Matevž Kos – ARROGANCE AND BIAS

The book before you, Arrogance and Bias, by the author prof. Matevž Kos is divided into three major topical ranges. The first brings five comprehensive interpretations of the most famous books, or rather poetic opuses, by Slovenian poets who put a significant stamp onto the 1990s. The first one, Sonnet as a Form of Recuperation from the Contemporary, is devoted to the breakthrough collection of more recent Slovenian poetry – Sonnets by Milan Jesih. Today this book has a reputation of being the pinnacle of post-modernism in contemporary Slovenian poetry. The second essay, Cracked Words, is a comprehensive contemplation on the poetry by Veno Taufer, one of the central authors of so-called Slovenian “dark modernism”. The next text – Genealogy of Loneliness – is dedicated to the book of poetry by Jure Porokar, Objects in the Void, while the essay A Woman, a Light and a Scorpion is dedicated to the poetry by Uroš Zupan, the leading author among young Slovenian poets. Essays Imperfective Verb To Be is contemplation on another breakthrough collection of contemporary Slovenian poetry – Limping Sonnets by Milan Dekleva. The second part of the book is mainly of theoretical and literary-historical nature. This is a comprehensive treatise titled Contemporary Slovenian Poetry and the Issue of Postmodernism which analyses and sets the question of the direction of the issue of postmodernism phenomenon in poetry (especially Slovenian poetry), if it exists at all, as by worldly standards the discussion on postmodernism usually revolves around prose and drama.

The third part of the book is (slightly provocatively) called Troubles with the Programme. By its primary intonation the text is critical and polemical, while the central question it sets is the relationship between the literature and ideology, between the culture and politics, as risen during the critical age of Slovenian process of becoming independent and democratized. Among others, the author pleads for a rigid differentiation of various levels – above all the state interference and immanent poetic practice, author and text. Hence the critical attitude to various theoretical and ideological “discourses” which have been seen as something conservative or ethical and morally non-binding over the past decade in young Slovenian poetry.

 

Matevž Kos – NIETZSCHE AND NIETZSCHEISM IN SLOVENIAN LITERATURE

The book Experimenting with Nietzsche, subtitled “Nietzsche and Nietzscheanism in Slovenian Literature”, is divided into three parts. The first part, “Nietzsche”, is an introductory survey complemented with occasional philosophical interpretation. It attempts to follow the inner logic of Nietzsche´s philosophy by examining its focal points constantly underlining the open and ambiguous structure of his work. The second part of the book, “Nietzsche after Nietzsche”, begins by addressing the historical reception of Nietzsche´s philosophy and the different, often opposing, interpretations and “readings”. Using the methods of literary history, it goes on to discuss the impact of Nietzsche´s philosophy on the formation of literary movements at the turn of the century and later, concentrating on the German Expressionism. The third and central part is entitled “Nietzsche and Slovenian Literature”. It presents and analyses the first responses to Nietzsche´s Philosophy in the late 19th century Slovenian press and in the subsequent period until World War I. The central chapters are dedicated to the “dialogue” of Slovenian literature with Nietzsche´s philosophy in two historical settings: in the years between 1890 and 1914, and the period between the two wars. The author concludes that Nietzsche was viewed in Slovenia primarily from an ideological perspective and, more often than not, rejected by booth leading Slovenian political powers of the time, the Catholics and the Liberals. One of the reasons for such reception was that Slovenia had no developed philosophy in the true sense of the word at the time, and thus Nietzsche could not be met on an dequate, i.e. philosophical, ground. The reception of his philosophy through the decades until the Second World War was primarily reflected in literature and base on ideological considerations. The most important Slovenian writers discussed are Ivan Cankar (1876-1918) and Oton Župančič (1878-1949), both belonging to the Slovenian “Modernism [moderna], as well as Ivo Šorli (1877-1958), Fran Albreht (1889-1963), an Anton Novačan (1887-1951), who inherited the Modernist traditions from the years preceding, and partly following, World War I. The next period is represented by poet Srečko Kosovel (1904-1926), avant-garde artis Anton Podbevešek (1898-1981), critic Josip Vidmar (1895-1992), and writer Vladimir Bartol (1903-1967). Each formed an individual response to Nietzsche´s philosophy, the most radical ones being Vidmar and Bartol, who were with out doubt geavily influenced by the philosopher in the twenties and thirties. Bartol´s novel Alamut, which bears a quotation from Nietzsche as its motto, is considered to be the most radical embodiment of “metaphysical nihilism” in pre-war Slovenian literature. The period after World War II was not in favour on Nietzsche´s philosophy, primarily for ideological reasons, and it was not until the sixties that a renewed interest in his philosophy emerged. This phenomenon took place not only in literature, but also in literary theory and philosophy, being influenced to some degree by the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and his analyses of Nietzsche and the “European nihilism”.

Matevž Kos – FRAGMENTS ON THE WHOLENESS – ATTEMPTS WITH SLOVENIAN POETRY

A book by Dr Metevž Kos titled Fragments on the Wholeness: Attempts with Slovenian Poetry comprises seven essays dedicated to (post)modern Slovenian poetry of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries. The first two are contemplations on the initiators of modernism in poetry, i.e. members of the historical Slovenian avantgarde – Srečko Kosovel (1904-1926) and Anton Podbevšek (1898-1981). In the third essay the author contemplates about the opus of Veno Taufer (1933), one of the most prominent Slovenian modernist poets in the post-war era. The next essay is devoted to the collection of poems called Sonets (1989) by Milan Jesih (1950) who is renowned as a paradigmatic example of post-modernism in Slovenian poetry. The book was called after an essay about poetry by Milan Dekleva (1946). Dekleva, along with Milan Jesih, is one of the most important contemporary Slovenian poets, while both are considered representatives of the second “modernist generation” that witnessed “the crisis of modernism”. In the essay Dekleva’s opus is settled in the context of rebellious student generation of ’68, Heidegger’s post-metaphysical philosophy and eastern-oriented system of thinking – all of that left trace on Dekleva’s poetry. The essay How do we Speak When We Dare to Speak? is dedicated to the poetry by Uroš Zupan (1963), the most respectable Slovenian poet of middle generation. The last text in the book The Last Crossroad to Parnas is a synthetic rendering of the “young Slovenian poetry” from the period 1990-2005.

