The text comes from the collection Povídky z jedné kapsy (Tales from One Pocket ) (1929). It combines the traditional detective-story format with humor, a detached view, and a concept of the world that is based on both the banal and the fatal. It plays with the cliché of an avant-garde poet who captures the Truth via irrational intuition. The visionary approach of the poet is contrasted with the superficiality of the police investigator; the former proves to be most truthful to reality. The playful representation of poetry might have been inspired by the avant-garde tendencies of the Czech poetry of the second half of 1920’s when poetism, surrealism, metaphysical poetry were prevalent.
From the cultural point of view, the text juxtaposes the higher and lower strata, a pattern typical of the author. A policeman with limited scope and no ability to appreciate poetry turns into an insightful detective; a poet who writes a poem that maximally reflects reality is an ivory tower inhabitant. The detective figure in this story also represents as a positive “builder of the state” that is consistent with the view of T. G. Masaryk, the first President of Czechoslovakia, who saw common sense and daily hard work as the primary principles on which to construct the state; great intellectural concepts, according to Masaryk, are not absolutely essential for the state. |
From the language point of view, the story is built on dialogues. Both of the main characters speak standard Czech; although there is lively interaction between the two, none of them steps outside the sphere of the standard language. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see how dr. Mejzlík continuously borrows and develops the poet’s vocabulary and syntax. The narrator uses the even more bookish standard language, providing a detached view of the events and characters and presenting the story as something not resembling a real life situation.