Pavel Kohout Collection at the Moravian Museum
The collection of Pavel Kohout is an extraordinary set of materials documenting a transformation of the author's personality from a prominent literary into a representative of the cultural opposition engaging in the Charter 77 and then being in exile.
Hudcova 76, 612 00 Brno, Czech Republic
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Provenance and cultural activities
Pavel Kohout was a writer, during the Communist regime, he was a prominent writer who was transformed into a representative of the cultural opposition engaging in the Charter 77 and then exiled. The collection was created in the private ownership of Pavel Kohout and his third wife, Jelena Kohoutová, during their lives. It contains materials from Kohout´s childhood to the present, although the documents by Jelena Kohoutová are a marginal contribution in comparison. Materials dating back to pre-1979, when Kohout's spouse was not allowed to return from their work trip in Austria, were kept in their summer family home in Sázava, even at the time of normalisation. The materials from 1979-1989 were created and preserved in Vienna, where Kohout´s family lived, but after the Velvet Revolution they were transferred to Sázava and were added to a previous collection. Pavel Kohout was counting the storage of his materials in one of the Czech archives for further study so that all objects he considered important were carefully and continuously archived. The Moravian Museum intended to establish a department gathering the collections of prominent representatives of the anti-Communist opposition. That is why the museum sent a letter to Pavel Kohout, calling for his personal funds to be stored here. Pavel Kohout sold his documents to the Moravian Museum in several waves. The first corpus of materials was deposited here in 2010, others followed in 2016 and 2017.
There is an enormous amount of diverse materials, largely from from the direct activity of Kohout, mapping cultural and political activities in the 1950s and 1960s, activities in the Prague Spring, dissident activity including the Charter 77, exile, and his return to the cultural scene after the Velvet Revolution. The museum has found the collection of Pavel Kohout as extraordinary and of high value, and is a contribution to what we know today in Czech and Czechoslovak history. The collection however is still incomplete; in the coming years, it will be extended by more of Kohout's materials. Due to the scope of the collection, it is still being systematised and catalogued by Eleonora Jeřábková who is in a contact with Pavel Kohout and Jelena Kohoutová.
Description of content
The collection of Pavel Kohout is very extensive, it is partially catalogued, and the largely non-catalogued materials correspond to the range of about 650 standard archived cartons. Pavel Kohout systematically kept almost all the documents he considered to be important for describing his life or, implicitly, his involvement. The collection contains materials primarily related to personal life, such as birthday photos, house rebuilding, tax returns, a large number of postcards, hotel menus, etc., but also a public engagement including opposition activities. Most of the materials are based on Pavel Kohout's literary work, including several versions of the manuscripts with comments and proofreading notes, editions of the books, etc. His literary agenda is in the form of communication with publishers, reviews and replies to works, which is also a part of the collection.
An important element is also the carefully preserved texts, photos and videos from the period of dissent and exile, including correspondence with individuals and institutions, preparatory texts for interviews, articles, the Charter 77 statements, photographs from the underground university or from the funeral of Jan Patočka. The exile period also includes a documentation of disputes with socialist Czechoslovakia after the expulsion of Pavel Kohout a Jelena Kohoutová from the country, documents for Kohout's autobiography, and copies of StB materials about Pavel Kohout. The collection also consists a part of Pavel Kohout's library, which includes titles mainly from exile publishing houses (such as several issues of the Obrys, Západ, Listy). The archived materials by Jelena Kohoutová are a minimal part of the collection, only about 5 standard archived cartons consisting of mainly her plays. On a base of these texts, it is obvious that Pavel Kohout is an inspiration.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): unknown quantity
- legal and/or financial documentation: 1000-
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): 1000-
- photos: 1000-
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 100-499
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
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Important events in the history of the collection
- parts are closed to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Nečasová, Denisa
Slovník české literatury po roce 1945. 2018. „Pavel Kohout“. Last modified May 30 2009. http://www.slovnikceskeliteratury.cz/showContent.jsp?docId=43
Česká televize. 2018. „Jelena Mašínová“. Accessed August 22.
Kosatík, Pavel. 2013. Fenomén Kohout. Praha: Mladá Fronta.
Schovánek, Radek (ed.). 2006. Svazek Dialog. StB versus Pavel Kohout. Praha: Paseka.
Kohout, Pavel. 2018. To byl můj život?? Praha: Odeon.
Jeřábková, Eleonora, interview by Nečasová, Denisa, July 17, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection