Miran Hladnik

France Prešeren and Slovenian identity
France Prešeren in slovenska identiteta

A lecture on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the poet's birth, Toronto, Sept. 17, Edmonton, Sept. 22, 2000
Predavanje ob 200-letnici pesnikovega rojstva, Toronto, 17. sept., Edmonton, 22. sept. 2000

Ladies and Gentlemen!

France Prešeren

This person, France Prešeren, is he who without hesitation, any school-age child in Slovenia will name as the greatest Slovenian poet. My aim is to describe the meaning this Romantic poet, whose two hundredth anniversary we are celebrating, holds for Slovenians and for their national identity.

To je on, za katerega vam bo vsak šoloobvezni otrok v Sloveniji na cesti brez oklevanja povedal, da je največji slovenski pesnik -- France Prešeren. Moj namen je predstaviti vam, kakšen pomen ima ta romantični pesnik, čigar 200-letnico rojstva praznujemo letos, za Slovence in našo narodno identiteto.

France Prešeren is to Slovenians who Goethe is to Germans, Dante to Italians, Robert Burns to Scots, Pushkin to Russians, Mickiewicz to Poles, Shakespeare to English and---I don't know whom to name---to Canadians. One might surmise that outside of the Slovenian ethnic context---Slovenians number but two million in contrast to the large nations I've just named---we would learn little about Prešeren. Yet we can find some information. His biography, for example, we can read in the Encyclopedia Britannica. The encyclopedia has it that:

Za Slovence je France Prešeren to, kar je za Nemce Goethe, za Italijane Dante, za Škote Robert Burns, za Poljake Mickiewicz, za Ruse Puškin, za Angleže Shakespeare, ne vem koga bi lahko navedel za Kanadčane. Ker je Slovencev za razliko od naštetih velikih nacij na svetu vsega nekaj nad 2 milijona, bi pričakovali, da zunaj slovenskega etničnega okvira o Prešernu ne bomo kaj dosti izvedeli. Nekaj pa vendarle dobimo. Njegovo biografijo lahko preberemo v Enciklopediji Britannici. Tam stoji takole:

France Preseren
born Dec. 3, 1800, Vrba, Slovenia
died Feb. 8, 1849, Kranj
the outstanding Slovenian poet of the Romantic movement.

Preseren studied law in Vienna, where he acquired the familiarity with the mainstream of European thought and literary expression that, through him, reinvigorated Slovenian literature. He later held posts in Ljubljana and Kranj as a civil servant and lawyer. His life was one of struggle and disappointment, and in 1835 the sudden death of his close friend Matija Čop and an unhappy love affair brought him to the verge of suicide.

Although Preseren was not a prolific writer, his work gave new life to Slovenian literature, the development of which had been checked by political and social conditions. The themes and prosodic structures of his verse set new standards for Slovenian writers, and his lyric poems are among the most sensitive, original, and eloquent in Slovenian. In his "Sonetni venec" (1834; "Garland of Sonnets"), inspired by his unhappy love, as in his laterlyrics, he expresses the national consciousness that he sought to stimulate in his compatriots. He also wrote satirical verses (1845) on contemporary literary conditions in Slovenia. The epic poem "Krst pri Savici" (1836; "The Baptism by the Savica") treats the conflict between paganism and the early Slovenian converts to Christianity and illustrates Preseren's patriotism, pessimism, and resignation.

Who was the man who is today the symbol of cultured Slovenians? How did he live? In brief: Prešeren was born in the village of Vrba near Lake Bled in Gorenjsko to peasant parents. This was at the time of Napoleon's wars, when he temporarily occupied the parts of Central and Southern Europe which were for centuries under the Austrian rule. In Vienna, the capital of Austria, Pešeren finished his law education, but was unable to open his own office until only two years before his death in Kranj. His request to do so had been five times denied. In the meantime he worked as a law clerk in the office of Blaž Crobath in Ljubljana, the capital of the Austrian province of Carniola (Kranjska), which then had a population of barely 12,000 inhabitants. He lived single and died poor, without providing for the two children he fathered out of wedlock with a young housemaid. In his poetry he sang of his unhappy love for an unobtainable middle class lady, Julija Primic, his poetic calling, and the fate of his nation. His poetic work is contained in the book Poezije, published in 1847.

Kdo je bil mož, ki je danes simbol kulturnega slovenstva in kako je živel? Na kratko: Prešeren se je rodil v vasi Vrba blizu Bleda na Gorenjskem, kmečkim staršem. Zgodilo se je to v času Napoleonovih vojsk, ki so začasno okupirale tisti del Srednje in Južne Evrope, ki so mu že stoletja vladali Avstrijci. Na Dunaju, v prestolnici Avstrije, je doštudiral za pravnika, vendar je samostojno advokaturo dobil šele komaj dve leti pred smrtjo v Kranju, potem ko je bila njegova prošnja za službo petkrat zavrnjena. Vmes je služil kot koncipient v advokatski pisarni Blaža Crobatha v Ljubljani, prestolnici avstrijske dežele Kranjske, ki je imela tedaj komaj 12.000 prebivalcev. Zasebno je živel neurejeno in je reven umrl, ne da bi poskrbel za dva otroka iz zunajzakonske zveze z mlado hišno pomočnico. V verzih je opeval svojo nesrečno ljubezen do nedosežne meščanke, svoj pesniški poklic in usodo naroda. Njegovo pesniško delo obsega knjigo Poezij, ki so izšle leta 1847.

There is even a book in English about Prešeren, written by Professor Henry R. Cooper, Jr. (France Prešeren, 1981). If you care to find the titles of editions of Prešeren's poetry or articles and books about him, simply type the name Prešeren in a Slovenian on-line catalog search (http://www.izum.si/cobiss). If you don't wish to spend money on purchasing Prešeren's books, you can obtain the poet's entire book of poetry on the Slovenian literature webpages (http://www.ijs.si/lit/leposl.html).

Obstaja celo angleška monografija o Prešernu (napisal jo je prof. Henry R. Cooper, France Prešeren, 1981). Če boste hoteli naslove izdaj Prešernove poezije ali razprav in knjig o Prešernu, preprosto vtipkajte ime Prešeren v slovenski on-line katalog (http://www.izum.si/cobiss). Če nočete trošiti denarja za nakup njegovih Poezij, lahko zastonj dobite celotno pesnikovo knjigo na internetnih straneh s slovenskim leposlovjem (http://www.ijs.si/lit/leposl.html).

Prešeren's fame
Prešernova slava

A great deal has been published about Prešeren in Slovenian. The bibliography of these works itself constitutes a thick book of 750 pages containing thousands of entries. Three long novels have been written about Prešeren's life (by Ilka Vašte, Anton Slodnjak, and Mimi Malenšek), an opera, and hundreds of other, shorter pieces of fiction. There are over two hundred musical adaptations of his poems. If you don't have a Slovenian bookstore or library nearby, general web searches can help (I suggest AskJeeves), or a Slovenian internet directory. Just out of curiosity, you might even try looking up "Prešeren" in the Slovenian phone book: besides numerous Prešeren surname entries, you will find Prešeren Road, Street, Square, Embankment, School, Choral and Drama societies, Publishing House, Theater---in general, quite intensive exploitation of the poet's name.

O Prešernu se je na Slovenskem ogromno pisalo. Samo bibliografija del, ki se tičejo Prešerna, obsega debelo knjigo na 750 straneh in našteva na tisoče enot. O Prešernovem življenju so bili napisani trije debeli romani (Ilka Vašte, Anton Slodnjak, Mimi Malenšek), opera, in več sto drugih drobnejših leposlovnih besedil. Na stotine je uglasbitev njegovih pesmi. Kadar nismo v bližini slovenskih knjigarn in knjižnic, nam bo pomagalo poizvedovanje s spletnimi iskalniki (priporočam naslov AskJeeves) in s slovenskim internetnim iskalnikom. Poizkusimo iz radovednosti še s Prešernom v slovenskem telefonskem imeniku (http://tis.telekom.si/): poleg številnih priimkov Prešeren bomo dobili še Prešernovo cesto, ulico, trg, nabrežje, šolo, pevsko in kulturno društvo, založbo, gledališče -- kar intenzivna eksploatacija pesnikovega imena.

