the Belgian Congo on foot. It took more than eight months before Parizek and his guide finally reached the capital of Belgian Congo, Leopoldville. All the obstacles and difficulties encountered on this journey paradoxically only deepened Parizek's passion for the continent. As the traveller said in many interviews, articles and books, his love for the continent was born then, when standing on a hill, overlooking the Kassai province of the Belgian Congo (compare Parizek 1982: 12-13).

This first journey became the primary source of inspiration for most of his subsequent books. Parizek reminisced regularly about his first encounter with the "real" Africa, not only in the 1940s, but also in works published many years later. His most successful novel, Reka kouzelniku (The Medicine-men River, 1956) and his autobiography Me cesty za dobrodruzstvim (My journeys to adventure, 1967) are just two examples of this enduring passion.

In 1930 Parizek was enlisted in the Czechoslovak army. After this national service he returned to Ceske Budejovice, where he tried his hand at a number of jobs. In the meantime he was writing continuously. Through writing about the exploitation of black people in colonial Africa he protested against the oppression of his own people by the Nazis during the Second World War (Parizek 1967: 98).

After the Second World War, which he spent mostly in Prague, Parizek returned to Africa. He headed, together with photographer Rudolf Sinkovec, for French Western Africa. Their journey started in Dakar in Senegal and continued via Guinea and Liberia to Bamako in the former French Sudan. During his Congo trip he paid attention mostly to the habits, traditional practices and stories of native people. This time Parizek became interested in colonial issues, especially the economic and social effects of colonization. In his last book he comments on the change in his focus:
   The new observations were striking and made a great impression
   on me. My further work reflected these observations. After
   fascism was conquered by the allied forces, Africa was slowly
   awakening from the long colonial decay. The convincing triumph
   of the people of the USSR, the first socialist country in the
   world, helped to awake the liberal-minded attitude of the black
   race. (Parizek 1982: 19) (1)

This shift of interest is clearly visible in his books from the 1950s onwards, e.g. the travelogue Afrika pod maskami (Africa under masks, 1950) and the novels Africke svitani (African dawn, 1952) and Kraj dvoji oblohy (The country with two skies, 1953). Parizek's interest in colonial issues is also revealed in his friendship with anti-colonial African activists such as Fodeba Keita, later Minister of Interior of the Republic of Guinea, or Gabriel d'Arboussier, later president of the Grand Council of French Western Africa, who also wrote a foreword to Parizek's book Afrika se probouzi (Africa's awakening, 1953). (2)

The proclamation of independence by Guinea in 1958 became the inspiration for his third journey to Central Africa. Together with the cameraman, Lubomir Mikula, Parizek reached Conakry on 1 May 1959. Witnessing the (communist) Labour Day celebrations in the newly independent country became, as he continuously emphasised in many interviews, articles and books, one of the most significant moments of his life (e.g. Parizek 1982: 28). As he had done in 1948, Parizek headed to Kandia and then to the settlement of Farranah. But from there he took a different route. He was deeply attracted to the holy mountain at the border with Sierra Leone where the source of the river Niger (Tembi) was assumed to be. However, when reaching that spot, he found only a dry hollow. On 21 May 1959 at 10.07 a.m. the Czechoslovak traveller, followed by the cameraman capturing his every step, "discovered" the real source of the river in the holy woods not far from the assumed source. This is how Parizek described the moment in Me cesty za dobrodruzstvim:
   Finally the densest bush was behind me. My feet were floundering
   in the moss growing in between the rocks. I was walking through
   places where, as generally believed, living people were offered
   to the gods and that, as the natives told me, had never been
   stained by the feet of a white man. Suddenly I stopped. Under the
   big rocks on my right side I saw a shimmering of water between the
   thick ferns. (Parizek 1967: 191) (3)

Parizek was then 51 years old. The discovery of the real source of the river was one of the high points both in his career as an adventurer and a traveller and in his personal life. Parizek returned to Africa once again in 1975 as a member of a group of Czechoslovak communist journalists on a journey to Egypt and Tunisia (Parizek 1982: 29).

