The Age of Wings and fast Wheels, or between Laurin and Kašpar


Chapters in this volume concerning the cultural history around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries concentrate on the attractive phenomenon of speed. Their authors observe not only technical inventions but also their picture in arts and the effects on everyday life. Speed was not the main feature of railroads and roads, speed also entered human thinking, jobs and lifestyle. On the one hand the life became easier, but on the other hand, speed deprived people of the possibility to live full and sound. This discrepancy is not a newly observed fact; the discrepancy has been more or less carefully watched in a philosophical way since Jules Verne's time.

Milan HLAVAČKA tries to define the main reasons for the shaping of the unified time measuring in his chapter called Fenomén času ve zrychlené době (The Phenomenon of Time in the Accelerated Age). Changes in measuring time modified the previously invariable perception of the time flow which had been based on the natural horizon. What more, the image of the modern society was altered, the society became organized, controlled and limited by time. The standardization of time was connected with the expansion of modern means of transport - especially railroads needed strict time management. The telegraph time signal enabled the setting of the correct time worldwide; it helped to establish unified transatlantic time as international convention. 24 time zones were created and the international time standard (Greenwich Mean Time) was established during the conference in Washington D.C. in 1884.

Tomáš JIRÁNEK - Otázka dopravy v pamětech Emanuela Salomona z Friedbergu-Mírohorského (The Question of Transport in the Memoirs of Emanuel Salomon from Friedberg-Mírohorský) used the voluminous memoirs of Emanuel Salomon from Friedberg-Mírohorský (1829-1908) as the starting point in the reconstruction of the key moments connected with the changes of time perception in individual's memory. Charming quotations from the memoirs of a nobleman and a soldier co-create the picture of joys and troubles in civil and military transportation and their effect on the real experience of a perceptive person in the 19th century. A fine connection became essential at the end of the nineteenth century for both public and for the industrial development in the peripheral regions of the Czech lands. The improvement of the transport system was based on government contracts and private investors or companies established for this reason; these are the main ideas in Lipenka - jedna z podob železnice na přelomu století (Lipenka - An Image of a Railroad at the Turn of the Century) by Jan IVANOV. Long-standing disputes over technical aspects of the Lipenka railroad were settled by Arnošt Porák - a Loučovice cellulose factory owner. And finally, the new railroad was opened in 1911. Martin HRDINA was inspired by some interpretative methods used by important Czech literary scholars (e.g. V. Macura, D. Hodrová) and he also used his own methods in Diskurz o železnici v české literatuře 19. století (Railroads in the Czech Literature during the 19thCentury) to clear the picture of a railroad and its role. The author shows the connection between a railroad and literature since the forties of the 19th century. Several examples serve as a proof of the fact that railroads were not common in literature because of their non-poetics. He reminds an argument between I. Geisslová and J. Lier who included the picture of railroads into her or his works. J. Neruda was the first person to create a relation between the narrator and the railroad itself. The motive of railroad was a source of inspiration for both fine and commercial art in the 19th century. Tomáš KREJČÍK talks about railroads in his Železnice v obraze medailí, plastiky a erbů 19. století (Railroads in Medals, Sculptures and Coats of Arms in the 19th Century). The first part of the chapter contributes to the development of medal manufacturing in the 19th century, mints and numismatic collections concerning the railway iconography. In the second part, the author mentions railroad motives in coats of arms which were granted during the 19th century.

The next chapter Praha - Paříž zpáteční (Čeští vzduchoplavci, aviatici, velocipedisté a závodníci v "hlavním městě Evropy"); Return Ticket Prague - Paris (Czech Aeronauts, Aviators, Cyclists and Competitors in the "European Capital") was written by Břetislav DITRYCH, a writer of non-fiction based on the period of the turn of the 19th and the 20thcenturies. The names of Czech competitors commonly known in Europe and their wonderful machines emerge in his colorful description of victories and losses. Quotations from foreign newspapers and private accounts from the period 1895-1905 perfectly illustrate the cultural context of the chapter. Jan HOZÁK in his Zázemí prvních českých aviatiků (The First Czech Aeronauts' Background) draws readers' attention to the fact that speed was not so essential for the first aeronauts; the effort to go up and to stay in the air was far more important. He refutes another romantic illusion about the life of the Czech aeronauts, their careers were dependent on money; and their position was far worse than Germans' position. The problem could have been solved by joining the newly established Austro-Hungarian military air force, but only some were chosen. And so, the most famous aeronauts including Jan Kašpar sacrificed everything and had unsure and adventure lives.

