Romanticism


The national revival and accelerated cultural advancement formed the social bedrock of Slovak romanticism. The revolutionary situation created in the mid 19th century in central Europe (or even Europe as a whole) accelerated national and cultural development in many countries. Society lived in hope of a freer life. The shackles of feudalism crumbled (serfdom was abolished) and nations imprisoned in large states under a dominating "state-forming" nation came forward with demands for independence or at least equality in law. The gaoler of nations in central Europe was the Habsburg monarchy, so oppressed national societies started to rise up against Vienna in particular. And Slovaks also awakened in this revolutionary spirit.
           In Slovakia, one of the prerequisites for a spontaneous national uprising was the unity and co-operation of both confessions, which had divided the nation since the times of the reformation and subsequent recatholisation. Following the establishment of Štúr's written language, also adopted by the Catholic part of Slovakia, the Tatrín society appeared (1845), where the unity of all Slovaks regardless of faith was directly and manifestly declared. These factors influenced the intensification of literary activities and also promoted the aims of the national revival.
           In the first half of the century, publishing opportunities had been encouraged through the establishment of newspapers and almanacs (literary periodicals). Juraj Palkovič (1769 - 1850), a professor at the Department of Czechoslovak Language and Literature established at the Bratislava lyceum, where he later lured Ľudovít Štúr as his assistant, poet, dramatist, and publisher of calendars, he established a newspaper called Týdenník (Weekly) in 1812 and the almanac Tatranka in 1832. He established the almanac Zora (1835) at the Spolok milovníkov reči a literatúry slovenskej. Karol Kuzmány (1806 - 1866), a poet, prose writer and author of the well-known hymn Kto za pravdu horí (Who Burns for Truth), was also a pioneering publicist and editor, which was seen when he started to publish the almanac Hronka in 1836 and right in the first edition sharply criticised J. Palkovič and his Tatranka, which he regarded as outdated and conservative. The Štúrite initiative also included the publication of newspapers and periodicals. Ľudovít Štúr started to publish Slovenskje národňje novini (Slovak National News) in 1845 and a year later Jozef Miloslav Hurban established Slovenskje pohladi (Slovak Review). The Štúrite press fully participated in the period´s efforts (political included). It wanted to do more than just entertain and teach; it aimed to educate, to be an opinioned tribune and workshop for Štúrite authors. This increased publicist activity was an expression of awakened collective creativeness. As early as 1836, Bratislava students published a book of their work entitled Plody Zboru učenců řeči českoslovanské prešporského (Fruits of the Bratislava Body of Czecho-Slavic Language Scholars) and in 1840 students in Levoča followed suit (Jitřenka - Morning Star). Both collections signalled the arrival of a new (Štúrite) generation. In 1836, Ľudovít Štúr organised an excursion of Bratislava students to the Great Moravian castle at Devín, where they reinforced patriotic sentiment by evoking the famed past and adopting second Slavic Christian names (Miloslav). This event acquired the name "national baptism".
           However, Slovak literature's crossover from classicism to romanticism was lengthy. This meant that elements of both styles were mixed in the work of many authors for at least two generations: while Kollár and Hollý had already displayed signs of romanticism, Štúrite poets could not shake off the classicist style for quite a long time. This problem also intervened into prosody: classicist poetry used classical metrics, romantic introduced syllabic-accentual verse. In the above mentioned Počátkové českého básnictví, obzvláště prozódie (1818), P. J. Šafárik and F. Palacký were still enthusiastic about metrics, which seemed more distinguished than the principle of stress to them. But Šafárik later welcomed romanticism and stressed verse. The Štúrites found western European romanticism too exclusive. Byron's disconnected individualism could not be a model for a generation which wanted to save the Slovak nation and raise it to the same level as other, free nations. So it searched for other models for its poetry. It was close to the poetry of Slavic authors: A. S. Pushkin, A. Mickiewicz, J. Slowacki, and others. But it was most inspired by local folklore, or the Slovak folk art which emanated from the depths of the national genius. The elevation of folk literature was one of the Štúrites' aims and led directly to the collection and publication of folk poetry and folk stories (Ján Kollár had already published folk poetry in Národnie spievanky, 1834 and 1835), and the Štúrites wandered around the Slovak lands recording folk stories. The most active of these was Pavol Dobšinský and he published them a number of times, the last time under the title Prostonárodné slovenské povesti (Slovak Folk Tales), 1880).