Parizek's work

As already mentioned, Parizek's journeys, and especially the first one, were the main inspiration for his writing. According to an interview in the Sunday magazine of the newspaper Prace (The Labour, 23 October 1971) Parizek wrote 32 books, eleven of them intended for young readers. Together with the last book, his memoir Nejkrasnejsi zivot (The most beautiful life, 1982) his oeuvre comprises 33 books of different genres. Apart from one book dedicated to his experiences in the Foreign Legion (Legie sebevrahu [Legion of self-murderers]) and a book about the May uprising in 1945 in Prague, all the books are strongly connected to Africa. However, even these other two books "are not absolutely free of memories of Africa" (Parizek 1982: 24). Parizek was also a co-author of many educational books, mostly for children and youth, about Africa. He published a number of travelogues using the knowledge and experience from his journeys and was the author of a number of books on African fairy and folk tales. Most of these books were often republished and also translated into Slovak, German, Hungarian and Polish.

Most of his books show "orientalistic" features, such as using a foreign language. Some of them even have their titles in one of the Congolese native languages as well (e.g. Mfumu nsargi [Prague, 1943] or Vo mo kpve [Prague, 1942]). But Parizek was no typically Western "orientalist" since he was strongly critical of the colonial system. Parizek's oeuvre consists of novels, travelogues and literature for young readers. From the 1950s onwards, Parizek focused mainly on the third category, fully complying with the rules of socialistic realism:
   The basis is a thrilling plot; however it should not be the
   only content of the book. A book has to provide its young
   readers with a wholesome and true picture of the
   surroundings in which the plot is situated. It should
   sketch the winsomeness of the landscape; truly depict the
   habits and character of the people and the influence of
   social changes in the struggle between the old and the new.
   In a good adventure book there is no place for superior
   and invulnerable supermen and other figments of the
   imagination. Of necessity, there has to be enough space
   for ethical considerations and a longing for a better
   future. (Parizek 1982: 20-21) (4)

In the next paragraphs I would like to focus on two of Parizek's books on the Congo to show in more detail how the author conveyed a specific image of that country (and actually the whole continent) to his readers. For this purpose I have chosen two different genres--a travelogue, Zeme nasich snu (The country of our dreams, 1942) and an adventure novel for young readers, Hledaci ztraceneho stinu (The seekers of the lost shadow, 1943).

Zeme nasich snu was published in 1942 with the subtitle Z cest jiznim Konzskem (From journeys through the Southern Congo). It is obvious that "the country of our dreams" refers to the Congo. The plot is basically a chronological description of the journey Parizek had made in 1929. The cover of the book shows a map of the African continent and a schematized drawing of an African woman standing in a river with palm trees on the riverbank. The book begins with a foreword by the author in which Africa is directly and theatrically addressed:
   Africa, land of splendour and full of contrasts, fruitful and
   yet a virgin beauty of hot breath and fiery heart, I remember
   you through the rosary of years, never forgetting the day when
   you have, for the first time, held me in your arms. It was the
   most beautiful time of our love. I was then struggling with
   your pride and was begging for your mercy, trying to satisfy
   all your needs and desires, even at the cost of my own strength
   and health. You were a demanding mistress and yet there
   was nothing you could not have asked of me. (Parizek
   1942: 5) (5)

In the foreword, which covers more than three pages, Africa is compared to a black female body that is conquered by Parizek, a white man. The book itself continues exploring this colonial image. For example, Parizek never neglects to inform the reader of the naked breasts of African women. He also stresses traditional practices and pays a lot of attention to polygamy and superstition, as well as to the African fauna and flora, not really differentiating between nature and the people living in it. There are a large number of photographs accompanying the text. At the end of the book maps of Africa and the Belgian Congo are provided, on which the journey the author made, is charted.

Parizek depicts the Congo and its people to his European readers in a very colonial way as the Oriental Other, as he was expected to do by his reading public. However, he is at the same time very critical of the colonial system, especially of the behaviour of civil servants, of the colonial bureaucracy and of missionaries (Parizek 1942: 118-21). Although Parizek claims in his last book that in Zeme nasich snu he tried to o introduce the complexity of the Congo to young readers, a very stereotypical image of Africa was presented (Parizek 1982: 16).