Two sides of speed - dynamics of technical innovations and business strategy evolution are main topics in Ivan JAKUBEC's Výrobna automobilů jako výrobna rychlosti. Firma Laurin a Klement v Mladé Boleslavi (A Car Manufacturer as a Speed Manufacturer. The Laurin and Klement Company in Mladá Boleslav). The author tries to show two above mentioned sides of speed in the example of the Laurin and Klement Co. which was closely connected with the very beginning of the Czech car-making industry. There were several items of the company success: the precise estimation of the modern bicycle market, courage to implement technical innovations for manufacturing motorbikes and cars and last but not least the professional cooperation between Václav Klement and Václav Laurin. In the chapter Antonín Podlaha a automobil (Antonín Podlaha and an Automobile), there can be seen the introducing of the new legal-administrative frame concerning the car traffic which was in effect during the first decade of the 20th century. Extensive knowledge of the sources from Antonín Podlaha's personal collection helps the author of this chapter - Marie RYANTOVÁ - to describe the situation in a thorough way. Antonín Podlaha (1865-1932) decided to obtain an automobile in 1909; it was a four-stroke "voiturette". He received a detailed official permit from the company Laurin&Klement and what more, according to the ministerial act of the 27 September 1905 he was obliged to pass an exam which allowed him to get a driving license provided with his photograph; a synopsis of the ministerial act is included in the appendix. There was also a possibility to procure cheaper, tax-free mineral oil - gas but for this it was necessary to get a permit from the regional financial directory, the permit allowed its owner to collect certain quantity of cheaper gas. Petr POPELKA in his Proměny cestování na moravských a slezských silnicích v "dlouhém 19. století" (Changes of Traveling on Moravian and Silesian Roads during "the Long 19thCentury") talks about the cause of acceleration in passenger and freight transport. The network of fast postal horse-driven coaches traveling in accordance with their timetables was improved in the first half of the 19th century which speeded up the passenger transport. The horse-driven freight transport was also improved (by so-called "malevní pošta"). The importance of postal coaches was diminished by railroads and also the significance of road system was increasing. The usage of new, faster vehicles such as buses and cars was based on new road building technologies, e.g. rolling, on which the author focuses. The reliability of the new means of transport was questionable - according to stenographic accounts of the beginning of the 20th century. Costs connected with establishing new regular bus lines were lower than with train lines and it started the boom of the state subsidized bus transportation at the beginning of the 20th century.

The chapter Automobilový dort, aneb Nová doba v kuchyni? (An Automobile Cake, or The New Age in the Kitchen?) by Martin FRANCE shows that gastronomy had been resisting the changes of the accelerated age for a long time; this idea is supported by thorough analysis of Czech and foreign cookbooks. The fast preparation of meals was not common and haste consumption was considered as unbecoming behavior before the World War I. Female-reformers, inspired by American tradition, started to emphasize the rationalization of boarding. They wanted to simplify and accelerate it, they desired to increase work efficiency in households which would have led to changes in woman's time and life. Vít POLÁČEK talks about the connection between the speed phenomenon and art in Fenomén rychlosti v prvních třiceti letech filmu (The Speed Phenomenon during the First Thirty Years of Motion Pictures). In the beginning, movies enabled the spectator to experience real speed but as the time was advancing, acceleration and speed became basic parts of movie language and it made movies more distinct from theater.

The essay called Kterak technický pokrok vtrhl do poklidného města Sobotky (The Quiet Town of Sobotka and the Sudden Invasion of Technical Advance) contributes with changes caused by the technical innovations in the small town in Eastern Bohemia. The author of this essay, Karol BÍLEK, explains that Sobotka was at the turn of the 19th and 20thcenturies quite well developed from a cultural point of view but it was not true for the economic situation. There were generally two reasons; not enough courage among local businessmen and prevailing small farming. The first thirteen bicycles for the cycling club in 1897 were somehow the starting point of changes and technical progress in the town. Motorbikes and automobiles appeared soon after. The essay is concluded by a remarkable story about a local mechanic-autodidact who drew public attention due to his own flying machine design. In fact, all people were not excited about modern technical inventions, one of the dissatisfied was Anna Pammrová (1860-1945, an author, a theosophist and a vegetarian). Klára DVOŘÁKOVÁ used her words: Civilizace dělá z lidí rozbiječe ráje (Civilization Creates the Destroyers of Paradise) along with Vztah Anny Pammrové k technickým novinkám (The Anna Pammrová's Attitude to Technical Innovations) as a heading and a subheading for her contribution. One of Anna Pammrová's works is called Antieva, it is a kind of "novel written by a child"; Anna goes back to her childhood which was set in clear, unspoiled and undisturbed nature. This is the key moment for understanding of her hostility to the phenomenon of city and all features of civilization. An academic from the beginning of the 20th century is regarded to be more conservative than modern, at least in the connection with innovations coming to the everyday life. Dagmar BLÜMLOVÁ - Intelektuálovo okouzlení rychlostí (Václav Tille a moderní vynálezy); An Intellectual Fascinated by Speed (Václav Tille and Modern Inventions) tries to convince us that the literature historian, the Romance scholar and the folklorist Václav Tille (1867-1937) was an exception. In spite of his older age, he stayed in touch with everything which was new and modern and owing to that, he was able to communicate with his students without any major problems. The chapter comprises three features typical for V. Tille's "harmony" with the accelerated age. The first one was his passion for traveling, by the sea or on the ground, from Texas to Moscow. As the second one there can be mentioned his liking for all the inventions making the ordinary life better, in particular he was literally enchanted by movies (he is considered to be the first Czech movie aesthetician). And for the last one, he sought for the answers about the being and life in A. Einstein's work including the theory of relativity.

