Slovenian Literature in Manuscripts and Books

National and University Library of Slovenia

Treasures of the National and University Library of Slovenia

Folk Literature
Slovenian literature began in the early Middle Ages with short religious texts, the earliest written testimonials of Slovenian language and culture, whose formal and stylistic features already render them artistic. Slovenian folk literature had originated even before the creation of first Slovenian books and continued even during fully developed artistic literature. It was created by talented individuals and survived by being transferred from generation to generation by narration, singing, as well as transcribing. The difference between folk and artificial literature does therefore not relate to the initial creative act as much as to the manner of existence of a text, whether poetry, prose or drama. Systematic collection and publishing of Slovenian folk poetry began in the 19 century.

Emil Korytko: Slovenske pesmi krajnskiga naroda, 1839-44
5. volumes

The first major folk poetry collection. Emil Korytko from Poland, who was politically exiled to Ljubljana between 1937 and 1839, showed a profound interest in Slovenian folk poetry and, together with associates, collected a rich collection kept in its original manuscript form.

Stanko Vraz: Narodne pesni ilirske: koje se pevaju po Štajerskoj, Kranjskoj, Koruškoj i zapadnoj strani Ugarske, 1839

Poet Stanko Vraz was the most critical folklorist of his period and the most outstanding Slovenian collector of folk literature before Karel Štrekelj. This collection includes transcriptions of melodies and covers the entire area of Slovenia.

Das Turnier zwischen den beyden Rittern Lamberg und Pegam. Eger, Ljubljana, 1807

The first printing of one of the oldest Slovenian folk poems (with parallel German translation), describing a imaginary fight between Czech knight Jan Vitovec and Slovene Krištof Lambergar.

Karel Štrekelj: Slovenske narodne pesmi
4 volumes, 1895-1923

The books were created with the help of older collections and with further collection of texts and tunes. It was the best and most comprehensive Slavic collection of folk literature of its time. It contains almost 900 texts; many accompanied with tunes. Its creation involved over 200 collectors.

The Rise of Slovenian Book in the 16th Century
Slovenian literature experienced its first great rise in the mid-16th century. The extraordinarily strong religious movement of the Reformation drew directly from Luther's source and established close connections with the leading European reformators of the time (Calvin, Zwingli etc.). It brought together some extremely talented and hard-working man, who created a mighty religious, linguistic and literary movement. In only a few decades, Slovenians developed their language and established the foundations of their literature practically from scratch. In 50 years, Primož Trubar, Jurij Dalmatin, Sebastjan Krelj, Adam Bohorič and others published 60 Slovenian books in beautiful and large editions, from 1000 to 2000 copies, an undoubtedly outstanding achievement.

Ain newes lied von den krayennerischen bauren. Wien, 1515

A leaflet containing the first printed words in Slovenian (peasant rebellion paroles). There are only two known copies preserved (Ljubljana and Berlin).

The first printed words in Slovenian language: “Stara prauda” (Old law) and “Leukhup, leukhup, leukhup, leukhup woga gmaina” (Unite, unite, unite poor peasants).

Primož Trubar: Catechismus in der windischenn Sprach
Tubingen, 1550 (facsimile)

The first printed Slovenian book, preserved as a unique copy in the Austrian national library in Vienna. The introductory section contains the author's address To All Slovenians.

Primož Trubar: Ta celi novi testament
Tubingen, 1557/58

Shortly after the first two Slovenian books, Katekizem and Abecednik (1550), Trubar undertook the translation of the Bible.

In only a few years he succeeded in publishing the complete translation of the New Testament.

Jurij Dalmatin: Biblia.
Wittenberg, 1584

The greatest and perhaps the most important Slovenian book. It contains a short German and a comprehensive Slovenian foreword, the complete Old and New Testaments, several indexes and the first Slovenian monolingual dictionary.

The work is invaluable in terms of culture and also of high material value.

Adam Bohorič: Zimske urice / Arcticae horulae succisivae
Wittenberg, 1584

The first Slovenian grammar book and one of the rare early European grammar books of a living language. Commentary in Latin. It contains a well-known introduction on the prevalence and age of Slavic languages and expressing pride in Slavic origin.

Jurij Dalmatin: Ta celi Catehismus, eni psalmi,
Wittenberg, 1584

The most beautiful Slovenian Protestant Songbook.

Hieronymus Megiser: Dictionarium quatuor linguarum
Graz, 1592

The best dictionary of the 16th century: German-Latin-Slovenian-Italian. It was reprinted right up to the 18th century. A very rare book.

Primož Trubar: Hišna Postila
Tubingen, 1595

The translation of the whole Luther's postille, a collection of Sunday and festive gospels. An extraordinarily beautifully elaborated prints, richly decorated with woodcuts. Trubar's last work.

Milestones in Slovenian Literature from the 17th to 20th Century
Like all modern literatures, Slovenian developed all genres: poetry, fiction and drama. It gradually freed itslef from the religious, didactic and ideological tendencies and clung firmly to aesthetic principles. Artistic poetry developed first. the 17th century saw the first attempts at secular poetry, followed by the poetry almanac Pisanice at the end of 18th century. Only a few years later, in 1806, Slovenians got the first poetry collection by a single person, Vodnik's Pesme za pokušino. Slovenian artistic prose did not exist in a true sense until the mid-19th century; only a number of works important in terms of language, style and content, without which true artistic prose could not develop. When Janez Cigler broke the ice in 1836 with his picturesque tale Sreča v nesreči, other authors were quick to follow. Slovenian original drama is based on medieval mystery plays and passion plays. At the end of the 18th century, Enlightenment comedy brought it to stages and later in books. The cornerstone of our drama was laid by Anton Tomaž Linhart; Ivan Cankar brought it to its peak in terms of artistic value. 

