Sails on the High Seas (2021) is a poetry collection by Ksenija Premur and includes poems from 2006 to 2020. The collection includes poems from six previously published collections From Coast to Coast (2006), Madrigal for Summer (2008), Shards of Chinese Porcelain (2010), Dreams of the Naked Body (2012), Lighthouse (2018) and Vineyards at Dawn (2020). Since the collection contains an opus of more than 15 years of creativity, this is also reflected in the diversity of themes, motifs and atmosphere. The collection From Coast to Coast is dedicated to existentialist thinking about life, death, destiny, etc. Although the collection begins with sadness, pessimism and melancholy, it ends, as the subtitle “And three more – for children and those who, fortunately, have not yet grown-up” suggests, in hope and playfulness that culminates in the final love poems dedicated to the Silver Knight. In Madrigal for the Summer, the poems deal with mostly love and erotic themes and are often connected and incorporated into descriptions and metaphors about nature. They are imbued with the author’s already standard philosophical vocabulary and motifs of nature, such as the sea, water, flowers, etc., and special attention is paid to the human body, desire and Peter, a mysterious character that runs through the entire collection. Shards of Chinese Porcelain, on the other hand, generally have a more satirical tone, the theme is predominantly social, and almost every poem is geographically located. It deals with consideration of social arrangements and poetic descriptions of everyday life that take place in parallel with intimate and love themes, all interwoven with motifs of nature. Dreams of the Naked Body, as a kind of lyrical philosophical discourse, questions the relationship between mortality and immortality, eternity, God, the cosmos. The poems are enriched with mythological and biblical motifs, toponyms and lyrical descriptions of cities and nature. The Lighthouse reflects the author’s shift from love and erotic themes to metaphysical themes that focus on eternity, time and the relationship between heaven and earth. The expansion of the author’s focus from the intimate and reflexive to the metaphysical is accompanied by a simplification of the poetic expression itself, which turns to the philosophical, removing the superfluous in favour of its subject matter. The Vineyards at Dawn collection is dominated by motifs such as dawn, which reflects the author’s shift from a philosophical vocabulary to more picturesque landscape motifs, but the roots of philosophical thought remain. This is indicated by the very motif of vineyards and grapes, which are presented as a place where heaven and earth merge, a place that connects the physical and the metaphysical. The value of the Sails on the High Seas collection lies in the diversity that promises to enrich the reading experience with each re-reading. This is a collection that is read at intervals because it provides the reader with a whole range of emotions and impressions, and it is suitable, precisely because of its diversity, for almost any occasion.
The theory of literature was featured by two types of interpretations in the 20 century. The first included widely comprehended ways of interpreting the essence of literature and attempts to bring some order into it, whereas the other followed the procedures of over-formalizing that never took real roots. If the former derived from the belief the theory broadened our knowledge about the construction of a literary work, the latter generally shunned from the theory because of the belief literature can be comprehended even without theoretical knowledge. The resistance to the theory was even connected with a belief that the theory created yet another language (discourse) with whose assistance we can interpret other languages – e.g. the language of the work and the language of the interpretation, i.e. literary critics, which significantly increases the content of the language and its layers thus causing the distancing from the most important thing – the literature itself. Although theory of literature has always stirred controversies, and despite its aporias and ambivalence, it thrived throughout the history and it was exactly the 20 century that gave most theoretical paths, schools and movements. Paradoxically the same era (mostly the end of the 20 century) also stirred most interest into the topics, with a plethora of related works being published after the traditional era ended, which created the need to reform the theory. The end of its traditional form was partly embedded in the very concept of post-modernism, the concept of thinning former categories of genre and discourse as present day writings are simply referred to as theory, depicting everything or nothing from the “traditional theory”.
Through his incredible knowledge of Russian constructivism, Kosovel left a deep mark on his associates and friends. A year after his death, in 1927, Trieste Constructivist Cabinet was exactly the place where, due to Kosovel’s influence, an argument between supremacists and constructivists was settled (previously attempted by Lissitzky through a theoretical synthesis of both fractions in year 1921). Through a white square hanging from an invisible thread under the ceiling, “White on White” by Malevich, an icon of modern painting, the burden of a composition was stripped off and the border between the aesthetics of subjected framed painting and the construction as a new formation of space was established. The statics of Malevich’s work, as probably Kosovel would have told in his exposition, grew into the space and transformed into a moving construction. This means it was exactly during this occasion in Trieste when Malevich was liberated for the first time from historical burden laid upon him by Tatlin when he described his work as “a sum of all mistakes in the history of painting”. These facts put Trieste Constructivist Cabinet among the most important events in the history of avant-garde in general. The argument that started in INHUK between Kandinsky and Rodchenko, later continued between Kandinsky, Moholy-Nagy and Gropius on Bauhaus and transferred into the argument between Černigoj-Kosovel in Ljubljana, was finally settled. Willet’s thesis that there was no avant-garde below the line Vienna-Budapest was completely rejected. Kosovel is responsible for the constructivism having one of its pinnacles outside the Soviet Union right through his kons. Kosovel was aware of it – in his Mechanics he wrote about the related events taking place in Slovenia for the first time and he understood his life as „Slovenian, contemporary, European and eternal“. Ergo, Kosovel never belonged to a small-town literature as his example completely denies the thesis that the constructivism achieved significance primarily in fine arts and architecture, whereas its influence onto the literature in Europe never took deeper roots. Intensive but short Kosovel’s political phase serving the revolutionary purposes, as it happened with many Russian, French, Czech, Polish, German and other members of the avant-garde movement, ended with Kosovel’s death. He died too young to reach the indoctrination of the thirties which yet finished with the conflict in the left-wing in Slovenia, unlike what happened in other parts of what was then Yugoslavia. In the last years, especially last months of his life, Kosovel was floating between the poetic and political, between kons and integrals. In his last exposé before the urban audience, which was later postponed, he was planning on re-appearing as a constructivist which is immensely important for understanding his constructivism. Therefore we are analysing Kosovel’s public appearances thoroughly and following his increasing political engagement which slowly resulted in the ban of his public work, coinciding with his fatal illness.
