The Nobel Prize in Literature 1984
Born: 23 September 1901, Prague, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic)
Died: 10 January 1986, Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic)
Residence at the time of the award: Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic)
Prize motivation: “for his poetry which endowed with freshness, sensuality and rich inventiveness provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man”
Prize share: 1/1
Jaroslav Seifert was born in Zizkov, a suburb of Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). Seifert was one of the pioneers of modernist poetry and literature in his native country. He also worked as a journalist and translator. The period after the World War II was a disappointment for Seifert, who had been hoping for a brighter and freer future. Instead the Communist government imposed a repressive policy in which poets were expected to write political propaganda. Seifert became involved in attempts at reforms with the increased freedom implemented in his native country, such as the Prague Spring of 1968 and the Charta 77 movement.
Jaroslav Seifert made his debut with the poetry collection Město v slzách (1921) (City in Tears). His writings include more than 30 poetry collections. Seifert was a highly regarded poet in his native country. Melody and rhythm characterize his poetry, which is inspired by folk songs, common speech and everyday scenes. At the heart of Seifert’s poems is humanity, and he criticizes the totalitarian state’s attempts to reduce the opportunities and freedom of the individual.
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