The Czech Solzhenitsyn

7-8 2003 Naši ve světě English
obálka čísla

I am speaking about Dr. Jiří Krupička, Professor Emeritus of Geology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, and an extraordinary author of a series of historical, socio-political and philosophical books. The lifeline similarity between Jiří Krupička and his Russian protagonist, Solzhenitsyn, is striking. Both men studied natural sciences. Both had become long time prisoners of the hostile totalitarian regime, and both were stricken with, and survived a bout of aggressive cancer. Both authors have created the main body of their literary work in exile and advanced in age. Both were also recognised for their works. Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in1970. Thirty years later, Krupička was awarded a PEN club prize, a golden medal of the Czech Geological Society, and received other public honours. Yet, in spite of their initial acclaim, the present literary and political nomenclatures of their respective countries pay little attention to either.

Let us now focus on Jiří Krupička who, a few weeks ago, completed the 90th year of his fruitful life. This extraordinary man was born on May 5, 1913 in Prague. As young man he traveled to the Middle East, graduated in modern languages, and after WW II obtained a doctorate in Geology, both degrees from Charles University. In 1950 he was arrested and sentenced to 16 years of hard labor for the attempt to smuggle out his own manuscript, Man and Mankind, into the free world. He was placed in prison camps of the infamous uranium mines at Jáchymov and Příbram, and later was transferred to a high security fortress at Leopoldov, Slovakia. As a prisoner he was the epitome of courage and integrity. In clandestine seminars he shared his broad knowledge and humanistic ideals with young prison mates. After 10 years he was released and returned to his family in Prague. During the long years Jiří was incarcerated, his wife, Áda, worked in a factory to support their daughters Helena and Irena. She carried the stigma of being a wife of an "enemy of the state".

For the first three years, Jiří also worked as laborer, but later he was allowed to return to his geological profession. He participated in the "Prague spring" of 1968 and became one of the organizers of the World Geological Congress in Prague which was in session during the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of that same year. Being well aware that he might be the subject of new persecution, Jiří left his homeland and emigrate to Canada with his family. The University of Alberta in Edmonton offered him a professorial position. He conducted research up to the Highest Arctic, and taught "Geology for another" twenty years. He soon returned to writing, his first book a political novel: "A letter from Russia" (Cramerius, Helvetia. 1987. 236 pp). It depicts the corrupt and bias mentality of the western intellectuals against the backdrop of the Pugwash movement. This work is followed by an extensive trilogy: "The Renaissance of the Reason" (Český spisovatel. Praha.1994. 560 pp), "The Flagellant Civilization" (Hynek Publ. Praha.1999. 340 pp), and "The Maturity Exam" (Paseka Publ. Praha. 2000. 250 pp). In these books Krupička reveals his personal worldview and analyzes the roots and symptoms of the western civilization decline. Within the next two years, two autobiographical works were published: An "Old Fortress" (Paseka. Praha. 2001.100 pp), which serves as a prolog to the main opus "The Whims of Life" (Paseka. Praha. 2002. 416 pp). Here, author´s noble humanism, personal experience, and creed captivate us.

While Krupička´s body has become weaker with age and his soul has been deeply wounded by recent family tragedies, his mind and resolve remain strong and clear. Therefore, let us not close the author´s chapter yet and rather wait for new gifts of his mature wisdom. Another 10 years, Jiří, another 10 years!!!

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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