Lest I forget to mention it, Prešeren's portrait is on the Slovenian 1,000-tolar note. The anniversary of his death has become a national holiday, and his poem "Zdravljica" was selected as the text for the national anthem when Slovenia became independent in 1991.

Nenazadnje imamo Prešerna naslikanega na slovenskem bankovcu za 1000 tolarjev. Dan njegove smrti je postal državni praznik, njegova pesem Zdravljica pa je bila leta 1991, ko je Slovenija postala samostojna država, izbrana za državno himno.

1000 tolarjev 8. februar

The poem takes from the revolutionary spirit of 1848 a nation's freedom and independence (liberté) and calls for mutual understanding between equal, neighboring peoples (égalité, fraternité). It would be easy to use the poem as a source for contemporary international-minded slogans. The poem was especially popular during the Second World War.

Pesem se iz revolucionarnega duha leta 1848 zavzema za nacionalno svobodo in samostojnost (liberté) ter kliče k razumevanju med enakopravnimi sosednimi narodi (égalité, fraternité) in bi jo lahko brez težav uporabili med gesli sodobnega internacionalizma; posebej popularna je bila v času druge svetovne vojne.

Prešeren wrote relatively little during his lifetime. Truth be told, almost everything was contained in just one book of 1847, Poems (Poezije). Every year at least one reprint of Poezije appears, so that the reprints now number 156! No, by all evidence one cannot deny that Prešeren is an exceptionally important person to Slovenians.

Poezije, 1847

Prešeren je v življenju napisal relativno malo, pravzaprav je skoraj vse šlo v eno samo knjigo pesmi, v Poezije (1847). Vsako leto izide vsaj en ponatis Poezij in do danes se je nabralo 156 izdaj! Ne, po vsem naštetem res ni mogoče zanikati, da je Prešeren za Slovence izredno pomembna osebnost.

Let us consider individual topics a bit more closely. I will say a few words on Slovenian attitude toward culture, on Prešeren's attitude towards those close to him and about his character and outlooks as they were evidenced in his relations with enemies and friends, about the women who inspired his poetry, and, finally, about the chief works of his poetic opus.

Posvetimo se posameznim temam nekoliko natančneje. Spregovoril bom o slovenskem odnosu do kulture, o Prešernovem odnosu do svojcev in o njegovem značaju in nazorih, kakor so se pokazali v odnosu do nasprotnikov in prijateljev, o ženskah, ki so inspirirale njegovo poezijo, na koncu pa še o glavnih delih njegovega pesniškega opusa.

Prešeren and culture
Prešeren in kultura

I have told already, the poet Prešeren is a symbolic figure for today's Slovenian. In fact, it is little wonder that today, on the two hundredth anniversary of his birth, he somehow occupies the entire cultural scene. The government authorized a competition for the best electronic presentation about the poet. A feature film about his life, based on literary historian Matjaž Kmecl's screenplay, is currently in production. There are symposia and scholarly conferences and lectures, just like this one. With all of these events surrounding Prešeren, one might get the impression that the golden age of poetry has returned and that the art has reassumed that important place in the nation's culture that it had when the nation was formed in the nineteenth century.

Povedal sem že, da je pesnik Prešeren simbolna figura današnjega slovenstva. Pravzaprav se ne bi smeli čuditi, da danes, ob 200-letnici rojstva, nekako obseda celotno slovensko kulturno sceno. Država je razpisala natečaj za elektronsko predstavitev pesnika, pravkar se montira igrani film o njegovem življenju po scenariju literarnega zgodovinarja Matjaža Kmecla, organizirajo se simpoziji in strokovna srečanja in tudi predavanja, kot je tole. Ob vseh teh dogodkih okrog Prešerna se človeku zazdi, kot da so se pesništvu vrnili stari zlati časi in kot da je ponovno zavzelo tisto pomembno mesto v nacionalni kulturi, kot ga je imelo ob konstituiranju naroda v 19. stoletju.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I sense that the Slovenian cultural holiday on the anniversary of Prešeren's death (the holiday has been celebrated since 1945) is as specifically a Slovenian state holiday as Thanksgiving is in Canada or the U.S. That is to say, other nations do not mark such a holiday. I believe it might be difficult for an outsider to understand why it is such an important day for Slovenians, the day that two hundred years ago the attorney France Prešeren died. An attorney who wrote poetry in his free time, eventually attaining the status of the greatest Slovenian poet. Slovenia, independent now for ten years, has besides ecclesiastical holidays, dan upora (National Resistance Day [against the occupying forces in the WW II], 27 April), praznik dela (International Labor Day, 1 May), dan državnosti (National Day, 25 June), dan reformacije (Reformation Day, 31 October), dan samostojnosti (Independence Day, 26 December)---all holidays that mark important events in the nation's history. Yet the most important of these is 8 February, a cultural holiday (kulturni praznik), the anniversary of France Prešeren's death. On that day in the Slovenian cathedral of culture, Cankarjev dom (another institution named for a literary personage, Ivan Cankar, our greatest prose writer, who is also featured on our currency, on the ten-thousand-tolar bill), anyone and everyone of note on the national scene gathers to take part in a ritual awarding of Prešeren prizes to the most prominent artists, poets, writers, dramatists, painters, sculptors, architects, composers, set designers, choreographers, ballet dancers, directors, and other creative artists.

Popravite me, če se motim, ampak občutek imam, da je slovenski kulturni praznik na obletnico Prešernove smrti (začeli so ga praznovati zadnje leto druge svetovne vojne, 1945) tako specifičen državni praznik, kot je za Kanado in ZDA specifičen Thanksgiving -- podobnega praznika drugi narodi namreč nimajo. Verjamem, da je od zunaj težko razumeti, zakaj je za Slovence tako pomemben dan, na katerega je pred nekaj več kot 200 leti umrl advokat France Prešeren, ki je v prostem času pisal verze in dosegel sčasoma status največjega slovenskega pesnika. Slovenija, ki je pred desetimi leti postala samostojna država, ima poleg cerkvenih sicer še druge praznike: dan upora (27. april), praznik dela (1. maj), dan državnosti (25. junij), dan reformacije (31. okt.), dan samostojsti (26. dec.), ki zaznamujejo pomembne dogodke nacionalne zgodovine, vendar ima od vseh največjo težo prav 8. februar, kulturni praznik, obletnica smrti Franceta Prešerna. Na ta dan se v slovenskem hramu kulture Cankarjevem domu (spet inštitucija, ki se imenuje po literatu, največjem pisatelju, Ivanu Cankarju, ki je ustvarjal v prvih dveh desetletjih 20. stoletja -- tudi Cankarja imamo na denarju, na desettisočaku!) zbere vse, kar kaj šteje v nacionalnem okviru, in sodeluje v ritualu podeljevanja Prešernovih nagrad najuglednejšim umetnikom: pesnikom, pisateljem, dramatikom, slikarjem, kiparjem, fotografom, arhitektom, glasbenikom, gledališčnikom, koreografom, baletnikom, režiserjem in drugim umetniškim ustvarjalcem in poustvarjalecem (interpretom).

Literature in the nineteenth century greatly aided the formation of new European nation states' identities, including Germany's, Italy's, and Poland's; however, to the best of my knowledge, nowhere else did literature achieve such importance as in Slovenia. As proof of this, my colleagues like to cite the fact, unique worldwide, that in World War II Slovenians even labeled military units with the names of Slovenian poets, among them, of course, Prešeren's: the Prešeren Partisan Battalion and the Prešeren Partisan Company (founded 15 December 1941) and the Prešeren Brigade. Poets' burials have nonetheless always been major national events. Thus, with a great number of priests, they buried France Prešeren, over the course of many days Fran Levstik, and perhaps with the greatest pomp, in 1906, the beloved poet-priest Simon Gregorčič, called "the Gorizian nightingale".

