Article published in:Reinardus: Yearbook of the International Reynard Society
Edited by Richard Trachsler and Baudouin Van den Abeele
[Reinardus 32] 2020
► pp. 137–159
What are they saying?
On two approaches to the New Council by Smil Flaška
The study presents the interpretative history of the poem New Council written by the author Smil Flaška in the 1390s. It argues against accents on its determinative connection with the Czech political history; instead it promotes interpretation based on research of the ways it documents on representations of piety or the social, ethical, or environmental imagination of the late 14th and 15th centuries. Concentrating on the manuscript context (three codices from the latter half of the 15th century) as well as on reception of the poem in the 16th century, the study demonstrates that at the time the poem was transcribed and read, it functioned not as an exclusive lesson for the upper classes or as criticism of the king, but as a long-tried-and-tested edutaining text, accessible to recipients from various social groups. The New Council is a synecdochal representation of the created world, wherein birds and animals compel the reader to relinquish the misleading categories of allegory, irony or satire and submit to the actual subjective effects of God’s word coming from non-human mouths. The recipient is invited to enter the space between man and animal, as the animals’ utterances based on religious teaching lead to a transformation of his conscience and perception.
Published online: 14 April 2021