           The Štúrite romantic generation was carried on the wave of European revolutionary insurgence. This insurgence in central Europe mainly represented national awakening and was therefore called the "spring of nations". The revolutionary uprisings in western Europe had other aims. The desire for freedom, fought for with weapons, stamped Štúrite poetry with a seal of revolutionism, and we are therefore used to describing Slovak romanticism as "revolutionary romanticism". However, revolutionary romanticism was also cultivated elsewhere. Mickiewicz and Slowacki were romantics of this type, as was the Hungarian Sándor Petőfi. Incidentally, this poet of Slovak origin decided to fight for the Hungarian nation's freedom, not just with calls for revolution in his poetry, but with a weapon in his hand. As a volunteer in the Hungarian revolutionary army, he laid down his life for freedom. His counterpart in Slovak poetry is Janko Kráľ, who did not fall in the Slovak revolution, but the Hungarian government had him locked up when he travelled the country calling for revolution. The death sentence loomed, but the Croatian ban Jelačič freed him from prison. The revolution in Hungary became tragically complex. Two elements: the Hungarians and Slovaks, opposed each other even though their aims were the same. The Hungarian position was clear: to fight for freedom from Vienna. The Slovaks' stance was more complicated: their real enemy was Budapest and they could only fight for freedom against it. The whole national revival movement in Slovakia was a battle against Hungarian oppression. Since the Hungarian side (either before or during the revolution led by Lajos Kossuth) did not want to hear about the rights of Slovaks, in fact it declared that there was no Slovak nation, the Slovaks joined Vienna. But they did not achieve anything there either, despite the fact that Austria eventually suppressed the Hungarian revolution - like the Czech one before it - with substantial help from tsarist Russia. Its leader Lajos Kossuth lived the rest of his life in exile in Turkey.
           The revolutionary ferment in central Europe had a social as well as strong national motivation. Serfdom needed to be abolished and the free peasants given the initiative. The issue of abolishing serfdom was unusually topical in Hungary, a country with a powerful upper class and where feudal conditions had survived. MP for the town of Zvolen Ľudovít Štúr spoke on this theme in the Hungarian parliament in December 1847, pointing out that "In countries where there is no feudal serfdom, peace and security reign". And he implored:"After all, the sacred essence of humanity implores us to articulate the principle of emancipation of the masses. In western states these feudal relations are no longer the custom, nor do they correspond to the current spirit of the century. In my opinion, we stand on the brink of two ages, and indeed of one falling, in which rights were only granted to individual persons and classes, and a second dawning, in which everyone earns them."
           National and social emancipation therefore went hand in hand with the Štúrite movement. And this is also why we maintain that the Slovak revolution was democratic and was conducted above all in the interest of the masses.
           Every revolution has its leaders and the Slovak one was no exception. In this case we need to talk about three in particular: Ľudovít Štúr, Jozef Miloslav Hurban and Michal Miloslav Hodža. They initiated and co-ordinated the historic movement, which although it failed to lead the Slovak nation to freedom, did infuse it with a new self-assurance. And newly emerging Slovak literature became an expression of this self-assurance. Because all three entered politics via culture and the sphere of culture was their real domain. Their politics were derived from culture and art. All three were writers. They were active members (or functionaries) of Společnost česko-slovanská. They were engaged in literature, philosophy, language and history. They initiated the establishment of a new written language and established the Tatrín society, in which literary works were read. But ultimately, when the era matured, they formulated a text together called Žiadosti slovenského národa (Petition of the Slovak Nation; it was promulgated in March 1848 in Liptovský Mikuláš), which was a political agenda of the Slovak nation (in the introduction it mentions that Slovaks in Hungary are the "original nation" and "former sole sacred owner of this land"). The document talks about the equality of all nations, equal rights, Slovak education (which did not exist in Hungary), Slovak as an official language on Slovak territory, but also freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, universal suffrage, etc. The results of this activity were warrants for the arrest of all three issued by the Hungarian government and the declaration of martial law on the territory of Slovakia. All three had to secretly leave for Bohemia. They participated in the Pan-Slav Congress in Prague (Hurban even fought at the Prague barricades) and in autumn 1848 they established the Slovak National Council (Hurban became its chairman) as their highest political institution. At its assembly in Myjava on 19.9.1848, it refused to obey the Hungarian government, declared itself the only representative power in Slovakia and called for an armed rebellion for freedom. When the rebellion broke out, Štúr, Hurban and Hodža all took part.


