Like their South Slavic brethren, the Slovenes were suppressed by a foreign power, Austria, for almost ten centuries and were not allowed to develop their self-government, let alone their culture. For that reason, Slovenian fiction made a late appearance; the first novel, Deseti brat (the tenth brother), by Josip Juri (1844-1881), was published in 1866. Although it lagged somewhat behind other Yugoslav literatures, Slovenian fiction has proved to be a valuable contribution to the genre. The early novels were based mostly on the native folk narratives, but they were much more than imitations; rather, they transformed the folkloric material into genuine works of literature. While the short story was dominant in the nineteenth century, the novel made quick and significant strides. In addition to Juri, Josip Stritar (1836-1923), Janko Kersnik (1852-1897), and Ivan Tavar (1851-1923) wrote in a style showing either a mixture of Romanticism and realism or straight realism. The main feature unifying them was a strong preoccupation with social conditions of their people who, unlike other Slavic tribes, did not gain full independence until 1918. Because most of the writers were of peasant origin, they depicted most often the plight of the peasantry oppressed by foreign rule and exploited by domestic upper class.
With Ivan Cankar (1876-1918), one of the greatest of Slovene writers, Slovenian fiction reached its high point in the first two decades of the...
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