Alasia da Sommaripa, Gregorio: Vocabulario Italiano, e Schuiao
Udine, 1607

Alessandro Alasia, born about 1578 in Sommariva in Piemonte, was a priest among Slovenians in Duino for about a decade. The dictionary contains over 2600 entries, a brief Slovenian grammar and some additions. Our booklet is unique in the global sense.

Janez Čandik: Evagelia inu Iystuvi
Graz, 1612

The first Catholic book of Sunday gospels according to the Aquilan ceremony. The work is very important for continuing the tradition of Slovenian literary language and literature from the 16th century. The texts were prepared by Janez Candik, while publication was facilitated by Ljubljana bishop, Anton Tomaž Hren. A very rare book.

Adam Skalar: Shulla tiga premishluvana, 1643

A comprehensive manuscript collection from a period which did not see a printed Slovenian book for several decades.

Matija Kastelec: Nebeshki zyl (Nebečki cil)
Ljubljana, 1684

A collection of religious contemplations. The beginning of Slovenian Baroque.

Janez Svetokriški: Sacrum promptuarium
Venice, 1691-1707

The most illustrious and comprehensive (2896 pages) work of the Slovenian Baroque. The sermons transcend mere formal objectives and reveal the characteristics of artistic literature.

Rogerij (Mihael Krammer): Palmarium Empyreum
Klagenfurt, 1731-43

A total of 126 Baroque sermons on saints, distinguished by consistently quoted sources. His sermon prose already acquires a fictional character.

Mihael Paglovec: Suesti tovarsh (Zvesti tovarš)
Ljubljana, 1742

Educational religious stories and reading and writing instructions. A very widespread and popular book among simple people.

Jurij Japelj et al.: Svetu pismu stariga inu noviga testamenta
Ljubljana, 1784-1802

The first official Catholic translation of the Bible was published for 18 years and valid for the whole century.

Jurij Japelj et al.: Svetu pismu stariga inu noviga testamenta
Ljubljana, 1784-1802

The translation also had great importance as a norm of Slovenian literary language of its time. Our library keeps an especially beautiful set in Zois' binding.

Pisanice, 1779-81

The first Slovenian almanac of artificial poetry. Three volumes were printed, two remained in manuscript form. The beginnings of programmatic creation of artistic poetry.

Anton Tomaž Linhart: Shupanova Mizka in Ta veseli dan, ali: Matizhek se sheni
Ljubljana, 1790

The first and the best Slovenian comedies up until 20th century. Still living and staged.

Valentin Vodnik: Pesme za pokushino, 1806

The first poetry collection by a single author. Manuscript with the the author's hand.

Janez Cigler: Srezha v nesrezhi
Ljubljana, 1836

The first Slovenian tale. A picturesque story about twins of peasant origins whose hard work and great piety bring them social advantages and well-being.

Krainska zhbeliza
Ljubljana, 1830-48

The best Slovenian poetry almanac in the 19th century, gathering all principal poets of the time. It brought together mature artistic poetry, especially that by France Prešeren.

France Prešeren: Poezije
Ljubljana, 1846

The highest achievement of Slovenian poetry. A high Romantic lyric poetry which placed our literature on par with the acme of European literature at the time. It has been translated into all European and some non-European languages. Prešeren's original manuscript, printing basis.

Fran Levstik: Martin Krpan, 1858
Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1954

An exemplary classical tale. First published in Slovenski Glasnik in Klagenfurt in 1858. The edition from 1954 contains excellent illustrations by painter Tone Kralj.

Josip Jurčič: Deseti brat, 1866
Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1976

The first Slovenian novel which constituted Slovenian artistic fiction. A romantic tale set in a castle and peasant environment. First published in Klagenfurt in 1866; the 1976 edition was illustrated by Boris Kobe.

Simon Gregorčič: Poezije I
Ljubljana, 1882

One of the most popular Slovenian national books, also called a golden book. Wonderful love and reflective poetry by a poet-priest.

Ivan Cankar: Jakob Ruda, 1900

Cankar (1876–1918) is considered to be the best Slovenian writer and playwright.

The manuscript of this play contains Cankar's own drawings of the main characters.

Oton Župančič: Čez plan
Ljubljana, 1904

A modernist poet, the founder of Slovenian impressionist and symbolist poetry. This collection is one of the peaks of our poetry. A beautiful secession book design.

Srečko Kosovel: Pesmi, 1927

A collection of impressionist lyrical poetry. The rest of his poetic work showed that he ranks among the top Slovenian expressionists, who brought expressionism to its most radical point.

France Prešeren: Zdravljica, 1944

A bibliophilic edition published during wartime on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the creation of the poem. Book was designed by Janez Vidic. Zdravljica is the national anthem of independent Slovenia.

Credits: Story

From the book Treasures of the National and University Library of Slovenia
Exhibition: Žiga Cerkvenik
Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica, 2017

Credits: All media
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