Hledaci ztraceneho stinu (The seekers of the lost shadow), was published for the first time in 1943. It is a significant example of Parizek's writing for young readers. The book tells a simple story of Jan, a white boy, and Zako, a black boy, trying to find the lost shadow, a symbol of unity and peace. At the beginning Zako has to leave his family and tribal village due to his disrespect of "tradition" (shown by the author in a very negative light as pure superstition). Zako sets out on a long journey to find the lost shadow, so that he can prove that the medicine-man was wrong. He is saved from death in the forest by a white family. On a symbolic level there is a critique of the superstition of black people, represented by the old medicine-man Kofa, which is contrasted with white civilisation, represented by Jan and his father.

The author himself comments on the creation of the book as follow: "A fortunate idea made me write Hledaci ztraceneho stinu [...] I have been working on this story with lots of concerns. Its symbolism--two boys of different skin colour are searching for justice and peace for the beleaguered country--was meant to be a protest against the circumstances of that time." (Parizek 1982: 18) (6)

The book received very positive reviews, especially for its high moral value. According to reviews in Czechoslovak newspapers the book should "not be absent from the bookcase of any children growing-up" (Hospodarske noviny, 05.06.1943). Another reviewer recommends Hledaci ztraceneho stinu to all boys under 10 years of age (Svet. Zlin, 22.04.1943). (7)

Parizek was also very active as journalist. He started writing in French in the 1920s and his first articles in the Czech language were published in the early 1930s after returning to his homeland. He cooperated with a wide range of magazines (Svobodne Ceskoslovensko (Free Czechoslovakia), Svet prace (The world of labour), Svet v obrazech (World in pictures), Lide a zeme (Earth and people) and with various newspapers (Blumlova, Gilarova 2005: 6). Parizek's articles visibly show, even more than his books do, his leftist political orientation. Parizek joined the Communist Party long before the coup of 1948. His articles demonstrated an obvious political orientation even before a leftist political message became a prerequisite for publication. From the 1940s onwards Parizek published many articles based on his African journeys with titles such as "Africke povidky" (African short stories), "Ze zapisniku cestovatele" (From the traveller's notebook), "Dnesni Afrika" (Today's Africa), "Cerny kontinent" (The Black Continent), etc. The range of topics is extremely wide, e.g. an article for Lekarska revue (The Medical Review) about native medical practices and medicine-men in the Congo (Lekarska revue, 15.11.1939) or a linguistic study of native Bantu languages or politically oriented articles explaining the contemporary situation in the Congo.

In contrast to his books, Parizek tends to be more willing to abandon the African theme in his articles. He writes about the state of agriculture in Czechoslovakia, innovations in manufacturing processes in one factory or another or workers accomplishing the "Five Year Plan" in two years, etc. He also often succeeded in combining African themes with contemporary political subjects, as can for example be seen in a pamphlet on the occasion of the third congress of collective farmers on 22 March 1957. (8) In this pamphlet, "the politically correct" Czechoslovak writers wish farmers all the best. Parizek writes: "Dear friends, let me tell something else as well. I dare say you might be interested in it. During my journeys through Africa, I had the occasion to come to know a lot about the life and work of the African small farmer or plantation worker. And believe me, it is unhappy work." (Zemedelske noviny, 22.03.1957) (9)

Another domain in which Parizek disseminated knowledge about Africa and at the same time promoted communist thinking, were the lectures he held under the auspices of the Office for Further Education, a state office, which took care of disseminating knowledge among the population. Between 14 and 29 April 1961 Parizek held 29 lectures for a total of 6684 listeners. In this period, just slightly more than two weeks, Parizek spent 66 hours talking about Africa, more specifically the Congo. In the late 1950s and especially in the 1960s Parizek was making 'tours' not only all over Czechoslovakia, but also in Poland and Hungary. He spoke in front of audiences ranging from factory workers to grammar school pupils or even soldiers and in different venues (factories, schools, restaurants, caserns, libraries or pioneers' clubhouses (10)), often holding more than one lecture a day and taking a free day only on Sundays. The impact Parizek and his view on the Congo and Africa in general had on the knowledge of the people in Central European area must have been huge. This effect can for example be seen in numerous letters sent to Parizek by his readers or attendees of his lectures. (11)

