Gender and Prescriptive Literature

(Czech)

  European pedagogical thinking responded to philosophically, medically and legally enshrined polarity of sex: in 1789, bestseller Väterlicher Rat an meine Tochter is published in Braunschweig. German linguist and pedagogical writer Joachim Heinrich Campe, well acquainted with the Parisian environment, here in the form of popular dialogue clarifies to her only daughter Charlotte to whom he dedicated the publication what is "the woman's fate." She has a threefold task, or occupation, says the author. As the wife, she is obliged to her husband with love, solicitude and care, as a mother she is obliged to bear and raise children, as a housekeeper to be characterized with neatness, cleanliness, diligence and thriftiness.[1] Campe died in 1818, his work (and other works of the German philanthropism), however, were published throughout the entire first half of the 19th Century and influenced educators across Europe.[2]

  The Czech lands were no exception. During the long 19th Century, gender constructs were changing only slowly. Their popularization is credited to pedagogical writings belonging to the genre of prescriptive[3] (normative) literature, the beginnings of which fall in the Czech environment right to the pre-March period. In addition to the popularly written educational writings, here belong some works of fiction and with a strong didactic tone. In the Czech lands, the genre has a special characteristic: it respects the duplication of identities of the group, to which it turns: the Czech woman of the 19th Century spontaneously identifies herself with her female clearly designated lot, and at the same time - though not always spontaneously - assumes the Czechdom group identity.

  As far as the female gender is concerned, there are two predominant objectives in the sources examined: to inculcate the female-reader with standards associated with the her future mission of wife and housekeeper (not of the mother: the physiological nature of pregnancy was taboo and popular writings turning to mothers came only after the mid-19th Century) and simultaneously acquaint her with the basic standards of conduct. Thus until the turn of the Century, women's prescriptive literature compensated handbooks of social behaviour with social catechisms.


  Czech language social catechism originated at a time when the strict forms of etiquette were abandoned and forms of social communication simplified. In the Czech patriotic environment, moreover, the originally French hard-and-fast etiquette was also associated with privileged environment of the German language. Simplification of these standards was therefore also an expression of a protest against the German culture, and at the same time an expression of identification with the reviving Czech nation.[4] For a long time, the woman remained a mere object in social catechisms. Dealing with the "beautiful skin" required by visions of their authors respecting certain principles: women do not have a sense of humour, there must be respect for the female appearance, curiosity, sensitivity, foppishness, loquaciousness, irritability, stubbornness, devotion, superstition, jealousy ...[5] The authors of the social catechisms do not reject an educated woman, but she must not be too clever since like that she is "unbearable".[6]
 
  Emergence of the literature for young women is associated with the collapse of the original syncretism,[7] which the Czech language literature during the first half of the 19th Century was characterized with. Diversification of the genres is advancing parallelly with finishing of Czech literary language, at a time when there is a complete language system created meeting the needs of the modern society. Just then, in the second phase of the so-called National Revival, works emerge that may be included (with some reservations) in the genre of girls' prescriptive literature.
 
  Lessons for women and girls were given primarily in "domestic housewives" that while urging the girls to behave, their primary goal lay elsewhere. Mladá hospodyňka v domácnosti, jak sobě počínati má, aby své i manželovy spokojenosti došla. Dárek dcerkám československým, a book by Magdalena Dobromila Rettigové, a sort of key and decalogue of moral and happy family life,[8] written in 1833, was published seven years later. The woman-author was getting at setting basic standards of woman's behaviour and conduct - religious faith, a sense of order and cleanliness, industriousness, thrift, humility, submissive behaviour toward her husband, skills to treat the servants. The handbook included an extensive syllabus of instructions on housekeeping and basic instruction on the etiquette of Czech patriotic society: the language of social communication was Czech to her. Herein, Rettigová managed to combine three educational objectives: learning and automation of "female" skills, instilling the need for further self-education, promotion of patriotic interests related to communication in Czech. She did not, however, dispute the submissive status of women in the least; this verbiage remains binding even in the next few decades.
 
  Among the Czech women- journalists, it was Sofia Podlipská who, influenced by the views of John Stuart Mill, was best informed about the trends in the European feminist thinking. She expressed her ideas in a number of larger and smaller publications. In her concept, gender roles are clearly given and historically embedded: the woman-mother is responsible for the welfare of the next generation; a man creates a material background for the family, and at the same time, is responsible for "defending the physically weaker bothers, children, women, elders", and for "the progress of spirit of all generations."[9] Warp characteristics of the female gender is the love in the metaphysical form - not only the motherly love (which is the first concern), but also the matrimonial and general love for mankind. Without love, which lacks any erotic connotations in Podlipská's concept, one cannot enter into marriage. The author acknowledges the realization of love outside the family: in a "professional" pedagogy, or in any other "female profession".[10]

