Leopold Lahola foto 1

Leopold Lahola

30. 1. 1918
—  12. 1. 1968
editorial activities, general fiction, literary science, poetry, screenwriting, theatre & drama & film

Reviews and praise

Leopold Lahola entered Slovak literature after World War II with three dramas (all were staged by the Slovak National Theatre) which dealt with topics related to the apocalypse of war. In these plays, he protested human lethargy and indifference vis-a-vis evil and suffering. He underlined the personal responsibility of everyone for things that had happened to mankind in the war. His prose has a similar character: he shows the behavior of people on edge, at the boundary of life and death, where a person's true nature is uncovered. Literary critics stated about his plays: "first is the problem, the characters are bearers of the process of solution". The same is true for his short stories. The story deviates from its realistic plotline and moves beyond itself. It speaks about the person as s/he is. It poses the question "what is a man?" and seeks an adequate answer. It is a meeting of Lahola's tale and "the philosophy of a man" as was asserted after WWII by the philosophy of existentialism.

With a less gifted writer this type of model prose can diminish to a philosophical tract, but this is not the case with Lahola. The implications of his stories (and the entirety of his work) come from his actual experience, which is of tragic character, but ultimately from the strength and persuasiveness of his argument where he draws the reader into the centre of the problem of human existence. In Lahola's work, what stands out more than dramatic pictures of human suffering is the solution to issues of human behavior, the character of a person, which on one hand can rise to bestial cruelty and violence and on the other it can display unexpected heroism. Unlike other Slovak war writings and works about the national uprising where good and evil are clearly separate (explicitly in the depiction of character), Lahola perceives man as a more complex bundle of positive and negative features. Lahola's work has a permanent relevance.

Vladimír Petrík