Introduction (Critical Survey of Poetry: Topical Essays)
Like the Slovenes, the Macedonians have had to travel a rocky historical path. After their early state was subjugated in the eleventh century by the Byzantines and, later, by the Turks, they did not enjoy independence until 1945. During those long centuries, however, they were able to maintain their identity, both ethnically and culturally; when conditions became favorable at the end of World War II, they began to produce their own literature.
Despite this long history of oppression, Macedonian culture can trace its heritage back to the earliest Slavic writings, which appeared in the ninth century in the language of the Macedonian Slavs around Salonika. Centering on the lively activity of Macedonian missionaries, led by Klement Ohridski and Naum Ohridski and their disciples, early Macedonian literature was exclusively related to the Church. Indeed, for many centuries, the only Macedonian literature that was not directly connected with the Church was oral folk literature, which was as abundant in Macedonia as in other South Slavic lands. Much of this literature was in poetic form, but because of its oral nature, not much has been preserved. Today, folklorists are making concerted efforts to record and document what remains of this tradition, and at least some of the folk literature that can still be heard has been handed down for generations.
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