Foto Peter Procházka
Foto Peter Procházka




  • Briefly about author

    A prominent member of the so-called Generation 56, a group of young authors that entered Slovak literature after the fall of Stalinism and the subsequent political "thaw", one of whose
    A prominent member of the so-called Generation 56, a group of young authors that entered Slovak literature after the fall of Stalinism and the subsequent political "thaw", one of whose results was the foundation of the literary magazine Mladá tvorba. Instead of large historical canvases typical for the generation that fought in World War II and in the Uprising against the German occupation, these people concentrated prevalently on the literature of everyday life, on themes that captured the interest of young readers through their mundane quality, spontaneity, a new use of language and especially through a new vision of reality. And the most remarkable of them was Jaroslava Blažková, whose work met with the widest response among readers. Her short stories, published in Mladá tvorba, the weekly Kultúrny život (Cultural Life) and other magazines, were innovative both thematically and stylistically. Instead of the pathos or sentimentality of the previous generation Blažková uses an expressive language, utilizing colloquial elements, city and student slang, her stories are suffused with irony and authorial self-irony. These indications of a new attitude towards reality were already present in her debut The Nylon Moon. The novella that gave the book its title tells the story of a young architect Vanda, going for a holiday in the Tatra mountains with a colleague with whom she had started a love affair; but what should have been a culminating point in their relation results in the heroine's decision to terminate the liaison. The story was a great success among the readers and served as the basis for the screenplay of a film. Blažková's unconventional heroine, insisting on the 'freedom of choice' also in erotic matters, represented a remarkable step forward in what used to be called the 'emancipation' of fictional heroines and was a harbinger of feminist themes in Slovak as well as in Czech prose - since Blažková's short stories appeared simultaneously in Czech. The revolt of young heroines against the conventions of the times was also the central theme of her next book of short stories, The Lambs and the Grandees. It included A Tale Full of Snow, which had already been published in Kultúrny život and its unconventional view of the taboo area of erotic relationship between woman and man and the free choice within this relationship aroused a stormy polemic, which resulted in doubts being cast on the moral probity not only of the heroine but of the author herself. Halfway between prose for adults and young people is the novel My Excellent Brother Robinson. It is a story about two brothers of different natures, the more agile Robinson and the more contemplative Budy, who is the narrator. The plot describes not only their rivalry for the favour of their contemporary, Dorotka, but also the tension between generations, where young people reject the narrow-mindedness of the adults and the values that they authoritatively try to force on the adolescents. The young protest against all this, although their protest often takes only the form of a clown's grimace and the price to be paid for it is disillusion. The world of Blažková's books for children, which were appearing alongside her prose for adults, is unmistakably dominated by humour, fantasy, the vivid language of children; we find here a very effective combination of a poetic picture of children's life with its cognitive aspects. While fashioning the plot of these stories, the author skilfully and knowledgeably uses the devices of the detective story, literature of adventure and also popularising literature. Almost alwys we find that these stories are dominated by the poetics of the children's world, the child's perception of reality, the mystery of the first contact with the unknown reality of life, which often seems to a child to be a miracle. This view of children as well as her places Blažková very closely to authors such as Klára Jarunková, Mária Ďuríčková, Nataša Tanská and Ján Navrátil and also Ľubomír Feldek or Miroslav Válek who opened new ways in Slovak literature for children and young people in the Sixties in respect both of its themes and genre. In the late Sixties, at the peak of her creative powers, when she was enjoying an undiminishing readers' interest, her departure into emigration led to a violent and apparently definitive break in he writing for children. Her return to Slovakia, into the context of modern Slovak prose in the Nineties, was marked by reissues of her children's books, a selection from her short fiction from the Sixties (…as if from a Congratulations Card) and the collection The Marriage at Cana of Galilee. With the exception of the title story, which had appeared in 1966 and was revised by the author for this edition, the book contains stories written in Canada from the mid-1970s to the 1990s. These are stories about women, thematically anchored already in Canadian (American) reality, but the lives and emotional background of their heroines are connected with the world that had formed their perception of life and inherited moral values. This is most apparent in The Story of a Vestal Virgin where Blažková returns in an intensified form to the dilemma that her heroines had to cope with in her stories from the Sixties. Kristína, the heroine of the story, calls it "my mother's choice" - "To swallow disgrace and live alone in renunciation, only for the children and work…", or to rebel - although rebellion now has a tragic result. The book seems to represent the final stone in the creative arch of Blažková's prose. At the same time it is a remarkable impulse for contemporary Slovak literature and indicates that the creative potential of Jaroslava Blazkova is not yet exhausted.
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  • Briefly about production

    prose: The Nylon Moon (Nylonový mesiac, 1961), The Lamb and the Grandees (Jahniatko a grandi, 1964), A s if from a Congratulations Card (... ako z gratulačnej karty, 1997, selected
    prose:
    The Nylon Moon (Nylonový mesiac, 1961), The Lamb and the Grandees (Jahniatko a grandi, 1964), As if from a Congratulations Card (... ako z gratulačnej karty, 1997, selected prose), The Marriage at Cana of Galilee (Svadba v Káne Galilejskej, 2001) and Happyends (Happyendy, 2005).

