In the framework of the 36th Vilenica International Literary Festival, the Slovenian Comparative Literature Association and the Slovenian Writers’ Association will organise the 19th International Comparative Literature Colloquium,

Literature and War: Problems, Texts, Contexts

Prepared by Alen Širca

The theme of war is as old as literature. Slovenian literature is no exception: war motifs occur in its earliest beginnings, although they were not to grow into a full-fledged literary subject-matter that was woven mainly into prose texts until the 20th century. Slovenian ‘war prose’ leapt to higher aesthetic levels in the early 1940s, and still higher in the subsequent postwar decades. In fact, the war prose wave has lasted to this very day, for it is precisely the last two decades that have seen prominent works of this subgenre. No doubt, war holds an important place in Slovenian literature. Thus it comes as no surprise that some of Slovenia’s greatest literary names, such as Edvard Kocbek, Vitomil Zupan, or Lojze Kovačič, should be associated with the theme of war. The Colloquium seeks to re-examine the established critical assessment of these works, as well as to provide new interpretive frameworks which may highlight the topicality of the texts even today.

Each war has its own specific historical moment, its own casus belli. From this perspective, the Colloquium will focus on World War II, which has cut deepest into the tissue of Slovenian society. But not exclusively on that war, of course: the various historical, social and political contexts (of several wars) must be complemented by other texts, other literatures, especially those most cognate with, and closest to, Slovenian literature, as they may enhance our comprehension of it. And vice versa: Slovenian examples may shed a unique and strong light on other European texts. The range of comparison may be extremely wide, but priority will be given to the texts which emerged in the field of former Yugoslavia or, on a larger scale, of Central and Eastern Europe.

Last but not least, the panoramic survey of the Colloquium seeks to test some of the recent theoretical and methodological models for exploring the complex relationships between literature and war, thus drawing close to ‘war studies’, which have been steadily gaining recognition in contemporary humanities.

Translated by Nada Grošelj