On 17 November 1836, a requiem mass for Karel Hynek Mácha was sung in the Church of St. Ignatius in Prague. On 17 November 1989, students lit candles at his grave in Prague’s Vyšehrad. On the eve of the national holiday Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day, we present to you Mácha’s May, illustrated and published by Luboš Drtina, as a memorial to an extraordinary work last read by many, if at all, in school.

“Mácha’s romantic description of vast countrysides and nature motifs led me to considerations of space at the opposite end of the spectrum — to small cottage rooms decorated with the help of a template. The repetition and combination of a deliberately limited number of elements, the emphasis on decorativeness, and the inverting of the illustration to create supplementary ornament, which reduces the descriptive and explanatory function of the image in the book and, like a border, attempts to evoke an atmosphere — this is the fundamental illustrational principle of this large-format May. Today I would design the book more austerely, perhaps in a pocket-sized format. This is, after all, an intimate, poetic message. But it is true that the pattern rendered into this size will appear fantastic.” 
Luboš Drtina



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