I’d never heard of Jaroslav Foglar before, but the writer has an exhibition on in Prague until 4th September 2022, “The City As A Phantom: Prague inspirations of Jaroslav Foglar”.

Foglar’s lived and worked in Prague as a young child, eagerly absorbing the atmosphere of the places where he lived, worked or met with friends. Then he transformed it into the mysterious city of his novels. Foglar elevated the seemingly mundane urban scenery into a mystical and mysterious labyrinth, connecting many time-layers, each living their own lives and fascinating and enticing to explore. Such an image of the city [based on Prague] opens up to the reader in many of the author’s novels, most notably in his most famous trilogy, which motivated a whole generation of readers to search for the original motifs and locations of the book.

So he sounds like a mix of an authentic (rather than ersatz modern ‘young adult’) ‘urban fantasy’ and the typical Scouting-type boy-adventures of the 1930-40s. Although written for boys his novels have apparently… “left a deep trace in Czech popular culture”, despite his work being banned under first the Nazis and then communism from 1950 – circa 1968. With a brief respite in the early 1960s when he seems to have been permitted to work on a newspaper comic-strip. One biography of growing up under communism states that boys would avidly seek out his ‘banned’ books in the city’s second-hand bookshops.

A 2017 article, on his concurrent strong influence in Eastern Europe on outdoors education, notes he is… “mostly unknown to the international audience” either as a writer or educator. It also offers a useful one-line summary of his themes…

Foglar’s specific outdoor adventure characteristics include timelessness, place, romance, mystery and challenge, and traditions with rituals.

From what I can tell after a quick scoot-around he also appears to have influenced comics too. There was a 2018 comics tribute to his work and characters…

For the ‘Amazing New Adventures’, dozens of contemporary authors and illustrators from the Czech Republic and Slovakia came up with 50 different visions of how to continue the tales. Some of the authors were even born after the original series ended, and only know it in retrospect, while others lived in the 1960s and even 1950s. These new adventures range from stories set back in the 1940s with the same basic look and lettering as the original series to very modern takes on the themes, with science fiction, horror or comic aspects and freestyle illustrations reflecting new trends in graphic novels.

Sounds interesting… but his fiction and comics have never been translated into English if Amazon is anything to go by. I’m guessing the original books don’t work well outside of Eastern Europe and perhaps their “mystical and mysterious” aspects may not have aged well?