Publishing activities from 1918 – 1980

by Zuzana Bukovenová

After the establishment of the joint state system of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the First Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, political, economic and cultural development began to move in a different direction. Changing the monarchy into a republic meant economic crisis, unemployment, emigration, contradictions, capitalist culture, the organized struggle of the proletariat in changing the state and people. There began class contradictions as well as an ideological struggle. All this affected not only people and society, but also what individual authors wrote and how, perhaps mainly whether and where to publish what they had. Within a short period of the 20th century, people not only in Slovakia, but throughout the whole world had to cope with two world wars, which also strikingly affected literature itself and publishing activities.
After the Second World War and the subsequent departure of significant figures in exile, whether it was Jozef Cíger Hronský or representatives of Catholic modernism, for example, Mikuláš Šprinc and many others who did not fit the new political order, a Slovak literary and publishing community lost works that may have arisen in our country.
After 1956 there started “open windows”, the perception of a European context, the new reading of several displaced authors and literary periods (tentative touches of modernism, symbolism, hyperrealism, lyrical prose) and an increase in the presence of criticism confirming the internal aesthetic qualities of literature, exploring unconventional topics and questioning – still within the inviolability of political doctrines – the uncritical adoption of standard works of socialist realism (Sedlák, 2009, p. 498). “The relaxation of censorship and cadre terror after the discovery of the cult of personality, the achievements of Soviet cosmonauts and the gradual improvement of living standards opened new spaces of interest in learning about life and enabling the development of new nonfiction genres. The monumental national project in the second half of the 70s was the complete portrait of Slovakia’s archaeological past by Pavel Dvořák. The Seventies brought about development of biographers. The nationally pathetic shape was mainly represented by the biographical three-volume epic by Milan Ferko” (Marčok, 2004, pp. 356, 360, 361, 364). But let´s have a look at several significant institutions that participated in the publishing and printing of books, anthologies and journals.


The published work of Matica Slovenska after 1918 reflected its activities outwardly, publishing everything from scientific literature through educational literature and imaginative literature. Primarily there was the publishing of school textbooks, readers, reissues of Slovak classics, publishing poetry, prose, dramatic literature, original literature, translations, journals and scientific literature. Publishing activities intensified in the thirties, the publishing program in the years 1919 – 1945 divided by type and theme. Among other publishers Matica production firstly had an editorial slate reflecting the status and level of Slovak literature from that time. Matica also influenced the publishing of our classics: P. O. Hviezdoslav, J. M. Hurban, M. Kukučín, Ľ. Štúr, S. H. Vajanský, J. C. Hronský, M. Rázus and others. Editions of published classics and contemporary authors were as follows: Reader for Young Students (1921 – 1947), Reader for Municipal Schools (1934 – 1941), Works of Slovak Writers (1921 – 1938), Slovak Library Views (1922 – 1952), Dramatic Library (1931 – 1950) and Stage (1943 – 1950). Educational literature was occasionally published in the editions of MS People’s Library (1935 – 1942), in the Tournament Library (1936 – 1937) and lastly also in the lecture edition of Fount (1943 – 1944). Matica also supported the publishing of translations; however, translated literature was reserved in individual editions only after 1945.
After 1945 publishing activities focused on the publishing of the renewed Slovak Views and Sunshine, educational literature and literature for children and youth, along with scientific literature. Matica created new series like Bridge, Slavonic Library, Romanesque Library, the Practical Matica Reader Library, etc. The orientation on the publishing of Russian classics and Soviet writers was logical, but also the translations of Germanic and Romance literature. It increased the level of original publications, literature and scientific literature in relation to the granting of the so-called Christmas Prizes for Best Original Work. Matica established representational outlets and their extended production to Bohemia and Moravia. Its publishing of journals also increased. Besides scientific journals and journals like Slovak Speech, Philosophical Anthology, Literary-Historical Anthology, Ethnographic Anthology, Sociological Anthology, Psychological Anthology, Linguistics Anthology and Slavic Anthology it also published the journals Nature (1946 – 1950), Matica Reader (1946 – 1953), Slovakia (published as a journal today), Sunshine (1929 – 1950) and the bulletin Matica News. Outwardly Matica presented scientific and people’s educational literature, actively intervening in the literary context of published contemporary authors, involved in all cultural fields. In financial terms, the publishing processes were well organized, through publishers, its own printers and distribution. The editorial focus was based on external needs and suggestions. After 1948, however, Matica could not continue anymore with this system because external factors limited the extent of its publishing scope. The reduction of Matica’s publishing activities resulted in the absence of scientific literature as well as a different focus of people’s educational production. Matica Slovenská in Slovakia became a publishing center and authority. During the forties it published book publications by roughly 1050 writers and authors of professional works, combining 137 editors, 77 illustrators and 265 translators. In the history of Slovakia, Matica Slovenská has a prominent place in publishing valuable traditional and lasting literature.
In the fifties several Slovak publishers arose from Matica Slovenská. At times, original publishing activities were undesirable during the socialist regime, the evidence being that at that time publishing did not exist as a separate unit, substituted by the library science department. In the second half of the fifties the publisher developed theoretical work in the field of library science, publishing the journal Library, the workers of this department prepared to print multiple original works from the history of Slovak book printers, from publishing issues, from history books and libraries as well as stationery stores in Slovakia. In 1961 an independent publishing arm was established – for comparison: in 1954 Matica released 6 print publications and 2 publications multiplied, in 1961 published 15 publications and 85 multiplied. From 1954 – 1963 Matica published 546 publications and 145 prints, 401 multiplied, from 1964 – 1967 it was 207 publications, from this 45 printed and 162 multiplied. In 1968 it began to issue Matica Reader (ended in 1976) and Libraries and Scientific Information.
In the seventies and eighties Matica Slovenská expanded its publishing scope, besides library science, bibliography, documentation and methodology it added informatics, literary and music archives, literary museology, biography, history of emigration and life of Slovaks living abroad, literary history and the facsimile of older literary editions. Annually the publisher issued 40 to 45 book titles. The department ensured the publication of the journals Slovakia, Reader, Library and Scientific Information. In addition to journals Matica published anthologies: Bibliographical Anthology (1957), Library Anthology (1959), Literary Archive (1964), Literary Museum Chronicles (1967), Biographical Studies (1970), Slovaks Abroad (1971), Music Archive (1974). The structure of publishing activities consisted of seven editions: Theory and Research, Documentation, Concurrent Slovak National Bibliography, Slovak National Retrospective Bibliography, Special Bibliography, Recommended Bibliography, Methodology and Propagation. Editions were divided into the series Scientific Collections, Monographs, Professional Dictionaries, Catalogs, Literary Funds of the Matica Slovenska Archive, Inventories of Biographical Literature, Facsimile, Guidelines and Regulations, Photo Files, Anniversaries, Bibliophile and Manuscripts, etc.


