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Alenka Jensterle-Dolezal

Between Vienna and Prague: Slovene author Zofka Kveder and her cultural connections (around 1900)


In this paper I will discuss the first Prague years of Zofka Kveder (1878–1926), woman writer, journalist, editor and one of the first Slovene feminists, who moved in her twenties from Slovenia to Prague. She was the first Slovene professional writer and also became a cultural mediator.

From the first beginning of her new life she presented different cultures in Prague. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century she also established cultural and literal contacts between Vienna and Prague – between the centre of the Monarchy and the "Slavic periphery". She had a strong, powerful personality: although not very well educated she was brave and willing to go to the other parts of the Monarchy, trying to change her life and establish new contacts. She was a really Central European intellectual, balancing between different cultures. As a Slovene author she was fluent in German, Czech and Croat language. In the period of her stay in Prague she had contacts with Czech women writers and feminists – mostly through Zdenka Hásková –, and with the Croat “Moderna” (Modernist movement) through her husband Jelovšek, and she had contacts to cultural life in Vienna (when living in Prague (1900-1904).

I would like to show and discuss her personal “communication web” with two authors (I. Cankar and J. S. Machar) and its positive consequences (cultural enrichment) for all of them. Through Ivan Cankar (1876-1918), her good friend and the main personality in Slovene “Moderna”, she was connected to Vienna and also Slovene “Moderna” (which is seen in her correspondence to him). She also translated him from Slovene to German (these were his first German translations) and introduced his work to the German Jewish society in Prague. (This was also the reason why Ivan Cankar´s work was, later on, so much accepted in Czech society). She visited Svatopluk Machar (1864-1942) with Ivan Cankar (she wrote articles in Czech newspapers about this visit). Through him she got connected to Viennese cultural scene and also Czech “Moderna”, because Machar was the important figure of that movement and in that time he was introducing the Czech “Moderna” to Austrian society and to the “Wiener Moderne”.

AsK, September 2012

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