Toma Virk’s scientific monograph »Under Prešerno’s head« focuses on the research of the “transitional intersections” of Slovenian literature in the period after 1990, against the background of the traditional social role that Slovenian literature had in the past, before national independence. The first part of the book is theoretical, with a precise reading of the writings of Dušan Pirjevac, partly also of Janko Kos, it claims that the history of literature in Slovenia defined the specifics of Slovenian literature in connection with its social role – until the First World War or even the Second World War, it served the purpose of consolidating national consciousness. The author confirms these theses and supplements them with some more recent insights. In the second part of the monograph, he deals with the social role of Slovenian literature from 1945 to 1990. Analyzing social-historical and cultural-political events, above all those in Slovenian literary culture, he claims that literature in that period still has a very significant, even irreplaceable social role and function, but not only as the basis of national consciousness, but above all as a substitute for the missing institutions of democratic political pluralism. The central question of the book is what happened to the social role of literature after 1990, when Slovenians replaced both traditional shortcomings, got their own state and parliamentary democracy. The author particularly analyzes trends in Slovenian poetry, prose and drama that occurred after the independence. For the last decade of the 20th century, he notes a relatively vague involvement of literature in social and political events, but after the year 2000 this changed. Virk observed the up-to-date response of literary texts to current political events, but without the constructive effect characteristic of the previous two considered periods. He sees one of the reasons for that in the social marginalization of literature, and the solution in pointing out the ethical potential of literature.
Literary imagology is a branch of comparative literature that deals with the image of the Foreign in domestic literature and vice versa. It began to develop already in the first half of the 20th century, and it experienced a theoretical flourishing in the seventies when Hugo Dyserinck and Daniel-Henri Pageaux began to engage with it. Although it was occasionally expelled from the profession, due to its distinct interdisciplinary nature, it always returned to comparative research. The monograph Cities, heroes, soldiers, based on Pageaux’s theory, brings discussions about philhellenism, about the image of Poland, Bosnia and German officers in Slovenian literature, and at the same time focuses on descriptions of some European cities (Vienna, Paris, Venice, Rome) done by Slovenian writers.
Prof. Tone Smolej, PhD, is a tenured professor at the Department of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana. In the field of French-Slovenian literary contacts, he published three books (Slovenian reception of Emil Zola, 2007; From French Slovenianized, 2008, and Slovenian reception of French literature from classicism to symbolism, 2018). In two monographs, he researched the history of Slovenian writers, students of Austro-Hungarian universities (“What more to experience and become”. Slovenian writers, Viennese students, 2015; Slovenian literature and higher education, 2020). Together with Majda Stanovnik, he wrote the biography of Antun Ocvirk (2007) and is the co-author of the History of the Faculty of Philosophy in Ljubljana (2019). He also commented on several Slovenian editions of French classics..
Prof. Dr. Tomo Virk, professor at the Department of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the Faculty of Philosophy in Ljubljana, a top expert in both areas, added new value to his award-winning publications with the monograph Literature and Ethics. The text solves the essential problem of contemporary societies: how to avoid the relativization of good(ness) by insight into the inevitable cognitive and historical relativity of it. With his characteristic interweaving of theoretical-philosophical insight, literary and cultural-historical erudition, and lucid interpretation of fundamental sources, the author responds to the reflected vitality of literary discourse. He establishes that in the latter in a similarly non-trivial way as in life, the general, singular, (supra)historical, cognitive and emotional dimensions of ethical dilemmas are intertwined and mirrored. That is why literature can be ethical in codifying the fundamental rules of cohabitation and in the auto-reflexive opening of their enigmatic foundation. Everything points to the fact that in literary discourse we must reflectively experience the infinite openness of life’s ethos. Just like literature, Literature and Ethics does not offer an unequivocal solution to the aforementioned dilemmas, and at the same time, in the way they are considered, we sense the living secrecy of absolute openness, which in its last extract rejects the reasons for that which is not good. Thus, the monograph offers us an original answer to the super-historical dilemma about the connection between the good, the true and the beautiful: we do not find the good in the (hypothetical) knowledge of truth and beauty, but only the empathic experience of a non-trivial ethical judgment can be truthful and aesthetic.
Potential readers of Literature and Ethics are primarily (future) connoisseurs of these subject areas. With its erudite momentum and dialogic attitude, the monograph will expand the horizons of the interested public and experts in the field of philosophy, (cultural) history, sociology and related sciences. It will be of interest to everyone who wants to be a part of the vital power of humanities – preserving the meaning of life.
The cognitive power of Literature and Ethics springs from a superior theoretical thought which, in its latest refinement, has devised its own limitations. Namely, in the autoreflexive turn, it not only realizes that it cannot encompass the complexity and singularity of life situations in which we follow (un)ethical decisions, but also the fact that in this intertwining, it essentially approaches to (and at the same time builds on) the literary simulacrum of life. Thus, the programmatic departure from the “scholarly” discourse towards the dialogic one is not a sign of abandoning the cognitive potentials of theoretical speech, but quite the opposite – in openness to literary openness, these potentials are enhanced. After the introductory explanation of the basic problem, Tomo Virk reveals a range of situations in which literature embodies the ethical non-triviality of human existence. The first three chapters consider the cultural-historical period of ancient ethics and literature from normativity to the field of reflection, and the following seven concentrate on ethical issues that summarize the autoreflexive nature of modern literary discourse (theodicy, conscience, empathy, otherness, political correctness). Selected examples (Voltaire, Goethe, Poe, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Bulgakov, Borges, Camus, Roth, Schlink, Morrison, Coetzee) establish a framework for literary-scientific and philosophical thinking about the most demanding epistemological and ethical problems. Despite the challenging nature, the argumentation always remains friendly to the reader’s horizon of understanding, especially by means of expert syntheses of a complicated intertextual network of literary and cultural-historical references. The text is imbued with the spirit of both ethics and literature – not only because it is thematically interwoven with the red thread of empathic openness, but also because it constantly manifests this openness with its focus on discussion. In the monograph Literature and Ethics, which is exceptional both in terminological and didactic terms, ethics becomes, so to speak, performative. (“…”).
prof. Dejan Kos
The scientific monograph The Theory of Narratives by Alojzija Zupan Sosič was created as a synthesis of an authentic almost twenty-year long systematic study of narrative texts. In the monograph, the author takes a detailed look at the knowledge of classical and post-classical narratology, while respecting, critically judging and even supplementing the most recent insights of foreign theoreticians and verifying their usability in concrete analyzes and interpretations of literary texts. Alojzija Zupan Sosič’s narrative theory is almost entirely devoted to narrative in literature, although the author also starts from the assumption that narrative, based on storytelling as a universal human activity, is not exclusively a characteristic of literary texts. Alojzija Zupan Sosič’s monograph represents an innovation in Slovenian literary science and as such can be considered a a fundamental work of it. In the monograph, the author unifies for the first time the central concepts for the analysis and interpretation of narratives and the methodological origins from which these concepts were formed.
Based on the study of the domestic and foreign state of the field of classical and post-classical narratology, as evidenced by her extensive list of domestic and foreign literature, her own original additions, proposals and solutions, as well as reflections on what is significant from the point of view of theory and applicability for researchers and readers of narratives, Alojzija Zupan Sosič divided the contents of the monograph into 157 chapters.
The monograph offers numerous new insights and the author’s original solutions. Among the most innovative chapters are the ones in which she discusses the narrator, the mediation of speech, and narrative feelings. For example, the author synthesized the knowledge of the unreliable narrator and added to it the possibility of an unreliable reader and when describing it, she warned of enigmatic descriptions, she also added the mediation of speech to textual means, etc. The originality and uniqueness of the monograph is also represented by the glossary. Thoughtfully and in accordance with contemporary narratological and ethical principles, examples of literary texts from the corpus of neglected genders, social classes or nationalities were often chosen.
prof. dr. sc. Jožica Čeh Steger
The work Four Phases of the Moon by the established author Ksenija Premur, although the author herself calls it a collection of poetry, is actually written in the form of a poem. It is a story written in verse that brings excerpts from life in a postmodern manner. These fragments form a whole that leads us through the history of the lyrical subject, telling a story of love. The author, as the title itself says, leads us through four phases of change – four types of love. The first is the phase of sinful love, the second of unfulfilled romantic love, the third of friendly love, and the fourth is of a person’s love for himself. This time, the author decided on a completely new approach to the topic of love – the author teaches us about love, but also encourages the reader to reflect on their own understanding of love. As the reader reads this poem, it does not seem to him to be fictional, something that is foreign to him, but he immediately empathetically surrenders to the text. The first phase “About the new moon” is a story about jealousy, deception, about love that could not succeed due to its character. It is a dark love that takes place on the streets of Zagreb, in a public place, but in fact it is a love hidden from everyone, forbidden love. It is love that is not really love at all, but an eternal walk on the edge, a repeated challenging of destiny that ends like this: “that you repent for every word / that you said on that fateful day / and I’m leaving / going far […] and I change my hair color / going on a long journey”. The second phase “About the first quarter of the moon” tells the story of love that “should have been” realized in the full sense of the word, but fate did not permit it. Others intervened in the love between the two people, the family intervened and thus created an insurmountable obstacle to that love. “About the full moon” is the third phase that speaks of friendship. In this part, the key is the metamorphosis of love that the author offers us by combining the second and third phases. It is made clear that the main actor, along with the lyrical subject, in both phases is actually one and the same literary person. Although the second phase is a part dedicated to pure, beautiful love, it does not end happily. However, this love experiences a transformation that completes it and thus grants it its full splendor. “But even today / I call you every day / and never a better friend / never a more memorable interlocutor / and a dear confessor / we have crossed the threshold / old age has entered the great door”. “It dawned / a new day / of a new decade / all good and beautiful.” With these verses begins “About the moon’s last quarter”, a story of self-love. Giving oneself the opportunity to reconcile with destiny is also interpreted here as a kind of love. Despite and precisely because people go through different emotions through life, loves and hates, phases and changes they are human beings, they have to go through eternal changes in order to reach ultimate happiness and lasting peace. The author demonstrates this with the following verses “and my life is beautiful / and woven to my measure”, but also with “I ask heaven / just one thing more / to gift me / a happy death / an easy departure / from this world / for my soul to touch / gardens of paradise / and stay there forever.” The author points out all aspects of love, not just the beautiful ones. When talking about the dark sides of love and the suffering it brings, she does not fall into pathos, but very realistically describes the events that are a kind of symbols. Ksenija Premur shows maturity in writing and in experiencing emotions that she expertly turns into poetry – this is indicated by the motives of growing up, maturing, aging, but also the motives of overcoming the past, forgiveness and reconciliation.
The newest collection of poetry by Ksenija Premur entitled Sun at the Zenith, as a faithful reader who follows the work of this already established writer, I would call the peak of the author’s poetry. It is an extremely deep intimate love poetry, and the collection is written in one breath; the entire collection can be read as a single poem. To begin with, the peculiarity of this collection of poems are the titles that are formulated as imperatives (e.g. remember, give to me, fall, wander, etc.), which indicates a kind of conversation between the lyrical subject and a man unknown to readers. This conversation is actually a monologue, and the gradation of feelings from the beginning to the end of the collection implies unhappy love – the first song is titled wait, and the last one forget me. The conversation, i.e. the collection, begins with the following words: “just wait and everything will come / like the golden sun at the zenith”, it begins with optimism, hope in love, and ends with “I await the break of dawn / for you to forget me / and never look for me / because the gods just / played with us / (…) / under the sun at the zenith”, that is, it ends with the end of love. The sun at the zenith, which appears in the first and last poem, is a symbol of both opposites – the beginning and the end, but also of eternity, a motif that also appears with opposing motives (eternal paradise, eternal life, eternal oblivion, eternal struggle, eternal ruin). Eternity is a dialectic of both extremes, an eternal shift between optimism and pessimism, good and evil, waiting and forgetting, giving and taking (“and history repeats itself / in the end everything repeats itself / as variations on the theme of eternity”). However, eternity is a category reserved only for immortal phenomena such as love, but for mortal beings the aspect of temporality includes transience “because what was yesterday / today is already past / and what is now is doomed to pass.” The collection brings a whole range of feelings, such as sadness, melancholy, longing, joy, hope. It is love, which is the central motif and theme, that triggers all these feelings. This love is described as fated, regardless of the imperatives, as something that the one who is in love in no way can control. To rein in and explain this love, the author invokes gods and goddesses, transcendent beings who may have access to knowledge that could be helpful. However, the last poem reveals that the author’s attempt failed – love failed: “and you keep chaining me / with newer and heavier shackles / I can no longer wear them on my chest (…) so forget me / as if I never was”. This time also, a biographical note is unavoidable – particularly, philosophical expertise introduces philosophical, religious and historical concepts into the collection (cosmos, destiny, Horace, Jesus, Colossus of Rhodes, Apollo, Botticelli, etc.). Similar to previous collections of poems, the author draws inspiration from the seascape (rocks, waves, sand, seagulls, fish, etc.), and a special role is played by the motif of the gaze mentioned in the titles of the poems (observe, look, the pupil of the sun, look at the turbulent world, your gaze, persistent gaze, etc.). In this way, the motifs of a gaze and eyes, i.e. of the sight, as the most important human sense, point to the significant importance that the author places on visual hedonism, the splendor of nature and the bodies she describes. With the help of exceptional inspiration, creativity and insight, the author succeeded in writing a very special, innovative and unique collection of poems – a collection that is at the same time intellectual, philosophical, natural, intimate and love poetry. Therefore, this collection is intended for all those who were/are happily or unhappily in love, or better said, for all those who have emotions, all lovers of poetry.
Rains in April. To Međimurje and My Father is a collection of poetry by the established poet Ivan Sokač. As the title of the collection suggests, the poems in question are topographical poems that are related to Međimurje, but at the same time they are imbued with intimate themes. The collection is primarily characterized by descriptions of landscapes, especially Međimurje, but in the background are strong feelings that are, among other things, driven by nostalgia for his homeland: “Heart without land / desolate and alone. / Like a child without a mother / who is far away.”; “I have no home, nowhere.” Along with nostalgia, the theme is the return to one’s homeland, but also alienation from the homeland: “I have become a stranger wherever I am,” which includes elements of oblivion and departure. The poet frames the entire collection with motifs related to water, which symbolizes life, such as streams, rivers, seas, oceans, rain, etc. Through the oppositions of light and darkness, day and night, heaven and earth, laughter and tears he touches on the variability of the world. The poet emphasizes the spiritual aspect of man by thematizing the human soul and mind, and deals with the universal themes of man’s position in the world, meaning and meaninglessness, and the search for meaning. The poet pays special attention to rhyme and rhythm, but also to stylistic features, especially lively metaphors: “Day after day / of edible shame, / tears the time hungry without a soul.” Regardless of the predominance of landscape, the collection is intimate lyric poetry. Sometimes it’s about addressing “her”: “I just remember when I lie down / that you are my treasure.”, and sometimes addressing himself and his own emotions. The high degree of self-referentiality (“I will translate this poem as well.”, “It’s just a poem. It hurts while I’m writing it…”) is manifested by the author’s self-awareness of his own perspective as a poet, as evidenced by the very title of the poem “Poet”. The author describes the life of the poet and the source of his inspiration in a sincere manner: “A poet without sorrow is not worth anything. / His days and words are in vain. / And the pen and the thoughts he uses.” The key feelings that guide the poet in his writing are sadness and melancholy, but also love: “I am not the only one living in me. / But someone else who loves and breathes.” Because of all the above, the collection is a very complex reflection of the poet’s spirit motivated by the search for his own meaning of life. With the help of this collection and through empathy with the poet, the reader can embark on the path of self-knowledge.
The scientific monograph The Collision of The Worlds: Studies on Contemporary Slovene Drama contains twelve studies joined into a whole by their common object of study, namely contemporary Slovenian drama, as well as by their common methodological framework, in which the approaches of literary history and literary theory are constantly connected with those of theatre studies, culture studies, sociology, history, anthropology, and other aspects. The first five studies give a perspective on the features that characterise the development of Slovene drama after 1991 (with the most attention paid to the newest plays after 2000), presenting the breakthrough for female playwrights, the social relevance of the selected dramatic texts, the influence of the media and media technologies on the writing and staging of plays, the features of comedy, and the role and significance of the Grum Award as the central prize for original Slovene plays. The analyses show that contemporary Slovene drama remains a vital part of Slovene literature, that it has mainly dealt with intimate topics since 1991, but that from 2006 on, there have been growing critical notes calling attention to various anomalies of contemporary society. There are also notable new textual practices, as well as a change in the role of the textual in theatres, which takes us into the field of the post-dramatic or the no-longer-dramatic, or rather, transcends both notions.