Parizek, as a freelancer, kept a list of lectures he could offer and this serves as a very useful source of information about the different topics he discussed. He usually started by introducing Africa from a historical point of view, for example mentioning the overseas discoveries, the discovery and colonization of the Congo on behalf of the Belgian king Leopold II, the Berlin Conference in 1885, etc. The geographical part included topics the Czechoslovak public wanted to hear about, such as polygamy and superstition. Topics such as the export of Czechoslovak tractors to Guinea and the education system were also covered. Last but not least, the struggle of the African people for freedom was discussed with reference to Guinea and the Congo. Of course, Parizek did not hesitate to mention the effective help of the USSR, CSSR "and other progressive countries" in freeing Africa. Parizek was also prepared to adjust the content of the lecture to the needs and wishes of the public, which in actual fact meant the dictates of the ruling party. At the bottom of the list of lectures Parizek pointed out that all the lectures carry a strong political content. (12)

Main themes

As Parizek was in the first place a politically engaged writer and journalist, his writings had other than just recreational or aesthetical purposes. As already mentioned, his books were written in an uncomplicated style, accessible to the masses, using simple narrative structures. The key message emanating from his work is a critique of the colonial system and at the same time (especially in his works from the 1950s onwards) a hymn to communism.

In his books Parizek combines two, at first sight completely different, political principles, namely anti-colonialism and communism. In the early 1940s Parizek wrote about the exploitation of black people in Africa in order to point out the oppression of the Czechoslovak people by the Nazis.

The same principle was then used to support the communist ideology in his later writings. The Congolese were, regardless of the colour of their skin, people oppressed by western capitalists. Parizek did not hesitate to compare the situation before the coup in Czechoslovakia in 1948 to the situation of the colonized people in the Belgian colony.

His appearance, however, contradicted his denunciations. Parizek, dressed in white riding breeches and a white shirt showing his hairy chest, with white tropical helmet on his head, looked like a clone of Henry Morton Stanley. He often criticised the colonial practices of white men, especially Americans and Belgians. The colonizers in his books and articles are often portrayed as lumpy, bald, sweating and red from the sun (compare Parizek 1942: 9, 15). In contrast to them, Parizek seems to have almost no problems with the African climate. The writer claims to have an understanding of the "black race" but at the same time he represents the typically colonial attitude of knowing better than black people themselves what is good for them.

Kpveke-vo and the others

However, white colonizers or westerners in general were not the only characters in Parizek's books that were used to support both the communist ideology and the anticolonial stance. The native guide hired by Parizek appears in almost all of his books on the Congo. Kpveke-vo will later even become the main character in a book carrying his name (Kpveke-vo, 1953). As a result he became, in the minds of European readers, a symbol of the Congo.

The available information offers no means of finding out what Kpveke-vo himself thought about the relationship with the Czechoslovak adventurer. We can only rely on Parizek's books. The writer is always very positive about his guide and often calls Kpveke-vo his friend. The uniqueness of the relationship between a young white man and an elderly black man is exemplified by the fact that he allowed Kpveke-vo to use familiar singular pronouns when speaking to him in French. However, at the same time Parizek apparently had no problem with using "his friend" to carry his luggage and do other menial tasks.

Parizek openly conveys his respect and admiration for Kpveke-vo, whom he calls by his Christian name Lucas, in his books and articles: "The more I was travelling with Lucas, the more I looked up to him. He was a language expert and an authority on native practices, philosopher, great hunter, courageous man and an African poet with a great sense of humour." (Parizek 1967: 81) (13)

Parizek expresses his admiration for the physical appearance and abilities of his native guide as well. Often he is even put higher than the colonial civil servants, who are depicted as less intelligent than Kpveke-vo. But the writer also repeatedly mentions the unmanageable sexuality of the black man (Parizek 1942: 88, 255, 262; 1956: 44-45) and other stereotypical features and beliefs. The author describes Kpveke-vo as educated and wild at the same time; he had deliberately left civilisation in order to listen to his ancestors' voices. The portrayal of Kpveke-vo shows many characteristics of the Orientalist Other.