When books The Ethics of Reading by Joseph Hillis Miller, The Company We Keep by Wayne C.Booth and Love’s Knowledge by Martha C.Nussbaum were published in the USA around 1990 – books that were met by a wide reception, and which all touched the relationship between the literature and the ethics, each from its own point of view and method – they incited a plethora of other similar works and treatises, and soon “ethical reversal in the literary science” was announced within American academic circles. The phenomenon was most pronounced in the USA and UK, partly spread into German and French literary sciences, and with a little delay into Chinese and South Korean sciences, whereas it failed to immerse into other regions so prominently. Nevertheless, a central role of North American humanities has provided global importance and influence over the past decades thus reaching into Slovenia. Past few years hosted two scientific symposia featuring literature and ethics, and here is the first Slovene monography dealing with the phenomenon. Virk’s monography features and reviews some of the most important topics of the literature and ethics within the ethical reversal that had a widespread response. Most attention is paid to M.Nussbaum, W. Booth, A. MacIntyre, H. Meretoja, J. Phelan, W. Müller, A. Nünning, E. Levinas, J. Derrida, P. de Man, J. Hillisu Miller, G. C. Spivak and Nie Zhenzhao. Virk outlines each of their fundamental contributions to ethical literary science, and then reviews their theories and cautions about the traps ethical approaches in the literature in general are faced with. As he pointed out in the introduction, Virk is not attempting to establish his own pattern of ethical literary science (he implies this may happen in the future at best), but focuses on the critical analysis of ethical reversal. Yet, in the conclusion he gives several suggestions on how to eliminate principal flaws of ethical literary science. What points to the contemporary methodical literary-scientific issues, dealing with ethical questions, is that Virk’s monography dug the first shovel. It points to the current world issues, but simultaneously it is not purely panoramic but problematic, analytical and critical. It is not merely an introduction into ethical literary science – quite the contrary. Despite author’s restraints about the topic, the work is a significant contribution to the subject matter. Virk’s book, widely opening up to contemporary literary-scientific trends, is nevertheless mostly featured by traditional, classical humanities. Dr. Tone Smolej
Poetic collection World and World, Podlogar’s fifth individual collection, comprises a trilogy on the poetic exploration of the world and its expression following a tradition, starting with avant-garde poetic movements (beginning of 20 century). After Million Seconds Closer (2006) and Merry New Ears (2010), World and World is an attempt, an experiment how to metaphorically encompass philosophical differentiation that has been a focus for many thinkers. Yet, neither the language nor the approach by the poetic self to the world are focused on the philosophy and its vocabulary; the poems were not created through the prism of literary modernism which is particularly interested in the topic, but through various procedures (polyphony, graphic images of poems, citations, etc) poems express not only the difference between the self (I) and the world (philosophically: the being and the self) but also between the worlds, words, viewpoints, emotions and other. The collection World and World was published thanks to the support of the Slovenian Book Agency.
FROM COSMOS TO DEATH Let’s open the window and breathe some fresh air of ever contemporary poetry by one of the greatest Slovenian poets and a representative of literary Constructivism, Srečko Kosovel (18/3/1904, Sežana – 27/5/1926, Tomaj). A 160-pages selection of Kosovel’s work, titled OPEN 0.2, interweaves poems and poems in prose, along with selected thoughts from journals, letters, essays and lectures. Kosovel’s manifesto To the Mechanics!is at the core of the work. The selection comprises various literary genres and styles the author used in his creative work: from an avant-garde constructivist and socially engaged poet, aware of the meaning and the importance of art and critically pondering over the society he lived in, to an expressionist poet and velvety lyric, who tended to withdraw to the homeland mountains escaping the buzz of the contemporary world, looking for solace in solitude, love, yearning and hope in a better world, a world of love, truth, justice and ethics. The pocket-size book is intended for readers to carry it around, anywhere and everywhere, and read the lines that are ever contemporary, current, Slovenian, European and eternal, as Srečko Kosovel believed himself to be. The collection was published by Constructivist Society (Društvo Konstruktivist) from the town of Sežana. Kosovel’s poems and other reflections were selected by Mateja Kralj, the custodian of Kosovel’s memorial room in his birth house in Sežana. The design was created by a painter Simon Kastelic. The translation of selected poems and other texts of Open 0.2 into Croatian was provided by Ksenija Premur. The book was published in November 2020 in cooperation of Constructivist Society and Lara Publishing from Zagreb.