Literatura je v 19. stoletju močno pomagala oblikovati identiteto novonastalih nacionalnih držav v Evropi (npr. tudi Nemčije, Italije in Poljske), vendarle po moji vednosti nikjer drugje ni dobila tako pomembnega statusa kot na Slovenskem. Za dokaz moji kolegi radi navajajo po svetu nenavadno dejstvo, da so z literaturo stigmatizirani Slovenci celo vojaške enote v drugi svetovni vojni imenovali po slovenskih pesnikih, seveda tudi po Prešernu: Prešernov partizanski bataljon in Prešernova partizanska četa (ustanovljena 15. 12. 1941) in Prešernova brigada (1943--45). Pogrebi pesnikov so bili od nekdaj osrednji nacionalni dogodki. Tako so z velikim številom duhovnikov (8) pokopavali Prešerna, po več dni Frana Levstika in menda z največjim pompom leta 1906 "goriškega slavčka", priljubljenega pesnika duhovnika Simona Gregorčiča.

Allow me to quote how the city of Kranj, where Prešeren died, parted with the poet:

On Saturday, 10 February at 8 o'clock they bore him to the central church. Here Dean Dagarin celebrated High mass with the deacons. His colleagues, the Kranj color guard, carried the deceased. And down the lane beside the coffin walked students of the Ljubljana Academy Legion, serving as an honor guard in pairs on both sides the entire time until Prešeren lay on the funereal catafalque. When, after the funeral rite, the poet was carried out of the church, the central square was crowded with people, so that one couldn't even see. He was buried to the music of the Kranj National Guard. The entire Kranj National Guard paraded after the funeral procession.

Kranj Nagrobnik v Kranju

Naj preberem, kako se je mesto Kranj, kjer je Pršeren umrl, poslavljalo od pesnika:

"V soboto, 10. februarja, ob osmih so ga nesli v veliko cerkev. Tu je služil dekan Dagarin veliko mašo z leviti. Nosili so mrtveca kolegi -- kranjski gardisti; v špalir pa so ob rakvi hodili študentje ljubljanske akademijske legije, katerih 2 po 2 sta tudi ves čas, dokler je Prešeren ležal na mrtvaškem odru, častna stražnika stala ob straneh. Ko so pesnika po mrvaških molitvah prinesli iz cerkve zopet ven, bilo je po velikem trgu vse črno ljudi, da nisi videl naprej. Z muziko kranjske narodne straže je bil pokopan. Šla je namreč vsa kranjska narodna straža v paradi za pogrebom."

Not only after death, but also during their lifetimes poets in Slovenia can count on enjoying a certain reputation. In other countries, people often wonder that Slovenian poets receive honoraria (1700 SIT, or $CND 10 per line of verse) for their publications in literary magazines and that the state even pays them a special pension, though they may never have been employed anywhere. By tradition, our poets and writers are rewarded not only for having composed something good and attracted a large number of readers, but they are frequently cast in the role of national cultural, political, and moral authorities or arbiters. In the daily papers they speak out in the name longterm Slovenian interests, democracy, and humanistic ideals, criticize societal shortcomings and get themselves entangled in politics (Partljič, Peršak, Rupel, Šeligo), forgetting the while that Plato would have had them banished from the ideally organized state, likely because they were too naive, exclusive, radical, and did not consider the consequences of their decisions, being the true opposition of politicians, who are artisans of compromise and search for a middle ground most acceptable to the majority. Despite initial doubts about the politics of poets, one must admit that they and their poetry played a large, important mobilizing role at critical moments of the Slovenian nation's existence.

Ne samo po smrti, tudi za časa življenja lahko pesniki v Sloveniji računajo na določen ugled. Zunaj naše domovine se običajno čudijo, da slovenski pesniki za svoje objave v literarnih revijah dobivajo honorar (1700 sit = 10 kanadskih dolarjev na verz) in da jim država nakloni celo izredno pokojnino, čeprav niso bili nikoli zaposleni. Našim pisateljem in pesnikom v skladu s tradicijo ne gre samo za to, da bi kaj dobro napisali in s tem privabili čim večje število bralcev, ampak se pogosto postavljajo v vlogo nacionalnih kulturnih, političnih in moralnih avtoritet ali razsodnikov. V dnevnem časopisju dvigajo glas v imenu dolgoročnih slovenskih interesov, demokracije in humanističnih idealov, bičajo družbene napake in se vklapljajo v politiko (Partljič, Peršak, Rupel, Šeligo), pozabljajoč pri tem na to, da jih je grški filozof Platon iz idealno urejene države priporočal izgnati, najbrž zato, ker so preveč naivni, ekskluzivni, radikalni, ker se ne menijo za posledice svojih odločitev in so pravo nasprotje pravim politikom, ki so umetniki kompromisov in iskanja srednje, za čim več ljudi sprejemljive poti. Kljub načelnim dvomom do politike, ki jo delajo pesniki, je treba priznati, da je bila mobilizacijska vloga pesnikov in njihovega pesništva v kritičnih trenutkih slovenske nacionalne eksistence velika in pomembna.

Based on what I have said so far, it is possible to conclude that Slovenian poetry is the most important branch of literature, that literture is the most important line of art, art almost a synonym for culture, and that culture is that which distinguishes us. Although cultural affairs are allotted only 1.5% of the state budget, this has symbolic meaning for the people and state. There is a special Ministry of Culture and there is no danger of confusing culture with entertainment, as in the U.S. In Slovenia, we understand culture as an elite sphere of activity connected with the highest spiritual achievements. Some prefer to capitalize the word Culture and treat it as others do religious ritual. Culture is the realm of spiritual transcendence of all that is worldly. The difference between culture and religion is, among other things, the fact that only the national elite takes part in culture and therefore it cannot be as effective as religion, which engages all types of people.

Iz tega, kar sem do zdaj povedal, se da razbrati, da je na Slovenskem poezija najvažnejša veja literature, literatura najpomembnejša panoga umetnosti, umetnost skorajda sinonim kulturi, kultura pa tisto, kar nas odlikuje pred drugimi. Čeprav dobiva kultura v razrezu državnega proračuna le 1,5 % denarja, ima simbolni pomen za narod in državo. Za kulturo je zadolženo posebno ministrstvo in zaenkrat še ni nevarnosti, da bi se področje kulture zamenjevalo s področjem zabave (entertainment), kakor je to slučaj v ZDA. Kulturo na Slovenskem razumemo kot elitno področje, povezano z najvišjimi dosežki duha. Besedo nekateri radi pišejo z veliko začetnico in se obnašajo do nje podobno kot do religioznih ritualov. Kultura je področje duhovnega preseganja vsega posvetnega. Razlika med kulturo in religijo je med drugim v tem, da v kulturi sodeluje le nacionalna elita in zato ne more biti tako učinkovita kot religija, ki angažira vse sloje.

Lest you get the impression of an exotic, culturally immersed Slovenian character, let me add that in daily life Slovenians act little differently than the rest of the world. During poets' lifetimes Slovenians have valued them no more than do other peoples and like to joke about them because of their detachment and peculiarities. Before going to bed, only a few zealous people, professional readers---Slovenian literature teachers who have to prepare lessons and students who have to answer their professors' questions---pick up a Prešeren's poem. All the rest turn on the television and watch soccer, where "our boys" carry the national colors. And if we compare the highth of prestigious Prešeren prizes for cultural achievements with the incomparable greater amount of money that, for example, soccer players earn, it turns out that "cultural conditions" in Slovenia in general are quite "normal."

Da se ne bo vzbudil zmoten vtis o eksotičnem, s kulturo obsedenem slovenskem značaju, naj dodam, da se v vsakdanjem življenju sicer ne obnašamo dosti drugače kot ves preostali svet. Za časa življenja Slovenci pesnikov ne cenijo nič bolj kot drugi narodi in so jim zaradi njihove odmaknjenosti in čudaštva prej predmet posmeha kot občudovanja. Zvečer pred spanjem jemljejo Prešernove poezije v roke le posamezni navdušenci, profesionalni bralci (to je učitelji slovenščine, ki se morajo pripraviti na predavanja, in dijaki, ki bodo odgovarjali na profesorjeva vprašanja), vsi drugi pa prižgejo televizijo in si raje ogledajo nogometno tekmo, kjer "naši" zastopajo barve nacionalne zastave. Tudi če primerjamo višino prestižne Prešernove nagrade za dosežke na področju kulture z neprimerno večjim denarjem, ki ga dobijo npr. nogometaši, se izkaže, da so "kulturne razmere" v Sloveniji v splošnem kar "normalne".