The effect Parizek's "missionary work" had on spreading information about the Congo was in a great measure supported by illustrations, not only in his books, but also in his articles and on the posters for his lectures. Parizek's archive in the Pamatnik Narodniho Pisemnictvi (Czech Museum of Literature) contains hundreds of examples of these posters.

The illustrations accompanying Parizek's writings were often stereotypical images of exotic Africa. The image of an African woman with naked breasts and palm trees in the background is the one most frequently used in illustrations accompanying articles in newspapers and magazines. These illustrations are often not connected to the content of the article.

The deliberate effort to enhance the exoticism of his writings is made clear in a letter dated 28 September 1971, in which the famous Czech academic painter Zdenek Burian asked Parizek whether he could borrow some photographs to illustrate an article about Czechoslovak travellers in Africa. In a post scriptum the painter specifies, "Of course, I mean romantic photographs, not the civil ones, from your stay in the Congo." (14)


Reviewers often praised Parizek's literary work. However, it was not the literary quality they took to. For the purposes of this article, I have analyzed the word usage in 37 reviews from the 1940s and 1950s. The books are often called an "African novel" or a "negro novel" in the reviews. The reviewers accentuate the author's love of the "Dark Continent" and his knowledge of the psychology of both black and white. Most of the reviewers point out that these books are a very important and often the only source of information about Africa and the Congo. One reviewer even calls Parizek's works an "appropriate enrichment of Czech culture" (Skladal 1943).

All the reviewers emphasize the mystical aspect of Africa, often mentioning the telegraph drums lokali and other stereotypical images of African culture that can be found in Parizek's oeuvre. An analysis of word usage shows a large number of recurring words. The most frequent words are "exotic", "romantic" and "adventurous", which appear in almost every review (e.g. Elsner 1942, Skladal 1942, Soldan 1943).


What sort of image of the Belgian Congo and its people does L. M. Parizek present to his readers and audiences and how was this image interpreted by the public?

By analysing some of Parizek's works we can state that, although he wanted to offer an impartial report on the real situation in the Congo, he did not entirely succeed, primarily due to his inability to abandon thinking patterns that we would tend to call "western" or "colonial." Parizek was passionate about the African continent and made a significant effort to spread information about Africa--especially about the Congo, which, in his eyes, still symbolised the "real" dark Africa. However, most likely as a result of his family's poor financial and social situation while he was a child, Parizek supported communism. After communism became the official ideology in Czechoslovakia, the Communist Party turned the author and his work into a cog in its indoctrination machine. The illustrations that accompanied his books and articles acted as a manual for consumers on how to read his work.

As Parizek stated in an interview for the Sunday magazine of Mlada Fronta (New front) on 28 May 1983: "Our people had, in many regards, a distorted view of Africa and its inhabitants and I hope that I, at least in some way, have managed to change these incorrect ideas." (15) The question is whether he really succeeded.


I would like to thank the Pamatnik Narodniho Pisemnictvi (Czech Museum of Literature) and especially the field office at Stare Hrady and its staff, PhDr. Eva Bilkova, Ivan Kouba and Mgr. Magdalena Srutova, who allowed me to work with the still uncatalogued Parizek's archive. This is also where I got most of the materials I have used for this research. The archive contains mostly materials and documents collected by Parizek himself, sometimes without any reference to the title or the date or origin of newspaper cuttings. In such cases I just refer to the "Parizek archive", because it was not possible to find out from which newspaper the review was taken.

Works cited

[Anonymous]. 1943a. Tydne jednu knihu. [Review of Hledaci ztraceneho stinu.] Svet. Zlin. 22.04.1943. Prague: Czech Museum of Literature (Pa Vrizek archive).

[Anonymous]. 1943b. Kulturni svet. [Review of Hledaci ztraceneho stinu.] Hospodarske noviny. 05.06.1943. Prague: Czech Museum of Literature (Parizek archive).

Blumlova, Dagmar; Gilarova, Zuzana (eds.). 2005. Ceske Budejovice v pameti Ladislava Mikese Parizka (Ceske Budejovice in memories of L. M. Parizek). Pelhfimov: Nova tiskarna.