The aim of Virk’s monograph Under Prešeren’s Head. Slovene Literature and Social Changes: National State, Democracy and Transitional Discrepancies is to analyse the structural changes in the Slovene literary system since its beginning, particularly the shift in the social role of the Slovene literature since the Slovene independence, gained in 1991. For this purpose, the study departs from broadly developed hypotheses about the nature of the relation between Slovene literature and Slovene society. In the period before the independence, this relation had often been treated and at least its basic features outlined. The Slovenes were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire up to the First World War. They didn’t have their own state and its institutions. As a consequence, the culture, and within it literature in particular, acquired a special, exalted significance. Slovene literature – such was at least its predominant (self) image – was one of the most important media of national self-awareness in the 19th century. With the establishment of the communist regime after the Second World War, Slovene literature gained a new, politically emancipatory dimension. Throughout the period of total ideologization, literary texts were one of the rare media for freedom and ideological uncontrollability. The literature gradually began to open up silenced, undesirable topics, and a large part of literary writing, but also a literary culture in whole, thus gained a political dimension: oppositional, dissident, or at least para-dissident. With the transition to a parliamentary democracy and with gaining independence, new social conditions arose, which also influenced the cultural and the literary sphere. The traditional social role of literature – i.e. national-constitutive and politically emancipatory – characteristic of Slovene literary culture, changed significantly, and literature itself slowly began to adapt to this: on the level of public influence and resonance it was a shift from social-national representativeness to gradual marginalization and at the same time, in particular among the young literary generations, also an adaptation to the new reality. The aim of the study is to research how the critical potential of Slovene literature was modified in this period.prof. dr. Janez Vrečko
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.
The Knight of the White Deer is the latest literary work by Branko Pihač, a well-known Croatian science fiction writer. Although the author is known as a writer of hard science fiction, in this novel he combines it with motifs of pure fiction and is therefore a hybrid between the two genres. The topics this novel touches on range from scientific, historical, political, artistic, philosophical, moral, psychological, and last but not least love. Precisely in the wide range of issues that the author deals with the complexity, creativity, rich inspiration, but also the maturity of the writer are manifested. The plot of the novel takes place far in the future when people have already realized the possibility of interplanetary travel, but the civilization they encounter on their journey has almost medieval features, as indicated by the title of the novel. The Daneon kingdom on the planet Teuron is a world they encounter and is nuancedly different from the history of the Earth, and it is precisely these similarities that are the very core of the novel. There are also people who have similar characteristics to those on Earth, and the planet itself is full of various striking features, mostly flora and fauna, but also mysterious properties. The story that this novel tells takes place through the eyes of the main character, Valdemar, the captain of the spaceship “Light Arrow V”, but on two narrative levels – in the past and the present. On one side is the world of advanced technology represented by Captain Valdemar, and on the other the fantastic world of Alai Bimbur, a violin teacher, and Fedor, Prince of the Daneon Kingdom. Both worlds, i.e. the levels of narration, are intertwined and connected in ways that draw the reader into mosaic and complex relationships between their temporal, spatial, moral and other dimensions. On the one hand, the novel is deeply imbued with dynamic action, tension, twists, motifs that are conventional for the science fiction genre, and on the other hand with humanistic motifs and a philosophical message. One of the key motives is music, which in a broader sense can be understood as art, and in this novel it is manifested in the violin. Friendship is also a motive that transcends the boundaries of the usual notion of interpersonal relationships, it is the initiator of the action, its essence and guiding thought. Furthermore, the author focuses on the philosophical concepts of good and (radical) evil, and consequently on the issues of destiny, freedom and responsibility for one’s own deeds. But these individual questions impose a broader sphere of questioning – the relationship between body and soul, that is, science and humanity. The peculiarity of the almost black-and-white characterization, unusual for postmodern literature, results in the romanticization of the characters, which at the very end of the novel makes an even stronger impression and offers a powerful moral message. The boundaries of genres and classic features of the novel are surpassed by a kaleidoscope of motifs and themes that provide a comprehensive reading experience, and the open end hints at the continuation of the fantastic story of the Knight of the White Deer and provides an opportunity for another exciting reading.
The Night Drive to Jerusalem. Selected Poems 1964–2018 is a collection of poems by the Slovenian writer, poet, translator and publicist Lev Detela, who emigrated to Austria in the 1960s. The collection is divided into eight chapters that are analogous to the titles of already published poetry collections: Childhood Misfits, Moving Into the World, Unhappy Communications, The Period of Energetic Madness, The Fire of All Things, Fate, The Italian Journey, and The Night Ride to Jerusalem. This collection provides an overview of a wide and long-standing poetic opus, providing insight into the development and evolution of the poet’s works in terms of style and content. Lev Detela successfully managed to separate himself from his contemporaries with his unconventional style that resists tradition and promises each reader a unique and interesting experience. At the content level, the poet embarks on a very demanding endeavor and at the same time manages to capture the general problems of the human condition and humanity itself, but also the specific context and problems of Slovenian society from which his art originated. A rich thematic range will allow each reader to find a new view of the world for themselves and within themselves.
Published in 1977 by Obzorje in Slovenia, it was not until 2021 that one of the most important collections of poetry by the poet, essayist and translator Vinko Ošlak, titled Seismograph of Senses, was translated into Croatian. The collection is divided into nine chapters: Homeland Sketches, Morning, Horses, Visits to Tisnikar, Pollution of the Earth, Waste, Pollution of Reason, Pollution of the Cross, and Pollution of the Heart. With short poems written in short verse, the poet presents a critique of the modern world and the relationship between nature and man, which, for example, can be seen in the following verses: “The flower asks: / – What is concrete? / The crow answers: / – It is a gray stubborn substance, / which hardens man’s desires / in the mould / of poisoned times.” Special emphasis is placed on the technology, ie its critique, which is reflected in the choice of motifs: “machine”, “springs”, “steel”, “concrete mixer”, “electric current”, “iron”, “nails”, “chains”, “oxidation”, etc. The collection starts with predominantly dominant motifs of nature and moves towards the increasingly gloomy ones, as the titles of the chapters themselves suggest. The collection is permeated with Christian and biblical motifs, and the entire collection is dominated by the motif of blood, but also by the motif of light. Thus, the ambivalence between the nature symbolized by light and the man who suffers because of his own actions, that is, the historical moment in which he finds himself, is emphasized. Pessimistic views of the world are manifested in the verses: “Murder: / the idea of the world…”, “We looked too much at the ceiling / and did not see / how our feet / wandered more and more.”, “Around the corners / lie rotten words, which people in a hurry / carelessly uttered.” etc. Furthermore, the author, as can be seen from his biography, who due to the political and economic situation migrated from Slovenia to Austria, takes a critical stance toward socialism and its consequences. The author shows disharmony in post-industrial society by merging seemingly incompatible terms and phrases, eg “iron apple”, “gilded frame of tucked in freedom”, “Elderberry flower / is the letter of the world”, “Grave and cypress / are the measures of everything:”, “Through forests carried by an electric current”, etc. By combining abstract concepts with concrete, physical procedures, he points to contradictions, for example: “Superficial greeting / crawls in the slime.” The very title of the collection Seismograph of Senses speaks of the depth of sensibility and feelings that arise when reading this poetry. The author tries to make the reader aware of the change that modernity has brought, which is taken for granted, without thinking. This collection is a reminder of the possibility and need of man’s return to nature itself.
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.
Poet Goran Gluvić has published four collections of poetry, all of them met with great success, in which he spoke in a particular poetic way. Each of the collections brought new and fresh poetic charges. The same goes for the last collection, Steps in the Rain. Through a conglomerate of various poetic forms, from a classical sonnet to a simple song-like poems, he expressed his views of the contemporary world and the space of a human of our days; a space of a primarily own body and soul as a core and a point of breaking. New poetic thinking is expressed through words in a new and utterly independent manner: as if through past memories and ironic thinking a certain distress due to human powerlessness in contemporary, real world is expressed. A human and its existence are frozen solid from scepticism in the wild pace of the world, thus, amid the wavering of helplessness, a poet discerns an island, in the irrational yet emotional horizon, a potential of salvation – love. Certain immanent scepticism did not vanish from erotic ecstasy and chosen pleasures of the poet: if not otherwise, it is clearly visible in renouncing comical, auto-ironic approaches; a certain amount of ecstasy is embedded in the real grounds of auto-reflection. It is in real sense modern, open poetry, appropriated for a certain circle of readers who tend to avoid contemporary poetry over its deep diving into the depths of hermeneutical layers of the language. This is poetry for hedonists of aesthetics, for those who are partial to sceptic auto-reflection, humour, paradox, wittiness. In other words, poetry fully immersed into the contemporary times, critical and open-minded when it comes to the past and thus anchored into the descendents of Slovenian poetic heritage of past decades.
A new collection of poems by the poetess Ksenija Premur, „Vineyards at Dawn“, comprises several longer poems: Vineyards, Crack of Dawn, Dawn, Sunrise, Daybreak, Moirai and Earth and Heaven Merry at Dawn. The collection is a continuation of author’s previous work „The Lighthouse“. Basic dichotomy in the work is the relationship between the time and the eternity, between heavenly and earthly. Just like in “The Lighthouse”, the author continues to write in a very economical language now fraught with, not so much philosophemes, but profound imagery, light metaphysics in which the relationship between the heaven and the earth is the fundamental axis around which the author creates rows of cycles one reads in a single breath. The very titles of poems clearly indicate author’s inspiration – the dawn, the daybreak, the sunrise. Images of vineyards and grapes are not random – they are symbolically represented as places where the heaven and the earth meet. In the poem “Vineyards” there is a personification – grapes are chanting “a song / of the sky and the earth / and the sea in between”. The same poem mentions the sea located in-between, while later there is a highlight “where only / cerulean skies and blue seas / rule”. It is exactly the image of vineyards “and strive from the earth / towards the sky” that evoke the symbol of verticality, just as the lighthouse was used in her previous collection. The state is depicted in philosophical manner of “between being and not-being”. In the poem “Crack of Dawn” we can find an opposition of a dawn and an evening, the beginning and the end of a day. Premur provides impressive imagery, synaesthetic experience of awakening of the nature, blossoming, twirling winds, rendered in frantic pace trying to emulate the magic of the beginning, as if this were cosmogony. The author perceives the movement of seasons: “and ruffle the surface / of the deep blue sea / everything is decorated / in richly elaborated necklace / the sky blossomed in peonies”. On the other hand, a crack of dawn is the time when crickets take a rest after “they stayed awake throughout the night”. In these hymn-like lines the author manages to create a magnificent description of everything waking up and intertwining, the moon and the trees, the sea and the seagull, before the town gets completely awakened. The light overpowers the darkness in a Manichaean sort of way, “a new day” has embraced and cradled around everything, repeating itself until a new dawn: “everything comes to a day / at a crack of dawn / at a sunrise / at a daybreak / at a dawn / in the light of a new day”. The subject poem does not seem to be connected with any place at first, however later it mentions Euphrasian Basilica. The temple is situated in the town of Poreč, in Istria (Croatia) and its parts become integral part of the poem. This is mostly notable in references to early Christian mosaics and renderings of Jesus Christ. Through epithets of sacrality, divine light, tranquillity, a particular atmosphere of the sublime and solemnity is created. Here we also find another motif to be dealt with later to a bigger extent, and it is a theme of wedding. At dawn “a great wedding party of the earth and sky” is taking place and they will be crowned with a “magnificent ring”. Here the author uses a hyperbola to represent the passing of time, which is particularly interesting (“of all world clocks / ticking away / our lives”). There is a special bond between the high sun and the sunset, the ebb and the flow, the birth and the death. The latter is the foundation, the ultimate law we must all obey, the law of movement of time that goes “round and round”. At the crack of dawn a being is born thus metaphorically symbolising the start of a human life. The poem “Sunrise” is an epitome of epiphany, a description of the creation of the world in a day, a magnificent metonymy. In a hymn-like elation everything has been encompassed – flowers, seas, all beings “from a tiniest ant / to a lion / the king of all animals / and brisk otter / making dams and ponds / in a blossoming countryside / twigs trees mud / no word suffices / to describe the whole world / in a single breath / at a sunrise”. The author reintroduces synaesthesia in this description; there is a merger of pictures, sounds (birds chirping), scents, colours (flowers); there is an opposition of darkness (“of dark deep seas”) and light (“sun … breaks the shackles of the night”). As I have already mentioned in the introduction, Ksenija Premur also writes powerful love poetry where she poeticizes the yearning for the loved one and the sorrow for the lost love. In this collection we can also find poems telling us about the memories of love; the author immortalizes sad moments when “yet another wonder / vanishes in the past”. A lover is metaphorically represented as a “sailor of my heart”; other hyperbolic images are introduced again (“sun explosion”, “as if you wander / all over the oceans; there is also author’s recurring motif of mazes, in particular Greek labyrinths: “for it is dawn / and in long steps / the Minotaur strides / waiting for me in our maze / with a dawn of a new day / blossoming“. Another captivating element is the chorus – „you are worth / inventing” – repeating in several places. This is a detachment of the heroine describing a post festum of love gone by, as well as the irony reflecting the unsteadiness and disappointment: “you are drawn to another journey / alas, they are so long”. The poem “Daybreak” portrays “eternal love of the earth and the sky”. Interestingly enough the author is inspired by the Bible, especially by the Song of Songs. The cycle of joining and separating lovers has been poetized again in a personified image, wedding and splitting, the end of one and the beginning of another daybreak. Again, just like in “The Lighthouse”, there are allusions of Japan, a land of the rising sun, and Hiroshima disaster, a tough historical legacy, has also been incorporated. It is exactly through the imagery of the progress and “a man is diligently / building up a new world” that the land is being rebuilt into a land of “magical scents”. The good conquers the evil, “a new song is born / a new daybreak”. Regardless the eternal motion, no day is the same and this is exactly what the author wants to point out. She wants to emphasize the power of a man to change, to create a new world, like a diligent worker, which is pretty Nietzschean. The poem “Moirai” is a reminder that Greek mythology has always been author’s source of inspiration. They have been incorporated as the theme of “Vineyards at Dawn” – life and death, time and eternity – a fabric of life woven by the three Fates. The question whether human beings are born to die and turn into dust, or are meant to life forever is still open. There is no unique comprehension – “who would know / in Moirai’s weaving / of life and death”. The last poem in the collection “Heaven and Earth Marry at Dawn” is the finale. Premur uses jargon related to drama. She lists expressions such as choir, tragedy, introduction, in order to dramatically poeticize the marriage of heaven and earth, wed by the god himself, with pagan gods also being incorporated. Through gradation the author is depicting the elation of the festive occasion, the awakening of the nature at a crack of dawn. The wedding is a symbol of creation, but also an ode to humanity as the drive of creation for humanity harbours the divine sparkle, and their works are proof of human power and force of creation, symbolized by “Botticelli’s Madonnas” as mentioned in the poem. In the end Ksenija Premur has managed to devote, in these un-times, a true ode to a man incorporating both earthly and divine dimensions. Thus with this collection the author continues her poetic expression and keeps supporting her humanistic ideals and aesthetic beauty.
The ten papers on the monograph entitled Na pomolu sodobnosti ali o književnosti in romanu (On the Quay of Contemporaneity; Literature and the Novel) investigate the role and meaning of contemporary literature. This investigation is in two parts: the first, On Literature, is theoretical in nature, giving a survey of writings on the history of literature. The second, Concerning the Novel, is dedicated to the analysis of a single Slovene novel in each discussion. The two are not only linked by way of looking at the Slovene novel within the wider context and establishing the links between the two, but also through methodology, or, more precisely, methodological pluralism. The various methods, insights and approaches are balanced through the lens of post-classical narratology, stress being laid on context, the text and the reader / critic, the core rule of post-classical narratology being the shift between the text and the co-text. It passes from cognition through ethics to ideology; this is therefore not only an analysis of narration, but also its reading within a wider social and cultural context.
The paper Literarnost, ponovno (Literariness) discusses the questions “What is literariness?” and “When is literariness?”Although sometimes there is a thin differentiating line that distinguishes a literary text from a non-literary one, it is precisely the knowledge of literariness that eliminates the challenge of differentiation, when the dominant or predominating features are taken into account in comparing various texts. In the study entitled Trivijalnost nakon postmodernizma (The formulaicity in literature after postmodernism) it was useful to add literary historical dimensions to socio-cultural analyses of mass literature, wherein belongs formula fiction, by connecting them with the properties of the post-modern, post-modernism and mass culture. Discussion Vrijeme uspješnica (The time of bestsellers) deals with the notion that the difference between literariness (the characteristic of a quality book) and formulaicity (the characteristic of a bestseller) is huge. A best-seller is a book which achieves an unusual market success by way of various factors: the actuality of the theme, fashion, market needs, propaganda, favourable offers made to the booksellers, multiplication by way of various media, praising of the book before it even proves itself on the market, prizes, celebrity endorsement, the size of the book market and lists of the factors of success as means of manipulation. Slovene literature in the post-modern age is not yet a complete phenomenon and so research Slovenska književnost nakon 1990 godine (Slovene literature since 1990) is faced with two challenges: to combine the literary perspective with the sociological, historical and culturological, and to achieve sufficient (academic) distance from current literary production.