For me, as a literary historian, it is, of course, very interesting, what kind of poetry France Prešeren wrote, what literary traditions he followed, what novelties he introduced, and other such scholarly questions. I am aware that these erudite questions are not really important to the role that Prešeren has in the national collective, and so I will leave them aside. In order to confirm one's Slovenian identity, it is sufficient to be convinced that Prešeren excelled in his poetic profession more than any other at his time or later. He used the Slovenian language to express the most complex personal and social problems and did this in a wonderous way. And thus he raised Slovenian to an envious cultural level and showed that it was capable of articulating even the most recondite questions. This when it was thought that Slovenian was suitable for only the most common, everyday uses and for the lower classes. Since a developed language was one of the key conditions for national identity, Prešeren in fact laid the groundwork for an independent Slovenian national identity. Historians date the birth of the Slovenian nation only to the second half of the nineteenth century, when at mass gatherings held in Slovenian there were first heard pronouncements for a Slovenian people and demands for national rights. There were not yet any such large national events in Prešeren's time, but Prešeren made a distinctive contribution to the formation of Slovenians as a nation. After his death, the memory of Prešeren died out in the popular imagination. His national acclaim came only twenty years after his death, when the poet Josip Stritar edited the first reprint of his poems and accompanied it with an exultatory essay. When Prešeren was "rediscovered," he quickly became a symbolic banner of Slovenian linguistic, literary, and cultural being.

Prešernoslovca Prijatelj in Kidrič v Smrekarjevi karikaturi Prešernoslovca Žigon in Puntar v Smrekarjevi karikaturi

Zame kot literarnega zgodovinarja, je seveda najbolj zanimivo, kakšne verze je pisal France Prešeren, kateri literarni tradiciji je sledil, kaj je vanjo novega vnesel in podobna strokovna vprašanja. Zavedam se, da ta ekspertna vprašanja niso prav pomembna za vlogo, ki jo ima Prešeren v nacionalnem kolektivu, zato jih bom pustil bolj ob strani. Za potrjevanje slovenske identitete zadošča prepričanje, da je Prešeren svojo pesniško profesijo opravil bolje kot kdor koli drug v njegovem času in kasneje. Slovenski jezik je uporabil za izražanje najbolj zapletenih osebnih in družbenih problemov in storil je to na občudovanja vreden način. S tem je povzdignil slovenski jezik, za katerega se je splošno mislilo, da je primeren le za najbolj preproste, vsakdanje naloge in za najnižje sloje, na zavidljivo kulturno raven in dokazal, da je sposoben artikulirati tudi najbolj kompleksne zadeve. Ker je bil razviti jezik eden pomembnih pogojev za priznanje enkratne nacionalne identitete, je Prešeren pravzaprav pripravil tla za samostojno slovensko nacionalno identiteto. Zgodovinarji dokumentirajo rojstvo slovenske nacije šele v drugi polovici 19. stoletja, ko se na množičnih zborovanjih slovensko govoreče ljudstvo prvič začenja izrekati za slovenstvo in zahtevati nacionalne pravice. Takih množičnih nacionalnih dogodkov za časa Prešernovega življenja še ni bilo, je pa Prešeren odločilno prispeval h konstituiranju Slovencev kot naroda. Po smrti je spomin na pesnika med ljudstvom zamrl. Njegova nacionalna slava se je začela šele skoraj 20 let po njegovi smrti, potem ko je pesnik Josip Stritar uredil prvi ponatis njegovih pesmi in ga pospremil s povzdigovalnim esejem. Ko so ga ponovno "odkrili", je hitro postal simbolno znamenje enkratne slovenske jezikovne, literarne in kulturne eksistence.

Prešeren's family
Prešernov rod

The surname Prešeren is common in the Gorenjsko region. It is attested from 1440 on, and means a happy, mischievous person. (In English it would be rendered as Joyce.)

The village of Vrba, where Prešeren was born, was a small but, because of transportation, rich village. He himself described the beautiful area around Vrba, with the Karavankan Alps in the distance and Bled with its island as "the image of paradise." This area was above average in the economic sense, too, thanks to which it was able to send many educated and prominent individuals into the national pantheon.

Gorenjska kulturna pot Vrba Rojstna hiša Ljubljana

His mother wanted him to become a priest, like five of his uncles, but he decided on law and graduated with honors. His mother, who attended a convent school in German Beljak and was known as an educated person, had the final word at Ribičevina, as the farmstead was called by those who lived there, and she stated her opinion on the poet's dilemmas in life and influenced has decisions, whether it had to do with education, choice of occupation, marriage, or inheritance. The custom in rich and large families was to educate as many of the young men as possible, as a rule for the priesthood, in order to make room at home for the oldest son, who would take over the homestead. The educated brothers would then take in as housemaids their unmarried sisters and provide for them. Of the seven Prešeren sisters and brothers, one brother died in his school years as the "most hendsome Ljubljana student"; a second become a priest, forgot how to speak Slovenian, took to drink, and in his later years was cruel to Prešeren's illegitimate children. One of the sisters married late in life. The others served at their brothers' homes according to the usual scenario; the third one, the unpersonable Katra, with the poet. The husband of one of the sisters took over the homestead and before long was able to pressure Prešeren's parents to leave the place.

Priimek je v gorenjskem koncu pogost in izpričan od 1440 dalje , pomeni pa veselega, objestnega človeka (v angleščini bi se pisal Joyce).

Vas Vrba, kjer se je Prešeren rodil, je bila majhna, a zaradi prevozništva premožna vas. Prelepo okolico Vrbe z ozadjem gorske verige Karavank in Bleda z otočkom na jezeru je sam popisal kot "podobo raja", pa tudi v ekonomskem smislu je bil ta del dežele nadpovprečno bogat, zaradi česar je lahko prispeval veliko izobraženih in znamenitih osebnosti v nacionalni panteon. Mati je želela, da bi študiral za duhovnika, tako kot njegovih pet stricev, vendar se je odločil za pravo in ga končal z odliko. Mati, ki je hodila v nemškem Beljaku na Koroškem v samostansko šolo in je veljala za izobraženo, je imela na Ribičevini, kakor se je po domače reklo domačiji, odločilno besedo in se je opredeljevala tudi ob pesnikovih življenjskih dilemah ter vplivala na njegove odločitve, najsi je šlo za študij, izbiro poklica, ženitev ali dedovanje domačije. Navada v premožnih in številčnih družinah je bila, da so dali čim več moških otrok v šolanje, praviloma za duhovnike, da so doma pripravili prostor za najstarejšega sina, ki je prevzel gospodarstvo; šolani bratje so potem, ko so dobili službe, vzeli za gospodinje neomožene sestre in jih tako spravili h kruhu. Od sedmih Prešernovih sestra in bratov je en brat v dijaških letih umrl kot "najlepši ljubljanski študent", drugi je postal duhovnik, pozabil govoriti slovensko, se zapil in bil na stara leta krut do Prešernovih nezakonskih otrok. Ena od sestra se je pozno poročila, druge pa so po znanem scenariju stregle svojim bratom, med njimi Katra, nepriljudna tercialka, pesniku. Domačijo je prevzel mož ene od sestra in s svojo nasilnostjo kmalu dosegel, da sta šla od doma tudi Francetova starša.

Prešeren critics often emphasize his nonconformism, his free spirit, and efforts to rid himself of societal constraints and mores. But in the context of his family he did not behave this way; he somehow remained tied to his family, to his clan, and felt himself bound to it. The family, especially his mother, took part in decisions about his studies and occupation and his marriage ("he never said contradicting his father or mother"); he visited his relatives and corresponded with them. His childhood years the poet spent with his uncle priest in Lower Carniola (Dolenjsko) and his student years in Ljubljana, once again in proximity to relatives. Thanks to his mother's strong influence he had to exert a good deal of will and stubbornness to push his professional life in a secular direction---he tried to convince his mother that he was not fit for the priesthood because he could not sing.

