Josef Smýkal
One Hundred Years of Zora Magazine

Brno, 2017

I should be ashamed of my first encounter with Zora magazine. In the National Institution for Education of Blind Children and Youths, there was an enormous terrace. Apart from other children games, we used to play so called ‘packet’. The terrace floor was made of concrete, which was just perfect for this game. And what kind of game it actually was?

We rolled one issue of Zora magazine in Braille print and fastened it by a piece of string. Two blind players stood face to face 5 to 7 meters far from each other and took turns in tossing the packet in the direction of the other player. The packet was spinning and making rustling sounds. The other player was supposed to listen, recognize the direction from which the packet was coming and catch it. He had to toss it back as quickly as possible. If he did not catch the packet, he got a penalty point.

That was in years 1937 to 1940. Later, the Institution was moved to Chrlice near Brno. And this children game was forgotten, because there were not good conditions for playing it.

I would like to celebrate the centenary of the magazine as a long-time reader by a little publication (together with my wife, we subscribed for Zora magazine including all appendixes in 1953). I am not going to rate individual historical periods, in which the magazine was bringing to its readers news on cultural, social and communal life of the visually handicapped in our country. It also reflected news from all over the world.

I do not inform on cultural or social life from the beginning of Zora. I will leave this to the current editor’s office. I came across some obstacles in this point of view, because I have only second-hand and mediated information about the first volume.

I dedicated my humble book to topics, which have not been completely elaborated so far. It is after all obvious from its table of content. Nevertheless, I did not intend to avoid basic information on what had preceded the creation of Zora. However, I cannot repeat anything from what I published in my articles in Zora earlier, or later in more detail for example in my Typhlopedical Nominal Lexicon (Tyflopedický lexikon jmenný, Brno, 2006) and in an extensive publication Studies and Essays (Studie a statě, Brno, 2011).


I completed this publication with fifteen pictures, out of which three are historically unique. For example, it is a blind reader of Zora (1917) from Hradčany Institution; the first typesetter of Jitřenka and Zora Mrs. Marie Polednová, a long-time colleague of Karel Emanuel Macan, typesetting; or Hinz’s typesetting machine from 1895. Moreover, there are portraits of all editors and editors-in-chief of Zora.

Brno, 2017


Contains: 45 pages of A5 format