Pick Language

Jan Němec

Portrait of Jan Němec

Né à Brno en 1981, Jan Němec y fit également toutes ses études. C’est dans cette ville qu’il obtint son master en études religieuses et sociales à l’université Masaryk et son master en dramaturgie théâtrale à l’académie de musique et d’arts du spectacle Janáček. Depuis il a écrit un recueil de poèmes První život (First Life, 2007), suivi d’un recueil de nouvelles Hra pro čtyři ruce (Playing Four Hands, 2009) et d’un roman biographique au sujet du célèbre photographe František Drtikol intitulé Dějiny světla (A History of Light, 2013). Aujourd’hui Němec travaille en tant que rédacteur en chef pour le magazine littéraire mensuel Host et en tant que dramaturge pour la chaine de télévision ČT Art.

Winning Book

Dějiny světla (A History of Light)

Le livre de Jan Němec est une biographie du photographe František Drtikol. Vous êtes vous déjà demandé à quoi ressemblerait une histoire écrite par un rayon de soleil? Tout d’abord, l’histoire serait ordinaire mais le déroulement des évènements serait extraordinaire ; ensuite, le héros serait un photographe, un gardien de la lumière ; Enfin, le récit serait, tout naturellement, rempli d’ombres. Mais qui était donc František Drtikol? Il était à la fois un dandy originaire d’une petite ville minière, un photographe de renommée mondiale dont le business fit faillite, un maître du nu qui n’eut jamais beaucoup de chance avec les femmes, un mystique et un bouddhiste qui croyait au communisme, et un homme empli de nombreuses contradictions. La façon dont la vaste biographie écrite par Jan Němec a été conçue, est assez inhabituelle pour la prose tchèque contemporaine. Semblable à une fresque, cette biographie constitue un Bildungsroman artistique et spirituel, qui recouvre plus de la moitié d’un siècle, ramenant à la vie les mines d’argent de Přibram, le Jugendstil de Munich et la vie de bohème de la première République, le tout rehaussé de modèles nus errant le long du texte, et de lumière se mêlant de manière inaperçue à la connaissance…

Cover of Dějiny světla

Publishing House

Address: 

Radlas 5, Brno, République tchèque

Email Address: 
Phone No.: 
00420 608 748 157
Organisation: 
HOST

Agent / Rights Director

Phone No.: 
+420 608 748 157
Email Address: 
Representative: 
Dana Blatná

Translation Deals

  • Albania: Fan Noli
  • Bulgaria: Colibri
  • Croatia: Ljevak
  • Germany: Osburg Verlag 
  • FYROM: Antolog
  • Hungary: Noran Libro
  • Italy: Safara Editore
  • Latvia: Apgāds Mansards
  • Poland: Książkowe Klimaty
  • Serbia: Clio
  • Slovenia: Police Dubove
  • Spain: Errata Naturae Editores
  • United Kingdom: Jantar Publishing

Excerpt

Translated by Melvyn Clarke

 

The man with the round face and the short hair touches the mid-point of his spectacles above the bridge of his nose and looks around a group of nine boys. Then he says: My name is Georg Heinrich Emmerich. Welcome to the Photography Training and Research Institute.

I came across an engraving in an old book, which showed an old sage receiving inspiration through rays of light. And indeed history is full of such inspiration, knowledge without light is unthinkable and light itself has become its symbol. Particularly over the last few centuries, we have learnt to tame light and to harness it for our grand scientific tasks. The telescope and microscope have expanded the world's boundaries in both directions, revealing undreamt of dimensions of reality. Our fellow countryman, Wilhelm Röntgen, recently discovered rays that penetrate matter. And, likewise in the fields of art and entertainment, there are countless aids and devices that take advantage of the interplay between light and the human eye: for instance, I might mention at random the lanterna magica, camera obscura, camera lucida, diorama, kinetoscope, praxinoscope and magic drum. Gentlemen, I could pile up example upon example, but this might well be needless, as I do not at all doubt that you are aware why you are here: photography is nothing more than another fascinating manifestation of what light can do in man's hands. But this time, of course, we have not expanded space by using a telescope or a microscope, we have actually stopped time. At last we can immortalize transient existence, just as whole generations of poets have tried to do before us.

 

Emmerich looks out of the window and undoes his jacket buttons. He is just thirty-one-years-old, but his hair is already receding. As he returns his gaze to the classroom, an imperceptible smile seems to pass his lips. Some of you have only been in Munich a couple of days, he says, so perhaps you don't know there is a bohemian quarter here called Schwabing: you will surely soon get to know the local hostelries there. A couple of days ago I went there to visit a painter, and as chance would have it, he was already entertaining another of his friends, a poet. And when this young man found out I was a photographer he admitted to me: Just once I would like to hold a ray of light right there in my hand and to write with it – just once! I cannot tell you this young man's name, but I do understand him very well. Photography does have its pathos. This is partly reflected directly in the etymology – the term photography is made up of the Greek words for light and writing. We photographers might be said to be writing down the world with light. And our aim over the next two years will be no less than to teach you, if you will, calligraphy with light.

Other Details

Supporting Document: 

Watch Jan's Video