  Also Podlipská's coeval Věnceslava Lužická emphasizes the good, love and patriotism as crucial values in the life of Czech households. It is the woman who is responsible for putting them in a life. In Lužická's eyes, the woman has a special responsibility for the moral state of the nation, and therefore, the work of women in Czech households is comparable to the work of men for the Czech nation. Lužické cannot be denied one primacy: she is the only of the period authors, who in her pamphlet Svatební dar. Listy dobré babičky ku provdané vnučce sees the gender disproportion in the complementarity of the woman's and man's gender roles in the family: while the girl is being prepared from childhood for the role of mother, wife and housekeeper, "no one cares that the boy should also be brought up as the husband and father, no less, than if each boy has brought that great art in the world."[11] 

  Bold signs of change in the female ideal are evident in an interesting article by a literary employed teacher Julie Gintlová Ideál ženy emancipované, serialized in the fourth volume of the magazine Ženské listy in 1878.[12] The text clearly resonates with a new tone: the main place of the woman's activity may still be a house, household, this does not, however, exclude her own career of the woman having the right to pursue paid and qualified profession, which can be combined with motherhood. A prerequisite of this emancipation, according to the author, is "emancipation" of the man who is willing (and able) to exercise all the "female" work.
 
  It is clear that the status of women, which was reflected and, at the same time, determined in similar sources, changed rapidly during the last decade of the 19th Century. Demographic practice changed, marriage age increased, the number of children in families decreased, infant and child mortality decreased. The number of men, who - mostly for economic reasons – had never concluded a marriage, was increasing. This also raised the number of unmarried, i.e. materially unsecured, women. The war in 1866 multiplied the number of widows forced to secure livelihood. Add the increasing erudition of women: from 1870, there was a possibility of GCSE examination at the girl's pedagogy, from 1890 Minerva Girls' High School, from the turn of the Century, girls studied - though still few in number - at the Prague University.
 
  The philosophical discourse about the family and the woman had a broader social impact through the reception by representatives of German Romanticism. Particularly Hegel's dualism of public and private found its expression in literary works. Schiller's verses about a housekeeper, a guardian of the hearthstone, from morning to night working in the household, furthermore a patient governess, written in 1799,[13] were printed across 19th Century in the German language school readers and even German textbooks of Czech pupils and students. Gender stereotypes can also be found even in fiction written in Czech. One of the first authors trying to publish own ideas from the twenties of the 19th Century, was the mentioned Rettigová. Jan Pospíšil Hostivít Publishing House published in 1821 and 1822 two volumes of Mařenčin košíček, Věneček pro dcery vlastenecké, evocative of the topos of the Early Modern Age virgin chaplet, in 1825, and Příběhové pro dcerky české a moravské z Kocebue přeložené from 1828. The short stories were to entertain, educate, inculcate moral principles,[14] but particularly to strengthen the reader's humility and friendliness towards the female role, the gender construct clearly defined socially, legally and ideologically. Deviation from the woman's virtues is always sternly, even cruelly punished by death or madness.
 
  In her fictionized short stories "from real life", it was also Sofia Podlipská who articulated her educational principles. Three-part Příklady z oboru vychovávacího[15]belong among the most schematic "opuses" by the author - perhaps that is why they are so eloquent a spring. Podlipská's heroines - whether they are girls from wealthy or non-wealthy families - have in mind their main "occupation": to become a wife, mother (first and foremost) and a good housekeeper. Woman in Podlipská's interpretation does not take a priori masculine vices into account; marriage is based on affection and deep understanding, made possible particularly due to the woman's education, emphasis on rationality is dealt with. The household is governed by an educated girl, advised, thinking, familiar with the findings of science, medicine and education that she applies to educate children, able to rationalize the domestic work since she had been preparing for them for at least one year in special courses.[16] Earning, exclusively skilled labour is permitted,[17] but only as a supplement to unsatisfactory family income.
 
  A step towards a certain transformation of feminity construct is demonstrated in a very popular "novel cycle" by German writer Emma Rhodenová Svéhlavička that in her own way was "czechized" by Eliška Krásnohorská, was published from 1890's.[18] The whole story of heroine Zdenka, passing from stormy puberty to mellow motherhood, is accompanied by moral lessons designed on the basis of opposition between "generally" accepted feminity construct, too narrow fetters of which are criticized by the author,[19] accenting the model of a modern, "wisely" educated girl. Cultivation is done through "order": getting up early, regular work, order, precision and above all education. There is also another goal in general shared by Czech language prescriptive literature: patriotism.
 
  In the context of the development of the woman's issue remains Růžena Jesenská halfway, an author of books for adolescent girls. Jarmila, a heroine of the homonymous didactic story,[20] is clearly raised for the marriage. Besides language and music, she learned to cook, sew, oversee the maid, admit visits and care for young children. She is acquainted of literature and art, has an exquisite (albeit time-conditioned) taste. She is raised towards love of the nation. Jesenská let Jarmila have her education, which was not, however, intended to obtain the qualification.
 
Sources: 
(Historical sources a contemporary theoretical articles are due to respect of copyright law intended only for study purposes. For this cause are protected by secure access. If you are interested in study, please contact: vladanhanulik@seznam.cz)

Sofie Podlipská, Listy staré vychovatelky k někdejším schovankám. Praha 1868.

Julie Gintlová, Ideál ženy emancipované. Ženské listy 1878, s. 51 an.