Ľudovít Štúr
           Although all three made a big contribution, Ľudovít Štúr (1815 - 1856) was the initiating spirit and the whole movement rightly bears his name. He gained the backing of the Bratislava student community and showed it his national aim. He was versatile and applied his talent, knowledge and intellect in many areas. He had a comprehensive concept of the national future based mainly on Hegel's philosophical teachings. He started out as a cultivated poet (still in Czech), following in Ján Kollár's footsteps. He became an illustrious expert on language (Nárečja slovenskuo alebo potreba písaňja v tomto nárečí (The Slovak Dialect or the Need to Write in this Dialect); Nauka reči slovenskej (Theory of the Slovak Language)), he did not accept Kollár's concept of four Slavic languages and acknowledged the right to existence of eleven Slavic languages including Slovak, published work in German on the oppression of the Slovak nation in Hungary, established and edited Slovenskje národňje novini (1845), with the literary supplement Orol tatránski (Tatra Eagle), which became a tribune of the national revival.
           Combative Jozef Miloslav Hurban (1817 - 1888), who although a pastor did not hesitate to belt on a sword, get on his horse and lead Slovak volunteers into war, was also a versatile soul. He was an enthusiastic member of the Bratislava Společnost reči a literatúry česko-slovanskej, established and edited the almanach Nitra (1840, the third volume of Nitra from 1844 is the first book published in written Slovak) and the cultural monthly Slovenskje pohladi (1846). He was also passionately involved in church affairs (he spoke scathingly against the so-called Union, or administrative association of Slovak Lutherans and much more numerous Hungarian Calvinists, which - in undemocratic conditions - would have meant supremacy over the Slovaks), he established and edited Cirkevné listy (Religious Letters), was a leading speaker at the memorandum assembly in 1861, and co-founded Matica slovenská. As a writer, he started with poetry but later switched to prose, wrote historical novels about Great Moravia (Svadba krále Velko-moravského (Wedding of a Great Moravian King); Svatoplukovci aneb pád říše Velkomoravské (The Svätopluks or Fall of the Great Moravian Empire)), he published a historical novel about the Elbe Slavs (Gottšalk), a novella from the times of Matúš Čák (Olejkár - The Peddler), but also reacted to the events of 1848/49 (Slovenskí žiaci - Slovak Students, etc.). He is also the author of a travelogue in which he describes his travels around Bohemia. But he mainly excelled as a literary critic and historian (Slovensko a jeho život literárny - Slovakia and its Literary Life), Ľudovít Štúr's biographer, and the author of memoirs of the 1848/49 revolution. He was also an uncompromising and aggressive publicist and spent 6 months in prison for his views.
           Michal Miloslav Hodža (1811 - 1870) actively participated in all Štúrite events, was chairman of Tatrín and very active in the formation of the new written language; he mainly concerned himself with spelling (Epigenes slovenicus, Větín o slovenčině) and his suggestions were included in Hattala´s grammar and are still valid today. Following his forced exit from political and public life, he focused on literature. He wrote long epic poems (Matora, Vieroslavín, etc.), but only fragments reached the public, and then only after his death.
           The revolutionary activity to which all three dedicated their lives did not bring the expected result. Their post-revolutionary activity and work was marked by disillusion and scepticism. Ľudovít Štúr wrote Slovanstvo a svet budúcnosti (Slavdom and the World of the Future), in which he suggested that Slovaks run into the Russian sea. In despair, Jozef Miloslav Hurban published two volumes of Nitra in Czech. In exile in Cieszyn, Michal Miloslav Hodža wrote long epic poems from Slav mythology, full of religious visions, messianism (a messianist was also Samo Bohdan Hroboň) and complicated linguistic innovations. It took several decades for Slovak life, including culture and literature, to recover from the lost fight for a freer future. In the end, it had to wait for a new generation to revive it and push forward new agendas and goals.

