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(en) Czech, AFED: Picture from mining life - Review of the new edition of Alois Šefl's short story "Destroyed Happiness". [machine translation]

Date Fri, 3 Sep 2021 10:02:22 +0300

As part of its work to uncover the history of the Czech anarchist movement, the Zádruha Historical Association also mediates the literary works of anarchists at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. We recently drew attention to the collection of poems Forgotten Verses in the form of a review , today we want to draw attention to the publication Destroyed Happiness , published by Zádruha in 2019. ---- Although the preface states that Destroyed Happiness is a novel, in reality it is more of a short story inspired by real events that took place in 1883, a year after the suppression of the first general mining strike in the Czech north.
The author of the short story, which was written and published for the first time in 1922, is the anarchist journalist A lois Šefl (1874-1938), who was deeply acquainted with the life and work of miners. He then worked in mines in the Nýrany region from the age of 14. He soon landed in Osek near Duchcov. He survived only two landslides in the mines there. In the 1990s, he joined the anarchist movement, was fired and went to work in various places abroad. He was back at the beginning of the 20th century and became involved in anarchist organizations and engaged in trade union activities. Šefl contributed to Mining Lists and translated anarcho-syndicalist publications. In the interwar period, he published several novels and short stories, mostly from the mining environment.

Getting to Šefl's works is not easy, which is why this publication work Zádruhy is also meritorious. But don't expect the work of a seasoned writer. Šefl's enthusiasm, with which he acquaints with the life of miners and their families, however, is able to partially compensate for the literary shortcomings of the short story, such as the groundbreaking and first-line dialogues. These are, above all, an introduction to the situation of the socialist miners involved and an explanation of the need to create secret organizations. All this is connected with one family tragedy, in the context of which it is possible to trace the secondary position of women even among the then free-spirited workers. And the sentence at the beginning of the short story "And when a poor person can share this modest joy with a nice and smiling washcloth" looks as if the washcloth is not human. Unfortunately for similar statements, where a man means only a man,

Alois Šefl: Destroyed Happiness. Picture from mining life . Historical Association Zádruha, 2019. 40 pp. A5, price 35 CZK. It can be ordered at spolekzadruha[a]riseup.net.

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