The term transrealism is once again discussed in the study Transrealizam – novi pravac suvremenog slovenskog romana? (Transrealism – a new trend in the contemporary Slovene novel?). The very prefix in the term transrealism shows that it is closely connected with the previous realist trends and that in it repeatability and eclecticism take on a significance permeated by the new role of the literary subject.
In the paper Alamut I suggest several possibilities for introducing the novel in historical, philosophical and religious, and psychological perspectives, by presenting the novel as a sketch for effective literary reading. Alamut can be read on various levels: while reading the double-layered text, the attention is directed first at the story and then at the broader narrative. In the study Pimlico, Pimlico by Milan Dekleva is compared to The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. Both are modern European novels which can be successfully understood only through modern interpretation. In the paper Čitateljska skica za Jančarev roman Polarna svjetlost (A reading sketch for Jančar´s novel Severni sij) the picture of prewar Maribor conveys the contemporary message about the absurdity of violence, the limits of human reason and the limitless hatred. The article Antiutopijski otok u romanu Filio nije kod kuće Berte Bojetu (The distopian island in novel Filio is not at home Berte Bojetu) researches the novel as a modified traditional novel: takes it to be a modified type of traditional novel, looking as it does to the tradition while undergoing various transformations, the most present of which is its genre syncretism (a love story with a psychological bias, dystopian novel and parable,) the role of the narrator and an increased amount of dialogue. This makes the narrative lively and dramatic, qualities that come most to the fore in the dialogue which conveys contemporaneity and the writer’s empathy. In the last paper, Pijetlov doručak, knjižna i filmska uspješnica (The Cockerel’s Breakfast, a best-seller and film blockbuster), a book by Feri Lainšček is compared to a film by Marko Naberšnik. The Cockerel´s Breakfast has been a hit both in book form and on the screen.
The study tries to situate sources of the inferential preference of the writing in respect to the spoken word, as it got established in philosophy. Following rationalist tradition, Gottlob Frege proposed a conceptual writing project (Begriffsschrift), inspired by arithmetical calculus. As soon as this was done, it was shown that a desired architecture cannot hold without that some inconsistent kind of support is introduced. In order to avoid this conundrum, Russell with his theory of types proposed a stratified approach to language, involving object language and several metalanguages. Another angle was a search for meaning and accounting for epistemic power of language, which Frege proposed by his distinction between sense and reference. Meaning tried to be strictly scientifically supported, and yet it repeatedly encountered the speech as its limit. Finally, the road towards the definite description controversy between Russell and P.F. Strawson is hinted at: whereas the first one established the basis for philosophical analysis through the assumption that language primarily describes the world, the second one pointed out language’s communicative and implications conveying rich power. This goes contrary to reducing the direct approach of language to the world through Russellian proper name, where the preferred logico-linguisitc kernel ends up as language and sense avoiding demonstrative.
Vinko Ošlak, born in Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia, in 1947, started writing already in his childhood, and soon afterwards he was translating from English and Esperanto, and later from German. He has been writing in Slovenian, Esperanto and partly in German. The most comprehensive part of his work are the journals he started writing in Slovenian, but has lately switched to Esperanto. All that material has yielded only two books in Slovenian and one in Esperanto. He has issued over 40 books translated into Slovenian, Esperanto and Croatian, and as many translated from English, German and Esperanto. His beginnings were in poetry, whereas later he switched to essays, prose and philosophical and theological works. His first collection of poetry, Seismographer of Emotions, was published in 1997 by Obzorje. His second collection, Go and Search, was never published in Slovenian language apart from several poems published in magazines and on the radio, but was completely published by Publishing House Lara in 2012, in Croatian translation by Ksenija Premur. In 2020 the same collection was published bilingually, in Slovenian original and translation by Ksenija Premur. The feature of Ošlak’s literature in terms of the content, regardless its literary genre, is what’s called “searching for God” in Russian literature. In terms of style Ošlak’s poetry features the commitment to the message over the form, poetic figurativeness in his prose, method of the paradox as a route to the synthesis closing to reality in his essays, while his journals feature revelation of the meaning of small scenes, events and superficially irrelevant people taking a stroll between ‘the home and the world’. Vinko Ošlak has been living and working in Klagenfurt, Austria, with his family since 1982.
Promise Land is a new collection of poems by Lev Detela, a poet and a writer, born in Maribor in 1939, who has lived for over half a century mostly in Vienna, while writing in both Slovenian and German languages. The author has been granted multiple literary awards, and some of his works have been translated into numerous languages. Promise Land is divided into nine independent parts. Audience is introduced into the collection through Postcards from two Homelands, indicating the duality of Detela’s experience of being torn between Slovenia, where he was born, and his adopted homeland of Austria, and the world. The collection works as a comprehensive whole despite touching different topics and contents occurring on author’s numerous journeys throughout the sunswept Mediterranean, to the Northern Africa, to Mount Sinai or to the Canary Islands, as well as the contradictions of his experiences in warm Greece or Egypt, on one side, and snow covered countryside in Czech Republic along the river Vltava, on the other. His feelings from those journeys is what the author transformed into poems which is a fundamental drive of his whole poetic creation. Egyptian rhapsody is a cycle of poems, particularly comprehensive and interesting in terms of history and culture, and fraught with innumerate notes on ancient pharaohs and contemporary social aspects of troubled Egypt. Detela’s lyrical narratives, with immense existential connotations in added notes, reveal almost encyclopaedic framework of significant historical essays and cognitions. This is especially featured in the cycle Los Volcanos about the Atlantic, volcano-struck island of Lanzarote in 1730, and even more so in the titling poem Promise Land. The whole collection won the first prize in the literary competition by a magazine MLADIKA from Trieste. In this exceptionally spiritual poem the author clearly and vocally reaches into the contemporary issues of terrorism, civil wars and related emigration crises endangering the peaceful development of the world. The poem was created upon visiting the Christian monastery of Saint Catherine’s under Moses’ mountain of Mount Sinai.
Philosophy may be approached in various ways, although a question whether the development of philosophy determines a special historical telos keeps emerging. Or whether, despite sometimes seemingly unsurpassable differences in the comprehension of philosophy, there is some kind of unique, inner harmony. Philosophy can be discussed both in various ways and always the same. It is exactly this collected weight of accessing philosophy, perhaps at a completely personal level, but simultaneously touching what applies to the general truth. This is essentially the difference between philosophy and any other science, religion, ideology and the quotidian, thus making all attempts of criticism inadequately short in their inertness.
Our faith in the truthfulness is based on the perseverance in re-examining the truth, which best features historical development of philosophy. This critical approach to philosophy has determined our life attitudes we link to European humanism. Studying philosophy is thus always going back to those sources whose cloaked values we wrap up our existence with remain forgotten. Remembrance of the origin is the ultimate way of philosophical comprehension shaping up this particular “Western” figure of humanity.
What is special about it is the ability, although its long-lost originality makes it hard to fathom its original sense, to express its mind through speech. The speech is what makes us believe in prudence and truth, while being elusive at the same time. The speech is the original movement, perceived in the flow of words while attempting to encompass concepts, and the detachment between the meaning and sense. Inasmuch modern philosophy is trying to find the world, en route to speech.
This work includes studies on the history of philosophy and modern philosophy. Sophistic interpretation of speech and philosophical problem of comprehension as memories in Plato are being discussed within the framework of the origins of philosophy. Furthermore, philosophical perception of God in Descartes as of one pinnacles of modern philosophy is being reflected. The criticism of the cognition criteria of philosophy and the relationship of philosophy and art are being developed in the example of Nietzsche. Modern philosophy is approached from two perspectives – phenomenological and conceptual-historical. The core of the study is the problem of lingual expression and the construct of human science, once again studied within the context of history of terms.
The basic goal of treatises is an attempt to extrapolate particularity of philosophical procedures by analysing key topoi in philosophy, while connected with lingual mediation and culture that outline its spiritual horizon. In modern times the horizon is designated through the crisis of philosophical knowledge emerging from particularities of historical formation of philosophy, on one hand, and reinforcing the lack of any particularity of our times where philosophical search is lost to various substantiated know-how. Yet, all these combined cannot solve, nor they even question, the unique purpose of the world which enables them to experience it.
In terms of uncovering one’s own suppositions in comparison to “substantiated know-how”, philosophy is essentially obliged to its own historical horizon, or rather, lingual maturity. This enables philosophy to immerse into the quotidian, while surpassing its lingual limitations at the same time. Thus philosophy is bound to connect with art and religion, i.e. brings artistic creation and religion closer together in the way it reveals the potential of the original experience. Philosophy therefore remains the same contemplation on the origins and foundations, or the peak and the bottom if, of course, we are still able to acknowledge it. But failure to acknowledge it, as a time-related gesture, also requires philosophical comprehension.
Kosovel (1904-1926) died when he was only 22 but even in such a short period managed to leave an exceptional and powerful opus behind. His poetic and thoughtful nature were leaning against Russian constructivism and would have most likely had fate similar to those of his contemporaries in Russia as Kosovel’s last performances were already showing a clear conflict between him and the governing authorities.
Kosovel started writing poetry in his high school in impressionist style, then between 1919 and 1921 he was turning to futurism when his red-and-black poetic experiments were born. He took up Dadaism argumentatively even though he never stuck to it seriously. We can only feel it through several poems and quotations they contain. Due a special position the literature held with the Slovenian people, especially to him as someone coming from the coastal region, he held the language as sacred thus futuristic or Dadaistic, or even surrealistic, practice could not have stayed with him for long.
He regarded expressionism only as a stepping stone towards a so-called contemporary art which, according to Kosovel, was about to emerge along with revolutionary constructivism, setting up new values to humans in the warring era, which expressionism failed to deliver as being detached from the life. Therefore he opted for so-called active or combating expressionism, a movement in which he achieved some of his best works.
Kosovel was well versed in individual avant-garde movements and devoted his work mostly to constructivism. Only through this movement was he able to synthesize mechanical technique and organic nature – the two opposing items in the human creating until that point in time – thus achieving a balance between Tatlinian rounded mechanic technique and organic nature. The content blended with the form. Kosovel began a fierce fight to rehabilitate Tatlin for this fight was also his own fight with constructivism. Otherwise he would not have devoted so intensively to Tatlin with his manifest Mechanics and several other, as well as numerous quotations in his poems and diaries, evoking architecture, etc.
For Russian constructivists time and space are no longer dual antithetic categories but interwoven in textual structures. Due to the overlap of the content and the form and the limitations, Kosovel found it important to discern the construction from the composition that Lissitsky called vešč (veshch) rather than Kunstwerk, correlating it completely to Kosovel’s own term of kons (also a four-letter word). Therefore the term kons is connected to a typical Russian contracting (loks by Chicherin, veshch by Lissitsky), also taken over by some European avant-garde artists (merz by Schwitters, mont by Huelsenbeck). By redefining a piece of art and its role in life he indicated the connection between non-Euclidean geometry and Einsteinian space-time.
Kons’s are trying to realize fundamental ideas of the Space by Lissitsky, Tatlin and Nagy. These ideas are also linked with ethical constructivist consciousness of the need for ecological use of materials, achievable through overloading or rather, loading down the theme to a maximum. Following Lissitsky’s path, in kons Kosovel managed to set up a void changing into plane-convex-plane-concave space, into letters growing into space with no perspective or gravity. The use of engineering imagery, geometric materials and spatial inclination of kons effectively united the content and the form into a new organic whole, which interconnects Kosovel with the Russian and European constructivism. This was also a part of his first public appearance in November 1925 in Ljubljana.
The construction of spatial understanding of kons was achieved through a flow of words, interaction of planes, search for the depth and breaking the surfaces which liberated Kosovel from closed, static surfaces enabling him to transfer to spatial poems. That poetry can no longer be a subject to traditional aesthetics dealing with beautiful and non-beautiful objects but to science registering the intensity of the bonds we feel for the objects. In the same way as to Tatlin, Hlebnik, Chicherin or Malevich, macrocosm is shown to Kosovel again and again through microcosm.
Through his great knowledge of Russian constructivism Kosovel greatly influenced 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 Lissitsky through a theoretical synthesis of both fractions in 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 piece 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 the 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 its pinnacle 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“. Kosovel never belonged to a small-town literature as his example denies the thesis that the constructivism achieved significance primarily in fine arts and architecture, whereas its influence onto the literature was just minor in Europe.
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 demise. He died too young to reach the indoctrination of the thirties which yet finished with the conflict in the left-wing in Slovenia, differently than 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.
The book represents a unique journey through the philosophical understanding of man, his nature and his moral capabilities. It starts by definition of philosophical anthropology. Anthropology in the sense of philosophy of human nature is according to Žalec a fundamental science for all the sciences belonging to the clusters of humanities and social science. All these sciences explicitly or implicitly presuppose some view on the nature of man and the same is true for all human thinking and action. Man cannot exist otherwise than as to be in the relation of understanding to himself. Thereupon Žalec presents an outline of the most important steps in the development of philosophical anthropology, from Socrates till the contemporaries like Slavoj Žižek or René Girard. Afterwards he deals with some fundamental anthropological topics (soul, person and spirit) which conclude the first, anthropological part of the book.
In the second part, Žalec explains various meanings (uses) of the terms ethics and morality. Ethics is often understood as a (philosophical) theory of morality. According to the author every morality is a system consisting of three subsystems: values, principles or moral norms, and virtues. He deals quite extensively with virtues since without virtuous persons there is no factual realization of moral values and principles. The crown imperial of integral virtuousness is embodied in free persons who constitute the foundation of the good. Žalec outlines the space of ethical positions and concepts. Among them three accounts are of fundamental and distinguished importance: nihilism and instrumentalism at one hand, and personalism at the other. Nihilism is the experiential and intellectual horizon of an individual, a group or even an entire culture in which all is ethically leveled; nothing is distinguished, not even human persons. As nihilism is practically rather impossible it transforms into some kind of instrumentalism. Instrumentalism considers human beings just as means, in opposition to personalism according to which every concrete human being is the highest value who should never be treated just as a mean. The struggle between those two poles is actually the ground encounter between good and bad.
Works of art are considered from two main aspects: 1. as cultural paradigms (Heidegger, Dreyfus); and 2. as embodied consciousness making the empathic relations possible. The conclusion, climax and the most original part of the book represents the last chapter on the factors of personalism.
Man, Morality and Art is a comprehensive, synthetic and integrally designed work. It offers an integral overview over the area of philosophy of man and ethics and it does not leave out neither Heidegger’s consideration of human being nor topics of identity nor the “feministic” thought developed by Luce Irigaray. The ambition of the work is to be extensive, reach, yet readable and transparent, with the moments of originality.
Key words: philosophical anthropology, human nature, ethics, morality, values, virtues, political philosophy, nihilism, instrumentalism, being-in-the-world, personalism, identity, solidarity, spirit, art, truth, freedom, authenticity, rationality, religion, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Kant, Berdyaev, Heidegger, Wittgenstein.
At the bottom of Janko Ferk’s records there is a moving sensation of observation, yoked by a „sharp razor of a mind“ and a plethora of other surprisingly coined images. Thematically speaking he raises a warning about going from the ivory towers to the arena of life: “one / is philosophy / and elated peace / the other / is life / and its struggles / for our bread”. In this almost essayistic expression a fate of a poet and a fate of a man are acquired, ranging from the intimate to the public, from the birth in time and space to the existence in the eternity. The purpose of the poetry is of course to overcome this duality, to blur the borders and to try to speak from the whole and from their point of view, regardless of how insignificant they may seem, even about the most visible extremes. This is why opposing or complementing pairs are only theoretical aids used to rationalize those elements, otherwise irrational and elusive in any other real poetry.
Despite these widely elaborated basics, gaining additional dimensions in author’s work, Ferk’s early work is focused on the type of writing that can be most aptly called death turned into words. With no self-pity and confessionally speaking the death is inevitable; we often seem to find patterns of incantation in these lines, as if the chanting of the names of the death might set us free.
In terms of death as the subject the author later indicates other realms as well. With the same approach of distance and detachment he critically discourses on morality and the lack thereof, occasionally looking at the world through the glass of Cankar or Kafka, and, along inner pliability, showing immense lingual, metaphoric and rhetoric proficiency.
In some poems the author copes with more concrete space and time, and we are faced with a combination of fierce criticism and firm self-awareness. This is no philosophical determination of abstract phenomenon but a record of the experience. Thanatos is joined by Eros. If death is described scantily and ornament-free, love is acknowledged lusciously, like a rite, like a great baroque mass service.
The diversity of Ferk’s lyrical poetry is not only fraught with content, but also expressed through the form and style. Changes of tenses and cases, the use of various speaking perspectives, combining conceptual and visual languages, detachment and expressions offering flexibility, especially because these changes show no sign of compulsion or lust but come naturally and smoothly. A poet is looking around, determining his position in the world; he walks right through the experienced death into the noble love. Simultaneously, like a sage from the Far East, he is sitting quietly and thoughtfully near a raindrop mirroring the cosmos.
