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Alenka Jensterle Dolezal

Cultural Hybridity of the Slovene Writer Lili Novy


Lili Novy (Ljubljana, 1885 – Ljubljana, 1958) was a German-Slovene writer and exceptionally educated woman intellectual and translator from the aristocracy. She began to be active in the culture of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. She oscillated between small provincial Ljubljana (the centre of Slovene culture) and Vienna – the metropolis of the Empire. Before the First World War she visited Vienna several times and she was inspired by European modernism (specially R. M. Rilke). In 1929 she wrote a book of poems in German, Lillys Gedichte (Lili´s poems), which she didn’t publish but just gave as a present to her Slovene female friend Vida Novak. Later, in the thirties she began to write in Slovene. She published one book of poems Temna vrata (Dark door, 1941). The second book Oboki (Archs) was published in 1959 after her death, because in her life time she just didn’t care about editing it and publishing. The editor was the established Slovene critic Josip Vidmar. She wrote lyrics in post-symbolist style.

One of the problems of my paper will be also the question of the influence of Luiza Pesjak (1828-1898), first Slovene poetess, to her writing and to the construction of her role in Slovene culture. Luiza Pesjak was also from Ljubljana, she also belonged to the aristocracy and she also later changed her cultural identity from German to Slovene. Both of them were also translators from German and Slovene. There were not many Slovene female authors in the 19th century. L. Novy translated Prešeren´s poem about L. Pesjak "An eine junge Dichterin" (To a young poetess). I will try to compare also their Slovene poetry (Luiza Pesjak wrote one book of poems Kar ljubim (The things I love, 1864).

I would like to search for the cultural hybridity of Lili Novy and her connection to the past. My aim is also to put this exceptional woman in the broader context of European women´s authorship.

Ask, September 2012

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