Janko Kráľ
           These three concealed their public and related political activity in their literature. But other Štúrite personalities contributed to literary growth. The wonderful Štúrite era, full of hope and revolutionary resolve, provoked unparalleled work which is still a living part of Slovak literature today. We should at least take the time to look at four poets (Janko Kráľ, Andrej Sládkovič, Samo Chalupka, Ján Botto) and one prose writer (Ján Kalinčiak). Like almost all of his contemporaries, Janko Kráľ (1822 - 1876) entered literature through Czech poems while studying at the Bratislava lyceum. In the third volume of Nitra (1844), however, he published 8 poems in Slovak which already displayed his exceptional talent and the hallmarks of his poetry (they were balladic and song-like, whimsical, and inspired by folk art). Of the genres of folk poetry which inspired him, the closest to him was the ballad, with its fatefulness and dark emotional atmosphere. He stamped his subjective seal on it and cultivated it poetically. Janko Kráľ's poetry most fully represented the romantic canon. The author himself was stylised into "strange Janko" and critics constantly referred to his imbalance, vagabondism, rebellionism, etc. His life really had a stormy, unstable character. He left the Bratislava lyceum in protest against the removal of Ľ. Štúr from the post of assistant professor, but did not go to Levoča with the others (the student exodus provoked by the suspension of Ľ. Štúr was collective), did not continue his studies, went through a number of jobs, walked around the whole country, even went as far as the Balkans, stayed in Pest for a while (drafting legal documents), where the Hungarian youth converged around Sándor Petőfi and the revolutionary atmosphere roused him to write several poems in Hungarian. He returned home in 1847, reproached Štúr for not fighting for freedom of the masses in his newspaper, himself galvanised the masses against the nobility in the revolutionary year of 1848, was sent to prison, organised his own unit of volunteers after being released, was imprisoned again, and later became the captain of a rebel squad. After the revolution he became a regional official, but Vienna did not trust him and so transferred him from place to place. After the Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich the Hungarian government dismissed him from state service. He took the law exam and worked as a qualified lawyer. He died of cholera and was buried in a mass grave.
           Kráľ's life was marked by unrest and this unrest also entered his poetry in the form of protest, rebellion against the status quo, discontent. He was often not even content with what he wrote and burned many of his poems. Essentially only the backbone of his work has been preserved (he never released a book, only published in periodicals - and then only sporadically), however, more and more poems gradually appeared and were added to the originals in new editions. A collection, although incomplete, was reconstructed from the fragments found, which the editor entitled Dráma sveta (Drama of the World). The fact that Janko Kráľ "grafted" his poetry onto folk creation, as author of a monograph on the Štúrites Milan Pišút put it, could lead one to think that its content was also very simple and plain. But this is a mistaken assumption. Janko Kráľ managed to express deep emotions and complex ideas using the simple methods he took from folklore. National or social motifs were gradually transformed into philosophical studies and abundant reflections on the fates of not only the nation, but the whole of mankind. It is precisely this juxtaposition of simple methods and depth of meaning that creates the unusual appeal of Kráľ's poetry. It can be said that of all the Štúrite poets, Janko Kráľ most authentically expressed the revolutionary spirit of the period, because revolt was an attribute of the author's "soul". Critic and essayist Alexander Matuška wrote: "Visionary and rebel, poet and prophet, Janko Kráľ'embodied both the trepidation of the period's rebirth and convulsion of contemporary thought, and that which was irreplaceable in it: he also embodied the phantomatic layers of his interior, revealed the incredible murky depths of his soul - he is the brother german of the pinnacle of European poetry of the time. He is our representative in the most glacial heights of the human poetic idea, a blood relation of Mácha, Lermontov, de Vigny."

Andrej Sládkovič
           Another Štúrite poet, Andrej Sládkovič (1820 - 1872), is the antipode of Janko Kráľ in many respects. There were no dark places in his life or even his poetry. It radiates harmonious composition, a sense of beauty, a clear message. Unrequited love for a teenage girl struck a poetic chord and stimulated the creation of Marína (1846), one of the most beautiful books about love in Slovak poetry; love for his nation inspired another of Sládkovič's books, a poetic celebration of his homeland, history and people, which were personified in a hero from Detva (Detvan, 1853). These two extensive compositions were enough to ensure Sládkovič's "immortality" in the literate classes. Young people have read and recited both, but especially Marína, for generations.
