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