Sunday, October 25, 2009


Fragments of Slovene Literature is, as its title suggests, an anthology of Slovene literature. Slovene is a language spoken by about two million people, mainly in Slovenia, a former Yugoslav republic which is now independent. A few translated works of Slovene literature have been published in the U.S., but none of them have entered into the consciousness of the American reading public. Hence, I had never read any Slovene literature before, and you probably haven't either.

I picked the book up out of curiosity, but somewhat to my surprise there was quite a bit of good writing inside. Some novelists, short story writers and/or playwrights whose contributions particularly struck me were Vladimir Bartol, Dominik Smole, Evald Flisar, Berta Bojetu Boeta, Milan Klec', Maja Novak, Andre Morovic' and Igor S'kamperle. (The apostrophes should be carons, like ^ but upside down, above the preceding letter.) There's also a lot of poetry, but I don't pretend to be any judge of poetry.

The anthology works on the principle of breadth rather than depth: there are 132 writers represented (most with a single work or excerpt) in 432 pages. While the earliest works included are from the 16th century, over two-thirds of the pages are devoted to post-World War II literature.

The editorial apparatus, if one can call it that, is stunningly unhelpful. The introduction is devoted mainly to listing writers who are not represented in the anthology. No information is given about the works included or excerpted from, not even whether they're short stories or novels. (Sometimes you can't even tell whether you're reading an excerpt or a completel work.) Nor is there any information about the authors other than their dates of birth and death. There isn't an index, so if you're looking for an author you have to hunt through the six-page table of contents. And the table of contents doesn't include titles, so if you're looking for a specific work you're really out of luck.

According to the link above, Amazon has one used copy for sale for thirty-two bucks. If the linked page disappears, or you want to try your luck searching elsewhere, the ISBN is 961-6547-01-1.

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