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Course, academic year 2023/2024
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Big Books - ASZFS0058
Title: Big Books
Guaranteed by: Institute of Philosophy and Religious Studies (21-UFAR)
Faculty: Faculty of Arts
Actual: from 2023 to 2023
Semester: winter
Points: 0
E-Credits: 3
Examination process: winter s.:
Hours per week, examination: winter s.:2/0, C [HT]
Capacity: unlimited / unknown (160)
Min. number of students: unlimited
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
Key competences:  
State of the course: taught
Language: Czech
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Additional information:
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: PhDr. Milan Lyčka, Ph.D.
Daniele De Santis, Dott. Ric.
prof. James Hill, Ph.D.
Teacher(s): Daniele De Santis, Dott. Ric.
prof. James Hill, Ph.D.
PhDr. Milan Lyčka, Ph.D.
Anna Tropia, Ph.D.
Annotation -
Last update: PhDr. Milan Lyčka, Ph.D. (11.09.2023)
The Human Condition: Suffering, Knowledge, Redemption
Big/Great Books of the Western Cultural Tradition, Interpreted Philosophically

The western cultural tradition, by which we mean a blend of the intellectual influences of Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian thought, has formed the basic religious (monotheism), intellectual (philosophy), political (democracy), economic (free market) and legal (equality of individuals before the law) models which in the course of history have deeply influenced the collective and individual existence of western man. The constant tension between the demands of these ideals and their practical realization has led to recurring conflicts both at the social level (wars and revolution) and at the level of individual life (existential crises). Various aspects of these situations have, from time immemorial, been reflected in theoretical and artistic works which not only evaluate the situations, but also put forward different solutions, and offer perspectives for possible ways forward. If we look beyond large-scale systematic works offering blueprints for the organization of society as a whole, we find a range of texts which reflect individual existential challenges (naturally in a social context) and which, as such, have commanded a wide reception by asking fundamental questions about the meaning of human life while, at the same time, pointing to certain positive solutions. The aim of this course is to use such key literary works to show the basic characteristics of existential inquiry and the search for its adequate treatment. The basic feature of these ‘big/great books’, it transpires, is the question of human suffering, with the attempt to understand this suffering and to reach a release from it with reconciliation to one’s fate. In the winter semester of the 2023-2024 academic year the following books will be our focus:

The Book of Job (Milan Lyčka)
Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy (Anna Tropia)
Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (Daniele De Santis)
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (James Hill)

Literature - Czech
Last update: PhDr. Milan Lyčka, Ph.D. (11.09.2023)

Kniha Jób:

Iyov/Job. A new translation with a commentary anthologized from talmudic, midrashic, and rabbinic sources. Translation and commentary by Rabbi Moshe Eisenmann. Mesorah Publications, Ltd., New York 2002

Jób, in: Louis Ginzberg, Legendy Židů 2. Triton, Praha/Kroměříž 2022, str. 209–229

Ludlul bél némeqi. Chci chválit pána moudrosti, in: Jiří Prosecký, Prameny moudrosti. Mudroslovná literatura staré Mezopotámie. Oikúmené, Praha 1995, str. 41–57

Babylónská theodicea, in: Jiří Prosecký, Prameny moudrosti. Mudroslovná literatura staré Mezopotámie. Oikúmené, Praha 1995, str. 58–67

Moses Maimonides, The Guide of the Perplexed, Vol. II, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago–London 1963, str. 486–497

Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Kotzker and Job, in: A Passion for Truth. Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock, VT, 1995, str. 261–303

Kathryn Schifferdecker, Out of the Whirlwind. Creation Theology in the Book of Job. Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass., 2008

Carl Gustav Jung, Odpověď na Jóba. Vyšehrad, Praha 2015

Jason Kalman, Jít Hospodinu po krku. Woody Allen, kniha Job a židovská teologie po holokaustu. CDK, Brno 2014

Peter Kreeft, Tři filosofie života. Krystal, Praha 2016

Dante Alighieri, Božská komedie:

Dante, The Inferno, a verse translation by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander, Anchor Books 2000.