Burian, Zdenek. 1971. Letter to L. M. Parizek. Prague: 28.09.1971. Prague: Czech Museum of Literature (Parizek archive).

Elsner, Lubos. 1942. Cerny svetadil. Ztec 11. 12.1942. Prague: Czech Museum of Literature (Parizek archive).

Glazarova, Jarmila, Riha, Bohumil; Parizek, Ladislav Mikes; Hecko, Frantisek,, Toman, Josef Tomanova, Miloslava; Kriz, Ivan; Benes, K. J.; Pleva, Josef V, Otradovicova, J.; Drda, Jan; Kaplicky, Vaclav; Kana, Vasek. 1957. Slovo spisovateli k III: sjezdu nasich druzstevniku. Zemedelske noviny, 22.03.1957.

Kopic, Jaroslav; Neff, Ondfej; Pacner, Karel. 1983. Z tatovy kovarny do posvatneho haje. Vikend. Mlada fronta. 28.05.1983.

Lukes, Klement; Parizek, Ladislav Mikes. 1961. Poznavame Afriku. Bratislava: Osvetovy ustav.

Martinek, Jiri. 1998. Kdo byl kdo. Nasi cestovatele a geografove. Prague: Libri.

Parizek, Ladislav Mikes. 1939. Domorodi lekari a kouzelnici v Kongu. Lekafska revue, 15.11.193 9,181-82.

--. 1942. Zeme nasich sun. Prague: Ceska graficka unie.

--. 1950. Afrikapod maskami. Prague: Melantrich.

--. 1952. Africke svitani. Prague: Melantrich.

--. 1953. Afrika se probouzi. Prague: Orbis.

--. 1956. Belgicke Kongo a jeho lid. Prague: MF.

--.1958. Cemosske baje apohadky. Prague: SNDK.

--. [1961 ]. Obsah Pfednasek cestovatele a spisovatele L. M. Parizka z Prahy, KNT 4/5732/61. Prague: Czech Museum of Literature(Parizekarchive).

--.1967. Me cesty za dobrodruzstvim. Ceske Budejovice: nakladatelstvi Ceske Budejovice.

--. 1969 [1943]. Hledaciztraceneho stinu. Ostrava: Profil.

--. 1982. Nejkrasnej si zivot. Prague: Albatros. Skladal, Antonin. 1942. Ukazka dobrodruzneho romanu. Zajmy Povltavi. September 1942. Prague: Czech Museum ofLiterature(Pa izekarchive).

--. 1943. Afrika na obzoru. Zajmy Povltavi. 09.01.1943. Prague: Czech Museum of Literature (Pa izek archive).

Soldan, Fedor. 1943. Zajimava reportaz z Afriky. Ceske slovo. 23.04.1943. Prague: Czech Museum of Literature (Pa izekarchive).


(1) I have translated all the citations from the original Czech purely for the purpose of this article. "Nove poznatky byly prekvapujici a silne na mne zapusobily. Projevilo se to take v me dalsi praci. Po vitezstvi spojeneckych armad nad fasismem se Afrika zacala probouzet z dlouheho utlumu kolonialniho panstvi. Presvedcive vitezstvi lidu prvni socialisticke zeme sveta SSSR pomohlo probudit svobodomyslny postoj cerueho lidu." (Parizek 1982: 19)

(2) The Parizek archive of the Pamatnik Narodniho Pisemnictvi also contains copious correspondence between the writer and political activists in French.

