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Tanja Badali?

The Slovenian author Pavlina Pajk and her transcultural activity


The paper will present the Slovenian woman writer Pavlina Pajk (1854–1901): her life, literary work and transcultural activity. Born in Pavia (Italy) to Slovenian parents, she received an Italian education. After the death of her parents she moved to her uncle in Solkan (Slovenia), which was then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Due to political reasons, the Slovenian culture was at that time under the leading Germanic culture, therefore every activity concerning Slovenian culture was not appreciated. Nevertheless, in Solkan Pajk started learning Slovene at the age of sixteen. Her Slovenian national consciousness was influenced by the scholars who frequented her uncle’s house, thus she started appearing very soon in the reading societies.

Beside Slovenian literature she also read foreign authors. The editor of the Slovenian literary newspaper Zora [Dawn] and professor of Slovenian language Janko Pajk supported her talent in writing. They got married when she was 22 years old. She followed him to Maribor (Slovenia), from where they moved abroad (Graz, Vienna, Brno). She spent twenty years abroad and all this time she kept publishing her texts in Slovenian newspapers. Pajk wrote and published more than 20 prose works (six novels among them). She also published some articles, reviews and discussions. In 1876 she published a very long obituary of the French novelist George Sand describing the author and her work. Pajk must have known very well the French author and presumably Sand’s writings had some influence on Pajk’s literary work. Besides, she summarized Constantine Christomanos' biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria in her article "Memories of Queen Elisabeth", where she also mentions the Romanian author Carmen Sylva. Furthermore she translated some poems of the Empress Elisabeth.

Pavlina Pajk was also the first Slovenian author who started writing publicly about the female condition. In 1884 she published an article entitled Some words about the woman question and in 1894 she gave a lecture on the same topic at Slovenian club in Vienna.

Even though Pavlina Pajk spent more than half of her life living abroad and had to change several different cultural territories, she remained true to Slovenian culture and at the same time she mediated to Slovenian readers cultural and literary ideas and news that came from foreign countries.

SvD, November 2012

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