Poems by Janko Ferk speak to all of us as they touch the human existence and are therefore most authentic poetic expression of present times.
For Janko Ferk the poetry represents a certain “Way of the Cross” to the final destination, but what this destination is? “a spirit of life / not a spirit of death”, the author says himself. Yet a living being must meet the death, reach the end hurryingly, and so do youth and beauty. Does this general human fate encompass wider, common, social, national destiny? It does as clearly stated in Ferk’s poems.
Janko Ferk is primarily engrossed by an individual, with all its quotidian snags. He says “one / is philosophy / and elated peace / the other / is life / and its struggles / for our bread”. It is also visible in Ferk’s images of angels with broken wings, of divine music as a mortal dance, of emptied glasses of joy, of spring trumpet sobbing, of a still-born child by Adam and Eve.
As opposed to the above, Ferk’s poetry only harbours sensations known to humans – suffering, child’s play, gentleness, pain, love, a man’s being wedged between social and cultural norms. The poet says: “dreams / are my history”.
Ferk’s poems vocalize author’s engagement in protesting against fears, wars, atom bombs, manipulations, estrangement as well as the chords of a hurt national pride.
The layering of the truth, the essence from the visible, the shallowness and redundancy are fundamental for Ferk’s poetic quest. As soon as we think we have found Ferk’s salvation formula “the salvation only comes from love / the gentle and soft music” he crashes the hope by stating “not even that”.
The language of Ferk’s poetry is surprising; contemporary as it is condensed and economical with words, but on the other hand almost classical although with no punctuation.
Janko Ferk is not the bearer of the doom; he is a sober judge searching for the real truth of the world. He writes it down upon seeing it, imprints it into our terrestrial crust thus leaving his trail behind.
The author gives his systematic, critical and all- comprehensive consideration of moral intuitionism and outlines his advocacy. Two core aspects of intuitionism are depicted here. The first one is a cognitive aspect of moral intuition as the source of moral justification. The second aspect is moral pluralism as a normative structure of moral theory. His advocacy is based on newer discourses and view-points in contemporary moral theory and metaethics. The author introduces and discloses the concept of moral intuition, i.e. moral insight. The chapters that follow process and analyse historical variants of moral intuitionism, especially by authors such as Henry Sidgwick, G.E. Moore, H.A. Prichard, W.D. Ross and C.D. Broad. The second part of the book outlines particularistic challenge to the moral theory that questions the role of moral principles and rules in moral thought and practice. The author advocates for a new and interesting thesis that moral particularism is above the thesis on moral generalities, not the nature of reasoning. Answers are given to two central challenges opposing the moral intuitionism as moral pluralism. Firstly, the concession is given that the existence of moral conflict and moral dilemmas has no fatal consequences for the moral theory. Quite to the contrary – if we turn around the perspective and put the phenomenology accompanying the moral conflict as the starting point, then the moral theory allowing for the conflict, or rather being able to adapt, seems to have the advantage. The author favours the attitude that the moral conflict and dilemmas are properly adaptable within the intuitionistic model prima facie duty. Secondly, the original image of moral reasons, moral principle and moral judgements is given. The image was built on the concept of prima facie duty as one of the central terms of ethics. The characteristics of actions such as honesty, veracity, righteousness, devotion, graciousness, harmlessness, etc, are fundamental and morally pertinent characteristics, and – as prima facie duty – fundamental moral reasons.
A book by Dean Komel titled „Conteporarities“ is featured by the overlap of different scopes of philosophical speeches and discourses: scientific, non-fictional, dialogical and artistic. The basic purpose is to determine multi-aspectual experience of the contemporariness of nowadays where the philosophy itself becomes non-contemporary. The feature of non-contemporariness needs to be interpreted from the very modes of world actualisation today. It is exactly the multitude of worldlinesses of the world that brings forward the moment of the contemporariness in its draft and depreciation. The dual perception of the draft and the depreciation is the fundamental mode of author’s approach when it comes to phenomenological description or hermeneutical interpretation that are, thus, non one-directional but often occurring into different directions. The author refers to it in the introduction by drafting the self, and also in the epilogue which he dedicates to the philosophical discourse on the topics he outlines in this book. The philosophy must not disregard opposites for they are the key of comprehension – not to fully decipher it but to consider its mystery. The manner in which the contemporariness is spread between the historical and the future expresses a significantly different touch in terms of what it is today, incorporating other options, or in other words, not only what is now but also what will is to be in the meantime, thus providing the time and space for comprehension. The contemporariness is not the touch with the time only in terms what follows and what in that respect is simultaneous and time-appropriate. If the contemporariness gives a name to that what is today on the turning point of the past and the upcoming, it does not solely create a single time mode but only its horizontal touching point in time that just is. The contemporariness means comprehensive acquiring of battles and time.
Ksenija Premur’s poetry is intimistic, and critics list the features of her poetry as clarity, precision, impressiveness of straightforward images intertwining in poetic reflection, while the poems are being described as permeated with erotic and reflexive character. However the collection of poems titled „The Lighthouse“ brings forward poems leaning more towards metaphysical subjects than intimism and inner life of a lyric heroine. We might even say the fundamental dichotomy is what questions the relationship between the time and the eternal, the heavenly and the earthly. The choice of a lighthouse as a symbol of verticality is not random – it is a sign-post but also a connector between the heaven and earth. Ms Premur purifies her expression by removing all redundant images, turns to philosophemes, and her poems resemble short poetic disputes on the relation between the eternity and mortality, on the immortality of the soul. After reading the work it is clear the main subject of the collection is the Time. The poem “Celestial Clock” is what gives the main clue. As a basic opposition there are earthy and heavenly clocks: “tick-tock / tick-tock / beats the terrestrial clock / the death hour; / the hands of the celestial clock / slide around into a perpetuum mobile”. The eternity is beyond human’s reach; it is being revered in poems, and the elapse of the time shows the relentlessness of the mortality, with the constant reminders of death, memento mori.
The book titled „Moral Theory. On the Nature of Morality“ by prof.dr. Vojko Strahovnik features a comprehensive outline and analysis of the theory of morality, i.e. metaethics as it developed during 20th century. After the introductory chapter, setting up fundamental questions within the framework of morality theory, the author commences with his own encounter with the philosophical challenge thorough the philosophy of G.E.Moore. He sees Moore as the one who clearly separated metaethical issues (primarily those of defining the concept of good), from substantial, or rather normative, questions – first we need to answer the questions of the meaning of moral expressions in order to properly tackle the issues of ethics in terms of the content. This is how he established fundamental trails for the development of the theory in 20th century devoted to primarily to moral semantics and moral ontology (Hare, Ayer, Stevenson, Mackie) and to moral knowledge (Pritchard, Ross), while the final chapters deal with moral psychology and moral phenomenology (Blackburn, Gibbard, Horgan, Timmons). One of the consequences turned out to be a rather strict distinction between theoretical, i.e. metaethical questions, and essential, i.e. normative, questions of ethics. The author suggests in his work that both levels are, nevertheless, significantly interconnected. The book encompasses twelve chapters and outlines viewpoints within the moral theory in both historical and topical terms. Hence the book comprises also some of newer discourses as well. The author juxtaposes his views and reasonings with a wide range of authors. In terms of the content we can recognize several common red threads stitching individual chapters together. One of them is the question of moral judgement and therewith connected challenges, such as Frege-Geach problem. An immensely important place is taken by the question of moral knowledge. The very extraction of the moral theory by the author is original in itself, as well as the synthesis of the fundamental questions and individual arguments linked with the decades of moral theory development. The index of essential viewpoints and arguments is also quite practical thus enabling readers going through individual chapters only. This monography is therefore an original and important work in the field of the theory of morality.
In the monography Anton Ocvirk from the edition Famous Slovenians, its authors, prof.dr. Tone Smolej and prof. Majda Stanovnik, primarily give an account of Ocvirk’s youth and his life in Vienna (1907 – 1928), along with his university studies at the Faculty of Philosophy in Ljubljana (1928 – 1931). A comprehensive chapter is devoted to Ocvirk’s master studies in Paris where he met some of most prominent writers (A.Gide) and comparative literature professors (F. Baldensperger, P. Hazard) who influenced his horizons. A comprehensive account of Ocvirk’s editorial work in Ljubljansko zvono magazine (The Bell of Ljubljana) is also given (1933 – 1935). The authors paid a special attention to Ocvirk’s work The Theory of History of Comparative Literature (1936) that was the third work on the comparative literature in the world. The first part is concluded by Ocvirk’s employment at the Faculty of Philosophy in Ljubljana and his pre-war activities with the Resistance.
In post-war decades Ocvirk’s intensive individual and team work was simultaneously rolling out in various areas so the book is divided into topical chapters. His lectures at the World Literature Department, and later after his return to Comparative Literature and Literature Theory Department (1949 – 1971) were described based on real-life data and testimonials of his carefully chosen listeners who later became prominent authors and editors. Founding and editing of Collective Works of Slovenian Poetry and Prose Writers (1946 – 1980) comprises a more exhaustive presentation of Ocvirk’s gradual issuing of the opus by Srečko Kosovel that achieved great success. This was followed by an arduous collecting and editing of Slavic Magazine (1948 – 1963), a successful creation and finishing the work A Hundred Novels (1964 – 1977) with a hundred of original secondary studies, A Collection of Works for the occasion of the 80th birthday of Josip Vidmar (1975), originally founded Literary Lexicon and finally a topical collection of work under the programmatic name of Literary Art Between the History and Theory (1978 – 1980).
The Seven is a philosophical book by the author, prof.dr. Marko Uršič, written in four literary genres (dialogues, glossa, essays, sonnets) and following the seven-fold rhythm of days in a week and the four-fold rhythm of lunar phases. The composition of this book is mathematically based on a harmonic sequence of four parts, with seven meditations each, and it takes the reader into a restored philosophical guiding principle of eternal thought- and art-forms of the spirit. The main topical concepts of The Seven are Platonism (Plato) in seven discourses of the main characters – a “countryside cosmopolitan” – a handyman Bruno, a secretive Angel – his nocturnal guest – and renaissance humanism by Michele de Montaigne where the author, through seven essays, correlates to Montaigne’s ideas and further develops them both in personal and contemporary contemplative spirit. He claims Plato and Montaigne have much more in common, specially the philosophy as love for wisdom, the search for the eternal and the unceasing in the “river of time”. Such open and “polyphonic” thinking – philosophy as the path to comprehension and as the “patron of questions” to which there is never the ultimate answer, is author’s philosophical credo.
In this work titled The Disclosure of Being. On the differentiation between hermeneutical phenomenology and philosophical anthropology, which was first published in Slovenian language some twenty years ago, the author Dean Komel contemplates over issues of hermeneutically based critics of philosophical anthropology which greatly determined the development of the school of phenomenology. Generally speaking philosophical treatise of the humanity is nowadays prevented by the realisation of its techno-scientific manipulation having no regards for the purpose of its being. The issue of the idea of philosophical anthropology, having seen it from that point of view, is not only one of many contemporary philosophical problems, but it also depicts the critical position of the philosophy today and a human “in” today. Recognizing the disclosure of being as a riddle of ourselves, Dean Komel sets the question of the boundaries of the philosophical anthropology. In what sense do we talk about the boundaries of a philosophical discipline dealing with the essence of a human? Are there more than one or does it come eventually to a single one remaining unrecognized as such, thus inducing limitless anthropodicy of the whole being? And what if a today’s human is no more capable of enduring the disclosure of being, and gradually keeps caring less for one’s own relationship with the Whole?
A translation of the Austrian historian and philosopher Wilhelm Baum. The book is devoted to the research of a life path and philosophy by Ludwig Wittgenstein, one of the most prominent philosophers of the 20th century, in which a completely new interpretation of Wittgenstein’s philosophy is given – something between mysticism and logic. The book was published with the support of Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Education.
The translation of this master work on Karl R. Popper, the founder of a philosophical course which marked the 20th century, not only with a thorough criticism of science, but also with a social philosophy and economic theory, brings a comprehensive study of the biography and work one of the most prominent thinkers whose influence is still felt and fruitful in contemporary times. The book was published with the support of Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports and Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Education.
The European Union – History and Future is a book comprising two essays on the European Union. The first one, titled Liberal Understanding of Individual Freedom and its Impact to the Status of Human Rights – Historical, Philosophical and Political Dimensions is a comprehensive study into liberalism as one of political options in the contemporary political streams in the European Union and, apart from liberalism as a political direction, it examines liberalism as an idea, ideal and ideology from historical and political points of view. The other essay, titled European Union and the Republic of Kazakhstan deals with contemporary issues of the involvement of the European Union in the Republic of Kazakhstan from political, economic and legal aspects thus questioning the range of EU expansion into areas left out from the current discussions of the matter. Yet the scope of expansion clearly indicates the activities of legal institutions and economic engagement have penetrated very actively and efficiently into the region, although they have been pushed out of the focal issues on the future of the European Union.
In the monography Law is »The Trial«. On Kafka’s Legal Philosophy, Janko Ferk deals with a topic not yet scientifically worked out in details; he contemplates about legal-philosophical and legal-theoretical contents of The Trial, along with other novels by the Austrian author Franz Kafka.
The author had to transcribe legal connotations of a work of literature into the language and jargon of the theory of law, simultaneously following the logic of a literary work given by Kafka’s Trial, which he excelled at as he mastered both sciences in their particular methodologies; he also connected both fields in a very creditable way in his monography. Janko Ferk debates about the creation of the novel, biographical and historical backgrounds and the reception that has gone worldwide by now. In that context Ferk speaks of Kafka’s “academic industry”. In the main part of the book Janko Ferk deals with legal terminology of The Trial and author’s other prose works, and pays a special attention to the concepts of the “right” and “wrong” (“guilt”) and “justice”, “judiciary” and “court”. Thus for the first time in the history of literature we encounter legal-lingual analysis of Kafka’s works. A special chapter is dedicated to the roles of judges and lawyers. This chapter is particularly interesting as the author himself is a judge, with a background of a practicing lawyer. In this book the author successfully contemplates about the essential questions of Kafka’s writing and interconnects great scientific topics of the “philosophy of law” and the “theory of law”. Law is “The Trial” is the first detailed study into Kafka’s works from a legal perspective.
Andrej Ule is probably the most famous name of the theory and philosophy in Slovenia. In the book “Science, Society, Values”, apart from general theoretical and even epistemological insights and issues about the relationships between the science and the world, he pushes science into two fresh and in this region still less travelled paths. The author primarily puts up questions about the transmissions of scientific knowledge into the practice and the reality, about social and economical effects of science onto the society, about a so-called scientification of the society, but also on the socialisation of the science. On the other hand the author also discusses the ethical responsibility of the science and scientists and critical reflections, immanent to them. This way, along with the arising development of biotechnology, for example, or terrifying examples of ideological and political occupation of science as we are taught by the dark historical experience, they keep warning us and requiring cautious and thoughtful usage. Even more so, respecting the fact that Ula is well-recognized for, that valuable and impartial usage of science, even if it were possible, because this leads to its bureaucratic instrumentalisation.
The book “Dynamic Philosophy” by professor Matjaž Potrč, PhD, in an appealing way features significant topics from the philosophy of the language and the thought relating to human environment and human activities. Philosophical themes are intertwined with the topics from the psychology and artificial intelligence, with the focus being on the epistemology, including the psychology of knowledge, and the computer models of spirituality in its classical form and connectivity. The language and the thought are outlined as the fundamental in human activity focusing on the objects as given by the environment. The object is determined as something within the reach of human activity and therefore within human comprehension. The thought focuses on objects and covers a scope ranging from middle-dimensional goods to abstract images of objects. Objects are not given as static but as emerging in the active environment of actions. The dynamics leads to comprehending them. The book features topics of memorising, errors, information, modularity, cognition, causal theory, scarcity and ampleness of stimuli, inner states, functionality, realism, syntax, wholeness, content and relations.
The philosophy is trying to explain human reality. What deserves the most prominent place in such a reality is what is so typically human – the language and the thought. That road was leading towards anti-naturalistic philosophical viewpoints. This book by Prof.Matjaž Potrč is trying to upgrade these viewpoints in a naturalistic way. How far can an inclination towards the preference of objects help interpret the language and the thought? The initial thesis claims the language and the thought are dependent on the objects. Supporting evidences and materials have been gathered to argue for the cause, leading to peculiar viewpoints in the philosophy of the spirit, perception and action. The stress is on the perceptive action. This goes about the intention, the modularity, the distinction and collaboration between the perception and the cognition, the scarcity and profusion of stimuli, the information and deception, the functionalism, the realism and the content. The thought was given the priority before the language, while the associated acting perceived objects were given priority before the thought.
