Slovene-Friulian-Italian Literary Connections at the Beginning of the 20th Century: The Case of Alojz Gradnik and Select Friulian and Italian authors
Keywords: Alojz Gradnik, minority literature, regional comparatistics, Friulian literature, Italian literature
AbstractBased on the case of Alojz Gradnik (1882–1967), this article deals with previously unresearched Slovene-Friulian-Italian literary connections that occurred during the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the first years after WWI along the border of today’s Slovenia (Goriška Brda) and Italy (the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia: the Provinces of Gorizia, Udine and Trieste). The article highlights the parallels in motifs, themes, ideas and form, as well as the connections between Alojz Gradnik and select Friulian and Italian authors from this region. These links are the consequence of living in a joint cultural space and Gradnik’s Friulian family ties, especially with his cousin Maria Samer. The research uncovers certain differences in motifs, themes and ideas stemming from different national identities. Gradnik’s poetry is closest to Friulian lyrical poetry in their descriptions and experiences of a rural setting, predominantly the deep bond felt between the farming people and native land coupled with their terrible social strife. Gradnik and his contemporary Friulian authors also coincide in works with a nationalist theme – on the threshold of WWI both Slovene and Friulian authors infused their work with their personal vision for the future of their own community. They shared a negative literary depiction of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the wish to secure a better economic future, to protect and solidify their cultural heritage. Gradnik’s poetry and that of the contemporary Italian (irredentist) authors share a similar literary technique that depicted the national identities of today’s border between Italy and Slovenia; they were ideologically opposed however: while the Italians depicted the Italian view of the region, Gradnik highlights the presence of a Slavic element within the region.
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