Introduction (Critical Survey of Poetry: Topical Essays)
The Slovenes, of a small Slavic nation at the northwestern edge of the former Yugoslavia, have had a very unhappy history. One of the first among the Slavic peoples to have their own independent state (in the eighth century), they were the first to lose it (to Germanic tribes in the ninth century). They remained under German or Austrian domination until 1918—a period of almost a thousand years. It is not surprising that under such conditions Slovenian culture could not develop properly; indeed, it is a miracle that it survived. Like their South Slavic brethren, the Slovenes began their literature during their conversion to Christianity, in the ninth century, but the work among them of the disciples of the missionaries Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius was of such short duration that it left no lasting literary documents. Indeed, until the Reformation, very little Slovenian literature was preserved. Among the few pieces that have survived are church and ritual songs, troubadour lyrics, and folk poems, all of which are anonymous; most of them are translations, preserved only because they were interspersed in German texts.
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