           Like the majority of Štúrites, Sládkovič studied in Germany (Halle), where he not only learned Hegel's philosophy (under his influence he wrote the dialogised poem Sôvety v rodine Dušanovej (Conversations in the Dušan Family), but also the Russian Valuyev, who gave him the originals of Pushkin's poetry. Pushkin's influence on Sládkovič's poetry is particularly evident in Marína. Tatrín should have published this poetic composition. It was read at a meeting, but it was unsuccessful. The national coryphaeus felt that it devoted too much space to love as an individual emotion and spoke too little of love for the nation (which was the period's main theme). This "conflict" signalled the incompatibility between the author's personal emotions and the period's need to save the nation. The rigorous and ascetic Ľudovít Štúr even advised his friends and the second generation not to marry and start a family because it might distract them from their social responsibilities. The conflict between poetic subjects expressing personal emotions and service to the nation continued in subsequent generations through Hviezdoslav and Krasko; the tension arising from it actually lasted until 1918, when the Czechoslovak Republic was established and the threat of the nation's death abated.
           But Marína was not merely a manifestation of individual love. Its author - like Ján Kollár before him in Slávy dcera - connected love for a woman with love for the nation. This can be seen in these lines: "To love this dear country in fair Marína, / Dear Marína in the motherland fair, / And embrace both as one!" All the same, its vitality or vivacity, its poetic persuasiveness, does not rely on a positive relationship to the nation, but on intensive emotional experience, on the subjective momentum which lit up everything the young poet touched. Through the author's emotional passion and enthusiasm, Marína exceeded the boundaries of the period in which it appeared and has an equally intensive impact today as in Štúrite times. Individual love and the desire for a concrete woman gained the dimension of an eternal desire for love and beauty.
           Sládkovič's second work - Detvan - also achieved exceptional success and is still popular today. Unlike lyrical compositions such as Marína, Detvan is from the epic poetry genre and has the nature of an idyllic epos. The poet presented a rustic picture of Slovakia, in which the Slovak countryside, country life, the peasants' material and spiritual culture, habits and customs are depicted. The work's focus is more imagery than plot, although the author also develops this dramatically. Sládkovič set it in the past: the times of king Matthew Corvinus, who people remembered a just monarch. There is even a Slovak saying about him: King Matthew is dead, now your rights are gone. The story begins with an episode in which young Martin kills a falcon swooping down on a rabbit in the woods. He does not know it is the king´s falcon, which hunts in the Slovak woods. At the fair in Slatina, to which king Matthew also comes, Martin apologises for this and Matthew accepts his apology. Meanwhile Martin frees Elena from the hands of bandits (the episode with the falcon and rabbit is essentially repeated here in another context). When the king enlists new soldiers for his famed Black Regiment, Martin must go too, and serves his king faithfully - but in his Slovak folk costume! With this, Sládkovič indicated that Martin did not want to give up his national identity. The story also demonstrates the fact that the Slovak people (nation), embodied in Martin, played an active part in Hungarian history and therefore deserve the same rights as the Hungarian nation. Both Marína and Detvan convey passion and this turns static pictures and descriptions of life into a sequence full of emotionality and imagination engaging for the reader. After the revolution, Sládkovič lost this passion, fed by hope for the future, and this had a negative effect on his later work. He continued to write long poems, but they had a narrative or exclusively occasional nature. (Milica; Gróf Mikuláš Šubič Zrínsky na Sihoti - Count M. Š. Z. at Sziget; Svätomartiniáda - Martiniad, etc.)

Samo Chalupka
           Samo Chalupka (1812 - 1883), the younger brother of the dramatist Ján Chalupka, is a poet of masculine tones, extolling manly strength and courage along folk literature lines, which his fairytale heroes also have. He is the closest to folklore of all the Štúrite poets and many of his poems have been turned into folk legends. Ján Kollár even included three of the first in his Zpievanky to point out their vernacularity. Samo Chalupka was a man of daring and action. While a student at the Bratislava lyceum, he went to Poland, where rebellion had broken out, in 1831. He fought and was wounded. This experience marked his work to such an extent that it is practically all a call to heroic action. But this same experience encouraged him to be cautious. Maybe this was the reason why he did not personally participate in the 1848/49 revolution. Chalupka's combative pen was at its most prolific in the 60s, when one after another of his heroic poems appeared and quickly found a large readership. Their titles immediately betray their combative nature: Valibuk (Hercules), Junák (Lionheart), Boj pri Jelšave (Battle near Jelšava), etc. Chalupka's poem Turčín Poničan (The Janissary from Poniky, 1863) gained great popularity. He took the majority of his subjects from folk legends or history (his academic interest in history was well-known) to give an example to his contemporaries. The poem Turčín
           Poničan
takes its subject from the Turkish raids on Slovakia, during which the Turkish squads not only pillaged, murdered, but also took children prisoner and brought them up in Turkey to be tough and ruthless warriors against the national communities they came from. This attribute of theirs became a Slovak saying: Better a Turk than a janissary. Chalupka gave his story about a "janissary", who came from Poniky (therefore Poničan) another dimension: a Slovak boy who was brought up as a soldier in Turkey returns to Poniky and his grandmother recognises him because of a birthmark. His native blood responds and so the poem ends as an idyll.