Phenomenological heritage is close to the philosophy of mind and to the cognitive science. Brentano’s conception of phenomena is the beginning of phenomenology, and it provides a tool for its understanding, all the way to the ecological intentionality of Heidegger’s being-in-the-world. Husserl’s work is a transition from the descriptive towards an ecological and dynamic intentionality. Analytical philosophy and phenomenology are compatible. Naturalism is close to both schools of thought. Phenomenology is concerned with an account of phenomena as intentional entities. Organic unity characterizes both phenomenology and cognitive science. Organic unity may be externalized and it needs to be ecologized. The basic distinction is between higher cognitive level including perception and thoughts, and a lower cognitive level involving sensations. Both these levels are joined in organisms. An additional thesis claims that organisms are the only entities. Sensations are assigned an autonomous cognitive level, besides to the level of higher cognition. Concepts and sensations harbor similar mechanisms of individuation. In his reistic phase Brentano subverted the Aristotelian understanding of substance and accident, by looking at phenomena as accidental wholes with substance as their proper part. Such understanding of intentionality allows to look at organic unity as characteristic for various breeds of phenomenology. Husserl’s work on thing and space is analysed as a careful description of perception beginning with the static and ending with the dynamic ecological model. The resulting ecologism shows Husserl’s vicinity to Heidegger’s concept of an organism’s being-in-the-world. Key for Heidegger’s understanding of intentionality in his early work is found in the ecological Gibsonian model that looks at intentionality as a skilful practical involvement of the organism. This again keeps Husserl close to the structure of the Brentanian reistic phenomenon. Two levels of Heidegger’s intentionality involve first teleological intentionality which sees the basic involvement to be in the organism’s handling of its surrounding world. Putting the practical skill into a wider setting allows rationality to come through. This is followed by review about how the research in connectionism is inspired by Heidegger. The relation between being-in-the-world and artificial intelligence is a topic important for the artificial intelligence itself at the time the shortcomings of the traditional symbol crunching model of mind become evident. The need to include surroundings of an intelligent system into an appropriate account of cognition becomes obvious. Matjaz Potrc, born 1948 in Maribor, is full professor of analytic philosophy at University of Ljubljana, was elected as professor in Zagreb and was teaching in Zadar. Grant of french government in Paris with Julia Kristeva and Jacques Lacan, Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung in Muenchen with Wolfgang Stegmueller, Fulbright grant in Memphis with Terry Horgan. Among several books: Austere Realism (with Terry Horgan, MIT Press), Practical Contexts (with Vojko Strahovnik, Ontos Verlag), Phenomenology and Cognitive Science (Roell Verlag). Origins, the Common Sources of the Analytic and Phenomenological Traditions (edited with Terry Horgan and John Tienson, Southern Journal of Philosophy), Challenging Moral Particularism (edited with Mark Lance and Vojko Strahovnik, Routledge). Hundreds of papers and book chapters. Works in metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language. Actively attended symposia in Pecs, IUC Dubrovnik, Rocky Mountain Ethics, Bonn, Second Renaissance Milano conferences. Established Bled international philosophy conferences, journal Acta Analytica (now Springer). Member of Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, alumni Wuerzburg University, former president of Association of philosophical societies of Yugoslavia.
On the Renaissance Beauty, the first book of Summer in the tetralogy Four Seasons takes us to the journey to Florence by two village people and life partners, Bruno and Marija, a village wiseman and an artistic soul. Having arrived in Florence they set out on a journey through Renaissance paintings, literature, theology and historiography through a potpourri of monologues and dialogues, through essays, philosophical treatises and even mathematical calculations of golden ratio. Before our eyes a kaleidoscope is spinning – a kaleidoscope of interconnected sequences of a vision and contemplation over renaissance through various genres, from the excerpts from the novel on Sandro Botticelli, a fiction on Bruno and Marija’s perspectives on renaissance beauty and the relationship between beauty and love, to philosophical essays and treatises devoted to Marsilio Ficino, the most prominent renaissance philosopher during the period of Lorenzo De’ Medici, along with the polyhistor Pico della Mirandola and the religious reformer Girolamo Savanarola. While the listed essays are dedicated to spiritual subjects of love and beauty, of ephemerality and immortality, of the essence of human existence, the excerpts from the novel on Sandro Bitticelli bring a breath of the olden quotidian life into the book, so the story of Bruno and Marija, half a millennia later set in the same streets and shops, is faced with the loads of renaissance beauty of the times gone-by and re-contemplation of that era in the history of western culture.
A crucial determinant of our times are not only phenomena of globalisation and “informatologisation”. In nuce, in the dimension of spiritual existence our time has entered nexuality of the third millennia spirituality components, ex fundamentis terramorfing earthly existence in the context of spiritual evolution/involution and preparation of Devine life on the Earth.
Spiritual components occur, interms of development, through multicomplexification of planetarisation, processes which manifest through polylogisation (multi-voicing/poly-voicing) of spiritual traditions, religions, philosophies, cultures in their perennial heritage/values. Planetarisation as polylogisation is a basic feature of our times, complementing and concordant with material/mundane processes of globalisation.
Polymodality of polylogisation, as a spiritual matrix of the third millennia, represents a framework where suppositions of supramentalisation of the Earth, as the next stage in spiritual evolution/involution of earthly existence, begin to emerge.
Modes of philosophical, religious and cultural openness and ambiguities of all discourses of contrasts/comparisons, of all ecumenical and other participations and utopisations – they all find their place within polylogisation. And every theoretical ex course into a certain area strives for the reality of polylogy. So does this immensely important work by Ksenija Premur, articulating issues and problems of the Zen-Buddhism.
Zen-Buddhism is the crown, the very peak of the development of Buddhist traditions, an inner telos of totality of Buddhist experiences and values.
We can track down historically developmental stages as well, we can conceptualise features of those traditions in philosophical and theoretical terms, we can, ad finitum, rely on comparison/contrasting just as we do with any other tradition. The work by Ksenija Premur deserves the highest regards and duly respect from the readers by its expert articulation and the presentation of the important.
In modo of “soft thinking” with her work “Lao Tse” Ksenija Premur slides into the circle of perennial thinking and through it she gives an overview of Chinese philosophical contemplation in fragments, but also accesses the “opposing field” feeling deeply the “futility” of such approach and quite rightly turns to taking the original texts. In this work on spiritual tradition of Daoism, she, in absolutely brilliant way, philosophically hermeneutisises basic elements of Dao-spirituality and spreads out a new and fresh approach which articulates the possibility of not only re-reading and re-comprehending but also a conjecture of life. With her work on Daoism and translations of the ancient texts Ksenija Premur has excellently brought the topic closer to the readers. In the comment section of this masterly translated work Dao De Jing, whose publication was critically created through a comparison of a number of previous translations of this fundamental piece of Chinese spirituality, the author is attempting to widen and deepen the insight into Dao – an ultimate cosmic principle – and compare it to other Far Eastern philosophical traditions in the axial stage of philosophy. The author is among the rare ones in our academic environment who, while continuously and scientifically correctly dealing with the topic, has been publishing works with the translations of the original texts. The book Lao Tse was published with the support of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports.
A short-stories collection offers selected chapters of author’s research which began in 1982 with the publication of the work by Čedomil Veljačić, “Ethos of Cognition in European and Indian Philosophy”, and continued by analysing philosophical issues of cognitive heritage of India, China and Japan. In a way a reader is presented with a summary of a 25-year research, in selected fragments of the most prominent sections of Asian thinking, analysis of methodological issues of dialogues of borderline philosophies, as well as the outline of most recent attempts of the two cultures meeting, e.g. western and eastern. The book was published with the support of Croatian Ministry of Culture.
The book “Fragments of Ancient India” comprises one of the most complex approach to eastern philosophies – it is the issue of most adequate reception of philosophical heritage of India. This matter had a focal position in all previous pursuits of methodological questions of approach, reception and comparison of philosophical circles of the West and the East by the author. Therefore this book, titled “Fragments of Ancient India”, outlines author’s focusing on bringing this issues face to face who then reached for comprehensive studies into Vedic and Upanishadic contemplative heritage and displayed it, interpreted and commented on it from the point of a western philosophy subject, a subject provided, in the very studies, as well as in Anthology of selected texts from Vedas and Upanishads, with this particular, appropriate reception of this contemplative heritage. Among numerous studies into the reception issues, the author reached in this book into the reception, interpretation and proper bringing a western reader closer to Indian philosophical heritage, at the very roots of its origin. The book was published with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Culture.
The book is dedicated to comparative philospohy of universal assumptions of philosophiae perennis by a distinguished Croatian philosopher Čedomil Veljačić and contains two main chapters: “Ethos of Cognition in the Philosophy of Čedomil Veljačić” comprising an outline, interpretation and evaluation of sources of universalism in the philosophy of Veljačić, whereas the other is “Buddhist studies” giving the summary of Buddhist researches performed by Veljačić. The book was published with the support of Croatian Ministry of Culture.
This book brings comprehensive studies from the areas of philosophy, culture and art of India, China and Japan. The book was published with the support of Croatian Ministry of Culture and Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports.
By promoting personal spiritual path the author insists on the necessity of learning about and experiencing different spiritual options of our time. It is wrong for one’s spiritual being to be founded solely in one’s own or in any single spiritual tradition. It leads to narrowing of spirituality and easily translates into unidimensionality, narrow-mindedness, unfreedom and intolerance. Planetarization is poliloguization and man as a spiritual being is a free explorer of different spiritual traditions and is called upon, as planetary inheritor, to live those traditions according to the deepest determination of his/her humanity and divinity. The evil of this world results from the monadization of spirituality, shallow monologuization and incarceration in only one mode of spirituality. This implies primarily the lack of knowledge and recognition of other and different modes of spiritual existence. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce spiritual education into the school system with the purpose of building a “polilogue” character of a young being for his/her life in the polidimensionality of spiritual life of the future.
Without polilogue openess and freedom of spirituality there is also no true humanisation of society. In his thematically diverse texts Jadran Zalokar strives both to provide arguments and thoroughly articulate this. The texts have a slightly epistolary overtone and contain the meaning of the message to the contemporary spiritual seeker who must be not only a thinker but also a dedicated spiritual aspirer.
Only a genuine spiritual seeker can also be a critical observer of what is very often disguised by pseudo-spirituality. Pseudo-spirituality is not only a consequence of ignorance or half-knowledge but also of underdeveloped spiritual character. That is why these texts also have a “paidagogic” component, but not in the form of mere “advice” or “instructions”.
Jadran Zalokar, philosophical author and explorer of spiritual traditions of the East and the West, has endeavoured for over twenty years to articulate the fundamental traits of spiritual phenomena of our time. In the context of considerations of a planetary polilogue, through series of lectures since 1990, he has been systematically deliberating diverse spiritual topics. In a very complex area of contemporary spiritual directions, he primarily discusses the issues related to spiritual upbringing, zen and tantra. What is significant is that the theoretical discourse stems from practical spiritual experience and sheds light on the hidden components of those spiritual realms of existence.
In polilogue openness, Jadran Zalokar tries to harmonize the philosophical modus of understanding with the life of a spiritual practitioner. Philosophical mind is incorporated into the dimension of spiritual perfecting and serves for the revival/living of the perennial in real life. Spiritual aspirations and intentions towards higher life also carry a philosophical pars with them. Spiritual “themes” are very current today and are very differently discussed from different levels of consciousness and degrees of spirituality. Appreciation of plurimodality and complexity of spiritual worldviews and modes of spirituality, according to the author, is the sign of the very spirituality of the new age.
Psalms and Cycles by prof.dr. Janko Ferk is a peculiar collection of poems, bringing, like biblical psalms and their eternal wisdom, profoundly vivid and impressing poetic images of eternal concepts of life, love and death. Their straightforwardness, with no redundant verbalisation and poetic patina, is their most impressive feature piercing directly into the transparency of poetic figures which plainly and directly address the eternal issues of human existence. And like the Bible, that infinite and unceasing source of inspiration and comfort, it sends an invitation to the readers: embrace the life, which is also the final verse of this above all valuable and spiritual collection of poems, inspiring and inducing any reader who reaches for this book to contemplate. Not only do we find the inspiration of Ferk’s opus in perennial philosophy where the author finds his source of traditional poetry at a universal level, but he also impresses us with the ease and wisdom he weaves into every verse, every stanza, and every poem. This is author’s poetic credo, and in this book he unfolds in a multilayered fan of deep meanings and everlasting questions about the human existence, as well as the eternal pursuit of the purpose and meaning of existence.
A bilingual publication (Slovenian and Croatian) of a post-modernism prose by Fabjan Hafner, a Slovenian minority member in Austria. The book was published with the support of Austrian Federal Ministry of Culture and Education and Trubar’s Foundation of the Society of Slovenian Writers.
Take me, water – the newest collection of poems by Fabjan Hafner, a stream of poetic images pouring out of a pen, in whirls of reflections and images, transforming from inspiring and opulent expression of the perception of the world and the fine, thin thread which unites the poet and the world, then separates them again from everything surrounding him, then back into the intimate world in which the poet reflects the reality through the prism of his own spirited dreams. This collection brings an extraordinary valuable, inspiring, experienced and reflected poetic perception of the world. With its streams it is going to inspire and carry away every reader who takes up reading this incredible poetic achievement. The book was published with the support of Austrian Prime Minister’s Office in Vienna and Trubar’s Foundation of the Society of Slovenian Writers.
The collection of poems, “Notes onto the Wall of the Earth”, comprises a compilation of the work by Janko Ferk which he produced between 1975 and 1984. During that period Janko Ferk remained true to his poetic mission which is interwoven with impressive and eloquent guiding principle of eternal and unavoidable questions of every man – questions of a life and death, of love and hate, of beauty and destructive urge to bring havoc. The book was published with the support of Austrian Prime Minister’s Office in Vienna and Trubar’s Foundation of the Society of Slovenian Writers.
“Winged Hum” is a collection of selected poems by Barbara Korun, not yet published in Slovenia, but prepared specially for the first publication in Croatia. This is a selection of poems from three poem collections by this author – a collection of poems “The Sharpness of Mildness” (Ljubljana, 1999), a collection of prose poems “Notes below the Table” (Ljubljana, 2003) and poems “Cracks” (Ljubljana 2004). A collection of poems “Sharpness of Mildness” has an erotic overtone, while the uniqueness of this poetic lettering lies in interweaving of powerful metaphors, sensitive directness and reflexive sharpness. A collection “Notes below the Table” comprises prose-poetic records drawing readers’ attention with unexpected turning points and luscious weaving of poetic reflections. A collection called “Cracks” has on the same traits of sensitive shrewdness, abundant metaphors and lyric hues. “Winged Hum” thus represents a selection consistent with lyric, erotic and metaphoric guiding of the whole poetic performance of Barbara Korun, a prominent representative of contemporary Slovenian poetry. The book was published with the support by Trubar’s Foundation of the Society of Slovenian Writers.
The century in which the feeling of jeopardy and anxiety of man grew even stronger is closing behind us. If we consider the heritage of the past poets, their yearning for the unusual, the perverted and the abnormal seems like child play. And it is understandably so. The reality has transformed the world into physical and metaphysical graveyard, and people into refugees who, in the hostile foreign parts, have had to relinquish their memories of homeland, language, rituals and dreams. It is no wonder that in the world of refugees artificial worlds have taken over, worlds to which we headed recklessly assisted by drugs or information networks. The feeling of jeopardy and anxiety in human hearts inspires the need for salvation. The past century has offered up a whole series of saviours and heralds of good fortune. Those who were genuine were pushed to the edge of social consciousness and power, while the others, the false prophets, have wholeheartedly maimed the souls, minds and bodies of individuals, tribes, nations. The foretelling of the end lingers on – as well as the salvation game, which is the main topic of this extraordinary poetry collection.
10 × 7 is a collection of selected poems by Janko Ferk he wrote in Slovenian and German languages. For his collection the author created a critical selection from a range of poetic collections he had received acclaimed literary awards. In Ferk’s verses wide horizons of experience and contemplation over fundamental issues intertwine and overlap, under the halo of a fine fabric of poetry “Death / you are / the fairest hue / of a black colour / to the ecstasy” in seemingly trivial, small things where he finds a well-thought purpose of living.
Translations of these and other poems from the opus by Janko Ferk have been published worldwide, predominantly in languages appearing in this collection – Croatian, English, Italian, Spanish and French. Some of the translators are renowned authors themselves, such as Ksenija Premur, Hans Kitzmüller and Leon Rinaldetti. An assortment of Janko Ferk’s collections of poems has been translated and published in Italy, America and Croatia which have been met with success. What makes this collection special is its multilingual quality which enables opening of wide horizons of reception all over Europe.
Čučnik’s fundamental poetic position is summed up in the following verse: “Of myself I give the most I can”. In each particle of space and time in a breath of his speech, labyrinths can split open. The poet sees the present more and more as an elusive minute “when someone appeared and left noiselessly” – so the poet, in order to be able to come closer to it at all, must cover long time spans which in this book are represented by voices from old photographs. This poetic articulation is capable of taking over any textual material that the poet happens upon (“casino of words, which flocked here before a thought happened to break them”) – from a message that he finds written in pen on the edge of a banknote (as for myself, I admit that, unlike Čučnik, I superstitiously copy such a note onto other banknotes – and Čučnik has copied it too: into a book), or a series of text messages sent to him by someone “as blessed as Dostoyevsky in the period of “The Possessed”, to verses by John Ashbery and Elizabeth Bishop. With this textual material the poet’s work establishes ever subtler structures where simultaneous depiction of different speeds of time seems significant.
