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Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav
Literary theoreticians consider him the most important Slovak poet of all times.
He was born as Pavol Országh. Hviezdoslav (meaning approximately "celebrating the stars" and/or "Slav of stars") was his pseudonym since 1875. His earlier pseudionym was Jozef Zbranský. Interestingly, his last name is a fairly common Hungarian last name, meaning "country" in Hungarian.
His father was a poor squire and had his son work in the field.
Hviezdoslav studied at grammar schools in Miskolc and Kemarok . After his graduation in 1870, he continued at the Law Academy of Preov, where in 1871 he participated at the preparation of the Almanach Napred ("Forward" Micellany/Almanac), which marks the beginning of a new literary generation in Slovak literature.
In 1919 he was named leader of the re-established Slovak Matica (see below).
In 1954, the Literary Museum of P.O.Hviezdoslav was established in Dolný Kubín. A festival of amateur reciters named Hviezdoslav's Kubín has been held there since.
His relation to the Slovak Matica
In 1861, a Slovak cultural institute was established in the city of Turčciansky Svätý Martin (today Martin) - the Slovak Matica (in Slovak Matica slovenská). It was the home, the nourishing mother of all things literary, national and cultural in the life of the Slovak people. During the darkest years in Slovak literary life, it kept alive Slovak literature. The intolerant anti-Slovak policy of the Magyars forcibly closed the doors of Matica and confiscated its property in 1875.
On August 5, 1919, it was re-opened and re-dedicated in the presence and with the aid of President Tomás Masaryk. Hviezdoslav was honored by being named its new head. Under his inspired leadership, the Matica spread and grew -- a national symbol of the vitality of a nation and the heroism of a people, who through 10 centuries of oppressive foreign domination, fought for its heritage until it regained it. It was soon enlarged by the addition of a Slovak National Museum.
Under the colorful pen name of Hviezdoslav, he was a fertile writer and a prolific translator. He introduced the syllabic-tonic verse into Slovak poetry. He was a leading representative of Slovak literary realism. His works are characterised by extensive use of newly created words and expressions, they are therefore difficult to translate into foreign languages.
In their intimacy and reflection Hviezdoslav's works address universal human concerns.
He began writing poetry - initially in Hungarian - while still attending the grammar school (in Miskolc and Kemarok). His first poetry collection, the Básnické prviesienky Jozefa Zbranského (Poetry primroses of Jozef Zbranský), was published in 1868. It introduced the syllabic-tonic verse into Slovak literature.
An awakened national pride brought a resolution to work in Slovak, but the inclination towards realism in his early poetry met with the aversion of the older generation.
Among the most important of his mature lyric cycles are:
- Sonety(1882-1886) (Sonnets)
- Letorosty I-III (1885-1893) (Growth Rings I - III),
- almy a hymny (1885-1892) (Psalms and hymns)
- Prechádzky jarom (1898) (Walks through Spring)
- Prechádzky letom(1898)(Walks through Summer)
- Stesky(1903) (Languors/Complaints)
- Krvavé sonety (1914/1919) (Bloody Sonnetes) - important anti-WWI poetry
- Hájnikova ena (1884-1886) (The Gamekeeper's wife)
- Eo Vlkolinský (1890)
- Gábor Vlkolinský (1897-1899)
Biblical poetry with allegorical untertones
- Sen alamúnov (The dream of Salomon)
- Pomsta (Revenge)
- Herodes a Herodias (1909) (Herodes and Herodias)- verse drama inspired by the Bible; a pillar of Slovak classic dramatic repertory.
Hviezdoslav was also versatile translator who endeavored in this occupation to refine and enrich the Slovak language and to advance its potential as medium of poetic expression.
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