(3) "Konecne j sem mel nejhustsi splet' krovin za sebou. Nohy se mi borily do mechu, ktey rostl mezi balvany. Kracel jsem misty, na nichz podle vseobecne viry byly o vyrocnich nabozenskych slavnostech konany lidske obeti a ktera podle tvrzeni mistnich lidi jeste neposkvmila noha belocha. Nahle jsem se zastavil. Po prave strane pod velikymi balvany v hustych chomacich kapradin se zaleskla voda." (Parizek 1967:191)

(4) "Zakladem je napinavy dej. Nesmi vsak byt jedinou naplni knihy. Ta ma davat mladym ctenarum celkovy a pravdivy obraz prostredi, ve kterem se dej odehrava. Musi licit podmanivost krajiny, verne zobrazo vat zvyky a povahy lidi i pusobeni spolecenskych zmen v boji mezi staym a novym. V dobre dobrodruzne knize neni misto pro nadrazene a nezranitelne supermany a prehnane vymysly. Bezpodminecne v ni musi byt dostatek mista pro etickou stranku atouhupo lepsim zitrku." (Pahzek 1982: 2021)

(5) "Afriko, zeme nadhery a kontrastu, plodna a presto panenska krasko horkeho dech a ohniveho srdce, vzpominam na tebe ruzencem let, aniz jsem zapomnel na den, kdy po prve jsi mne sevrela ve sve naruci. Byla to nejkrasnejsi doba nasi lasky, kdyz jsem zapolil s tvou hrdosti a kdy jsem prosil o slitovani, snaze se vyhoveti tvym potrebam i choutkam za cenu vlastnich sil a ztraty sveho zdravi. Byla j si narocnou milenkou a nebylo nic, ceho bys nemohla na mne zadat." (Parizek 1942:5)

(6) "Stastna myslenka me dovedla k napsani knihy Hledaciztraceneho stinu. [...] najejim pribehu jsem pracoval s velikym zaujetim. Jeho symbolika dva chlapci rozdilne pleti hledaji spravedlnost a mir pro suzo vanou zemi byla protestem k udalostem tehdej si doby." (Pahzek 1982: 18)

(7) The Parizek archive contains a great number of reviews of Parizek's books, especially from the 1940s and 1950s, collected by the author. These are mostly newspaper cuttings, leaving out the possibility to find out from which newspaper or magazine the review comes from.

(8) Jednotne zemedelske Druzstvo (JZD) or collective farms were the Czechoslovak variants on the Soviet kolchozy.

(9) "Vazeni pratele, dovolte mi, abych vam rekl jeste neco jineho. Snad vas to bude zajimat. Na svych cestach Afrikou jsem mel prilezitost poznat I zivot apraci drobneho africkeho zemedelce nebo plantazniho delnika. A verte mi, ze je to prace neradostna." (Parizek 1957)

(10) Pionyr (Pioneer) was a communist organisation that can be compared to the Boy Scouts. One of the main objectives of the organisation was the indoctrination of children with the official ideology.

(11) Parizek's correspondence can be found in the Parizek archive of the Czech Museum of Literature.

(12) According to a list of lectures held in the Prievidza region (now in Slovakia) from 1220 June 1961 Parizek held three lectures on Wednesday, 14 June: at 8.00 a.m. for 565 listeners, at 11.00 a.m. for 520 listeners and at 2.00 p.m. for 55 listeners; on Thursday, 15 June at 9.00 a.m. he had 450 listeners, 320 listeners at 11.00 a.m. and 149 listeners at 4.00 p.m. The Parizek archive of the Czech Museum of Literature also includes many labour contracts made between Parizek and the Office for Further Education for different periods, obliging Pahzek to a certain number of lectures in different parts of Czechoslovakia. See the list of lectures Obsah Predndsek cestovatele a spisovatele L. M.Parizka zPrahy.

(13) "Cim dele jsem s Lukasem Ziou putoval, tim vic jsem se mu obdivoval. Byl znalcem jazyku a zvyku lidu, filosofem, vytecnym lovcem, statecnym clovekem a byl basnikem Afriky se smyslem pro humor." (Parizek 1967:81)

(14) "Mam samoztejme na mysli fotografie romanticke, ne civilni, z vaseho pobytu v Kongu." (Burian 1971)

(15) "Nasi lide meli v mnoha ohledech na Afriku a jeji obyvatele zkresleny nazor a verim, ze se mi alespoh v necem podarilo ty chybne pohledy poopravit." (Kopic, Neff, Pacner 1983)

Martina Vitackova is junior lecturer in the Dutch Department of Palacky University Olomouc, Czech Republic. E-mail:
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Author:Vitackova, Martina
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Date:Sep 22, 2009
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