Twenty years after his death Jaroslav Foglar’s books are as popular as ever

A book written by Jaroslav Foglar, photo: Michaela Danelová, Czech Radio

Czechs are marking twenty years since the death of Jaroslav Foglar, youth movement activist and author of the legendary comics Rapid Arrows. Among the events remembering the famous writer is a performance of his novel Mystery of the Puzzle Box at Prague’s Minor theatre, which has been sold out for weeks. Meanwhile, the Scout Foundation of Jaroslav Foglar, which is in charge of his heritage, is releasing a special, limited edition of his autobiography.

Photo: Michaela Danelová,  Czech Radio

Jaroslav Foglar,  photo: Czech TV
I asked the foundation’s Pavel Trantina to tell me more about it:

“The autobiography is very special. We found its draft in the flat that we took over after Jaroslav Foglar’s death. Part of it has already been published but part of it hadn’t.

“We decided to give it a new graphic design and what’s special about the limited edition is that it includes artefacts that we found in the flat: all sorts of different papers, prints and stuff like that, which will be very interesting for collectors. There will be 200 absolute originals.”

Two years ago you launched a brand new edition of Jaroslav Foglar’s novels illustrated by contemporary Czech artists with the aim to attract a new generation of readers. Did you succeed?

“I would say so. Actually, there have already been two reprints of the first book, Hoši od Bobří řeky or Boys from the Beaver creek. That shows that there is still a huge interest. And the same goes for the second book, Chata v Jezerní kotlině, A Cottage in the Lake Area, so we are hoping that it will be the same with the books planned for 2019.”

A book written by Jaroslav Foglar,  photo: Michaela Danelová,  Czech Radio
I believe this is not the only edition of Jaroslav Foglar’s works you plan to publish this year…

“You are right. We are also going to do a reprint of the originals for those who prefer the previous editions with Zdeněk Burian’s illustrations. Plus, there are many other smaller initiatives, for example books that were not written by Jaroslav Foglar but are kind of a continuation of his work or books about Jaroslav Foglar.

"So we are basically counting on the interest of the public, both older and younger, and so far it seems that we are on the right track.”

Twenty years after his death Foglar still remains one of the best-selling authors for children. Why do you think his books are still so attractive?

Photo: Michaela Danelová,  Czech Radio
“I would say that they still appeal to kids because they fulfil their desire to experience an adventure. This goes hand in hand with the popularity of scouting in the Czech Republic.

“We have seen a steady growth in the number of scouts in the past twelve years, so there is a kind of revival of scouting in the Czech Republic.

“Simply there are things that remain constant: a desire to find a group of like-minded people and to enjoy adventures together. The form might be changing but the desire is still there.”