Collections of poetry Poems of the Nothingness and A Gentleman Today are two books of poems that have been united in a single book where Poems of Nothingness precede A Gentleman Today in chronological terms. This is only a small bit from a substantial opus of poetry, essays, philosophy and literary theory by Iztok Osojnik. All Osojnik’s work are characterized by clear layout, straightforwardness and lucidity of images intertwining in the inner logos – a voice of the truth and clarity in experiences that are immediate, palpable and clear, while the fundamental tone is brightness and extroversion towards the world in everything comprising it. The basic guiding principle of Osojnik’s poetry is te truth, deeply permeated truth about oneself and the world which Osojnik experienced in various parts of the world. His master’s thesis, for example, was written while studying in Japan. He managed not to fall under the influence of Japanese tradition, but unconsciously the work, in the colours and straightforwardness, resembles a fabric of cultural boundaries and doors constantly swinging in and out thus letting in bright colours at the expense of the dark ones.
A collection of poems by Ksenija Premur From Coast to Coast is reflexive poetry that, in its visions of the world and nature, brings profound insights and experiences transforming them into short poetic images thus revealing intricate meanings of the seen and experienced in short verses which contributes to even deeper impressions on the readers, and so inviting them to a deep, comprehensive dialogue. There is no triviality or kitsch in this poetry, nothing is irrelevant or deprived of sense; it is a pure invitation to a spiritual union of a man and essence.
“A Madrigal For The Summer”, poetry collection by Ksenija Premur, is inspired by the new intimate considerations in the contemporary poetic production, and is marked by clarity, lucidity and impressiveness of clear images that intertwine in poetic reflection thus creating a strong aesthetic impression. The poems are of erotic and reflective character, and they bring author’s intimate relation towards powerfully experienced impressions which, in addition, imitate the melodic structure of the Renaissance madrigal harmony, as suggested in the title of the collection.
Čučnik’s fundamental poetry can be abstracted in a single line: “I do my best”. In every corner of space and time, in a breath of his speech labyrinths can spread out. The present comes to the author ever more as an illusive minute “when somebody came and left soundlessly” – therefore the poet, striving to get as close as possible, has to thematise other time spans using voices from old photographs, as rendered in this book. This poetic talk is capable of taking over any textual discourse a poet encounters (“a casino of words nested here before any thought may have broken them”) – from a message written in pen on the rim of a banknote (I do admit, unlike Čučnik, in my own superstition I really tend to copy such message on other notes – though Čučnik also copied it – in his book) or a cycle of text messages he is being sent (“blessed like Dostoevsky at the time of Demons”), all the way to verses by John Ashbery and Elizabeth Bishop. Using this textual material the poet establishes even more subtle structures in which simultaneous thematising of different speed of time is what I find important.
My poetry is open / to natural occurrences. This sentence, in a way appearing unintentionally in the poem A Pocket in the Heart written by Ana Pepelnik sounds rather ironic, although it is really true for the most of the readers of her first book as they know her as a poet who is a kind of naively open for the substance of mundane experience and consequently for all kinds of lingual stains and inaccuracies brought by the very experience. The readers will surely be surprised by the density and precision of the poems from the second book where she rejects her (undoubtedly curious) concept of the first book to – along all of the skills she acquired in the meantime – deal with writing no longer counting on a discount whatsoever but quite contrary she gets involved in active dialogues and arguments with movements predominant in contemporary Slovenian poetry or gaining on importance nowadays. Ana’s poetry is attentive to what is within reach, but also casually brings in what is out of that range. This is what her poems are like – Ana like any other girl eagerly writes about flowers, sweets and clothes, yet she is no stranger to cosmic perspective, seemingly taken over from Kocbek, but perfected in an original way: All that is / unforgettable and gloomy. Just like the universe.
A collection of poetry titled Fragments of Chinese Porcelain by Ksenija Premur nurtures her roots in the best groves of modernism and new intimism as witnessed in her earlier published works – collections of poetry From Coast to Coast and Madrigal for the Summer. In the collection Fragments of Chinese Porcelain Ksenija Premur introduces a poetic world existing simultaneously at the levels of dreams and reality, a favourite motif the author used in some of her prose, particularly in short stories. This collection of poems was inspired by a movement of new intimism in conteporary poetic production, and is characterised by clarity, lucidity and impressiveness of clear images intertwining in poetic reflections thus creating a powerful aesthetic impression. Poems have erotic and reflexive character, bringing intimate relationship of the author towards deeply experienced impressions of quotidian reality and her broken “fragments”. Subconscious flows in profound self-reflection mirror a double world of “me” and “un-me”, inner and outer, subjective and objective, and all that, as the title of the collection implies, in “fragments”, random observations, lightly implied suggestions, irrelevant trifles and mundane images melting into a colourful mosaic that sustain and unite deeply experienced moment of poetic reflections. This collection undoubtedly comprises melting of author’s profound philosophical contemplations of fundamental questions of existence that cannot be expressed in any other way but in “fragments”, cut-outs and reflections of the reality in a cunning poetic subject of experience and expression. The author uses Chinese porcelain in the very title which implies her long-term studies of Eastern philosophical traditions she reaches for even in her poetic inspirations.
The latest poetic collection by Uroš Zupan, one of the most prominent poets of a younger generation in Slovenia, titled “Slow Sailing”, unlike weary melancholic atmosphere of contemporary poetry, brings concrete hands-on, life experience – immediate, clear and deeply felt – of a poetic self that brings life and in its peculiar and affluent individual letter transforms an imminent, life-experiencing cognition into an open dialogue with the world surrounding the poet. Thus Uroš Zupan uses banal trifles of a quotidian life – television commercial programmes, short journalistic reports, unwashed coffee cups – to create his own unique world where he spreads out a specific poetic landscape which the poet paints with vivid, extrovert, communicative, sometimes provocative, but always, remaining true to himself, explicitly lyrical language in which every item in the objective world can become an object of subtle, poetic reflections thus enabling a world where the object world reflects in the mirror of metaphors and hidden, encrypted meanings a poets reveals by close inspection and then turns into a language through lyrical passages and an abundance of polysemantics at various levels of poetic expression.
In poems by Barbara Korun. cracks, apart from the mundane senses (I am burning, burning / at the stake of emotions), have completely opposite connotations as well – a crack in the sky. In the ambivalent co-existence of eros and bios the two poles refer to the crack between sexes. The crack is, in a nutshell, an empirically-lucid notion of the “entrance” that has opened up for stepping into the lyricism and its experience. Through it the author reaches for the core of real life realities, bringing them up from the stupor and turning them into poetry. The result of this poetic procedure is that, for example, a landscape as a domineering frame of author’s feelings and contemplative comprehensions turns inside out and enables the author, at her will, to choose unknown, completely poetically inner relations – most emotional objects take over their reflections as abstract changes, and vice versa, pure abstractions become real.
A lyrical collection “Black Swan” by the highly extinguished Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun, a worldly renowned and acknowledged poet whose work has been translated into almost every European language, brings some novelty to poet’s creative work. In enumerating a plethora of words in a nimble, brisk and skilful gesture there emerge separate words which then are read in themselves as if in a mirror, reinstating a discourse, but never falling into a trap of turning into romantic, symbolistic metaphoric expressions. A word is being read, put next to another, entangled into a metonymic sequence, and a brisk judgement of their effects is being replaced by futile and desperate self-searching, expressions of poetic subjects, quite a frequent wavering when it comes to big categories such as life and death that mostly melt in pardoning of those using them and only rarely in poetry. Unlike previous Šalamun’s poetry in which things were self evident, in “Black Swan” they reappear in their perfect monolithic, metonymic beauty, in its reality where authentic usage of poetic material unburdens the speech which keeps stumbling against self-pardoned poetic subject of this poetic collection by Tomaž Šalamun.
Tone Škrjanec is certainly one of the most interesting poets nowadays in Slovenia, both from literary and sociological aspects, despite the fact he belongs to the generation of the 1970s, and from poetical aspect. Like his generational counterparts Iztok Osojnik and Jere Detela, Škrjanec was predominantly influenced by American Beat poetry and through it by the poetry of the Far East. Far Eastern influences on Škrjanec can be traced on the formal level and on the substantial plane. It is exactly this experience we can draw from his renowned focus on details and ethical and poetical orientation. Unlike most of Slovenian (for that matter, European) poets of the twentieth century who, in their works, strive to become lords of the world or even distort it in accordance with the rule of so called dictatorship phantasy, Škrjanec depicts the world thus we may state that his poetical credo is not “to have” but “let it be”. Tone Škrjanec is surely one of the leading poets of his generation.
Jakob’s fundamental poetic procedure of assembling or collage should be interpreted in accordance with poetic credo of absorbing and reflecting the world in poetical, impressionist images. Jakob does not resort to assembling technique in order to manipulate the world or the readers but in order to capture trifling moments and occurrences so that he can render them in their uniqueness and thus differentiate them from everything else in a poem of opposing moments and occurrences. Jakob’s poetry is therefore a poetry of an attentive beholder, though simultaneously a beholder capable of abstracting anything that is, both for his poetry and his readers, a bounding realisation. Therefore in his poetry we find lines such as “The life goes by as if we are / Gone / And we comply”, or “Sometimes the night shrinks back / And there are lips, moist and pure”. Ethics, a feel for details and atmosphere of a poem, as well as a subtle usage of assembling technique, all feature Jakob’s poetry.
The book A Panicking Man by Milan Dekleva is an attempt to dive into a poetic soul of Anaximader, into his panoramic look reaching the truth and reality of our moment. Karl Jaspers said the following about Anaximader: “An immense impression Anaximander leaves on everybody springs up from a wholeness of his thinking. It is similar to awakening of western mind, dissipation of a foggy cloud. It is getting brighter. Through a new way of thinking, Anaximander immediately realizes the simplest, something no one dared to think before him. The very beginning is exciting. There a man distances from himself and the world. A sovereignty of thought grows – daring, limitless, and as opposed to mundane, traditional and transparent, it ventures awelessly to imagine what is initial and seemingly the most absurd. “A Panicking Man is a poetic entrance into the labyrinth of the beginning. A look of wondering in infant’s eyes, wise for its naiveté and naïve for its wisdom. A search for the general, reviving individual and wholesome, is a categorical imperative of poetry that has never subdued. A panicking man, already in its title, unifies both meanings of a Greek word: pan and panic were born from the same restlessness. Panic overwhelming a man with nihilism of search for power is everything (pantos) what we have.
Slovenian writer Vinko Ošlak (1947) started his literary journey as a poet. In 1970s his collection of poetry A Seizmograph of Emotions was published by Horizons publishers. Within the series Poetic Leaves featuring paintings by Jože Tisnikar Mladinska knjiga published Ošlak’s cycle of poems. At a certain stage of his creation, Ošlak shifted his interest towards prose, essays and philosophical and theological writing. A collection of poems Come and Search was written in a classical sonnet form, and Ošlak’s poems are not merely a playfulness of words but also an emotional and contemplative message addressed to the readers. Ošlak’s poem is true to a minor, more fragile being suffering from the injustice and for whom the nature is not inclined to. Ošlak’s collection is permeated with Christian ethos and stand views through Gospels, just like his other works, both in prose and poetry.
Pasadena, a tri-lingual collection of poems – in Slovenian, German and Croatian languages – is a melting pot of the three most intertwined yet most opposing elements of human essence: life, Eros and Thanatos. In this collection of poems the Austrian author Janko Ferk philosophically deals with issues we are troubled or enraptured by on a daily basis… or not touched by at all. We all respond to these issues in our own ways, while the author does it through most subtle verses he completes through an inspiration by a Californian city he had never seen. The poetic credo of this particular poetry is a relentless and steady pursuit of the beautiful and elated, or of quotidian and unmemorable things we find in the poem about a prison cell where a life is fading away “on a piece of a musty bread / and stale water / where the punishment is the ultimate seal of a human life”. From the existentialist view of the purpose life, the longing turns out to be a distant echo of the collection. The collection was translated into Croatian by Ksenija Premur.
The collection of poems titled “Dreams of a Naked Body” belongs to the movement of new intimism that the author, Ksenija Premur, has nourished throughout her whole poetic work, in particular in her two collections of poetry “From Coast to Coast” and “A Madrigal for a Summer”, published with the support of the Ministry of Culture. In this collection the author subtly engages an erotic relation in the reflection towards the whole reality, starting with the most banal quotidian trifles to essential questions of existence thus opening up horizons of new experiences and self-reflections. Thus the author re-examines the horizons of contemporary poetic expression, occasionally introducing direct and profound narrative which contributes to the dynamics of this collection, creating a particular and unique poetic world. This dynamics of flowing, ranging from subtle states of mind and self-reflecting to almost realistic reflections of reality, is most certainly an exceptional feature of this collection of poetry which tingles your attention and draws you into the world of author’s peculiar experiencing.
The collection Stars, Traps is featured by a casual subtitle in a single word – Poems. It has an “outward” orientation into a wider global and social space, enlightening it with cosmic and ironically critical “cold objectivity” between the first (The First Star – “caught into a solemn universe”, quote) and the final poem (Snowworld – “no hope is left / for the lost world”, quote). The core of his winter verticality is the poem The Sevenheaded in multiple parts where Detela, in exalted, expressive sequencing and repetition of syntagmas of free verses, develops a kind of a memorial service (“when is the service to be held”, quote, Chapter 2) for a chopped down yet indestructible seven-headed tree (“The tree is eternal”, quote for The Tree). Already in the introduction of the poem he asserts individualistic isolation of the my(s)t(h)ical tree erecting “itself on the self / in the middle of spaces” (quote). The verified and concrete (visual-auditory) value of the concept of a tree has been “vividly” experienced – as words in various languages (it particularly corresponds in German with the prose narrative Ein Baum, ein Traum from Detela’s book Die Merkmale der Nose, 2005).
In a row of collections of poems by Lev Detela “twin” collections were published in the same year – Stars, Traps and A Light on a Crimson Shore which despite their basic apocalyptic visions are simultaneously the peak of author’s so-to-say “vitalist brightness”. The Brightening, as already implied by the very title A Light on a Crimson Shore, is a striking conceptual innovation in a sequence of the titles of his previous collections, mostly gloomily coordinated (e.g. What the Night Said; Café Noir); here, of course, there is no naïve or populist cheap optimism whatsoever. A reference to an anonymous star in the first poem of the first collection is the initial poem A Light on a Crimson Shore comprising a thematically oriented and a kind of a baroque subtitle Ballad Elegies and Romance SMS Epics, determined by the introductory dedication of Love (in a Single Sentence). The poem with a musical vocabulary in its title and twelve lines announces the subsequent cycle A Short Potamology yet in Twelve Études. It is quite obvious from the inner, intertwined connotations of the both titles that the author, although his collections might somewhat seem “spontaneously chaotic” at the first superficial glance, builds up his literary-textual cycles with the precision of a composer. From a thematical point of view potamology (a scientific study of rivers) refers to author’s environment-conscientious dedication to water (in Stars, Traps it is the tree), in other words to the rivers as archetypal symbols of arrivals and departures. Therein the author speaks up in the first person narrative about the interwoven net of the phenomenon of a river and human love (river reference converts into a human narrative: “There by the river I shall put my arms around you”, 6; quote)
Tone Škrjanec is certainly one of the most interesting poets nowadays in Slovenia, both from literary and sociological aspects, despite the fact he belongs to the generation of the 1970s while his first collections of poems were published in the 1990s, and from poetical aspect. Like his generational counterparts Iztok Osojnik and Jure Jakob, Škrjanec was predominantly influenced by American Beat poetry and through it by the poetry of the Far East whose influences on Škrjanec can be traced on the formal level and on the substantial plane. It is exactly this experience we can draw from his renowned focus on tiny details and events. Influence of the East in Škrjanec’s works is evident at the fundamental level – the level of ethical and poetical orientation. Unlike most of Slovenian (for that matter, European as well) poets of the twentieth century who in their works strive to become lords of the world or even distort it in accordance with the rule of so called dictatorship fantasy, Škrjanec primarily depicts the world. Or rather, his poetic credo is not “having” but “letting be”. Tone Škrjanec is surely one of the leading poets of his generation. In accordance with the above credo what we also need is to understand his basic poetical procedure – montage. Škrjanec does not reach for this particular technique in order to manipulate the world or the reader but in order to show tiny excerpts of time and occurrences and display them in their uniqueness, thus simultaneously in their distinctiveness from the rest, rendered in a poem of opposing moments and instances. Škrjanec’s poetry is thus a poetry of a vigilant observer, but also an observer capable of abstracting an obliging cognition from the observed both for himself, his poetry and his audience. Therefore it is not a surprise we find declarative verses in Škrjanec’s poetry – e.g. a verse from the poem A Hole in the Sky: “it needs to be written down for what comes today / is valid for tomorrow.” Ethics, sense for details and atmosphere in his poems and subtle application of montage technique are essential features of Škrjanec’s poetry.
