Literature of Emigration and Exile

The literature of emigration and exile started to appear after the year 1945. Although the phenomenon of literary exile has its roots in the distant past, the phenomenon of temporary or permanent emigration occurred from 1939 onwards when following the dissolution of the Czechoslovak Republic some famous writers, journalists, literary scientists and translators left the country and went abroad. This emigration was enforced due to the dissolution of the Czechoslovak Republic, resistance against Hitler’s fascism and fear of persecuting people of Jewish origin. The emigrants left for France, England and the USA. Some of the writers returned to the renewed Czechoslovak Republic after the war (as e.g. Jozef Slavik-Neresnicky, Teo Herkel Florin) but others stayed and worked in permanent exile (as e.g. Jozef Ciger Hronsky, Gejza Vamos, Klement Simoncic and Peter and Jozef Pridavka).
The exiles who left after the war stayed for a while in Austria, Germany and Italy but the majority of them left in the second half of 1940s and at the beginning of 1950s to overseas countries (Argentine, the USA, Canada or Australia). An important reflection of a difficult after-war period can be found in the collection of lierature Vo vyhnanstve (In Exile) and Nádej víťazná (Winning hope) (from the year 1947). Some poets used rough satire to express their views on the after-war development at home. In their writing they abandoned high artistic criteria and in unison with their concrete ideological intention they preferred tendentiousness and suitability. The only exception might be the satiric mockeries Kumssty in which the authors Rudolf Dilong, Jan Okal and Karol Strmen the chose mocking and ironic style of the French author F. Villon to emphasise their own intention to show the conditions established in Slovakia after the year 1945. The only Slovak author who reacted against the development in those times in the way of present existentialism was Jozef Ciger Hronsky.
Among Slovak authors who chose the exile after the February Revolution of 1917 there was a smaller group of them who left for western Europe and overseas countries (as e.g. Jozef Slavik-Neresnicky, Pavol Hrtus Jurina and Jozef Mikus; a bit later there were also others who left or legally emigrated as e.g. Leopold Lahola, Imrich Kruzliak and Andrej Zarnov).
After the arrival of a major group of the exiles into the overseas countries, the third stage of the development of Slovak literature in the exile started to be created. The after-war exile enlivened the original structures responsible for the cultural life. They brought new magazines, annuals and collections of literature into which authors could contribute with their works of different genres. Argentina became the centre of the exile life and there was established the Slovak Institute in Cleveland which started to issue a quarterly for Slovak culture Most (The Bridge). This period is marked for its creative universality of exile writers. In their literary testimony there were preserved national as well as Christian ideas, artistic experience of lyrical prose and of Christian and spiritual works.
The literature in exile kept this aspect of development and followed it also in the next period, in the period when works of literature were systematically published. The Slovak Institute of Saints Cyril and Methodius was established in Rome and there appeared new editions (as e.g. Lýra, Krásne slovo, Jar) (The Lyre, The Beautiful Word, The Spring) and others. The tendency stressing the history of the Great Moravian Empire, which was considered to be the predecessor of Slovak independence, dominated from the thematic point of view. The fact that the Great Moravian history was emphasised with the 1100th anniversary of the arrival of the Byzantine missionaries to Great Moravia. Several Slovak authors abroad commemorated this important anniversary by publishing books and collections of poetry on this topic.
Exile writers, particularly poets, later still more and more intensively aimed at the reflections on more general topics that in connection with the authentic features of bitter personal experience and painful losses gained a stronger shape of expressive commitment and suggestion in works of Rudolf Dilong, Mikulás Sprinc, Eugen Vesnin, Gorazd Zvonicky and others.
Authors who emigrated after the year 1968 were those authors who experienced the reality of Communism. Some of them were followers of Dubcek’s ”Socialism with a human face”. Reading background in the free world was strengthened also thank to the Slovak Institute of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Rome, compatriotic institutions and communities in the USA, Canada, Switzerland, Germany and through their editorial, critical and scientific and research activities. In the first half of 1960s the status of literary centre in Argentina as the leading centre came to an end and literary life in Italy, Switzerland, Canada and Germany gained prominence.
The representatives of the older generation of exile writers ( as e.g. Rudolf Dilong, Mikulas Sprinc, Karol Strmen, Eugen Vesnin, Gorazd Zvonicky, Jan Okal), continue writing as well as the representatives of the authors who left after August 1968 and later emigrants; Ladislav Mnacko, Jozef Milucky, Rudolf Bednar, Zdenka Beckerova, Irena Brezna and Dusan Simko belonged to the recognised ones of them.
From the thematic point of view the literature of Slovak authors in exile can be divided into three major ideological groups. The first one reflects religious status of a writer (the authors of the poetical Catholic Revival Rudolf Dilong, Mikulas Sprinc, partly also Karol Strmes and a prose writer Jozef Ciger Hronsky), the second one reflects the idea of the nation which they then developed into the religious dimension (Andrej Zarnov, Jan Okal, Peter Klas, Pavol Hrtus Jurina and others) and the third one concentrated on the gradual liberalization of personality in the conditions of fundamental social changes (Leopold Lahola, Ladislav Mnacko, Agnesa Gundova-Jergova, Jaroslava Blazkova, Jozef Milucky, Dusan Simko, Ilja Cicvák, Ivan Rakus, Zdenka Beckerova and Irena Brezna).
At this point it is necessary to point out that great attention has been paid in Slovakia to the literature in exile and emigration for the last twenty years, particularly thank to the Office for Slovaks Living Abroad, the Slovak Foundation Matica Slovenská and other institutions as well as thanks to the individuals (Peter Cabadaj, Peter Maruniak, Genoveva Gracova and others). The importance of this literature has been presented at various scientific conferences and seminars as well as in numerous scientific and popular-educational books. The representatives of this literature were during the Communist totality violently excluded from the history of Slovak literature as well as from the collective consciousness of the Slovak society.