Josef BLÜML's chapter called Obraz moderního světa v díle Julesa Verna (The Image of the Modern World in Jules Verne's Works) recaps the life of Jules Verne, a French science-fiction writer, and emphasizes the importance of his books anticipating modern inventions. The author shows how Jules Verne's novels came to the Czech environment (J. Neruda) and how they influenced both human and artistic development of some important Czech writers (F. Hrubín, J. Seifert, J. Skácel). It is also reminded that the Prague publishing houses (J. R. Vilímek) helped J. Verne to become the most influential writer for young people.

This accelerated age also changed ways and procedures in all business branches. Export rates, foreign markets orientation and delivery promptness started to be important features of successful trade. Petr NOVÝ - "Pošlete mi okamžitě vzorky!" Ze života jablonecké obchodního cestujícího s bižutérií v USA v polovině dvacátých let 20. století ("Send Me the Samples Immediately!" From a Life of a Commercial Traveler with Artificial Jewelry from Jablonec in the USA in the Middle of the Twenties of the 20th Century)analyses an example of communication processes between Albert Sachse&Co., a glass and artificial jewelry manufacturer of Jablonec nad Nisou, and their commercial traveler Henry G. Schlevogt. A fragment of their correspondence is to be seen in SOkA Jablonec nad Nisou. At the end of the 19th century, rapidly developing building industry was regarded to be regulated - also from artistic point of view; the regulation was reached by means of architectonic competitions supervised by architectonic committees. Both renowned and not so experienced architects were entering these competitions. Jana CERMANOVÁ outlines a selection procedure for building a gallery in Hořice v Podkrkonoší in her Architektonická soutěž jako fenomén stavitelství počátku 20. století na příkladech projektů Galerie plastic v Hořicích v Podkrkonoší (Architectonic Competition as a Phenomenon in Engineering at the Beginning of the 20th Century as Exemplified by the Projects of Gallery of Sculptures in Hořice v Podkrkonoší). The chapter shows the course of events and individual projects using materials from the local museum. The first "real Czech" Spa in Poděbrady was founded at the beginning of the 20th century by a Prussian dowser. Non-existing tradition was to be replaced by excellent scientific certificates concerning the quality of mineral water, trade routes and entertainment. Marek ĎURČANSKÝ analyzes the foundation of spas, the development of bus and train network and what more bicycling and cars in the chapter called Jak se rodil "český Nauheim". První léta poděbradských lázní (How was the "Czech Nauheim" born. The First years of the Spa of Poděbrady).

Technical innovations of the end of the 19th century affected not only transportation or production; they also changed science and research workplaces. Jiří DVOŘÁK in his Josef Stocký a technické možnosti vodního hospodářství na přelomu 19. a 20. století (Josef Stocký and Technical Possibilities of the Water Management at the Turn of the 19th and 20th Centuries) observes České vysoké učení technické, the oldest technical university in Middle Europe. This university had created ideal conditions for the development of Czech and German science in the Czech lands and had been a starting point for two brothers, Josef and Jan Stocký, who together influenced the inter-war regionalism. The essay is focused on Josef Stocký's career, especially his achievements in hydrotechnics, including initial measuring, environmental thinking and of course the results of his work - his contribution to the stream regulation of the Czech rivers.

A philosopher Vlasta CHRISTOVOVÁ in Historický původ tachogenního světa (The Historical Origin of the "Accelerated" World) thinks about the principles of the accelerated age, its perception and future. A German philosopher O. Marquard is described to us as a person who stated 25 years ago that the rate of the acceleration of changes in the modern age is unbearable for human beings. Experiences are changing so quickly that they cannot be integrated and a human being is driven to the world of dreams and illusions, people are becoming more and more childish. The solving of the mentioned situation is both complicated and elementary; the author lets other philosophical voices (Condorcet, Smith) to enter the discussion and we have to realize that the acceleration, we are forced to cope with, is not necessary, we can simply decide to change our lifestyle.

This book concerning different aspects of the speed phenomenon is concluded by an appendix - facsimile. O vzteklém autu (The Furious Car), the fairy story by Jaromír Hořejš (1st edition of 1933) hides not only the social aspect of the phenomenon but also a moral that all inventions behave as their human users.