Many pieces of work from Detela’s opus comprise his so called avant-garde literature – mostly experimental, with a touch of symbolical, grotesque, fictional, Luddite and occasionally almost hermetic expressionist elements he uses to transform human existential and fundamental dilemmas into words, in his particular ways. These structures feature most of Detela’s poetry. In all of these stages, so different and in many ways utterly opposed levels of Detela’s poetic development, the author has experienced a whole range of discernible individual characteristics of his whole opus up to the present. In terms of topics they substantially exhibit a critical strip down of a society and an individual, whereas in terms of structure and style they feature the shocking and the provocative that keep turning into new extreme images in each stimulating and aesthetic stage of author’s creational process. It is exactly these most prominent features of Detela’s poetic creation that, in some of his works comprising for example Greek Poems, turn to more intimate, somewhat subdued and more sophisticated shades of his very colourful polyphony of his poetry. Greek Poems witness to author’s new poetic procedures as in 2008 Detela published four books in Slovenian language – a novel in two volumes and two books of poetry. This collection of poetry is a kind of a sequel (mostly in terms of the content, not so much in terms of the expression) of his previous collection The Light on the Crimson Shore as it was similarly created on a journey and partly in Vienna in later stages as a reflection of poet’s experiences while vacationing in Greece. Most of the poems in the collection are of ambient and reflexive nature, whereas some border onto miniature essays shaped into poems (The Donkey), while others pour over author’s emotional and reflexive impressions to visual stimuli from his immediate environment into poems.
Worldwide literature, whether it is folk literature, i.e. legends, tales or narratives, or fiction by an individual author, is loaded with motifs of abducted women where mostly the forces of light are victorious, as it is the case with the collection of poems A Night Concert with the Hardheaded and Marjeta. Or rather – a prince on a white horse who, using his artfulness or shrewdness, only rarely his force, overcomes the creature that persecuted the maiden. The victory of light over darkness had, of course, educational, moral and ethic importance, even elements of catharsis, usually supported by the divine intervention. These motifs are usually wrapped up in a romance, or rather a grotesque-balladic package inciting fear and anxiety with the audience. Dynamic tales, created or concocted according to the laws of a classical drama usually culminate in a predictable ending, simultaneously rendering a profusion of twists, deviations or even reservations. A drama, based on Hamletian principles, is being played before the audience – here I refer to the spectacle on Elsinore fortress when actors act and simultaneously uncover the death of Hamlet’s father. A Night Concert, a dramatic verse poem by Lev Dekleva, is a performance or “an artistic display at the museum” with a lively concert of “surfers and rockers”, symbolically called Paranoia Band that paraphrase the legend of The Hardheaded and Marjeta in a contemporary environment. The whole event, as expected, is set in the night which, according to the folk tradition, has “its own might”, therefore we are not surprised by dreamy and phantasmagoric scenes filled with absurd “debauchery recklessly crawling up the marble steps”. Everything is embodied in “the remnants of an impossible / shifted into perilous forms” resembling an Ernst Bosch rhizomatic puzzle in an image of temptation. From the cacophony of sarcastic scenes and twists there emerges an allegoric vignette in the form of a chorus performed by the abovementioned band where “the forehead is hissing, the music screaming, the drum banging sharply”, while the voice is repeating “Marjetica, Marjetica, the queen of our hearts!”.
In Šalamun’s poetry, featured by its determined presence here and now, and simultaneously omnipresence and everpresence, fixation and doubtfulness imply a massive quake. The voice of Šalamun’s poetry is suddenly no longer acousmatic for it is, more than ever, marked by everything too human, i.e. by time and its dedication to the course of history: We shall be rejected like cats in the crates into the arms of God. Even though he is completely aware of his predestined presence (I shall grow tired and neglect myself. Save yourself.), there is something elegiac and elated in the way he accepts his responsibility. We may have been inclined to think of taking and depriving in his poetic creations, but the turn has come for giving and returning: Doing it in the city? Returning. Neither hurting nor killing. Returning. With time the lines of Šalamun’s speakers get clearer and brought into the world inhabited by other selves. With some of them, specially with those whose feelings or memories – they do not allow choosing – take them to privileged places, he establishes sincere relationships, filled with vulnerability. The world no longer rules over a timeless moment (I had (…) everything in the nature, yet timeless). Every moment is being re-established as a random point in a sequence where self in a polyphony silently brushes against the past. What is replacing former self-sufficient destruction and seizing, for their exemption from time they are not considered responsible, is the strength – withering away, yet necessary for laborious construction. Šalamun’s rejected self sees its former existence as a form of repetition resulting in (there are hints thereof) blazing love: Nights were strange. You stirred up my lungs. The repetition of beginnings transforms into the acceptance of the inevitable ending that is really worth efforts: Yes. Whales shall end up my life. I am giving it up for what I have tried out. I am giving it up for what I am trying out now.
The politeness and the cordiality are the features that attracted and inspired everybody who knew Milena Merlak Detela. In the letter dated 12 July 1967 Milena put down her thoughts: “What makes an artist? This side belongs to the one playing with art. It also belongs to the opposite one – a realist taking the known path… and finally there is an artist, a child, thinking and brooding to death over things others find self-comprehensive.” The contemplations of Teilhard de Chardin are close to Milena’s sensibility. In the early 1960s they spread all over Europe and inspired Lev and Milena Detela with the most exhilarated euphoria. Teilhard saw the future of the mankind in the cohabitation of science, sustainable development and Christian orientation. He believed it was possible to achieve the ultimate integrative point he called Omega. In terms of perception the greatest and the most decisive occurrences in Milena Merlak Detela’s poetry were the landscapes and the universe of Inner Slovenia (Notranjska County). Close by are Kras and the Cerknik Lake which dries out and floods, changing with the changes of the seasons, surrounded by the secrecy of the woodlands, the horizon above the fields, an undisturbed view of the sun and the moon. Milena was longing for those homeland fields her whole life. She knows the religious beliefs and traditions of her homeland well, both in quotidian and festive times. Prayers and traditional rites are ever present and led her to contemplations of death and what it turns into. Contrary to that, the world was boiling in the bloodshed of the war during German occupation. It brought death to Milena’s family and broke her father who lost his willingness to live anymore. The marriage to Lev Detela and the emigration of the couple to Austria denotes a journey into new insights expecting them there. In this new atmosphere, new elements emerge in Milena’s poems – mountains and valleys, water and fire, darkness and light, birth and death. Words and metaphors in Milena’s poetry often express judgement: let the solitude be punished, Cain’s age has elapsed, may the scorching sun disappear. In modern times the fundamentals elapse – the light, the breath, the space – while the trivial imposes and overwhelms.
A collection of poems „Palimpsests“ was called after a cycle of the same name Niko Grafenauer published in 1978 in „Troubles“. The poems from the Palimpsests have been written in the period from the mid-1970s, simultaneously with the development of the post-modernism in Slovenia. Prior to that, in 1975, Grafenauer published “Stuccos”, a poetic pinnacle and as the same time the ending of Slovenian modernism. A techno-poetic clinamen in “Palimpsests” is graded down, all the way until the deflection has grown so huge it has completely opened up with the poetic content pouring through a sonnet form. Firstly both sonnet tercets grow into quatrains, then the metric plan continues to grow wider or – through another method – in terms of the number of verses it shrinks and re-establishes the space for free poetry verses. Consequently “Palimpsests” are a way livelier in terms of the metrics. This lively quality reflects at rhythmical, semantic, emotional, existential and thematic levels. In a seeming opposition with the liveliness, the balancing of “Palimpsests” lies in the one-ness. The opposition is only illusional as the one-ness in Grafenauer’s poetry does not imply the usual contents – the one-ness of the world within which there is no rift between the truth and the illusion but between the appearances and the invisible, the reality and the secrecy.
Existentialist source, defining the experiencing scope of his poetry in the collection “Fading out”, is the best construed in several Grafenauer’s thoughts when he contemplates the inevitable loneliness and the focus, the only places where he can test out himself as the one comprising a plethora of experiences, perceptions, impressions, traumas,… At the same time he needs both the words and the language to build up the organic wholeness out of life experiences in order to vocalize his poetic voice. All of these would be impossible if the author did not speak from the very edge of himself where liveliness of his poetic expression settles down in the shadows that life casts upon the eternity. The other extreme, opening up in the notion of beginninglessness, is very closely related to what the expressions “Einsweh” or “nostalgia for the gone-by” try to interpret. It is quite obvious that Grafenauer’s existentialism, despite us being prone to “forget” the beginning and the ending, i.e. despite the dictature of the moment, neither can be avoided, which basically means that no matter what our own individuality cannot be surpassed and generalized into a condensed human “eternity”. Therefore that reality as “nostalgia for the gone-by” evokes true beginninglessness belonging to the origins without a man, who merely invented word for it, thus revealing the whole deception of an illusion of the universality of life. God, eternity, endlessness on one hand, and the individuality on the other thus meet with the beginninglessness in time.
Milena Merlak Detela, a poetess who died in Vienna in 2006, managed to create verses of intensive narrative power. The author who was born on 9 November 1935 in Ljubljana wrote her poetry in Slovenian and German languages. She mastered an incredible repertoire of various hues of poetic expressions. Her poetry harbours images of oppressive austerity and images of surreal logic of dreams (such as the poem Underground Dungeon). In some of her lyrics the author indicates to negative political and environmental reality. This goes mostly about difficult, sombre poems. They reflect the trauma over her father’s tragic death, her mother’s suffering over the loss of her murdered sons and the events occurring during and after the World War Two. The nature and the inner spiritual images, the myth and the history melt into a new world. The poetess creates persuasive verses whether she draws her work from the history (Carnuntum or The death of the Emperor Abroad; Alchemists in the Golden City) or whether she is extensively drawn by the world of visual arts (Otto Dix = Danse macabre / The Countess; Paul Klee = Bastard) or the heritage of ancient myths.
Detela’s poems and prose are sneering and terrifying accounts of the violent world. His prose is closely connected to his poetic work. Many of his poems are prose poetry. Detela is a master of short works of literature, comprising of short, efficiently and skilfully interwoven sketches. This collection features poems and short works, as well as a short story “Fear and Dreams”. A young boy is living with his uncle at his uncle’s place, which is turning into a true nightmare. His uncle, ever drunk and living in Slovenian turbulent past, is a scary figure. Boy’s aunt is a passive creature always obeying and pleasing his uncle. These are typical absurd and frightening accounts Detela’s prose is fraught with. This book contains carefully chosen topics of this kind which Detela gives in abundance – they quite transparently and relentlessly open up the abyss of violence, absurdity and nothingness of the modern times.
Dekleva’s poetic (and essayistic) opus is undoubtedly one of the philosophy-based opuses in contemporary Slovenian lyric poetry. But it is exactly the predictions and the sound and rhythmical abilities of avoiding traps of traditional metaphysics that his alluringly open poetry has is what makes Dekleva Slovenian poetic flag-bearer of the paradox – whether it is the poetic prose form of writing with free-verses lining up into stanzas, or in the strictest rhyming form. Dekleva’s synthesis of fatal inevitability, fine irony, emotional suggestiveness, “sharp-tongued ultimate bi-mindedness” and jazzy sequences keeps narrating a tale on “how long it takes a man to adapt to the miraculous”. The other name for the miraculous is “the will to be”. Astutely, right in his non-conformist paradoxical manner, Dekleva adds: “the will to be here forever and never again”.
When reading any poem from the newest collection by Ivan Dobnik, a reader gets that feeling of a stone falling down into a secret well. And even though the falling into the depth is far below, somewhere out there in the intangible part of the poetry and its essence, the holler from the depth, the splash from within is way more powerful than a reader may have expected at first. These splashes are, naturally, the closing verses – a real treat of poetic depth, bringing forward some pieces of wisdom and cognition which on numerous occasions rise above poetic sphere. Every verse seems as subtle as a cobweb, yet completely rounded up. Like a gentle touch, a breath is short and fragile like a subtle splash of original poetry. What is immensely important here is the fact that the author boldly decided to stick to classical lingual calm – he is not interested in lingual experimenting. Although this is how Dobnik treats his words, quite frequent in his love and erotic lyric poetry, he is successful in tranquil upgrading, incredible lingual accomplishments and numerous expressive eclipsing.
Ivan Dobnik has been long creating in Slovenian poetry; however he has remained in the background, unobtrusive and quiet, but relentlessly polishing up his poetry in the peace and quiet of his workshop in solitude, somewhere beyond. As if he were a landscape painter who has withdrawn from the city into the countryside and while conversing with his own painting art he creates purified yet strictly controlled landscapes in a rich palette of the white. The power of his poetry lies not in his eruptive creativity or plethora of shapes but in the simplicity of form as a demanding inner dialogue of vivid words and clear attention. In his latest book called “A Rhapsody in Freezing Winter” he does not dodge from these prerequisites he has been faithful to ever since his first collection of poems. Clear, sharp feeling for the lyricism intertwines in his poems that are short yet packed with contemplative meditation. The resulting poems are substantial and restrained; their power lies in a sequence of precisely directed insights. This is not about understanding outside conditions or images but about pure poetry at the crossroads of skills, awareness of the functions of a language and intensive ontological states. With these in mind, Dobnik’s poetry induces us to think about intimate landscapes, shelled down to crystal clearness, yet emerging out in blurred stories like tainted premonitions. They have been so skilfully rendered so a reader can fathom their comprehensive drama.
Like any symbolic point in space and time, the abyss has a double-sided quality – it unifies the height and the depth, the skies and the underground, the random chaos of the original big bang and the hell fire of the apocalypse. If we ignore the ambivalent nature of the abyss we easily lose sight of its fundamental cosmogenic importance. This is exactly what is happening in the present. When we stand on the rim of an abyss we are consumed by the overwhelming fear of falling down. The abyss is only a point of final dive and nothingness. Ever since we lost the gift of soaring up to the places where the very origin of freedom is nested, we have been left with only the abyss, a vertical drop into the death. This has devastating consequences for human speech as it brings out the fear of the speech of others. The cracks in the world that have brought the word are being brought to a halt at the edge of the abyss we tend to call noise. Nobody listens to anybody unless it is useful to us. We are cautious with other people’s voices and looking for what is beneficial to us. We are cautious and awaiting nouns circulating through the bloodstream of our own language making them thus familiar and known to us. We refuse to listen to unknown layers of a stranger’s speech drawing gibberish from the abyss of diversity. Barbara Korun’s poems witness to the above – through subtle weaving of depths and heights of poetic expressions and messages she brings into the world of paradox and abyss, rendering it through the sensuality of words and thoughts.
A collection of short stories in which reality turns into a paradox while phenomena arising from both subjective, intrapersonal world of subconscious, and objective reality are being questioned. The book was published with the support of Croatian Ministry of Culture.
The book comprises two stories – «A Journal of a Disturbed Mind» and «A Man Who Loved Women». While the former story is permeated with intimate atmosphere, the latter has a very realistic, almost naturiralistic way of depicting phichological and personal features of a man obsessed with women. The book was published with the support of Croatian Ministry of Culture.
A collection of short stories with two reversed mirrors – a male and a female. The stories are trying to point to the nuances of male and female psychology and the relationship towards the world – with everything melting into a picturesque mosaic deceiving the world with its separateness, and saturation and merge at the same time. The book was published with the support of Croatian Ministry of Culture.
The world we live in is only one, yet the variety of experiences gives us thrills with their uniqueness, singularities and non-repetitiveness. This book brings two short stories – Bistro Gala and Letters to Milan – both witnesses to this profound individuality and non-repetitive versatility of human destinies and life paths. While Bistro Gala features a certain dose of irony and humour and introduces us to a small coastal town life and its inhabitants, the story Letters to Milan brings existential fate of life stories of two characters – a woman and a man, both middle-aged, who reveal most intimate details of their difficult daily lives. This work by the author Ksenija Premur is a masterly creation, lucidly and vividly witnessing to the world and times we live in, we all share and where we are distinguished in the myriad of destinies. This work is an excellent immersion into two worlds – one featuring a closed world of a small-town living where everybody knows everybody, where Bistro Gala is the meeting point of all the inhabitants, from the early morning coffee to the late night binge, while the other, Letters to Milan, features a complete opposite, an intimate world of a discourse on the deepest questions of life, and points to the existential and intimate environment the story was set into.
A collection of short stories grouped under three thematic headings where especially gripping are Buddhist Stories and Stories of a Boy which revisit the fundamental issues of every man through the prism of one boy’s search for answers. The book was published with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Culture.
The Content of Hour Glasses is a collection of a master-piece short prose, featured with reduced, packed and elliptic language. The plots of these short stories emerge from autobiographic elements and they also bring poetic and pragmatic statements in order to reach for metaphoric notes that apodictic stories produce starting from a single sentence. The book was published with the support of Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Art and Culture in Vienna and the Society of Slovenian Writers.