Prešernoslovje rado poudarja Prešernov nonkonformizem, njegov svobodni duh in prizadevanja, da bi se iztrgal družbenim vezem in navadam. V razmerju do rodbine se vendarle tako ni obnašal; bil je še kako privezan na svoj rod, na svoje pleme, in se mu je čutil zavezanega. Družina, zlasti mati, je soodločala o njegovem študiju in poklicu, ženitvi ("on ni nikoli očetu ali materi ali teti nasproti kaj rekel"), obiskoval je sorodnike in vzdrževal z njimi pismene stike. Otroška leta je pesnik preživel pri stricu duhovniku na Dolenjskem in gimnazijska leta v Ljubljani, spet v bližini sorodnikov. Zaradi materinega močnega vpliva je moral zbrati kar precej volje in trme, da mu je uspelo svojo poklicno usodo speljati v posvetno stran -- mater je skušal prepričati, da ni primeren za duhovnika zato, ker ne zna peti.

Prešeren's appearance
Prešernova podoba

How Prešeren looked we know only from written descriptions; the poet never had a photograph taken or a portrait made, though his friend Matevž Langus was a painter. Only after his death did his numerous portraits begin to appear, based on the recollections and stories of his contemporaries. Goldenstein painted the first one a year after the poet's death. More than a hundred followed (see http://www.educa.fmf.uni-lj.si/izodel/ponudba/1996/preseren/default.htm). Prešeren was described as stocky, average height, slender until age thirty, then more and more round. He wore a dark frock coat with a stylish high collar, top hat, and boots. He was dark complexioned, with a low forehead, small mouth, small eyes, and long, disheveled black hair. He spoke softly---not a very good speaker. He liked to express himself ambiguously.

Kakšen je bil videti Prešeren na zunaj, vemo samo po opisih; pesnik se namreč nikoli ni dal fotografirati ali portretirati, čeprav je imel prijatelja slikarja Matevža Langusa. Šele po njegovi smrti so po spominu in po pripovedovanju sodobnikov začeli nastajati njegovi številni portreti: prvega je naredil slikar Goldenstein leto po njegovi smrti, sledilo jih je preko sto (http://www.educa.fmf.uni-lj.si/izodel/ponudba/1996/preseren/default.htm). Na to temo so izšle kar tri knjige. Prešerna so popisali takole: čokat, srednje velik, do 30. leta suh, potem pa vedno bolj zavaljen. Nosil je temen frak z gizdalinsko visokim ovratnikom, cilinder, škornje. V obraz je bil zagorel, nizko čelo, majhna usta, majhne oči, dolgi, rahlo skodrani črni lasje. Govoril je tiho -- ni bil prav dober govornik, rad se je izražal dvoumno.

Prešeren's enemies
Prešernovi nasprotniki

Slovenian mythologize Prešeren's life, especially in school. We attribute to him the most noble qualities, in which his genious is expressed. And we do this most when we wish to blacken his enemies. Since Prešeren had a cheerful nature, he did not have bitter enemies, which, however, does not prevent us from wagging a finger at the few opponents and competitors he did have. To be fair, Prešeren made his own enemies by choosing systematically to irritate all prominent individuals in his epigrams out of his bohemian playfullness and arrogance. Drunk with his initial public successes, he wrote a good twenty epigrams at once. When he wrote, Prešeren was a fighter who demanded taking sides and also forced his friend Matija Čop and other companions---though they were more realistic and careful and distanced themselves from Prešeren's most aggressive poems and statements---into uncompromising battle with those who thought differently. Prešeren's overly proud and stubborn nature---and later in life his free thinking (Freigeist), social rebellion, and nonconformity---sometimes spurred him into conflicts with those around him. These two qualities were, to a great degree, the causes of Prešeren's professional failure.

Prešernovo življenje Slovenci mitiziramo, posebej v šoli. Pripisujemo mu same plemenite lastnosti, v katerih se izraža njegov genij, in počnemo to najraje tako, da čim bolj očrnimo Prešernove nasprotnike. Ker je bil Prešeren vedre narave, hudih sovražnikov sicer ni imel, kar pa nas ne ovira, da ne bi na tistih nekaj malo Prešernovih oponentov in konkurentov ogorčeno pokazali s prstom. Če hočemo biti pravični, moramo priznati, da si je Prešeren sovražnike sam nakopal, s tem ko je v svoji bohemski razigranosti in samozavesti sistematično lotil z epigrami dražiti vse ugledne sodobnike povrsti -- opojenemu s prvimi uspehi v javnosti se mu jih je v enem zamahu zapisalo dobrih 20. Kadar je pisal, je bil Prešeren borben človek, ki je zahteval ločitev duhov in v brezkompromisni boj z drugače mislečimi silil tudi prijatelja Matija Čopa in druge sodelavce, ki pa so bili bolj realni in previdnejši in so umaknili Prešernove najbolj napadalne pesmi iz objave. V konflikte z okolico je Prešerna silila njegova včasih preponosna in preveč trmasta narava in kasneje v življenju njegovo svobodnjaštvo (Freigeist), torej socialna upornost in neprilagodljivost. Ti dve lastnosti sta v veliki meri krivi Prešernovega poklicnega neuspeha.

The first person on the list of Prešeren's opponents was the Viennese state librarian, grammarian, and scholar Jernej Kopitar, to whom the student Prešeren gave his early poems to read. The stern man advised Prešeren to store them in a drawer for several years, and then he told him to improve them. Prešeren followed his suggestion to the letter to the extreme way and burned all of his poems, but his silent hate remained with him and came to fruition in the polemic about the standard Slovenian language. Although Kopitar was an undoubted authority on language questions, in Slovenian culture and history he earned the place of a whipping post in comparison to Prešeren. Every Slovenian knows by heart the verses with which Prešeren beats the scholar: "Let a Shoemaker [i. e. synonim to Kopitar in Slovenian] judge only shoes." The conflict was, simply put, over Kopitar's constructing his ideal for the language on the basis of the less educated people's speech, which was, according to the pre-Romantic view of the 18th century, authentic and uncorrupted. But for Prešeren it was a matter of being able to express in Slovenian more intellectually complex content as well, for which the common idiom was unsuitable. Kopitar was interested in literature for the common people, Prešeren in literature for the educated.

Prva osebnost na seznamu Prešernovih oponentov je bil dunajski dvorni bibliotekar, gramatik in učenjak Jernej Kopitar, ki mu je Prešeren kot študent dal brati svoje zgodnje pesmi, pa jih je strogi mož priporočil spraviti za nekaj let v predal in potem še izpiliti. Prešeren se je več kot ravnal po njegovem nasvetu in je svojo zgodnjo poezijo zažgal, tiha zamera pa je le ostala in prišla do izraza v polemiki o slovenskem jezikovnem standardu. Čeprav je bil Kopitar nedvomna avtoriteta v jezikovni rečeh, mu je v slovenski kulturni zgodovini in šoli v razmerju do Prešerna pripadlo mesto grešnega kozla. Ni ga med Slovenci, ki ne bi znal na pamet verza, s katerim Prešeren tepe učenjaka: "le čevlje sodi naj Kopitar". Konflikt je bil, preprosto rečeno, v tem, da je Kopitar svoj jezikovni ideal gradil na osnovi jezika neizobraženega ljudstva, ki je po predromantičnem naziranju avtentično in nepokvarjeno, Prešernu pa je šlo za to, da bi v slovenščini lahko izražali tudi bolj zapletene intelektualne vsebine, za kar pa ljudski idiom ni bil več primeren. Kopitar se je zavzemal za literaturo za ljudstvo, Prešeren za literaturo za izobražence.

