Dominik Tatarka Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature
The collection of the Slovak writer and publicist Dominik Tatarka (1913–1989) contains unique correspondence, manuscripts and audio recordings illustrating life of this leading Czechoslovak writer, who had been critical to the communist regime since 1950s and became a “banned author” and dissident after 1968.
Strahovské nádvoří 1, 118 38 Praha 1 - Hradčany, Czech Republic
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Name of collection
- Tatarka Dominik
Provenance and cultural activities
Writer and journalist Dominik Tatarka belonged to the most important Slovak writers of the twentieth century. From an enthusiastic communist, Tatarka gradually developed into an uncompromised critic of the system. His book “The Daemon of Consent” (1963) was a scorching criticism of Stalinism in Czechoslovakia. He left the communist party in protest against the communist politics after August 1968. Subsequently, he was expelled from professional associations, forbidden to publish and his books were withdrawn from official distribution. Until 1989, Tatarka could work only as a labourer and his work could be only spread in samizdat, or in exile. At that time, he became one of the most important Slovak dissidents and one of a few Slovak signatories to Charter 77.
Dominik Tatarka sold part of his correspondence and manuscripts to the Museum of Czech Literature (PNP) already in 1979. This sale was mediated by Slovak historian and dissident Ján Mlynárik in cooperation with the employee of the acquisition department of the Literary Archive of the PNP Marie Krulichová. Officially, the Museum of Czech Literature purchased materials from the antiquarian bookshop in Karlova street in Prague that had previously bought them from Tatarka. Another part of the collection, containing further correspondence and manuscripts, was acquired by the PNP in 1981, again through the already mentioned antiquarian bookshop. At that time, antiquarian bookshops in Czechoslovakia were obliged to offer literary archival materials to the PNP. The Museum of Czech Literature then often bought from these bookshops also materials from unofficial or “banned” writers and poets, usually at the prices suggested by the bookshops. Thus, via these purchases, employees of the Museum of Czech Literature not only (financially) supported representatives of unofficial or forbidden culture before 1989, but they also collected and stored documents for the future historians and literary scientists. After the fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1989, the Museum of Czech Literature continued to collect personal collections of representatives of Czechoslovak unofficial culture, dissent or exile. The Dominik Tatarka Collection was extended as well. After 1989, the Museum of Czech Literature bought some further documents related to Tatarka’s life and work. The collection was extended also thank to several donations. In 1994, the Czech writer Eva Štolbová sold to the Museum of Czech Literature her love letters and audio recordings with Dominik Tatarka.
The Literary archive of the Museum of Czech Literature is not the only institution where materials of this leading Slovak writer of the second half of the twentieth century can be found. Tatarka’s written legacy is stored also in the archives of the National Museum in Prague, and naturally in Slovakia – for example in the Literary archive of the Slovak National Library in Martin, or in some collections of the Slovak National Archives (e.g. the collection of the Union of Slovak Writers).
Description of content
The Dominik Tatarka collection contains incoming and outgoing correspondence (e.g. with writers Erika Podlipná and Eva Štolbová), his and others‘ manuscripts and two tape recordings of Tatarka’s “Navrávačky” (interviews with Eva Štolbová). The collection contains also typescript copies of his literary works (e.g. “The Daemon of Consent”) with handwritten correction. The collection consists of 6 cartons.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): 0-9
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Author(s) of this page
- Kůželová, Michaela
Kriššáková, Dominika. 2017. “Rebelující intelektuál v proměnách času- Dominik Tatarka a jeho působení v disidentském hnutí”. Diplomová práce. Univerzita Karlova, Fakulta humanitních studií. Online. https://is.cuni.cz/webapps/zzp/detail/166633.
PNP. 2017. Výroční zpráva 2016." Accessed October 17. http://www.pamatniknarodnihopisemnictvi.cz/content/fck/files/VyrocniZpravaPNP2016.pdf.
Sme.sk. 2009. “Dominik Tatarka zomrel pred 20 rokmi.” Last modified May 10. https://kultura.sme.sk/c/4836035/dominik-tatarka-zomrel-pred-20-rokmi.html.
Literárne informačné centrum. 2018. "Dominik Tatarka". Accessed June 1. http://www.litcentrum.sk/slovenski-spisovatelia/dominik-tatarka.
The description of this collection was created with the kind help of the director of the Museum of Czech Literature (PNP) Mgr. Zdeněk Freisleben, the head of the Literary Archive of the PNP PhDr. Tomáš Pavlíček, PhD., and the curator of the Literary Archive of the PNP PhDr. Petr Kotyk.
Kotyk, Petr, interview by Kůželová, Michaela, May 24, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection