OD DOKUMENTÁRNOSTI K BELETRIZÁCII. OBRAZ BALKÁNU V STARŠEJ SLOVENSKEJ LITERATÚRE
From documentary to fiction. The picture of the Balkans in early Slovak literature
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The very first attempts at travel literature include accounts of the journeys made by two Humanist scholars Pavol Rubigal and Ján Dernschwam, whose lives and activities were associated with Slovak mining towns. Both of the humanists joined the Hungarian delegation that travelled to Constantinople to deliver political messages to the sultan. Their works, which represent a type of documentary literature, also reflect on the countries on the Balkan peninsula, especially Serbia and Bulgaria. In his Latin-language poem Opis cesty do Konštantínopola/The Account of the Journey to Constantinople (Hodoeporicon itineris Constantinopolitani, Wittenberg 1544), written in elegiac couplets, Pavol Rubigal provides a negative picture of the Serbs, whose manners and customs are conditioned by the harsh environment. His point of view is influenced by the disagreements between the Serbian and Hungarian representations. Bulgaria seems to be more civilized country and the Bulgarians´ decent behaviour is explained as the result of their deep Christian conviction. Cestovný denník do Konštantínopola a Malej Ázie/The Constantinople and Asia Minor Travel Diary (Tagebuch einer Reise nach Konstantinopel und Kleinasien, 1553 – 1555) by Ján Dernchwam develops the type of travelogue which is exemplified by The Travels of Marco Polo in medieval literature. Nature and culture are often seen by the author from the perspective of his other (Slovak) homeland. When exploring Serbia and Bulgaria, he adopts the approach of confrontation. He takes notice of similarities (language, confession) and differences (landscape, inhabitants). The novel Ladislav (1838) by Karol Kuzmány seems like a travelogue featuring elements of fiction. As a whole it focuses on the subject of mother country and nation and develops the idea of Slavic togetherness, with regard to which it promotes the struggle of the Serbian nation for freedom as well as their literary culture. By means of the apotheosis of Serbia Kuzmány tries to stimulate the development of Slovak national life and culture.
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