Tomo Virk – A WHITE LADY IN THE LABYRINTH – A CONCEPTUAL WORLD OF J.L.BORGES

A White Lady in the Labyrinth: a Conceptual World of J.L.Borges is a monography about the eminent Argentinean author having a reputation of the father of post-modernism and who largely marked the worldwide literature over the last several decades of the past century. No wonder he greatly influenced both Slovenian and Croatian literary production as well. The extent to which Borges was a break-through author is nicely conveyed by his “disciple” Danilo Kiš who distinguishes between literature before Borges and literature after Borges. In his works Borges, as a father of modern intertextuality, gets playful with various philosophical, psychological and sociological theories and that is the foundation for his creation of a completely independent aesthetic entity, with a background hint of a comprehensive system of thinking. This is exactly what Virk’s book deals with – through a precise analysis of Borges’ prose, poetry and essays he is attempting to penetrate into this system of minds and ideas. There he particularly focuses on thematical systems of time, dreams, labyrinths and mirrors and he reaches the conclusion that these systems are closely intertwined with the idea of repetition. This idea is a general paradigm of Borges’ work which not only permeates fundamental thematical systems as their common core but also incorporates into a separate and therefore particularly influential Borges’ writing technique which is intertextuality – no more than a certain from of repetition. In the final synthesis Virk gives concrete examples with a comparison of Borges’s world of ideas with the analysis of ontology of pre-modern societies.

Tomo Virk – THE FEAR OF NAIVETÉ, THE POETRY OF THE POSTMODERNIST PROSE

„The fear of Naiveté: the Poetry of the Postmodernist Prose“ is a monograph about Postmodernism, the last globally spread literary movement. The concepts of postmodernism and postmodern in the 1970s and especially in the 1980s penetrated into certain social sciences at the light speed – into philosophy, sociology, history of art, literary science and others – but because of their overly broad and contemporary use they soon faced their own inflation. Due to the inflation they are still used in enumerate meanings and in accordance with a famous postmodern motto anything goes. Virk’s book wants to define postmodernism in a different and more mandatory way, although the author is aware of the necessary plurality of how postmodernism is seen. Plurality however does not imply randomness; therefore Virk is attempting to outline his understanding of postmodernism as one of the possibilities of understanding postmodernism with as many arguments as possible and in accordance with the leading world theories. For that purpose Virk firstly outlines an overview of those theories, and then, based on accurate readings of separate postmodern texts and in a dialogue with other theories, he gives his view of postmodernism. The basic thesis of the book lies in the concept that postmodernism, from a spiritual-historic point of view, is the ultimate stage of metaphysical nihilism. At a formal level this standpoint is reflected in postmodern metafiction and inter-textuality that shake readers’ trust into the credibility of the world as rendered by the literature.

Tomo Virk – EXCURSIONS ABROAD

Excursions abroad gives a selection of interpretations, essays and comparative studies on several significant authors from the world literature. This book comprises a selection of prose writers its author, Prof.Virk, for various reasons finds particularly attached to and whom he intensively studied. The chosen authors come from three distinctive worlds in terms of literature and culture – thus the book is aptly, and a bit Hegelianly, divided into three parts, each bringing three authors. The first chapter features treatises from the Spanish language-based literature and the authors who are either historically (Cervantes) or culturally and geographically (Borges, Márquez) remote from contemporary Slovenian and Croatian readers. The second chapter is devoted to the authors comprising modernist Middle European environment, thus making them more familiar in terms of both culture and geography (Muschg, Kafka, Eco). The third chapter deals with the Russian literature (Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, Akunin) we may consider rather close, but at the same time very distant as well. Each of the three parts – thematically as well as in terms of the author selections – depicts an archway from canonised classics to postmodernism.

Vid Snoj – JEWISH SEXTETS

The book titled Jewish Sextets by Prof. Vid Snoj, PhD, comprises essays on six modern Jewish authors: Gershom Scholem, Erich Auerbach, Franz Werfl, Lev Shestov and Franz Kafka. The modernist literature, broadly speaking, from the Enlightenment onwards, has been featured by the „Jewish emersion“ in the areas of science and spiritual teachings, art, music and literature. The common interpretation of the exceptional achievements of Jewish people in all these areas is attributed to the opening of ghettos, simultaneously leading to the cessesion of the fixation on the holy scriptures and the banishment of depicting the image of the God, and so on. For example, it is obvious that, from the point of Christianity, the choseness of the Jews ended in the area of religion. The choseness then extended into the art which, on the other hand, resurfaces as a realm of epiphany of what is – or as a space of a-phany, un-utterencing, obliteration, nothingness, replacing thus the religion. The creative work by the Jews in the real world almost throughout their history, not only in the modernist literature, has been emerging from the deep and spiritual experiencing of the chosen ones and the exile, the chosenness on earth and the exile from the worldly places. This experience brings Jewish people into a particular position – being countryless in a country; being chosen for the world but homeless.