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Slovenian Writing 1945 - 1995
The IInagination of Terra Incognita:
Slovenian Writing 1945-1995
presents the rich literary tradition of Slovenia, the first of the newly independent former Yugoslavian republics.
Taking its title from the series that celebrates the unknown literature of Central Europe, this anthology
presents Slovenian writers as the driving force of resistance to oppression in their land-oppression both from within and without. Spanning the latter part of this century, this anthology gathers together some of the best writing in the post-war era, capturing the voices of those
who wrote against the current of their day. From the post""war reflections of Edvard Kocbek to the lucid spiritual meditations of Marjan Rozanc in the late 60's to the subtle and radically innovative verses of seminal avant-garde writer Tomaz Salamun and formalist poet Boris Novak writing in the last decade-the writing collected here underscores the vital literary tradition in Slovenia.
Introduced with an illuminating overview of Slovenian letters by Ales Debeljak, The IlDagination of Terra Incognita will be an essential resource for anyone interested in the power of literary insight and historical experience.
tWHITE PINE PRESS
The Imagination of Terra Incognita:
Siovenian Writing 1945-1995
All rights reserved. This book, or portions thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Publication of this book was made possible by a grant from the European Cultural Month, Ljubljana 7997.
Cover by [anez Zalaznik
WHITE PINE PRESS
10 Village Square Fredonia, New York 14063
The Imagination of Terra Incognita:
Sloven ian Writers and Styles of History by Ales Debeliak:
On Poetry by Eduard Kocbek
My Three Poetic Phases by Eduard Kocbek On Preseren by Herbert Grill?
The Game of Words and Silences by Dane Zajc
Essay on Protestantism and Siovenians by Marian Roianc
47 56 61 69 80
Neoplatonistic Cosmos by Marian Roianc 96 Melancholy Meditations on Siovenian Literature by Andrej Inkret 104
Memories of Yugoslavia by Drago [ancar 110
Brush Me with Your Knee beneath the Table by Ales Debeljak 140
The Summer Battle by Ivo Standeker
The Lippizaners, The Mountain, Song About Man, Lesser Psalm, Sloven ian Hymn,
In a Torched Village, A Prayer,
Into the Dark,
The Generosity of Poems,
Boys, Scents, Fever,
The Taste of Spring, Sun,
Hamlet 69, Non-Metaphysical Sequence
Niko Graienauer Widow,
The Solitude, Tiredness, lAm,
The House, Hate, Horror, Drought, The Walk,
The Speech of Silence
Who's Standing, Earth,
To Edvard Kocbek on His 70th Birthday, Torturing the Slave,
That Where We Look At, Homes of Vision,
Blind Spot of Time,
Pleasing Are the Reveries, Anaximander's Proof of Existence, Anaximander's Harmony of the World, Anaximander's Dreaming, Anaximander's Countdown, Anaximander's Wake,
XIX. Limping Sonnet
Boris A. Novak
Coronation, Sonnet of Sonnets
spring barely in the trees,
as life grows more and more, whiteness which I love,
as the first drops,
each time different lips,
your scent permeates my skin, I've grown fearful of words,
I see him standing
Northern Elegies I, Northern Elegies II,
A River and a Young Woman, Bosnian Elegy,
Across the River, to the East, A Hunter's Path,
Lord of Tears
Cosmology of the Birth of a Poet,
Morning, Autobiography, A Sarajevo Elegy, Noon in Breda
The Eagle and the Roots by LOLlis Adamic A Day in Spring by Ciril. Kosmac
Minuet for the Guitar by Vitomil Zupan The Fatal Boundary by Andrej Heing Silence by Lojze Kovacic
Story of the Dead by Lojze Kovacic The Great Bear by Milos Mikeln
On the Flower of Jericho by Rudi Seligo
The Day of the Country Wake by Florian Lipus Executioners by Evald Flisar
Filio is Not at Home by Berta Boietu-Boeta Augsburg by Drago [ancar
Billie Holiday, His Mother's Voice, The Day Tito Died by Andrej Blatnik
303 309 320 332 352 369 374 394 401 412 425 446
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the editors, authors, translators, agents, heirs, and publishers of the following publications for permission to reprint the material in this anthology:
The Day Tito Died: Sloven ian Short Stories (Forest Books, London & Boston: 1993); Prisoners of Freedom: Contemporary Slouenian Poetry, edited by Ales Debeljak (Pedernal Press, Santa Fe, NM: 1993); The Case of Slovenia, several editors (Nova revija, Ljubljana: 1991); Double v'ieion. Four Sloueniari Poets, edited by Richard Jackson (Poetry Miscellany Books & Aleph Press, Chattanooga, TN & Ljubljana: 1993); Days of Poetry and Wine, edited by Ales Steger (SOU, Ljubljana: 1996); Poetry Miscellany Chapbook Series, edited by Richard Jackson (Chattanooga, TN: 1991- 1995); Dane Zajc: A Monograph, edited by Tatjana Pregel Kobe (Edina Press, Ljubljana: 1997) Ales Debeljak:
Anxious Moments; Tu/ilight of the Idols (both White Pine Press, Fredonia, NY: 1994); Vitornil Zupan: Menuet for a Guitar, (Slovenian Writers Association, Ljubljana: 1988); Ciril Kosrnac: The Day in Spring (Slovenian Writers Association: ,Ljubljana: 1988); vilenica-Dcsemica, edited by Veno Taufef (Slovenian Writers Association, Ljubljana: 1995), and a few volumes of Vilenica Almanac, edited by Veno Tauter: Verse; Tnquarterlu,
While every effort has been made to locate the copyrights holders of texts and translations, comments and corrections are appreciated for all future editions.