           Chalupka's heroic poem Mor ho! (Attack! 1864) gained the greatest popularity. This time the author took his subject from the times when the Roman Empire extended to the Danube. The poem tells of the Slav warriors' conflict with the Roman might, embodied by the overbearing Roman emperor and his army. The conflict culminates in a battle in which a whole Slav company falls. But it falls for the ideal of freedom. It rises up against its mighty enemy because he wanted to extend his rule onto Slav territory. The poem was a call for Chalupka's contemporaries to stand up for their national rights with a weapon in their hand ("better not to be, than to be a slave!"). Chalupka's poetic work is not extensive, it all appeared in one volume (Spevy Sama Chalupku - Samo Chalupka's Songs, 1868), but its significance was truly great. The poem Mor ho! even inspired subsequent generations with its combative spirit and its power was shown in 1944 during the Slovak National Uprising. The free Slovak transmitter in Banská Bystrica constantly broadcast recitations of this poem, which mobilised Slovaks in the fight against fascism.

Ján Botto
           Ján Botto (1829 - 1881) is the youngest of the mentioned Štúrite poets; he studied in Levoča, not Bratislava. There he came under the influence of Ján Francisci (1822 - 1905), a Štúrite nationalist, writer and direct participant in the 1848 - 49 revolution, who established his national awareness. He studied geodesy in Pest during the revolutionary years and (like Janko Kráľ) succumbed to the revolutionary mood there. His poem Pochod (March) is an allusion to Petőfi's famous poem Talpra Magyar! (Advance Magyar!) But he did not personally participate in the revolution. As a poet he was also close to folk songs and legends and his first poems are versifications of folk tales. In 1846 he published the poem K mladosti (To Youth), in which he was inspired by Mickiewicz's Ódou na mladosť (Ode to Youth). Many of Botto's poems are parables, good fights bad through various symbols. In many he displayed a tendency towards epics. The poem Báj Maginhradu (The Legend of Magin Castle) and others (Žiaľby Svätobojove (Sorrows of Svätoboj), Krížne cesty (Crossroads)) are like this, with clear elements of messianism. Botto's favourite genre was the ballad (Žltá ľalia - Yellow Lily), Ctibor, Margita a Besná). The poetic composition Smrť Jánošíkova (The Death of Jánošík, 1862) represents the height of Botto's creative powers. Juraj Jánošík, one of many Slovak bandits (hanged by the ribcage in Liptovský Mikuláš in 1713) became a warrior for social justice (he robbed the rich and gave to the poor) and freedom in people's minds. Various legends circulated about him, singing of his heroic acts, he became a legendary figure and was given supernatural powers. This is how Ján Botto came to him: "I only learned about the history of Jánošík in 1866, but what would I have had from him if I had found him earlier. I did not want to write a biography of this outlaw, sentenced and executed in Svätý Mikuláš, but I wanted to paint this hero of freedom, alive in the mouths of the Slovak people, who grew in their souls over five whole centuries of serfdom and to whom they could only give a name, and that only partly." An atmosphere of tragedy pervades the poem, full of poetic scenes and impressive images and drawing on folk literature. But the poem does not end with the main hero's death. The author draws the reader closer to the creation of the legend of Jánošík and concludes it with a celebration of Jánošík as a symbol of awaited freedom. The emphasis is transferred to this because freedom was the burning issue of the whole Štúrite era. At one point in the composition, Botto characterises the Slovak people as a "sick child", which could either survive, i.e. get well, or die. It is a reproach of his own ranks, criticism of Slovak indifference to its own fate and call for the people (nation) to lead a conscious, active life.