Another contemporary who has angered everyone that likes Prešeren was the poet Jovan Vesel-Koseski. Vesel-Koseski was an attorney and finance official in Trieste. He earned fame in the first Slovenian newspaper, Novice, as an author of verbose patriotic verses and for some years he overshadowed Prešeren's poetic reputation so much that the editor of the education-minded Novice, Janez Bleiweis, did not even invite Prešeren to publish there. That this was understandable is seen by the fact that the the greatest authority on esthetic matters at that time, Prešeren's friend and mentor Matija Čop, thought highly of Vesel's early poetry. A caricature by the well-known Slovenian painter Hinko Smrekar clearly shows how public opinion was divided about the two poets.

Jovan Vesel--Koseski France Prešeren in 
Jovan Vesel -- Koseski, by Hinko Smrekar

In a newspaper article of that time Prešeren was depicted as a white swan and Koseski as a proud eagle. Prešeren is advised to write not only love poems, to take up serious topics as well, on Koseski's example. What a symbolic occurrence: the poet rivals had such similar names---Koseski's surname Vesel would be in English the same as Prešeren---Joyce.

Drugi sodobnik, na katerega so jezni vsi, ki imajo Prešerna radi, je sočasni pesnik Jovan Vesel -- Koseski. Bil je pravnik in finančni uradnik v Trstu, zaslovel pa je v prvem slovenskem časopisu Novice kot pesnik bombastičnih patriotskih, narodnobuditeljskih verzov in je za nekaj let zasenčil Prešernovo pesniško slavo tako zelo, da urednik ljudskoprosvetnih Novic Janez Bleiweis Prešerna celo k sodelovanju ni povabil. Da reč ni bila čisto brez osnove, priča že poročilo, da je celo najvišja avtoriteta na področju estetike, Prešernov prijatelj in mentor Matija Čop cenil zgodnje Veselove verze. Karikatura znanega slovenskega slikarja Hinka Smrekarja nazorno kaže, kako je bil razporejen javni ugled med pesnikoma. Prešerna so primerjali z belim labodom, Koseskega pa s ponosnim orlom in priporočali Prešernu, naj ne dela samo ljubezenskih verzov, ampak naj se po zgledu Koseskega oprime tudi resnih tem. Kakšen simboličen slučaj: pesniška rivala sta imela strašno podobni imeni -- tudi Koseskega priimek Vesel bi namreč v angleščino prevedli enako kot Prešernovega -- Joyce.

A third opposition of enmity to Prešeren's plan for a national cultural birth were the efforts of certain contemporaries to unify the Slavic languages, eliminating the small ones in favor of one, great, common language. This was known as the Illyrian movement (the unification of South Slavic languages) and Panslavism. Its proponent was the Styrian (Štajerska) poet Stanko Vraz. Prešeren's home region of Carniola (Kranjska) and Vraz's Styria were both Austrian provinces. (The territory of Slovenia belonged to the Habsburg monarchy for almost its entire history.)

Slovenske dežele

The difference between them was that the majority of the population of Carniola was Slovenian, while Slovenians lived only in the southern part of Styria and the rest of duchy was German. That is why Vraz felt more ethnically vulnerable that Prešeren. The two poets were friendly, however, they agreed that they wrote in such different Slovenian that they understood one another poorly. For example, to Vraz Prešeren's great poem, Krst pri Savici, was difficult to understand. And in Ljubljana, the editors of the newspaper Illyrisches Blatt did not want to print Vraz's poems because they would be incomprehensible to a reader in Carniola. Vraz wished the Carniolan literary idiom to make some concessions to Eastern Slovenian (Styrian) language; since Prešeren did not wish to satisfy him, although his mentor Čop was for the idea, Vraz ceased writing in Slovenian and took up Croatian. He moved to Zagreb, Croatia, where he felt more secure in his Slavic identity. Thus he intentionally rejected his native language in order to gain the ethnical survival of his people. The cultural ties between Styria and Zagreb continue to this day. Even the majority of today's Maribor University professors received their doctorates in Zagreb. Vraz's dilemma and decision attest to the thin line between the young Slavic standard languages, as well as to the lack of clarity about the Slovenian language territory. Only today can one grasp, with Vraz in mind, how questionable, courageous, and risky was Prešeren's decision for Slovenian literature in the first half of the nineteenth century. Others, too, like Prešeren's personal friend Count Anton Auersperg, would later question the sense of an independent Slovenian language and literature.

Stanko Vraz

Tretja sovražna opozicija Prešernovemu načrtu nacionalne kulturne prebuje je bilo prizadevanje nekaterih sodobnikov za združitev slovanskih jezikov v enega oziroma opustitev malih jezikov v korist skupnega velikega jezika. Gibanje je znano pod imenom ilirizem (združitev južnoslovanskih jezikov) in panslavizem, njun eksponent pa je bil štajerski pesnik Stanko Vraz. Tako Prešernova rojstna pokrajina Kranjska kot Vrazova Štajerska sta bili avstrijski provinci (današnja slovenska ozemlja so namreč skoraj vso zgodovino pripadala habsburški monarhiji). Razlika med njima je bila ta, da je bilo prebivalstvo Kranjske v večini slovensko, na Štajerskem pa je bil slovenski samo južni del, sicer pa je bila dežela nemška; zato se je Vraz čutil nacionalno bolj ogroženega od Prešerna. Pesnika sta se prijateljsko družila in ugotovila, da pišeta v tako različni slovenščini, da se ne razumeta dobro. Vrazu se je zdela dokaj nerazumljiva npr. Prešernova vrhunska pesnitev Krst, v Ljubljani pa uredniki časopisa Illyrisches Blatt niso hoteli natisniti Vrazovih pesmi z izgovorom, da bi bile kranjskim bralcem nerazumljive. Vraz je želel doseči, da bi kranjska literarna slovenščina sprejela nekatere vzhodnoslovenske (štajerske) izraze; ker mu Prešeren ni hotel ugoditi, čeprav je bil njegov mentor Čop za idejo, je Vraz prenehal pisati slovensko in se je oprijel hrvaščine. Preselil se je v hrvaški Zagreb, kjer je čutil boljše garancije za ohranitev svoje slovanske identitete. Namerno se je odpovedal slovenščini, da bi s tem ohranil narodu slovansko identiteto. Kulturna navezanost Štajerske na Zagreb traja do današnji dni, saj so celo današnji mariborski univerzitetni profesorji povečini doktorirali v Zagrebu. Vrazova dilema in odločitev govorita o tanki meji, ki je obstajala med mladimi slovanskimi standardnimi jeziki in o nejasnosti področja, ki naj bi ga pokrivala slovenščina. Današnji človek šele z mislijo na Vraza doume, kako je bila Prešernova odločitev za slovensko literaturo v prvi polovici 19. stoletja nesamoumevna, pogumna in tvegana. O nesmiselnosti samostojne slovenske literarne eksistence so še mnogo kasneje dvomili tudi drugi, npr. Prešernov osebni prijatelj, nemški pesnik grof Anton Auersperg, marsikdo pa dvomi še danes, celo o smiselnosti slovenskega jezika. Prešernova odločitev za slovenščino in slovensko literaturo tudi ni bila samoumevna v razmerju do nemščine. Mladini v šoli danes nič ne poudarjajo, da je bil jezik vsakdanje komunikacije med slovenskim meščanstvom v Prešernovih časih nemščina. Nemška so razen izjem vsa Prešernova pisma, nemško se je pogosto celo pogovarjal s svojo partnerico Ano Jelovškovo in z mnogimi kolegi, nemška je približno petina njegove poezije, nemški kritik je prvi opozoril na njegovo genialnost in mu izrekel priznanje in nedavne nemške publikacije poudarjajo, da je najbrž samo slučajno dejstvo, da ni dobil službe v Celovcu, krivo, da se ni preselil v nemško okolje in postal pomemben nemški pesnik, tako kot je Stanko Vraz s preselitvijo v Zagreb postal pomemben hrvaški pesnik.

