Recouvrement palimpsestique des frontières: "le syndrome de la culture slovène" dans l'histoire de la littérature nationale et comparée

TitleRecouvrement palimpsestique des frontières: "le syndrome de la culture slovène" dans l'histoire de la littérature nationale et comparée
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsJuvan, Marko
EditorBessière, Jean, and Judit Maár
Book TitleFrontières de l'histoire littéraire
Series TitleCahiers de la Nouvelle Europe
Keywordscultural nationalism, literature and national identity, national literature, Slovenian literature, small
Dimitrij Rupel’s sociological theory on the »Slovene cultural syndrome« (SCS) of 1976, as well as Dušan Pirjevec’s literary-history conception of the »Prešeren structure» (PS) of 1969, explain the aesthetic and ideological retardation of Slovene literature as a consequence of its national function, i.e., serving as a substitute for politics and ideological »superstructure« of a nation lacking statehood. Both theories became a common place is representing Slovene literary past. Although Pirjevec’s PS and Rupel’s SCS are theoretical-historical meta-descriptions of the role of literary discourse in Slovene society, they are themselves products of the same society. Both theories are a discursive reaction to the conflicts of their time, as in the midst of Titoist society, Pirjevec and Rupel in the discourse of their professions advocated for the autonomy of art, plurality of artistic and (to some extent) political fields, as well as for emancipation of the individual. The theory of SCS has been called into question, as it is derived mainly from the self-perception of Slovene writers and neglects the role of other types of art, as well as cultural, educational, and political practices, which had no lesser part in forming the national identity. The SCS thesis, above all, lacks a broader comparative context, which would, among other things, show that the metalanguage that diagnosed some type of »pathology« of Slovene literature was rooted in the same mentality as the literature. Based on the fi ndings of the newer historiography, nationalism theories, and comparative literature (Smith, Hobsbawm, Anderson, Thiesse, Leerssen, etc.) it turns out that SCS is not a Slovene peculiarity and pathology, but only one variety of European cultural nationalism. This is an explicitly transnational discourse, which in the 19th c. involved many other »national« literary systems, particularly of the so-called small nations without statehood. Slovene national and comparative literary histories originate from this very ideological matrix, hence they did not only describe Slovene literature, but they also helped with their conceptions to establish and reproduce it as a cultural unit. While »national« literary history in its classical phase (Prijatelj, Kidrič) strived for the reflection of national identity through the canon of aesthetic accomplishments of Slovene authors, comparative literature scholars interpreted Slovene literature in the broader European and international context, but in the way that its »Sloveneness« remained its main focus and referential point (Ocvirk, Kos). While national literary history explained literary processes mainly with the factors of the Slovene national territory, comparative literary scholars based the »great narrative« about the formation and development of Slovene literature on the external factors, i.e., by finding connectedness of Slovene literature to the general and respected models of historical development, mostly derived from the Western canon. Because of the prevalent comparison with central spaces of European and international literature, rather than with other »small« literatures and the periphery, the thesis of SCS was able to emerge and proliferate as a general point.