           Smrť Jánošíkova fulfilled its high artistic aims and is among the top works of Štúrite poetry. Botto's poetic elaboration of the legend of Jánošík returned authors' attention to this theme (almost all of the Štúrite poets elaborated it) and it became a favourite theme, particularly for prose writers, not just in the 19th, but also the 20th century. Over time, however, it underwent several metamorphoses until it became anchored in the adventure history genre and then only arose as parody.

Ján Kalinčiak
           The prose writer Ján Kalinčiak (1822 - 1871) cultivated the historical adventure genre in the Štúrite period. This had already been tried by Jozef Miloslav Hurban, who on one hand wanted to bring the great Slavic past closer to Slovak readers and revive it in the unhappy present, and on the other to give them interesting and exciting original reading and so divert them from foreign (German) adventure histories. Samuel Tomášik (1813 - 1887), who, however, concentrated more on regional themes and elaborated them more narratively and accurately, published historical novels at the same time as Kalinčiak.
           The superior force of historicism in Štúrite era literature (both poetry and prose) was not accidental. The authors felt that the weight of the past could effectively support their national demands and give them legitimacy. They therefore searched Slovak history, partly concealed by Magyar history, for relevant points, and updated them for the present. They wanted to tell the world: we have been here a long time and are still here; we have the same right to our own life as the luckier ones who have been in the sun. Ultimately, we should also acknowledge that the historical theme was used in romanticism as a whole (W. Scott, etc.), so returning to the past was characteristic of the period.
           Ján Kalinčiak also started - among the other Bratislava students - as a poet. Even his first poems displayed an expressive talent, but he only wrote poetry in his youth. Many of his poems had a folklore character and some of them have been turned into folk legends. But there were other spheres in his poetry. For example, the poem Moja mladosť (My Youth, 1847), clearly conceived under the influence of Mácha's Máj (May), shows signs of internal disunity, even titanism, which was quite exceptional in Slovak poetry at the time. But Kalinčiak did not go further in this direction and left poetry as a whole. Instead he started the tradition of Slovak historical prose. A dozen of his novels were based in various periods of history: Bozkovci (1842) from the times of ruler Matej Korvín, Milkov hrob (Milko's Grave, 1845) concerns the invasion of Jan Jiskra of Brandýs on Slovakia, Bratova ruka (Brother's Hand, 1846) teaches readers of Tököli's rebellion against the Habsburgs, Púť lásky (Pilgrimage of Love, 1846) again Turkish raids on eastern Slovakia, Serbianka (1847) returns to a battle on a Kosovo field; in the novella Mládenec slovenský (Slovak Youth, 1847), the author went back to the 10th century and sketched the last days of Great Moravia. In these novellas, the historical events always form the backdrop to the story itself, which exhibits bloody events, love as an all-destroying passion, betrayal and liberation from prison, love to the grave, etc. Here, sentimentality is mixed with adventures, intrigues with secrecy, melodrama with naturalism, emotional connotation with poetic passages. The author paid particular care to the drama of the plot, which featured numerous twists and turns and unexpected openings. He did not pay much heed to the plot's credibility or characters' psychological authenticity; the exaggeration of each element is more typical.
           In other novels Svätý Duch (Holy Spirit), 1852; Knieža liptovské (Liptov Prince), 1852; Orava, 1870, he eliminated this romantic cliché and placed more emphasis on realistic description and real historical events. Neither are the heroes here overwhelmed in heroic acts. The author notes their social rank and paints them as members of different social classes (landowners, peasants). The author's relationship to the gentry is rather ambivalent, to the peasants clearly positive. Here, too, Štúrite democratism is displayed. Kalinčiak's prose headed towards a greater extent of realistic depiction. This is reflected in his novella Reštavrácia (Elections, 1860), which he set in the present. With a large dose of humour, experience and ordeal, he depicts members of two land-owning families in a pre-election battle for the post of regional administrative clerk. In the end, the mutual rivalry is turned into conciliation through a wedding. The author interlaces the language of the novella with a large number of popular sayings and proverbs, so the work is almost untranslatable. Equally, with this work Kalinčiak struggles down the road of the subsequent period's realistic creation. Kalinčiak's contemporaries regarded his historical novellas (they were the focus of his prose) as creative activities, today we mainly consider their period constraint.