Middle Ages (800-1530). – According to Localcollegeexplorer, the civilization of the Slovenes begins with their Christianization, but Christianity did not lead to the Slovenes, divided into different provinces, without a linguistically homogeneous and politically independent state, that literary activity enjoyed by the other Western peoples: the nobility and the clergy little by little they entered the German-Latin orbit.
With a clergy and religious orders for the most part foreign, the Slovenes had only a few liturgical prayers fixed in the national language. Among these the most important are the Documents of Freising (Bavaria) which contain the common confessions and a homily on sin and penance, written in Latin characters in the second half of the century. X. In addition to these and some religious songs, only Slovenian letters from the whole Middle Ages remain but a few fragments in various manuscripts, such as in the Cividale manuscript which contains the Liberfundationum of a brotherhood of Cergneu near Tarcento, the first dated Slovenian document (1497). But beyond this poor collection, the soul of the people found its most genuine expression in Popular songs, mostly lyrical, which, enriched by the tragic events of the peasant revolts and the Turkish wars, were handed down for centuries with elegiac melodies to finally be systematically collected in the monumental work of K. Štrekelj (Slovenske narodne pesmi, Ljubljana 1895 ff., vol. 16).
Epoch of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. – Although the people did not welcome Luther’s verb as did the nobility, the bourgeoisie and a part of the clergy, the Protestant movement, with its request for liturgy in the national language, laid the foundations of Slovenian literature. It was Primož Trubar (1508-1586), a pupil of the Trieste bishop Pietro Bonomo and protected by him, who initiated Slovenian Protestantism and became its central figure. After a few years of tenacious propaganda at home, he had to flee to Germany where he worked mostly in Württemberg and published in Tübingen, in 1551, the Abbacus and the Catechism, the first two books in Slovenian. Realizing the importance of printing, he created in Urach, with the help of the emigrated nobility, a printing house not only with Latin characters, but also Glagolitic and Cyrillian, and from there he directed and launched all the Protestant publications for the Balkan countries. For his people he published the New Testament (1557-1577), in addition to the annotations, psalms, songbooks and ecclesiastical regulations. Other Slovenian reformers followed him in this fervent and fruitful activity, including the pupil of Melanchthon, Adam Bohorič (circa 1530-circa 1600) who composed the first Slovenian grammar Arcticae horulae (Wittenberg 1584), the German historian Hieronymus Megiser who with the Dictionarium quattuor linguarum (Graz 1592) compiled the first dictionary containing Slovenian words, and especially Jurij Dalmatin (about 1546-1589) who with his excellent translation of the Bible (Wittenberg 1584) gave the main work of Slovenian Protestantism. From the very beginning, the national movement thus had the indispensable tool that directed the Slovenian language on the path of an organic literary development that has never been interrupted. The Counter-Reformation which destroyed, except for the Dalmatin Bible, all the works of the Protestants, was forced, in order to fight and win, to build on the same linguistic foundations created by the Protestants. Powerfully directed by the bishop of Ljubljana Tomaž Hren (1560-1630), religious unity among the Slovenes was soon restored. Next to the great work Die Ehre des Hertzogthums Crain by JV Valvasor (1689), very important for the Slovenian history and customs of the time, only religious works were released: voluminous collections of sermons, moral books, catechisms and ecclesiastical songbooks. Among this production the works of the Capuchins excel: Johannes a Sancta Cruce (born from the noble Leonelli family, about 1640, died in Gorizia in 1714), who published the Sacrum Promptuarium (Venice-Ljubljana 1691-1711, vol. 5) and father Rogerio (1660? -1728), whose Palmarium empyreum was posthumously published (Ljubljana 1731-1743, vols. 2). Both works reveal the vast culture of these religious and manifest the new Italian spirit which then prevailed, fertilizing them, in Slovenian letters and art and of which the Italian and Slave Vocabulary was already an index.