František V. Kodym, O vychování mládeže v našich domácnostech. Praha 1884.
 


[1] Annette Kuhn (ed.): Chronik der Frauen, Dortmund 1992, s. 311.
[2] J. Jungmann ve své Historii literatury uvádí Campeho Knížku mravů pro děti z roku, 1820?; Rettigové Mařenčin košíček z r. 1821, Věneček, Chudobičky a Mladou hospodyňku. Oddíl „Spisy pro mládež“ zahrnuje   celkem 112 bibliograf. položek, ale bez genderové specifikace, spíš bývá zdůrazněno „povídky pro mládež obou pohlaví". Josef JUNGMANN, Historie literatury české, Praha 18492, s. 463 – 470.
[3] V Čechách užila označení „preskriptivní“ jako první zřejmě Alena Šimůnková ve studii Statut, odpovědnost a láska: vztahy mezi mužem a ženou v české měšťanské společnosti 19. století. Český časopis historický 95, 1997, s. 55 - 109. V českých jazykových slovnících výraz nenajdeme. V Akademickém slovníku cizích slov, II, Praha 1995, s. 617, je uvedeno slovo preskripce ve smyslu 1. předepsání, předpis, nařízení, dispozice; 2. zákaz vymahatelnosti, žalovatelnosti, práva, promlčení. Odtud i adjektivum preskripční. Připomeňme, že pod tímto pojmem „preskriptivní“ rozumíme literaturu, která předepisuje modely žádoucího chování a jednání, ať se jedná o zdravou životosprávu, společenskou či náboženskou komunikaci, o pravidla spojená s určitou sociální rolí.
[4] Vladimír  Macura, La tradition protocolaire tchèque et slovaque du début du XIXème siècle et ses adaptations socialiste, In: Alain Montandon (ed.): Savoir-vivre en Europe: modèles et langages: Norvège, Pologne, Roumanie, Pays-Bas, Pays tchèques et slovaques, Paris 1994, p. 73.
[5] Jaroslav KVĚTENSKÝ, Tajemník lásky a dvorný společník. Vzory k dopisům milostným, jakož i navedení pro mladé lidi, jak se mají chovati ve společnosti, zvláště chtějí-li získati lásku dívky; návod pro mladé dívky, jak lze zalíbiti se a získati dobrého a věrného manžela; hry společenské; květomluva; drobné verše atd. atd. 3. nově upravené a přehlédnuté vydání, Praha, b. d. (between 1891 a 1912), p. 126; J. Jelínek, Rádce milenců. Pravidla slušného se chování, zvláště pro mladé lidi; hojná zásoba dopisů milostných, společenské hry a zábavy. Květomluva aj. V Telči, b. d. (1897), pp. 24-25.
[6] Jelínek, Rádce milenců, pp. 23 – 27, 44.
[7] Vladimír Macura, Znamení zrodu. České národní obrození jako kulturní typ,2 Jinočany 1995, p. 29.
[8] Naděžda Melniková-Papoušková, Praha před sto lety, Praha 1935, p. 100.
[9] Sofie PODLIPSKÁ, Účastenství ženy na vychování lidstva, Pracovna 2, 1895 – 1896, s. 10; according to Jitka MAŠÁTOVÁ, Sofie Podlipská.Vychovatelské snahy české spisovatelky 19. století v teorii a praxi. Diploma thesis. Faculty of Arts, Palacky University in Olomouc, Olomouc 2005, s. 66.
[10] Sofie PODLIPSKÁ, Listy staré vychovatelky. K někdejším schovankám. Praha 1868, pp. 15 – 29; TÁŽ, Studie o práci. Praha 1889, p. 4.
[11] Věnceslava LUŽICKÁ Svatební dar. Listy dobré babičky ku provdané vnučce. Praha 1906, p. 25.
[12] Julie GINTLOVÁ, Ideál ženy emancipované. Ženské listy 6, 1878, pp. 1-4, 19-21, 35-38, 50-54.
[13] Srov. Hans Hattenhauer: Evropské dějiny práva. Praha - München 1999, pp. 504 - 505..
[14] Josef Johanides, Magdalena Dobromila Rettigová, Rychnov n. Kněžnou 1995, p. 135.
[15] Žofie Podlipská, Seminární texty z oboru vychovacího. Part I, Praha 1874.
[16] Žofie Podlipská, Příklady z oboru vychovacího, III., Praha 1875, p. 69.
[17] The title of Chapter III, Part I is "Mother Worker" - has nothing to do with a factory though - the mother receives funding through arts: painting portraits. Podlipská, Seminární texty z oboru vychovacího. III., Praha 1875, s. 18an.
[18] Emma z Rodenu, Svéhlavička. Příběh z pensionátu. Dospělým dívkám českým vypravuje El. Pechová-Krásnohorská. 5th Edition, Praha, b. d. (1915), pp. 5 – 6.
[19] Emma z Rodenu, Svéhlavička, p. 23.
[20] Růžena JESENSKÁ, Jarmila. Dospívajícím dívkám. Praha 19242.