Plzeňské sympozia

Václava Kofránková

Volcanoes in 19th century Czech specialist output and journalism

pp. 267–279 (Czech), Summary 278 (English), 279 (Deutsch)

The first modern research into volcanic activity in the Czech lands in the 18th and the early 19th century went hand in hand with the development of Austrian geology, key to which was the discovery of Komorní hůrka and other Czech volcanoes. The fact that Bohemia was an ideal laboratory for research into the remnants of volcanic activity attracted both leading experts in the field and knowledgeable laymen such as Johann Wolfgang Goethe. The scholarly debate on the Earth's geophysiology, along with the dispute between the Neptunists and the Plutonists, came to be one of the moving factors behind modern science. As the scientific discussion on vulcanism and the geological conditions of the Czech lands was held at an international level (in German, English and French), the lack of Czech-language scientific output was not perceived in scientific circles for a long time, while the popularity of the ''volcanic'' topic among ordinary readers rose constantly from the end of the 18th century. As the number of eruptions of Etna and Vesuvius increased and Pompeii and Herculaneum were uncovered, so interest increased in information on the causes and consequences of the explosions. Short Czech reports and detailed texts on the volcanoes had appeared earlier than the mid-19th century, but it was only after the middle of the century as the next generation of scientists placed emphasis on public education in the national language that readers obtained key specialist works in Czech. The development of educational, popularizing and entertaining journals and numerous reports in the daily press after the mid-19th century helped to spread knowledge of vulcanism among broader circles of readers. No less an important role was played in this process by the books of Jules Verne, Camille Flammarion and other authors of popular literature.

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