(Udine 1607) of the friar Gregorio Alasia from Sommaripa, who lived in the convent of Duino (Trieste). While in religious works the influence of Italian preachers dominated (especially of Father Segneri and Father Piccinelli), who created and developed the Slovenian rhetorical style and introduced in the Protestant style, clear and concrete, the richness of images, the exuberance of expression and fluidity of sentiment, the first Italian companies of commedia dell’arte and opera appeared on the scenes of Ljubljana where Italian painters, sculptors and architects arrived who gave the city a strong artistic imprint. The Baroque period, which unfortunately had no interest in profane letters and which literally did not mark any progress, however, achieved in Slovenia for the first time, with the cooperation of the whole
III. Enlightenment and the ideal revolt of romanticism (1760-1848). – The Slovenes also felt a great benefit from the reforms of the enlightened absolutism of Maria Theresa and Joseph II. Then the need arose for primarily practical books: scholastic and instructive, which Father Marko Pohlin (1735-1801) first provided, especially for the religious part, under the influence of which the first attempts at secular poetry were also born., published in the Pisanice almanac (1779-1781). And as members of the reborn Accademia operosorum Jurii Japeli and Blaž Kumerdej set about the new Catholic translation of the Bible (1784-1802), Baron Žiga Zois (1747-1819), an enlightened spirit of various cultures, promoted a fruitful literary activity that concentrated above all on artistic, lexical and grammatical issues. Valentin Vodnik (1758-1819), the first anacreontic publicist and poet, who directed and wrote the first Slovenian newspaper Ljubljanske Novice (1797-99), the historian Anton Linhart (1757-95), came out of the Ljubljana circle of Zois. who translated and admirably adapted two comedies for the Ljubljana scenes (one of which, The Marriage of Figaro, Beaumarchais), the first in Slovenian, and Jernei Kopitar who wrote the first scientific grammar of the language (1808) and who with his philological activity laid the foundations for Slavic studies in Vienna. Thus the Enlightenment on the one hand aroused a profitable literary production of a utilitarian and popular orientation, required by the spirit and needs of the time, which was accompanied by a grammatical work for the unification of the literary language and the interest in folklore and popular poetry; on the other hand, it awakened the tendencies towards a national unity which the Napoleonic interlude of the Illyrian Provinces (1809-1813) with the capital Ljubljana only strengthened. These first germs of a resurgence soon matured under the powerful breath of German romanticism despite the suffocating atmosphere of Metternich’s absolutism. The European political turmoil and the Polish revolt drew the eye beyond the narrow borders, where souls were refreshed in the great romantic creations of the Northern Slavs. Then Illyrianism (v.) Was born with its aspiration to unify the literary language of all southern Slavs, but among the Slovenes only the poet Stanko Vraz was associated with it. The disagreement over the Latin spelling of the Slavic sounds, which arose shortly before, subsided when the almanac came out Kranjska Č belica (Ljubljana 1830-33, 1848) where, under the invaluable guidance of Matija Cop (1797-1835), literary historian and esthete, the poems of Francè Prešeren, singer of the tragic conflict between reality and the ideal, appeared, who, almost from nothing, created a perfect and rich poetic language, adaptable to all emotions, and in a single volume of Poezije (1846) he gave his people a profound poetry of the most varied forms, where, in a brilliant way, classical art is harmonized with romantic art. With Prešeren, who must rank among the greatest Slavic poets, Slovenian romanticism reached its peak.
