The Slovenia Times

Slovenes in the Romantic period



It is no wonder that the Slovene national celebration of culture coincides with the day that the greatest Slovene poet France Preseren died. Even though celebrating someone's death may be a bit dark and pessimistic - so was his poetry. However this is quite understandable since he produced his work during the Romantic period. From a historical point of view, the period of Romanticism was very significant. It was a time of awakened national identity and the birth of many cultural institutions, which formalized and enhanced national awareness. That cultural and political flowering resulted in the Spring of Nations in 1848. Throughout Europe, small nations inside ruling empires began to become aware of their unique identities, which soon turned into a major problem for the Habsburg Monarchy, a multinational empire comprising German, Latin and Slavic nations. The newly formed Slovene intellectual elite demanded recognition of the Slovene language and the unification of Slovenes within one county. For Slovene literature, this same period meant the end of merely following world culture from a safe distance. This is most evident in the poetry of France Preseren and the criticism of Matija Cop, through which Slovene literature gained equality with other developed national literatures of the nineteenth century. Together with Andrej Smole these two figures formed a creative trio that celebrated the past, admired traditional folk poetry and tried to constitute a literature that would not simply have as its goal the education of peasants. In contrast to this Enlightenment project they hoped to write literature for intellectuals. Thus, suggest comparative literature studies, they formed an autonomous sphere of art and raised the Slovene language to a level of high literature. Another important achievement of this circle was a magazine for literature Kranjska C'belca that (since political magazines were not allowed) also served as a satirical political magazine and fought the so-called "abc war" (that established the version of the Latin script we write in today against other versions of Slovene in Cyrillic). A quite a remarkable man in quite remarkable times, some might say. But what gives Preseren paternal rights over Slovenes? The fact that since Slovenes at that time had no outlet for politics, culture had to perform this function. Culture and politics were therefore tightly connected, inseparable perhaps. So forming a national consciousness and a national language were, in the Slovene case, as important as forming a nation. There will definitely be many speeches about joining the EU this year, and afterwards perhaps a poet will also pen a poem about it too. So we will have the opportunity to observe culture serving politics, as is all to common today, and maybe that is the reason why the Slovene day of culture is celebrated on the day the poet died


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