Letter from Jan Patočka written 23.12.1947

Hostálkova 103,
Prague 18


  Dear Professor,

  To start with thank you very much for the wonderful books you have sent. So far I have received Szkice z filozofii literatury [Sketches on the Philosophy of Literature], O budowie obrazu [On the Structure of Paintings] and Volume I of your major work Spór o istnienie Świata [Controversy over the Existence of the World]. I am currently in the middle of reading this last publication and the contents have aroused my interest to levels unmatched by most of what I have read recently. I see that you are no doubt one of the most perceptive analysts of our time. When I have finished the work, please allow me to write about it in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, unless you already have an offer from another contributor.
  With regard to your questions about the Blok [Block] magazine, I have not yet heard about a translation of your work in this magazine. Since it is published in Brno, I have asked my assistant in Brno to send me the relevant issues. As soon as I have received them, I will be pleased to answer your questions.
  I would have been delighted to take on the responsibility of compiling Czech translations of those of your works that I feel are most important, but unfortunately my knowledge of Polish is not sufficient to take on such a weighty task. I agree, however, that it would be a good idea to approach another admirer of your work from Brno, Professor Frank Wolman, who has based his interpretations of comparative Slavic literature on your tenets for many years. Professor Wolman is a specialist in Slavic studies and therefore is definitely the person best placed to oversee the very welcome translations of your works into Czech.
  Professor [Jan] Mukařovský is still gravely ill and is currently in a sanatorium in the High Tatra Mountains. I do not know his current address in Prague, but if you send a book addressed to the Aesthetics Seminar of the Charles University Faculty of Arts at Břehová 5, Prague 1, I am sure that it will get to him fairly soon.
  As regards myself, I am still just as unsure about what fate holds in store for me as I was two years ago. I have not yet been appointed to a chair in Prague or Brno and am lecturing in both, commuting to Brno every week. No doubt you can imagine [illegible] what that means in terms of work.
  Over the past 2½ years I have done considerable work on the history of philosophy and also to some extent on systematic philosophy, but have not yet been able to complete a work and publish it. I would need to take at least 6 months off to be able to do so, which I cannot unfortunately afford given my financial circumstances. This is also why I am as yet unable to send you a work of my own, in return for your extensive publications. I will do so as soon as any of the works I have in the pipeline (Presokratikové [The Presocratics], Sókratés [Socrates], O současné filosofii člověka [On Contemporary Human Philosophy]) see the light of day.
  I went to Paris for 10 days this year and heard that [Raymond] Bayer is in contact with you. He expressed his greatest admiration for you.
  I talked to [Eugen] Fink on the way back and to [Marvin] Farber in Paris. Farber is extremely likeable and although his magazine is not purely devoted to phenomenology, it is the only possible form for presentation of phenomenological philosophy for America.
  Fink survived the war in health and, most importantly, with his honour intact. He is working very diligently on ontological questions. It may interest you to know that he too has abandoned phenomenological idealism.

  Please accept my warmest thanks and wishing you all the best for the New Year.

                                          With warmest regards,

                   Jan Patočka

Prague, 23 December 1947