Jára Da Cimrman Is The Imaginary Underdog Hero For The Czech People

Brilliance | Dec. 09, 2017

Jára da Cimrman is a Czech man of universal genius; an under-appreciated underdog of the 19th century that doesn't get the credit he deserves. Cimrman was nearly the first person to reach the North Pole, but missed it by about seven yards due to an altercation with hostile natives. He invented the lightbulb, but Thomas Edison beat him to the patent office. He also invented the telephone and dynamite, but others took credit. The only way Cimrman could be more amazing is if he weren't fictional.

In the 1960s, Zdenek Sverak and Ladislav Smoljak, former teachers who met in college, invented Jára da Cimrman. Sverak, who worked at a radio station, began referencing the imaginary hero in radio broadcasts. From there, Cimrman took off. He became a sort of metaphor for the idea that the Czech nation was always the underdog, never quite coming out on top. "[The Czech people] have always wanted to be respected, world renowned, but someone always interferes—Germany, or Russia," Sverak told The New York Times. In the eyes of the Czech people, he's a symbolic antihero, one famous enough to have streets named after him and commemorative plaques marking where he might have slept (had he existed). In 2005, Cimrman won a television contest for the greatest Czech of all time. Unfortunately, his status as an imaginary figure disqualified him from capturing the title. Check out the video below for a twist: real people who seem fictional.

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