Jaroslav Foglar

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Jaroslav Foglar (6 July 1907 in Prague - 23 January 1999) was a famous Czech author who wrote many novels about youths (partly also about Boy Scouts movement) and their adventures in nature and dark city streets.


Early life

Foglar was born and grew up in Prague, capital of Bohemia. Because his father died prematurely he was brought up in rather poor material conditions by his mother. He was strongly influenced by romantic parts of Prague. All of the fictional towns in his novels are more or less derived from Prague. During the 1920s, Foglar was strongly influenced by German independent Wandervogel movement as well as Scout movement led by Antonín Benjamin Svojsík under Czech name Junák.

Writer and editor career, prohibited writer and the end of life

During 1930s and 1940s, Foglar worked as an magazine editor in one of the largest Prague publishing houses, Melantrich. He edited several journals for youths:

  • Mladý hlasatel ("Young herald"), 1938–1941
  • Junák ("Scout"), 1945–1949
  • Vpřed ("Ahead"), 1946–1948

and he wrote articles for even more journals including the Skaut, Sluníčko, ABC, and the Tramp.

After Communist coup in 1948 Foglar was kicked out of publishing house, his magazines were liquidated and his books prohibited, as was the Scout movement and independent youth clubs. For many years he worked as tutor in youth internate schools and homes. During the fall of censorship at the end of 1960s, he published some new books and the re-editions of the olders. After Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia his books were newly banned until 1989.

Foglar lived with his mother caring for her until her death in high age and never married.

Scout versus Youth Club movement

However Foglar worked as Scout leader, his relation to the Scout movement was not simple. He basically pictured the boy scouts only in few of his novels (especially Pod junackou vlajkou a Devadesatka pokracuje), preferring to write mostly about his own invention, the boy clubs. Foglar's idea of independent boy clubs is basically derived from German Wandervogel movement. As editor of Mlady Hlasatel, Foglar systematically build clubbist ideology (based on friendship, good deeds, personal sacrifice, love to the nature, etc.) on some and traditions and own terminology. Clubs were small groups between 4 and 8 youths. Some of them were informally led by young men few years older than other youths, like Rikitan in novel Hosi od Bobri reky or by best of the youths - like 'exemplary youth' Mirek Dusin of Rychle Sipy Club. Having Foglar's novels and his magazine articles as a pattern, many Czech youths established such a clubs. At its high tide, there were many thousand of such a independent clubs, which were basically kind of Wandervogel concurrence towards the organized Scout movement. On the other hand, when Scouts were persecuted and forbidden during the German occupation between 1938 and 1945 and during Communism between 1948 and 1989 (with short exception of renewal of Scout during 1968 and 1969), boy clubs posed excellent informal alternative of youth life based on ideas similar to those of Scouts.

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