Epoch of the National Risorgimento and Romantic Realism (1848-1895). – The revolution of 1848 with the fall of absolutism and the consequent rebirth of national life created new urgent needs. Prešeren’s poetry was too sublime to be understood by that generation, all intent on the new economic-political activity that gathered around Janez Bleiweis (1808-1881), politician and founder-director of the Kmetijske in rokodelske novice (“Agricultural novelties and artisans “, Ljubljana 1843) who later also dealt with politics and literature. The pathos fully corresponded to the literary needs of the new current and to the address of this newspapernational but rhetorical and empty of the poet Jovan Vesel-Koseski (1798-1884) who managed to dim the light of Prešeren for some time, until the generation of “Young Slovenia” rose up. For this reason, Anton Janežič, philologist and publicist, founded in Klagenfurt a purely literary magazine, Slovenski Glasnik (“Slovenian Messenger”, 1858-1868), in which a radical renewal of literature began. With Simon Jenko (1835-1869), sad and melodious poet of renunciation, they were the champions: Fran Levstik (1831-87), poet, storyteller and critic who with his short story Martin Krpan (1858) created the classical model of Slovenian prose, Josip Stritar (1836-1923), poet, prose writer and esthete of European horizons who claimed the art of Prešeren, introduced aesthetic values into criticism and wrote poems and novels, imbued with a romantic and pessimistic idealism, and, finally, J. Jurčič (1844-1881), the writer who passed from the historicism of Walter Scott to a romantic realism and wrote valuable short stories and novels (as well as some tragedies), taken from the life of peasants and very read today. The older generation of Novice of Bleiweis – that even had many achievements in political and cultural – was definitely overwhelmed, when Stritar published in Vienna the magazine Zvon (“The bell”, 1870, 1876-1880) and directed all the living forces of literature, until it was lost in a sterile formalism that did not resist the new and fresh realistic current. This founded in 1881, headed by Levstik and Jurcič, the magazine Ljubljanski Zvon (“The Bell of Ljubljana”) directed by the literary historian Fran Levec, which became the center of literary life until 1914, the year in which the Catholic magazine Dom in Svet (“Home and World”, founded as early as 1888 with a “delightful and educational” address). Among the major collaborators of the Ljubljana Zvon appeared: I. Tavčar (1851-1923), short story writer and novelist, who reached with Cvetje v jeseni (“Autumn flowers”, š ka kronika (“The kronaca of Visoko”, 1919) a serene and mature epicity; J. Kersnik (1853-1897), the satirist of the provincial bourgeoisie; Br. Detela (1850-1928) with his historical-popular tales; J. Mencinger (1838-1912), the biting and witty satirist, and J. Trdina (1830-1905) who in his Bajke in povesti or Gorjancih (“Fables and stories about the Gorjanci”, 1882-1888) he was able to fuse popular legend with the realistic description of the characters and the time in an original unity. Among the prose (never free from romantic elements) of these realist writers came the lyric poems, springing from the resigned heart of Simon Gregorčič accompanied by the strong and concise realism of A. Askerc’s ballads and romances. This fruitful literary production accompanied an intense fervor for the complete collection of popular poems (Smolè, Korytko, Štrekelj and others) and a commendable publication of books for the people (AM Slomšek and others), which accompanied the activity, carried out by Klagenfurt, of the Dru ž ba sv. Mohorja (“Society of Slovenia Ermacora”, 1857) which still sends thousands of books among the people, pleasant and instructive, chosen with ever greater care. As a center of scientific and literary activity for the intellectual classes, the Matica Slovenska arose in Ljubljana in 1863, whose publications, especially until 1914, became increasingly important.
From the naturalist episode to neo- romantic symbolism (1896-1918). – The end of the nineteenth century generated new literary currents that also grabbed the Slovenian youth. The brief and rather superficial naturalist interlude (initiated by Br. Govèkar and continued by R. Murnik, E. Kristan and Zofka Kveder) should be considered more than as a natural and logical expression of cultural development, as a direct impulse against the rigid conception moralistic of art, vehemently supported by A. Mahnič in his Rimski Katolik (“The Roman Catholic”, Gorizia 1888-96). Alongside this group with its tendentious art that left no visible traces behind it, a group of students of totally opposite orientations gathered in Ljubljana: from the gloomy and disconsolate greyness of naturalism they took refuge in the subjective impressionism of fin de siècle French operas., to then rediscover, full of disappointments, in the neo-romantic symbolism the way to one’s own individuality and to the living sources of the national soul. Thus was born modern Slovenska which permeated