Dante, Purgatorio, a verse translation by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander, Anchor Books 2003

Dante, Paradiso, a verse translation by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander, Anchor Books 2008

W. B. Stanford, The Ulysses Theme. A study in the adaptability of a traditional hero. Blackwell 1963

P. Boyde, Dante Philomythes and Philosopher. Man in the Cosmos, Cambridge University Press 1989

P. Boyde, Perception and Passion in Dante’s Comedy, Cambridge University Press

R. Imbach, Dante, la philosophie et les laics, Editions du Cerf 1996


Ludovico Ariosto, Zuřivý Roland:

L. Ariosto, Orlando Furioso. Eng. Translation by B. Reynolds. Penguin Classics 1975 (link to the online version of the Czech translation on Moodle)

N. Machiavelli, The Prince, Tr. by H. Mansfield, The University of Chicago Press 1998, Ch. XV, XVIII, XXV

E. Auerbach, Mimesis. The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, Princeton University Press 2003, Ch. 6

G. Ferroni, Machiavelli aneb o nejistotě, Př. M. Pokorný, Praha 2020


Mary Shelley, Frankenstein:

Hay, Daisy. The Making of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Bodleian Library, Oxford University, 2019.

Holmes, Richard.The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science. Harper Press, 2008

Kant, Immanuel. Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (1764), trans. by John T. Goldthwait, University of California Press, 1960

Mellor, Anne Kostelanetz. Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters. Routledge, 1988.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein Annotated for Scientists, Engineers, and Creators of All Kinds. David H.Guston, Ed Finn and Jason Scott Robert (eds). 2017

St Clair, William. The Godwins and the Shelleys: A Biography of a Family. 1991.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). Janet Todd (ed.), OUP, 1993

Ziolkowski, Theodore. “Science, Frankenstein, and Myth”, Sewanee Review, 89: 1, 1981: pp. 34-56


Teaching methods -
Last update: PhDr. Milan Lyčka, Ph.D. (11.09.2023)

The course will take the form of interpretations and presentations, in Czech (M. Lyčka) and English (A. Tropia, D. De Santis, J. Hill). The basic texts will be available on Moodle.

Requirements to the exam -
Last update: PhDr. Milan Lyčka, Ph.D. (11.09.2023)

Students will an exam in the form of a credit on submission of their essay, the theme of which is either chosen from a list of prepared questions or which has been developed with the consultation and approval of the relevant teacher. The essay is 4-6 standard pages in length, where a standard page = normostrana and the length is therefore between 7,200 and 10,800 characters including blank spaces. The essay is to be written in Czech and should be submitted by 28.1.2024. In cases where the essay is found to be insufficient, the student will be asked to revise or supplement the piece, and a new version should be resubmitted no later than 11.2.2024. This second deadline is applicable only to those who have already submitted by the first deadline; first submissions will not be accepted at the second deadline.


As far as the content goes, the essay should be an independent reflection of the chosen topic, not a mere summary or description of the text (in the style of a secondary school assignment). As far as the formal side of the essay is concerned, it should be carefully produced with minimal typos and linguistic errors; it should also be in order from the typographical point of view. The essay constitutes one of the written works that a student is required to produce in the course of their studies and it should demonstrate their ability to adequately articulate their views and present them in the form of accomplished written expression. The essay must have a title page, including the title of the work, the name of the author, the subject of specialisation and year of study. The text should be structured and a single citational convention should be in use throughout. At the end of the essay the secondary literature should be given. Where any of the various required features listed above is lacking the essay will not be accepted for the exam. The text should be sent, by the date above, to the e-mail address of the teacher in question (according to the chosen topic):;;;

Syllabus - Czech
Last update: PhDr. Milan Lyčka, Ph.D. (11.09.2023)


Kniha Jób: Historický a literární kontext


Kniha Jób: Theologické a filosofické interpretace


Kniha Jób: Existenciální témata



Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy (Božská komedie): The place of human beings in the Middle Ages. General Introduction. Everyman. Paradiso I, 120; Inferno V and Inferno XXVI


Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy (Božská komedie): Intermezzo: Purgatorio XXI, Paradiso I-II-III


Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy (Božská komedie): The first man. Ulysses (Inferno XXVI) and Adam (Paradiso XXVI)


Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (Zuřivý Roland): Ariosto’s Anthropology of Desire


Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (Zuřivý Roland): Orlando’s Madness and the Identity Lost


Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (Zuřivý Roland): The Place of Women in Ariosto’s Modernity


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Introduction and Intellectual Sources


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Victor Frankenstein and the Science of Life


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The Creature and its Fate

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