Had he lived, Jiří Levý (1926-1967) would have celebrated his 90th birthday several months ago. The extensive oeuvre he left behind continues to be a source of inspiration and motivation for scholars in humanities. His work influenced the development of several disciplines; his key contribution to the development of theory of translation is best known. His book Umění překladu (1963, The Art of Translation) was a truly pioneering work and although the discipline has undergone dynamic development, this book’s deeply penetrating insights and broad scope has ensured its continuing importance. Levý devoted much of his energy to exploring the theory of verse, something that can be seen in the large number of studies he published on this subject, and the two versology conferences he organized in Brno in 1964 and 1966. Levý’s scope was however much broader; his focus on comparative literature and the methodology of literary studies resulted in significant contributions to shaping literary scholarship, not only through individual analyses but also – and even more importantly – via the ethos of critically reviewing all available concepts, and assessing their usefulness and limitations. It is no exaggeration to say that Jiří Levý anticipated current developments in literary studies by emphasizing the need for interdisciplinarity and the application of the empirical research methods in the humanities, as evidenced by his founding of the Group for Scientific Research Methods and Interdisciplinarity in the mid-1960s (which was re-established as the Group for Semiotics and Mathematical Linguistics of the Czechoslovak Cybernetics Society after his death) and the posthumously published volume of selected papers by Levý entitled Bude literární věda exaktní vědou? (1971, Can Literary Science Be Science?).

In the decades since Levý asked this question much has changed. We would like this conference to take up his legacy in terms of his critical spirit, humanism, and interdisciplinarity. We welcome presentations featuring current issues in the key areas of Levý’s concerns: translation studies, literary theory and methodology, and comparative literature.

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