Renowned Slovenian literary historian and comparative literature professor Matevž Kos in a monograph with the appealing title “Years of Dangerous Life”, addresses one of the most intriguing topics in the history of Slovenian literature: literary (especially novelistic) depictions of the Second World War. Right after the liberation, the Second World War became a significant topic of Slovene literature, and the attitude towards it remains a neuralgic point of Slovene culture and politics until today when we can still follow the consequences of prewar and interwar tragic schism that led to revolution, civil war, collaborations, postwar deaths, etc. In literary depictions of the war in the period between 1945 and 1990, the image that prevailed was painted and experienced by the victors; while alternative lighting and different evaluations, such as those that arose in exile (especially in Argentina), in socialist Yugoslavia were, of course, undesirable and carefully censored. For various reasons, in the decade after Slovenia gained its independence, despite gradual breaking of the taboo, the topic was not in the focus, but in the new millennium, there were many new attempts at literary thematics that have not yet participated in synthetic comparative discussion. Kos’s book does not consider the entire, barely concise corpus of texts about the war: it leaves aside most artistically less ambitious debates and tackles the problems in problem sections (“five fragments”) in which it effectively reaches the very core of the issue – and thus, seemingly paradoxically, it nevertheless provides synthetic insights. Thus his discussion meaningfully begins with Kocbek, one of the most interesting interpreters of war and revolution, and continues with Pirjevac, a former partisan political commissar and later influential philosopher, and Vitomil Zupan, a partisan and later a political prisoner; ends with a consideration of the famous novels of the last decade. Kos approaches the analysis without any ideological prejudices and leaves the literary works to speak from their unique, singular perspective.
Marijan Dović, prof.