RAKOUS, VOJTĚCH (pseudonym of Vojtěch Oesterreicher; 1862–1935), Czech writer. Born in Velký Brázdim, Bohemia, Rakous was a prominent representative of the Czech-Jewish assimilation movement in literature. He published some short stories in a serious vein, such as Doma ("At Home," 1897) and Na rozcestí ("At the Crossroads," 1914). Nevertheless, he is best remembered as a writer with a sense of comedy or the tragicomic, as in the sketch Strýc Václav ("Uncle Wenceslas"). In the four volumes of humorous tales entitled Vojkovičtí a přespolní ("Those from Vojkovice and Those from Elsewhere," 1910), Rakous vividly portrayed Jewish life in the Czech villages. The volume featuring the schlemiel, Modche, and his domineering wife, Rézi, became a popular classic and was later dramatized and filmed. The stories also shed important light on Jewish-Christian relations in Czech villages at the turn of the 19th century. Výbor ze spisů 1–3 ("Selected Works") appeared in 1925, other editions continuously.
O. Donath, Židé a židovství v české literatuře (1930); F. Kafka, in: Židovská ročenka (1967/68), 106–15. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Českožidovští spisovatelé v literatuře 20. století (2000); H. Krejčová, "Příběhy plné vášní a rámusu," in: Židovská ročenka (1990–91), 35–39; Lexikon české literatury, 3/II (2000); A. Mikulášek et al., Literatura s hvězdou Davidovou, 1 (1998); M. Otruba, "Předmluva," in: V. Rakous, Vojkovičtí a přespolní (1986); Slovník českých spisovatelů (2000).
[Avigdor Dagan /
Milos Pojar (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.