This book is the first topic short story collection by Branko Pihač containing stories of classical SF subjects as emerged with SF genre in the literature. Although these stories are mostly from author’s earlier stages, they are already showing his signature style he has kept in his stories of other SF sub-genres; it is a classical balance between structural elements of a story, strong polarisation of characters, detailing significantly contributing to the general atmosphere and skilful plot outlining thus keeping readers’ attention in upward curve and leading towards a non-frivolous resolution. Along with explanations of scientific elements which in the form of technical discoveries are frequently the carriers of his stories, the author goes beyond into psychological analyses and philosophical speculations bordering onto scientific essays. Adding the predictions of some technological achievements almost becoming a reality today, accomplished dialogues of his characters and almost inevitable moralities particularly characterising this part of author’s work, this collection is deservedly part of Croatian SF anthology.
This collection is a second topic short story collection by Branko Pihač comprising philosophical, paraphychological and metaphysical subjects, along with the subject of artificial intelligence. Stories from this part of author’s oeuvre contain ever intriguing blend of technical elements of hardcore SF, lucid atmosphere and particular social relationships, almost regularly including crime elements and appropriate levels of humour. Skilfully woven plot keeps readers’ attention and tension throughout, until the resolution no reader shall find disappointing is reached.
This book is the third short story collection by Branko Pihač. In his futuristic stories the author analyses and contemplates existing social phenomena, extrapolates them and pushed his characters into situations so similar to the current reality they induce us to thinking but also worrying. The collection of stories on androids is an excellent foundation for setting up a platform for communication with robots in the future; there are also several horror SF stories for the fans of the genre. These stories naturally comprise comprehensive storytelling features of the author – there are elements of humour, crime and master rendering of hardcore SF technology, while almost film-like direction of the storyline and often double-twists of the plot guarantee the excitement to the very end. Although the stories feature SF, a deflection from the reality, their lifelike quality makes the stories stick in your mind.
A book Confessions of a Stranger is an impressive novel about a stranger coming to Croatia during the civil war where he meets numerous people who were greatly affected by war atrocities. Amongst them is Ana, a woman who suffered her father’s and her husband’s deaths and who came to Zagreb in a refugee convoy with her mother and son. She is suffering from a serious depression, and a stranger, whose name is not mentioned and who is having a dialogue with his other Self – which is his life story – invites her to move in with him. With no consideration for Ana’s condition, her boy’s growing up and her sick mother, the stranger is playing a diabolical game, as back home he is married with two children. This novel is dedicated to fates of war affected people.
In the network of contemporary communications, behind the computer screens, people all over the world are seeking for a myriad of things, some, or maybe even many of them, are trying to fulfil their secret, most profound and most intimate wishes, desires and failed life dreams. Thus the novel «Obsession» introduces the reader into such a world, existing in a chat-room, with invisible, virtual threads connecting people hundreds, even thousands of kilometres apart in real lives. The virtual world is enchanting with the illusion of intimacy and almost tangible connection between the two main characters, Lidija from Croatia and Menelik from the Netherlands, which in real life eventually has a tragic, fatal ending. This novel discloses a virtual dialogue and the world of fiction and illusion dramatically shattering relentless borders of reality where it reaches its utter breakdown. The book was published with the support of Croatian Ministry of Culture.
After years of academic career in the research of oriental philosophies, an area in which the author published several philosophical studies and books, in this novel titled “A Cherry Blossom. A Japanese Story” the author decided to transform her knowledge of Japanese culture into a Romanesque creation in a form of a novel. The story is situated in a Zen monastery near Kyoto in 12 century, with main characters who are historical individuals, recorded throughout the development of Zen Buddhism. The author attempted to bring them to life in a Romanesque manner as to transform fundamental categories of Zen Buddhism such as “koan”, “impassable passage” and “enlightenment” into a vivid story through a story of Japanese culture and a love story that was imbedded into it. A story of three historical characters – Enrika, a Buddhist disciple, Hakuinen, a Zen teacher, and Emsho, a Buddhist disciple – carries a vivacity and dynamics in the very story and all aspects of Japanese culture, from the tea ceremony to interpreting and studying in a Zen monastery rendering thus a firm structure of culture and particularly valued personal experience of reality.
Chat rooms were part of a virtual world. That virtual world, however, revealed a lot about the true reality although it was, as the main character Nela realised over a period of time, completely fictional and fake and everything opposing the true image of the world. Nela started wondering what virtual reality really was – was it a mixture of each and every part there was, as she rendered them in her arabesques and mosaics, of all pieces and bits of human experience shaping up from various perspectives into a single, unique image. Nela thought the virtual world was probably made of such pieces of realty flowing from the real into the virtual, but never really able to completely disguise the virtual. Therefore virtual reality did not really exist itself. There was only a transformation of reality into virtuality through the filter of the untouchable. That was what deeply interested Nela, the virtual reality where we only, regardless what true reality is, what we feel it like, what we touch or smell or observe it like – these being also present – hypostatized into the world that isn’t, yet very much is, regarding everything that takes place right in that virtual world which, if it were merged with the reality, sometimes reflects true images, sometimes however the reverse side thereof, an image between the reality and virtuality.
“The Chinese Orchid Bud. An Incredible Story” is a kind of an outline of the era from 1980 onwards, when the beginning of artistic painting started, as influenced by the philosophies of life, the art and the literature of the East and Eastern traditions. This is when fine art students Lidija, the main character, and her best boy friend, Ognjen, started discovering new dimensions of expressions in painting, new painting techniques and new forms of the conscious and lifestyles. It was the time when avant-garde blossomed, along with experimenting in all types of arts and philosophies of life. Lidija and Ognjen’s personal development and evolving are set in those college times of uncovering one’s own views; hippie movement and the avant-garde were the concoction defining the life paths of the main characters. The generation of 1980s painters grew up in times allowing freedom for all kinds of artistic expressions. Lidija and Ognjen, having broken up with their love partners, found employment in the secondary school for fine arts, which was the ultimate failure for both artists as independent creators, which they both had always dreamt of. Today, in their 50s, forgotten and pushed away to the cultural margins of Zagreb, they have come to terms with never reaching again what they had in their youth. Yet, they remained true to their artistic freedom ever since they were students. Lidija kept painting, whereas Ognjen settled down as a book and magazine designer, which he found comforting after his works being misunderstood and rejected ever since his studies. The treadmill sustained until Lidija started having the same dream all over again; two people kept coming to her dreams – Zhuang and Enrike, the two Chinese characters who showed her various scenes of living from all over the world. The dream was fraught with images and the following morning Lidija would put down these images on her canvas. She decided to look for an explanation in various new-age lines of readings, went through the whole new-age subculture shebang, until she finally found an answer in Chinese wisdom books. These dreams were the incentive to both Lidija and Ognjen to finally realise their dreams they had in their youths.
In the near future the life happens in separated environments defined by people’s numbers. A short novel “Lami” depicts grim lost world where science and technology are not used to humanity’s benefit but only to the advantage of the privileged who use all scientific achievements to reinforce their own rule by introducing mysterious sets of values upon the undereducated population and by limiting any freedom. In the far future a crew from a terrestrial spaceship finds an unusual planet where the ruling class maintains their supremacy by implementing a bizarre mixture of para-logic, meta-science and fantasy – all concentrated in a familiar atmosphere of belief and fear the Earth itself was not immune to. The behaviour of the indigenous population is a test of the integrity and morality of the crew. The book was written in Canada and is an extension of previous author’s work.
In this book of essays by Vinko Ošlak deals with very complex issues we are facing today. The impression is that Ošlak verbalised what we are, if at all, barely aware of in searching for our own and mutual way into the future. Ošlak’s essays therefore deserve our full attention. If ever, then today is the day when we are supposed, when utopian energies have expired, as written by Jørgen Habermas, to sharpen our mind. Ošlak is directing his thoughts right that way when he says we shall truly respect the nature provided we, with the help of culture and ethics, i.e. being deeply rooted and ethically comprehended, experience its deepest nature, the very spirit that represents “the true nature of the nature”. Similarly Ošlak deduces the thought on the people, i.e. the nation. Ošlak’s conclusion is that only by culture and ethics overwhelmed members of a nation shall see beyond their own family and parentage, i.e. their deepest, elemental, human nature, their godly humanity. With issues of a nation, Ošlak is particularly concrete and critical when talking about possibilities and perils of one nation rising to the level of universal humanity and then, as Ošlak puts it, degenerating, focusing on itself and dealing with only itself. Ošlak comes up with that important thought at the moment when in our own homes, we start to notice growing provincialism and national patriotism, on one side, and “pure”, but consequently rather void cosmopolitanism, on the other. What are the chances of solving issues of the future? It would be deceitful to claim possibilities are numerous or at least as big as several generations earlier. Oswald Spengler believed that our culture, like Faust, sold its soul to the Devil inevitably taking the culture to its ruin. But with Goethe a miracle emerged, exactly the one that Ošlak finds our only possibility – Faust is successful in his rise, prompted not by his cosmic curiosity any more but a strive to understand men’s world, a need to participate in wider life, in the declaration of power in the mankind and for the mankind which eventually brought him God’s forgiveness because, despite all of his delusions and sins, he did not go astray from his origins. Will our civilisation be saved with of help of that miracle? We do not know it, but our task is to make it as truthful as possible. With the essays lying before us Ošlak has made his contribution to the cause.
Essays in the book by Milana Dekleva titled Nests and Cathedrals are an attempt to contemplate the way which has brought us from looking up at the skies to cloning. In short reflections various questions keep emerging – about transcendence with which a transcendented man talks about a world beyond humanism and metaphysics. An embrace of poetry and science, where contemporariness has found itself, is in the reality a love quarrel of nature and culture, of intuition and sensibility. That embrace can bring an ecstasy of a new birth or destruction of everything a man rules over. Nests may be the most perfect homes in the universe. Cathedrals may be the most intricate temples in the universe. Dekleva is convinced that the idea of a nest and the idea of a cathedral lay in the same plane that remains unfathomable to men. We can wonder about it for as long as the birds keep nesting on the walls of cathedrals. Transcendenting of a man is achieved, though, beyond his volition and it comes from beyond the horizon. In the syntagma “a transcendented man” the transcendence is permanent, and a man is a mortal category. We keep talking only because the silence is yet awaiting.
Essays by Aleš Berger were written over the period from 1989 to 2010 when the author was a grantee as a translator for the French language in Arles, France. On several occasions the author worked at the International Centre for Literary Translators where he translated works of acclaimed French authors into Slavonic languages. “Croquis from Arles” are multi-layered essays encompassing three thematic collections. The first one covers the period when the Berlin Wall fell down and the subsequent political events, including the time of Yugoslavia breaking up and Slovenia becoming an independent country and later joining the EU. The second collection is dedicated to translating and comprises a comprehensive study into the theory and practice of translating, whereas the third one is dedicated to literary reflections fraught with intimate atmosphere. The book comprises a selection from two other books by Aleš Berger – “Notes from Arles” and “A Cupboard in the Cellar” – which the author compiled especially for Croatian edition and where he gathered all of his reflections tied to Arles.
Matevž Kos started publishing his works in the early 1990s. Soon he established himself as one of the shrewdest Slovenian literary critics. He has already published several literary selections from his critics. This selection is limited to 50 critics, i.e. reflections, referring to non-fiction works published in the period between 1993 and 2013. What is special about this book, apart from its rather provocative title, is the fact it covers writings of various authors whose works belong to a wide range of approaches. The book, from one example to another, really tells a history of the 20th century Slovenia, and even a little longer, whereas its author does not fancy himself as standing way above this world but as being very much inside and involved although he does keep his distance when commenting. Therefore this is a book about various contributions to more recent Slovenian cultural history as it has been uncovered by its classics such as Josip Vidmar, Edvard Kocbek and Božo Vodušek, then by authors like Jože Pučnik, Taras Kermauner, Tine Hribar, Drago Jančar or Slavoj Žižek, and all the way to author’s contemporaries. Kos writes about lead figures of Slovenia in the 20th (and 21st) centuries, while simultaneously he is writing the very history himself through his dialogue, critical and/or polemic discourses in the name of democratic criticism. Most likely because we have no other. This is also a tale told in the book “On the Mishap of Being Slovenian”, telling us about mishaps and hardships not necessarily being exclusively Slovenian.
On “The Etymology of Forgetfulness” the author, Milan Dekleva, said that a century, where the feeling of endangerment and anxiety were ever increasing, was closing up behind. If we look at the heritage of earlier poets, their yearning for the bizarre, twisted and aberrant seems like a child’s play. No surprise there. The reality has transformed the world into a corporal and metaphysical graveyard, people into refugees who in new, unsympathetic lands had to give up the memories of their homeland, their languages, their rites and dreams. It is no surprise that in the world of seeking refuge, the rule has switched to the artificial worlds we so recklessly embraced with a help of drugs or IT networking. The feelings of endangerment and anxiety induce the need for salvation in humans. The past century offered a whole bunch of Messiahs and bliss-missionaries. Those who were honest were pushed away onto the edges of social consciousness and power, whereas the others, false prophets, eagerly mutilated souls, thoughts and bodies of individuals, tribes and peoples alike. The sense of the ending remains in full force – as well as the salvation game. At the ultimate point it seems almost blasphemous to re-iterate Hölderlin’s cry „What’s the point of poets in pitiful times?“ The times we are living in are no longer pitiful but numbed and deadened. As if a man had been taken over by light-headedness, as if he were lying dizzy on a surgical table. This is not about turning poetry into awakening tools, into gathering people around certain ideas and making them act – not in the least! The poetry itself did not manage to gain „freedom“, not before romanticism, to fancifully create in playful wording its own worlds that, prior to that, were simply non-existent. But what it kept whispering to us – in obscure, elliptical, mysterious, secretive language – we never even gave it a serious thought. Can we do it now after the elation had long abandoned us? (excerpt from the essay On the Thorn and the Rose)
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.
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”.
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.
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.
„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.
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.
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.
The book Theory of Translation is a master’s thesis by the author Ksenija Premur, a degree she received in 1997 from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, Department for Slavic Languages. This work is a thorough and multi-layered study into the fundamental problems of the theory of translation. Starting with the treatise about the relationship between general and individual approaches of the theory of translation resulting in deductive (general, universal) and inductive (individual, empirical) approaches, the author introduces the debate on the types and forms, along with the models of translation. This work elaborates oral and written translations, as well as translation of fiction and scientific texts, which covers the whole range of practices. The problems of translation are given a thorough break-down of the main categories of translation at a level of a general theory, and a worked-out comprehensive overview of the relationship between theoretical and empirical, down to practical, communication, stylistic and textual models of translation. Furthermore, special principles of oral and written translation were elaborated and given individual chapter in the thesis about the theory of translation. The treatise is immersed into an interdisciplinary grid spreading the discussion on the theory of translation from sociological, psychological, linguistic and literary aspects.
The Aspects of the Theory of Translation is a comprehensive and exhaustive theoretical and empirical study of the problems of translation based on the concrete analysis of translation solutions from English into Croatian, and from Croatian into Russian languages, with the material coming from various genres, from philosophical texts to essays and fiction. This profoundly valuable piece of work is a result of a personal prolific translating experience, but also a theoretical research into problems of translating; this book represents the third published work, coming after The Theory of Translation (1997) and Models of Translating (2005). A deep analysis of translation patterns connects general theoretical issues with the concrete translation practice thus representing a valuable contribution and material both theoreticians and translators will reach for. The unwritten rule is that poets should translate works of other poets, while scientific and technical texts require special skill sets only experts who mastered fundamental specialized terminology possess. This is a division between two chapters on the theory and practice of translation – fiction and scientific materials setting up particular requirements before translators. When translating fiction, the reality of space and time of the literary set-up, either prose or poetry, is fundamental. When it comes to scientific and technical translating, what matters is the core of the translation, adequate transfers of concepts and their environment. While textual translating model is mostly preferred method with scientific translation, in literary translation it is the genre-stylistic model that provides best results.
The book titled Models of Translation is a theoretical treatise of the three fundamental translation models – textual, genre-stylistic and communication – lying at the borderline between general and special theories of translation. While the basic guideline of the general theory of translation is performing two main types of translating activities – adequacy and equivalency, from which main principles of translations arise – individual and special theories elaborate these categories from the point of empirical translation activities. Models of translation lie at the crossroads of general and special theories of translation. The main premises of the theory thus remain both within special theories and in genres of all translating activities, while the models turn into main link between various empirical translation rules. The textual model, for example, focuses on the text and context as its general and individual principle within which empirical analysis of the word-by-word, all the way to graphological translation is required. Genre-stylistic model is more inclined towards the interpretation as the main principle of translation, while the starting point of the communication model is the informative character of the text, leading up to the formation of the message addressed to the recipient of the translation creation. The work is applicable for translators in both theoretical and practical aspects and as such simultaneously draws attention of theoreticians of translation and the very translators. The book was published with the support of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports.