ORTEN, JIŘÍ (pseudonym of Jiří Ohrenstein ; 1919–1941), Czech poet. Orten was born in Kutná Hora, Bohemia. His first poems, published in literary reviews before 1939, attracted immediate attention because of their novel existentialist approach and surprisingly mature form. After the Nazi invasion, his works were published under pseudonyms. Within two years, he managed to complete four books of poetry: Čítanka jaro ("Primer of Spring," 1939), Cesta k mrazu ("The Road to the Frost," 1940), Ohnice (1941), and Jeremiášův pláč ("Jeremiah's Lament," 1941). Orten's friends arranged their publication, ascribing their authorship to "Karel Jílek" or "Jiří Jakub." He was run over and killed by a German army vehicle on a Prague embankment. Two other volumes of Orten's poetry, Zcestí ("The Wrong Way") and Elegie ("Elegy"), appeared in the definitive edition of his verse after World War ii. His prose works appeared later: Eta, Eta, žlutí ptáci ("Eta, Eta, Yellow Birds," 1966). Also appearing was Deníky (1958; "Diaries," 1958), published in full as Modrá kniha ("The Blue Book," 1992), Žíhaná kniha ("The Striped Book," 1993), and Červená kniha ("The Red Book," 1994). His brother was Ota *Ornest.
V. Černý, in: Dílo Jiřího Ortena, 1 (1947), 443–7; J. Kunc, Slovník českých spisovatelů beletristů (1957); Eisner, in: Věstník židovské náboženské obce v Praze (1948), 236. add. bibliography: J. Kocián, Jiří Orten (1966); A. Mikulášek et al., Literatura s hvězdou Davidovou, vol. 1 (1998); Lexikon české literatury 3/I (1985); O. Ornest, "My Brother Jiří Orten," in: Review of the Society for the History of Czechoslovak Jews, Vol. 6, 1993–94; Slovník českých spisovatelů (1982).
[Avigdor Dagan /
Milos Pojar (2nd ed.)]