all contemporary literature. Of the four friends – founders of the “modern” – two were snatched from death at a very young age: D. Kette, poet of passionate impressions of love and classical sonnets into which he infused all his rich and tortured spiritual life, and J. Murn -Aleksandrov, harmonious cantor of the fields and of rural and simple life, intuited and coveted by his innocent and unhappy heart. There remained two: O. Župancič, who, from the intoxication of illusions and youthful dreams to the bitterness of pain and loneliness yearning for a new life, from the robust maturity of art and thought to the brightness of prophetic inspirations, created a poem of so rich, straightforward and profound originality as none after Prešeren, and Ivan Cankar, who,
Parallel to this symbolist group, whose art crossed borders, a literary activity emerged around the Dom in Svet which partly continued, developing it, romantic realism, and partly followed the new direction. The poet A. Medved (1869-1910), sang, in concise forms, the intimate struggles and the inextinguishable longing for truth and beauty of his restless soul (Poezije, I, 1906; II, 1909) and also wrote, in classical and not without artistic merits, some historical tragedies. Luckier in life and in art is his friend Br. Sal. Finzgar (1871), who began with romantic verses and tales of a popular tone, then faced proletarian and social problems to reach with the historical novel Pod svobodnim solncem (“Under the Sun of Freedom”, 1906-07) a great success. With his return to the Alpine people, whose daily joys and sorrows he intimately experienced, his realistic art becomes more mature, more immediate and lively, especially in the stories and comedies of a rustic setting. The poetry of Slovenia Sardenko (1875) was born with formal and stylistic elements of the symbolists, pervaded by a delicate and calm religiosity (V mladem jutru, “In the young morning”, 1903), enriched in Rome (1906) from impressions and meditations that the Eternal City inspired him. In the wake of the naturalists began the writer Ks. Meško (born in 1874), but his innate lyricism soon led him to symbolic subjectivism in which he was able to confess his intimate travail and reach the most fruits in lyric stories, rich in psychological analysis. significant of his art.
In the wake of modern Slovenska and under its artistic power, a large literary activity developed from the beginning of the twentieth century. Among the prose writers we should remember first of all: Vl. Levstik (1886) with his impetuous and revolutionary poetry and with his short stories in which he tries to solve social and national problems (Gadje gnezdo, “Nest of vipers”, 1918); A. Novačan (1887) with his tales of rustic life, in which his individualistic materialism discovers only negative sides; I. Šorli (1877), a fruitful and light storyteller who tries to reconcile romanticism and naturalism, an artistic contrast that also characterizes the more robust works of A. Kraigher (1877). More objective, more harmonious in their prose are M. Pugelj (1883-1922) with his sad petty-bourgeois tales, and Bro. Milčinski (1867-1932) with his ironic humor and his good-natured satire. Among the poets we must mention C. Golar (1886) with his exuberant and carefree lyric; V. Molè (1886) who tried to curb modern life in classical forms, but only managed to revive them through the pain of war (Tristia ex Siberia, 1920); Albrecht (1889) marks the passing of youth struggling with the new spiritual and social problems arising from the war, while Pavel Golia (1887) and Igo Gruden (1893) take up the neo-romantic motifs with their fluid verses, varying them with new emotions, which find in the rich lyric of A. Gradnik, veiled by the mystery of the afterlife, intimate accents of heartfelt beauty.
Search for new ideals and post-war restlessness. – Youth, anxious to get out of symbolistic subjectivism and to face the reality of life, found in Izidor Cankar (1886) the acute critic and expert mentor who dal Dom in Svet (1914), with short stories and the psychological novel S poti (“From the journey”, 1913), had paved the way for expressionism. One of the first J. Lovrenčič (1890) to enrich poetry with intense expressionistic images (Deveta de ž ela, 1917) and St. Maicen (1888) with his plays, poems and short stories, in which current pain and bewilderment vibrate, while the three main prose writers I. Pregelj Fr. Bevk (1890) and J. Kozak (1892) introduced the new psychological realism in which they shape the spiritual and social face of Slovenian individuality: the first with his historical novels (Plebanus Joannes, 1920), the second especially with his stories of the life of peasants (Ž elezna ka è a, ” The Iron Serpent “, 1932; Veliki Toma ž,” The Great Thomas “, 1933) and the third with his great novel about the people of the suburb Š entpeter (St. Peter, 1924-26). The very young groped between extremes and seek the axis of their life and their art in spiritualistic idealism (A. Vodnik, E. Kocbek) or in materialistic naturalism (T. Seliškar, M. Kranjec).