Prešeren's friends
Prešernovi prijatelji

Andrej Smole Matija Čop

Prešeren was a regular visitor to fun gatherings where he acquired many sympathetic acquaintances, but he had only two real friends, Andrej Smole and Matija Čop. These were two very different personalities. The first was a bohemian reveler, the other a serious scholar. Each fitted his respective pole of Prešeren's ambivalent nature. In his youth, Prešeren associated a lot with Smole, the son of a rich Ljubljana innkeeper (what is today Pri Figovcu), who was, however, an irresulute (inconstant) character and so undone by disappointment in love that he became a drunk and lost his entire inheritance in debauchery. Smole planned a Slovenian newspaper, collected folk songs, and translated English drama. Incomparably more introverted was Prešeren's other friend, Matija Čop, from the neighboring village of Žirovnica. He was a classical philologist, teacher at the lycee in L'vov, Ukraine, and later in Ljubljana, and then a librarian at the Ljubljana lycee. Čop authored the first history of Slovenian literature. He knew many (nineteen) languages, was uncommonly well-educated, and served as a mentor to Perešeren in his poetic calling. Though they took the same position on language questions, Prešeren was more boisterous, making it Čop's task to blunt Prešeren's more radical statements.

Prešeren je bil redni član veselih družb, kjer si je nabral veliko naklonjenih znancev, prava prijatelja pa je imel samo dva, Andreja Smoleta in Matija Čopa. Bila sta si popolnoma različni naravi, eden bohemski veseljak, drugi trezen znanstvenik. Vsak je ustrezal svojemu polu Prešernovega ambivalentnega značaja. V mladih letih se je Prešeren veliko družil z Andrejem Smoletom, sinom bogate ljubljanske gostilničarke (danes pri Figovcu), ki pa je bil labilne narave in ga je ljubezensko razočaranje spravilo tako daleč, da se je zapil in v veseljačenju zapravil vso svojo bogato dediščino. Smole je pripravljal slovenski časopis, zbiral ljudske pesmi in prevajal dramo iz angleščine. Neprimerno bolj introvertiranega karakterja je bil drugi Prešernov prijatelj Matija Čop, rojak iz sosednje vasi žirovnice. Bil je klasični filolog, gimnazijski profesor v Lvovu v današnji Ukrajini in kasneje v Ljubljani, nazadnje pa bibliotekar v licejski knjižnici v Ljubljani, pisec prve slovenske literarne zgodovine. Znal je 19 jezikov, bil neznansko izobražen in bil mentor Prešernovim pesniškim prizadevanjem. Čeprav sta v jezikovnih diskusijah nastopala skupaj, je bil Prešeren razboritejši in je bila Čopova naloga v tem, da obrusi najbolj radikalne Prešernove pobude.

Prešeren's women
Prešernove ženske

Prešeren lost both of his friends early; so, too, did his plans for marriage fall through. Those who would marry him he turned down (first the noble middle class woman Maria Kaetana Khlun and later the mother of his illegitimate children, Ana Jelovšek). Those he tried to win disdained him. He was turned down by the innkeepers' daughters he courted (Zalika Dolenc and Jerica Podboj) and, what stung him most, his muse, Julija Primic, to whom he dedicated the most beautiful portion of his poetic works. The best match would have been the well-to-do Khlunova, but their distance and, perhaps, her age (she was two years older than Prešeren, who had an eye for fresh young girls, the youngest of whom was thirteen) undid the potential union. For Julija's family Prešeren was financially and socially too low. They were looking for a rich match for their daughter.

Julija Primic

Oba prijatelja je Prešeren zgodaj izgubil, propadli pa so mu tudi vsi ženitni načrti: tiste, ki so se hotele z njim poročiti, je sam zavrnil (najprej graško meščanko Marijo Kajetano Khlunovo in kasneje nezakonsko mater svojih otrok Ano Jelovškovo), tiste, po katerih je sam posegal, pa njega niso marale: odklonile so ga gostilničarske hčere, ki jih je snubil (Zalika Dolenčeva in Jerica Podbojeva), in -- kar ga je najhuje prizadelo -- njegova muza Julija Primic, ki ji je posvetil najlepši del pesniškega opusa. Najboljša partija bi bila pač premožna Khlunova, vendar sta oddaljenost, najbrž pa tudi njena starost (bila je dve leti starejša od Prešerna, ta pa je oko metal za rosno mladimi deklicami -- najmlajši je bilo 13 let) zvezo razdrli. Julijini rodbini je bil Prešeren finančno in socialno prenizek: poiskali so ji premožnejšo zakonsko partijo.

It is surprising how many coarse words Prešeren critics have used on the house servant Ana Jelovšek, who lived with Prešeren from her age sixteen to twenty-nine in a common law marriage. She has been faulted for her lack of education, mothering, and insensitivity because she put pressure on the poet when she demanded that they get married after the children were born. Slovenian feminism has not yet managed to correct this most chauvinistic chapter of Slovenian literary history, though recently Gregor Kocijan gallantly came to the defense of Ana Jelovšek.

Preseneča, koliko grdih besed je prešernoslovje namenilo hišni pomočnici Ani Jelovšek, ki je od svojega 16. do 29. leta živela s Prešerenom v zunajzakonski zvezi. Očitalo ji je neizobraženost, nematerinsko obnašanje in nerahločutnost, ker je genialnega pesnika tirala v stisko s tem, ko ga je silila, naj se poroči z njo, če mu že rojeva otroke. Tega najbolj moško šovinističnega poglavja slovenske literarne zgodovine slovenski feminizem še ni utegnil revidirati, pač pa se je v bran Ani Jelovšek pred kratkim galantno postavil literarni zgodovinar Gregor Kocijan.

Prešeren's poetry
Prešernova poezija

In his time and yet today Prešeren was known for his love poems. He published his first poem ("Dekelcam") in the Ljubljana German-language Illyrisches Blatt. In the early poems women are coquettish and proud, declining the poet's love. Through the years another type of female develops---an unobtainable ideal love. The ideal's name was Julija Primic, a sixteen-year old young lady from a middle class family. For his muse's birthday in 1834 he wrote and published a wreath of sonnets as a special supplement to the newspaper. It was printed without the censor's knowledge and secretly sent to select recipients. In it, Prešeren asks Julija to harken to his love, that his pen might be inspired and he would set to creating great poetry for the cultural good and redemption of the nation. The wreath of sonnets was a formal novelty. In German poetics of the time, the sonnet was the chief proof of a nation's linguistic culture. Prešeren masterfully wove fourteen sonnets together. By writing the name of his muse in an acrostic from the first letters of each sonnet, he grievously offended the Primices and closed his path to Julija. The wreath of sonnets has been since mythologized and is a typical Slovenian poetic form.

Prešeren je bil v svojem času znan in je danes znan predvsem kot "pevec ljubezni". Prvo pesem (Dekelcam) je objavil pri 28 letih v ljubljanskem nemškem časopisu Illyrisches Blatt. ženska je v zgodnjih pesmih spogledljiva prevzetnica, ki odklanja pesnikovo ljubezen. Z leti razvije drugačen tip ženske -- nedosežni ljubezenski ideal. Idealu je bilo ime Julija Primic in je bila 16-letno dekle iz ljubljanske meščanske družine. Za muzin god je leta 1834 napisal in kot posebno prilogo časopisa izdal sonetni venec. Natisnili so ga mimo cenzure in ga skrivno razposlali redkim prejemnikom . Julijo v njem prosi, da bi uslišala njegovo ljubezen, kar bi tako navdihnilo njegovo pesniško žilo, da bi začel ustvarjati visoko poezijo, ki bi kultivirala in odrešila narod. Sonetni venec je pomenil formalno novost. Sonet je bil po tedanji nemški poetiki glavni dokaz jezikovne kulture naroda in Prešeren ga je v vencu 14 sonetov mojstrsko obvladal. Ker je svojo muzo Primičevo Julijo vpisal v akrostih (prve črke sonetov so dale njeno ime in priimek), se je s tem hudo zameril Primičevim in si zaprl pot do Julije. Sonetni venec se je od Prešerna dalje mitiziral in postal tipična slovenska pesniška forma.