    books for children and young people:
    Tono, Me and the Ants (Tóno, ja a mravce, 1961), The Island of Captain Hashashar (Ostrov kapitána Hašašara, 1962), Fireworks for Grandad (Ohňostroj pre deduška, 1962), Daduska and Jarabac (Daduška a Jarabáč, 1965), How Cats Bought a TV (Ako si mačky kúpili televízor, 1967), My Excellent Brother Robinson (Môj skvelý brat Robinson, 1968), Tales from a Red Sock (Rozprávky z červenej ponožky, 1969), Minka a Pyžamka (2003), The Three Daredevils and a Ghost Miguel (Traja nebojsovia a duch Miguel, 2005).

    works translated into foreign languages:
    The Nylon Moon (Czech 1961, German 1962, Hungarian 1965, Polish 1965, Slovenian 1966, German 1996 [in the anthology Ich trage das Land], Estonian 1968); short stories from the collection The Lamb and the Grandees appeared in various anthologies (in German under the title Sieben Würfel, 1967, in English as Czech and Slovak short stories, 1966, Seven Short Stories, 1967, and New Writing in Czechoslovakia, 1969, in Polish in Opowiadania słowackie); Tono, Me and the Ants (translated into Czech, Hungarian and Polish); The Island of Captain Hashashar (translated into Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian and German); Fireworks for Grandad (translated into Polish, Hungarian, Danish, Finnish, Czech and German; it appeared in French as Un merveilleux grand-père in the publishing house Rouge et Or in 1972 and in further editions every year). How Cats Bought a TV has been translated into twelve European languages.
         As for works written in emigration, her short stories appeared in anthologies in Danish (Noveller Fra Tjekkoslovakiet), Czech (Paření, 1976), English (Canadian Fiction Magazine, 1980, The Boundaries of Twilight, 1991). A 60-page fragment of The Marriage at Cana of Galilee appeared in the anthology entitled Die Liebe in German (1987).

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  • Biography for author

    She was born 15 November, 1933 in Velké Meziříčí (nowadays in the Czech Republic). She spent her childhood moving between the Czech lands and Slovakia. She started her secondary
    She was born 15 November, 1933 in Velké Meziříčí (nowadays in the Czech Republic). She spent her childhood moving between the Czech lands and Slovakia. She started her secondary school in 1945 in Prague, but finished it in Bratislava. In 1950 she started to work in Slovak Radio and at the same time she studied at the Philosophical Faculty of Comenius University. From 1954 she was a journalist on the staff of the youth daily Smena. In 1956 she was dismissed from the editorial staff for political reasons and found employment in the Gardens and parks services of the city of Bratislava. At this time she was banned from publishing her work, but after 1958, with the arrival of a political "thaw", the embargo on her publishing was lifted. She began working as a journalist and freelance writer. In the early Sixties she belonged among the most important authors of Mladá Tvorba (Young Writing), a magazine, which at the end of the Fifties opened up space for the young literary generation. In 1968, after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, she emigrated to Canada and her family settled in Toronto. In 1971 she was expelled from The Union of Slovak Writers, the publication of her books stopped, and the critics of the period of 'normalization' erased her name and her works from Slovak literature. In Canada she first started to work with several theatre groups, in 1975 she worked in the Slovak broadcasting of the International Radio Service of CBC in Montreal and since 1976 she edited a magazine for Slovak and Czech emigrés published in Toronto and called Nový domov (New Home). From 1978 to 1989 she worked for the well-known exile publishing house of Josef Škvorecký called 68 Publishers. In 1988 she moved from Toronto to the small university town of Guelph in the Canadian province of Ontario where she lives at present. Since 1989 she has several times visited Slovakia, where her books started to appear again - both her works from the Sixties as well as those written during her Canadian emigration.
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  • Works and reviews of works

    Prose

    • Nylonový mesiac (1961)
    • Jahniatko a grandi (1964)
    • ako z gratulačnej karty (1997, 1997, výber z próz)
    • Svadba v Káne Galilejskej (2001)
    • Happyendy (2005, 1.issue)
    • Medzi dvoma domovmi 2. Antológia slovenskej krátkej prózy v zahraničí (2010, 1.issue)
    • To decko je blázon (2013, 1.issue)

    For children and youth

    • Tóno, ja a mravce (1961)
    • Ohňostroj pre deduška (1962)
    • Ostrov kapitána Hašašara (1962)
    • Daduška a Jarabáč (1965)
    • Ako si mačky kúpili televízor (1967)
    • Môj skvelý brat Robinson (1968)
    • Rozprávky z červenej ponožky (1969)
    • Minka a Pyžamka (2003)
    • Traja nebojsovia a duch Miguel (2004, 1.issue)
    • Môj skvelý brat Robinzon (2006, 3. vyd., vo vyd. Q 111 2.issue)
    • Minka a Pyžaminka (2015, 2.issue)
    • Mačky vo vreci (2016, 2.issue)
  • Works published with support from SLOLIA