For my precious Klara and Simon, who live on the bridge between Slovenian and American culture.
The preparation of any anthology is always a tricky task. The editor has to negotiate treacherous grounds between the available translations, the representative character of the work included, and the relatively even distribution of writers across the generations, styles, and aesthetic directions. Often, not one writer is happy with the anthology. Still, in putting together this anthology, I was guided by the principle of representation and illustration. Limited by the time frame of the post-Second World War as a major threshold in the life of a nation, a period to which many contemporary Slovenian writers either openly or in a veiled way refer in their works, I attempted to present what is nearly impossible: a relatively balanced picture.
Not every single text featured here, of course, is necessarily "the best" in its genre. My personal taste notwithstanding, I believe, however, that the cumulative effect of the texts does offer at least a general insight into a variety of aesthetic styles as well as an open window into some of the recurring themes in contemporary Slovenian letters. In addition, I am convinced that the contemporary, that is, post-Second World War writing by Slovenian authors warrants the attention of international readership.
This is all the more urgent in light of the sad fact that no comprehensive anthology of this kind, bringing together modern Slovenian writers of different genres and generations, exists in English translation. The reasons for this collective absence on the international literary map may be inferred from my introduction. Slovenians have had no independent nation-state until yesterday, as it were, and hence no immediate recognition was possible in various artistic fields either.
Individual exceptions that prove the rule do, of course, exist. Drago Jancar in fiction and 'Iornaz Salamun in poetry come to mind here. However, lacking the self-evident
and somewhat "natural" context of national literary writing and cultural milieu at large, such writers more often than not remained in a kind of imaginative vacuum. The present anthology was prepared in an attempt to make a first step toward filling this vacuum, that may it be followed by many more.
The anthology could have not seen the light of day had it not been for the unflagging support and courageous, enthusiastic, and underpaid assistance of several persons. Betsy Bundschuh, a transplanted New York editor who settled in Slovenian capital city by chance, was involved in the preparation of this volume from the very inception. I am more than grateful for her excellent language editing and copyrights expertise. Betsy's astute, if guarded comments and an almost religious commitment with which she addressed countless important, though in hindsight unreasonably little tasks will continue to remind me of the thankless editorial task. Betsy, stay in Ljubljana, we need you!
Andrej Blatnik, himself an experienced editor, handled the financial matters and numerous technical aspects of book production with his proverbial proficiency and cheerful spirit, these trade-marks of his dedication to a promotion of literary works other than his own.
Baska Stariic took time off from her double job as an administrative assistant at the Slovenian Writers Association and a Ph.D. candidate in history, to help shepherd this publication to press. I could only appreciate her attentive research and logistical support. The latter was in no small way extended by Barbara Subert as well. As a secretary of the Slovenian Writers Association, she made sure that the Association's downtown office was available for many a frantic meeting.
Erica Johnson Debeljak, my understanding wife and an intellectual companion, did more than translate a few pieces for this book. Her Manhattan-savvy mind and Californian passion helped her to quickly learn Slovenian and thus be able to get into the spirit of my long-winded
sentences the better to detect occasional abuses adopted American English suffered at my hands.
Credit must be also given to Ali H. Zerdin for providing access to IvoStandeker's essay. Last but not least, I need to thank my little daughter and son, Klara and Simon, who may have not known it but have given me a sense of purpose and nurtured me as only children can. In a particular way, this anthology is meant for them as they grow up between the two worlds, Slovenian of their father and American of their mother, with their lives and souls building fragile bridges that nonetheless span the cultures. It is in this fragility that the understanding of the others is locked. It is this hope to reach beyond one's own tradition that ultimately enriches us. "Imagination of Terra Incognita Slouenian Writing 1945-1995" was prepared with just such fragility and hope in mind.
All of us, collaborators in this anthology, traveled into the forms of Slovenian creativity participating in an exciting and frustrating journey. May you, an inquisitive reader, enjoy the former and disregard the latter. The imagination of Terra incognita, to use Drago Jancar's metaphor for Slovenia, waits to be discovered.
Ljubljana-San Francisco, February 1997