Another great poetic work with emphatic national importance is the epic Krst pri Savici. Prešeren composed it in 1834 and in 1836 published it himself in 600 book copies at Blaznik's printshop. He soon sold two hundred, a considerable number at the time. The work has five hundred lines. It tells of the struggle between pre-Christian and Christian Slovenians in the Bohinj valley in the year 772 and the defeat of the pre-Christian rebels in battle, after which only the leader Črtomir remains alive. When after the battle he secretly meets with his betrothed Bogomila, who had been a priestess of the goddess Živa on Bled Island, she informs him that she herself has been baptized, and that Črtomir might survive the battle, she had promised herself to Mary. Then Črtomir is convinced to receive baptism at the Savica waterfall. He will become a Christian priest.

Krst pri Savici, 1836 Bled Bohinj Savica

Drugo veliko Prešernovo pesniško dejanje s poudarjenim nacionalnim pomenom je epska pesnitev Krst pri Savici. Napisal jo je leta 1834 in jo sam založil in objavil leta 1836 v samostojni knjižici, tiskani pri Blazniku v 600 izvodih. Kmalu jih je prodal 200, kar tedaj ni bila majhna številka. 500 verzov dolga pesnitev govori o bitki med poganskimi in krščanskimi Slovenci v bohinjski dolini leta 772, o porazu poganskih upornikov v bitki, po kateri ostane živ le vojskovodja Črtomir. Ko se po bitki preganjan na skrivnem sestane s svojo nevesto Bogomilo, ki je bila prej svečenica boginje Žive na blejskem otoku, mu ta sporoči, da se je medtem tudi sama dala krstiti in da se je zato, da bi Črtomir v vojni preživel, zaobljubila Mariji. Zdaj se da h krstu pri slapu Savica pregovoriti tudi Črtomir. Postal bo krščanski duhovnik.

The poem thematizes the basic Slovenian dilemma, which consciously determines national existence even today. The dilemma is whether we will preserve our identity in proximity to peoples who speak other languages by adopting another culture. Črtomir offerd an answer by resignedly accepting a foreign culture, a foreign religion---that is, by conforming to a more industrious and successful neighbor. The answer is in a compromise: we will preserve our language if we accept a foreign culture. The poem's narrative is involved and open and provoked many different interpretations. After a long time, the poem became one of Prešeren's works that pleased the Slovenian ecclesiastical circles. In Prešeren's biography, the poem marks a farewell to his love for Julija and his best friend and mentor, Čop, who had drowned in the Sava river. The spirit of the poem, its elegic sense, and resignation is far from the optimism of the wreath of sonnets.

Pesnitev je tematizirala temeljno slovensko dilemo, ki nacionalno eksistenco prepoznavno določa še danes. Gre namreč za dilemo, ali lahko ohranimo identiteto v soseščini drugače govorečih narodov z drugačno kulturo. Odgovor je ponudil Črtomir z resignativnim sprejetjem tuje kulture (tuje vere), to je s prilagoditvijo podjetnejšim in uspešnejšim sosedom. Odgovor je v kompromisu: ohranili bomo slovenstvo, če bomo sprejeli tujo kulturo. Pesnitev poveličuje odpoved osebni sreči v korist preživetja skupnosti. V sporočilu je zapletena in odprta in je izzvala številne različne interpretacije. Po dolgem času je bilo to eno izmed Prešernovih del, ki je ugajalo tudi slovenskim cerkvenim krogom. Biografsko pomeni slovo od ljubezni do Julije in slovo od najboljšega prijatelja in mentorja Matija Čopa, ki je utonil v Savi, v atmosferi pa je s svojo elegičnostjo in resignativnostjo že daleč od optimizma Sonetnega venca.

The pinnacle of Prešeren's Slovenian poetry is surely the poem "Pevcu" (1833), which in a tightly thought out and harmonized form speaks of the disjointed, unharmonious poetic nature. In addition to works mentioned, Prešeren wrote ballads and romances and adaptations of folk songs; he was more vulgar in his many epigrams and satires, and especially towards the end of his life in setting down occasional, here and there very indecent (sexually explicit) verses.

Vrh Prešernove slovenske poezije je najbrž pesem Pevcu iz leta 1838, ki v strogo premišljeni in harmonični formi govori o razklani, disharmonični pesnikovi naravi. Ob naštetem je Prešeren pisal še balade in romance, predeloval ljudske pesmi, se sproščal v številnih epigramih in satirah in zlasti proti koncu življenja v tvorjenju priložnostnih, marsikdaj tudi zelo kosmatih verzov.

Conclusion
Sklep

Prešeren's merit as a poet is in having introduced the most beautiful European---that is Italian Renaissance---poetic forms and leading concepts of a cultured humankind into Slovenian literature. By doing so he overcame the domestic tradition of didactic versifying. He advanced the principle of an autonomous poetic art and with his expressive mastery demonstrated the versatility and capabilities of Slovenian. Given that without an independent Slovenian state this was the most important evidence of an unique cultural identity, Prešeren's achievement essentially led to the formation of the Slovenian nation and the emancipation of the Slovenians among the family of cultured peoples in nineteenth-century Europe. Prešeren's merit is that he connected Slovenian national identity with the Western European cultural group, and thus enabled a full national blossoming. He substantiated Slovenian demands for an independent and equal existence in the middle of Europe. His cultural and political mission is best expressed precisely in verses from the poem "Zdravljica," the national anthem, which calls for the brotherhood and freedom of peoples:


		Let's drink that every nation
	Will live to see that bright day's birth
	When 'neath the sun's rotation
	Dissent is banished from the earth,
		All will be
		Kinfolk free
	With neighbors none in enmity.
Translated by Tom Priestly and Henry Cooper.

Zdravljica

Prešernova pesniška zasluga je, da je v slovensko literaturo uvedel najlepše evropske, to je italijanske renesančne pesniške oblike, in vodilne ideje kulturnega človeštva ter z njimi prekinil domačo tradicijo didaktičnega pesnjenja. Zagovarjal je avtonomni značaj pesniške umetnosti in s svojim izraznim mojstrstvom dokazal, da je slovenščina gibek in sposoben jezik. Ker je bil ob pomanjkanju samostojne slovenske državnosti to najpomembnejši dokaz enkratne kulturne identitete, je s tem dejanjem bistveno prispeval h konstituciji slovenskega naroda in k emancipaciji slovenstva v soseščini drugih kulturnih narodov v Evropi 19. stoletja. Prešernova zasluga je, da je zvezal slovensko narodno zavest z zahodnoevropskim kulturnim krogom, tako omogočil polno narodno prebujo. in utemeljil slovenske zahteve po samostojni in enakopravni eksistenci sredi Evrope. Njegovo kulturno in politično poslanstvo najlepše izražajo prav verzi iz pesmi Zdravljica, ki je državna himna in nagovarja k bratstvu in svobodi narodov:

		Žive naj vsi narodi, 
	ki hrepene dočakat dan, 
	da koder sonce hodi, 
	prepir iz sveta bo pregnan. 
		Ko rojak 
		prost bo vsak
	Ne vrag, le sosed bo mejak.

Today, of course, poetry no longer has the great meaning that it did in the nineteenth century. In place of poets, soccer players (Zlatko Zahovič, Miran Pavlin), basketball players (Marko Milič), skiers, mountain climbers (Tomo Česen, Davo Karničar, Tomaž Humar), Olympians (the hundred-year old Leon Štukelj), singers, even models (Melanija Knaus)---in short, athletes and performers---ensure the recognition of a nation. Nonetheless, France Prešeren remains, at least in schools, among educated people, and lovers of belles lettres, the watermark of the cultured Slovenian.

Danes pesništvo seveda nima več tako velikega pomena kot v 19. stoletju. Namesto pesnikov za prepoznavnost naroda skrbijo nogometaši (Zlatko Zahovič, Miran Pavlin), košarkarji (Marko Milič), smučarji, alpinisti (Tomo Česen, Davo Karničar, Tomaž Humar), olimpijci (stoletnik Leon Štukelj), pevci, celo manekenke (Melanija Knaus), skratka športniki in estradniki -- Kljub temu ostaja France Prešeren vsaj v šoli, med izobraženci in med ljubitelji lepe književnosti blagovna znamka kulturnega slovenstva.


Translated by Timothy Pogacar.
Prevedel Tim Pogačar.