  • About author

    With a broad range of genres she has satisfied a wide diapason of readers from the those not yet able to read through the younger and the older school ages to the time of adolescence and growing up.
    With a broad range of genres she has satisfied a wide diapason of readers from the those not yet able to read through the younger and the older school ages to the time of adolescence and growing up. And contemporary responses indicate that she was courageous in posing these issues and original in their expressive transformations. Without false respect she boldly violated literary conventions and fearlessly broke the ossified ethical conventions ... She became a symbol of youth, courage and action. She did not just speak for her generation but for all those desiring a free creative life and real social justice.
    Milan Jurčo

    Without any traces of trying to help herself by literary mannerism she has evoked a whole world of childhood and she was able to fill this mundane life with the miracle of children's fantasy like a joyful light which changes everything that it touches without falsifying anything.

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  • Author about himself

    My grandson, when I tell him a fairy tale, is surprised even to this day at the strange English that Granny talks. The writer and the actor depend on a perfect mastery of language, it is their
    My grandson, when I tell him a fairy tale, is surprised even to this day at the strange English that Granny talks. The writer and the actor depend on a perfect mastery of language, it is their instrument. By going abroad, unless they are really proficient in a foreign language like Milan Kundera, who spoke French from an early age, they find themselves in a terrible situation of fury and tears. But one who has become addicted to the vice of writing, cannot help himself. He writes on.

     

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  • Awards

    The Prize of Slovak Writer Publishing House: the best prose work of the year for the novella The Nylon Moon (1961). The Fraňo Kráľ Prize for the best work in prose for young people for
    The Prize of Slovak Writer Publishing House: the best prose work of the year for the novella The Nylon Moon (1961).
    The Fraňo Kráľ Prize for the best work in prose for young people for Fireworks for Grandad (1963)
    The UNESCO Prize - the Honourable Diploma of Hans Christian Andersen for Fireworks for Grandad (1964)
    The Prize of Mladé Letá Publishing House: the best prose work of the year for My Excellent Brother Robinson (1968) The Prize of Mladé Letá Publishing House: for the mastery of language in children's literature for Tales from a Red Sock. This prize was awarded for the first time. Immediately afterwards the authorities had the book pulped.
    The Bibiana Triple Rose Prize for her life's work for children (1999)
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  • Sample

    Nylon Moon Extract translated by Heather Trebatická The deputy was sitting on a bench in the park. It wasn’t often that he allowed himself a rest, but

    Nylon Moon


    Extract translated by Heather Trebatická


    The deputy was sitting on a bench in the park. It wasn’t often that he allowed himself a rest, but this time he did. The spring had drawn him outdoors; he felt in his veins the farmer’s blood that made him crouch to touch the soil. He sat with his newspaper open and let the world file past him. People who had died, children who had been born. A flood of monsters in Japan: newborn babies without eyes, with two heads, with fish tails. Strontium shimmering in the sun’s rays like invisible snow.
    In Brussels the Atomium had been built. Its aluminium balls distorted people’s faces. Boys laughed and rode on the merry-go-rounds. A soldier won a toy monkey at a shooting range and gave it to a little girl. Millions of cubic metres of work. The Czechoslovak pavilion was awarded a Gold Medal.
    There is always a war going on somewhere in the world.
    Birth and death and the space in between—life.
    The deputy shut his eyes against the April sun. A steamboat on the Danube hooted and boys played with marbles. Willow trees blossomed on the banks of the river.
    On a nearby bench Jozef Paštinský was revelling in his first love, the spring, and also the fact that his father had been kicked out. It meant he would no longer be forced to go to university. He would train to be a typographer; he would do artistic printing. He was talking about this to a girl with a black pony tail and smiling blissfully as he did so.
    The deputy noticed that his hand hesitated but was too shy to touch the girl’s. Their eyes met and Jozef frowned.
    The deputy hid behind his newspaper. He read about refrigerators from Zlaté Moravce and that a first prize had not been awarded in a competition at a hotel in the High Tatras. The second prize was won by the slogan ‟Spiral in a Blue Triangle”, the third by the slogan ‟Nylon Moon”. The deputy lifted his head. Nylon Moon—what a silly idea! The boy and the black-haired girl were no longer on the bench. 
    At that moment two paths away Vanda was saying to Andrej, “Look, there’s no point in going on.”
    Andrej stared into the water. The current was murky, with broken branches floating in it.
    “Every relationship has its climax, after which it just goes on all the same. Or – it goes downhill. And I don’t want…”
    The first freckles were appearing on her nose and her red hair fell over her pale blue raincoat.
    “You’ve done a lot for me, I know, but what would there be in store for us? Even if we married. Habit, weariness.”
    “In short, I’m not attractive enough for you.”
    “It’s not a question of attractiveness.”
    “But it is. With you it’s always a question of attractiveness. And one more thing: you don’t like me enough, it’s as simple as that.”
    “Andrej!”
    “Habit, weariness. After all, it’s always like that.”
    “That’s no excuse. I don’t want that, don’t you understand, I don’t want that!”
     
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