The Book Printers Participating Association (BPPA) stood at the head of book printing and in 1918 also the publishing business in Slovakia. In fact, it was the official printer and publisher of Martin’s cultural and political center. From 1923 BPPA was fully dependent on Tatra Banka capital, originally created as a type of business on the basis of participation capital. It withstood economic fluctuations during World War I, the postwar economic crisis and subsequent competition. It maintained itself at the forefront of Slovak book printers for eighty years. From 1919 – 1939 BPPA deviated from the original publishing line due to changed economic and cultural conditions. It stopped printing small publishers. For example, J. G. Tajovský’s previously issued dramas in Slovak theater for amateur actors, at the cost of BPPA. From 1920 – 1929 it issued its work at its own expense. From small, professional publishers we can mention M. Schmidt (1919 – 1924), for cultural and political releases of the Slovak National Party (1921–1924). The main publisher that published with BPPA was Matica Slovenská. Other publishers that printed with BPPA included: The Philosophical Faculty of Comenius University (1922, together with Matica Slovenská), The Center of Slovak Amateur Theaters – CSAT (1922 – 1937), Živena (1924 – 1939), Čsl. červený kríž (1924; 1926; together with MS and Živena, 1927 – 1937), Spolok Sv. Vojtecha – SSV (1925 – 1939, 1930 – 1932 together with Tranoscius and MS), the Slovak Museum Society (1925 – 1938), Komenský, Bratislava (1926 – 1934), Adventné nakladateľstvo, Brno (1926 – 1929), “Slovak Nation” (1926 – 1927), Tranoscius (1926 – 1938; 1930 – 1932 together with Matica Slovenská and BPPA), the Church-Artistic Office, Bratislava (1928 – 1929), The Association of Slovak Professors (1928 – 1933), the Association of Slovak Students (1929 – 1932), Učiteľské nakladateľstvo O. Trávniček (1930 – 1932), Štátne nakladateľstvo, Prague (1931 – 1937), “U nás”, Bratislava (1932), Detvan, Prague (1932). New publishers were added after 1939: J. Horáček (1940 – 1945), Kompas (1940 – 1943), Slovenská učená spoločnosť (1940 – 1942), Štátne nakladateľstvo (1940 – 1944), Robotnícka sociálna poisťovňa – RSP (1941 – 1943), Miestny odbor Matice slovenskej, Martin (1941 – 1945), Slovenská akadémia vied (1943 – 1945), Spolok profesorov Slovákov (1943). From 1945 – 1949 new publishers were: Svet (1945 – 1946), Zenit (1946), J. Domko (1946), Slovenské komorné divadlo (1946 – 1949), Štátne nakladateľstvo (1946 – 1949), Slovenská akadémia vied (1946 – 1947), Tranoscius (1946 – 1948), Spolok Sv. Vojtecha (1947 – 1948), Tatran (1947 – 1949), Slovenský eperantský ústav (1948), Oráč (1949) and Pravda (1949).
A significant component of publishing activities was an imprint, for example, from Slovak Views, the Slovak Museum Society Anthology. After the reversion they were an important part of publishing production. The quantity of imprinted material was from the share of the Evangelical society literature from 1936 (Tranovský’s Anthology) and in 1937 the anthology Health Regulations in Slovakia. After 1940 from Linguistica Slovaca and Historica Slovaca. The method of imprinting ended in the year 1945 with an exception in the year 1949.
From the beginning of publishing and printing activities these BPPA editions were issued: Slovenský divadelný ochotník, all Slovak classics as well as newer theater literature, Pospolité čítanie (1911 – 1912) in 1918 based on the collected works of the greatest writers, realists and after 1919 BPPA attempted to continue in this activity. Most of the individual volumes of the collected works of Podjavorinská were printed and published but this activity was gradually taken over by Matica Slovenská. Neither did the publishing of Ruskej knižnice (1923 – 1926) survive. More editions were issued in the years 1923 – 1924. The following were printed in BPPA, particularly Matica Slovenská: Čítanie študujúcej mládeže (1921 – 1937), Diela spisovateľov slovenských (1921 – 1938), Knižnica Slovenských pohľadov (1922 – 1939), Dobré slovo (1930 – 1939), Spisy jazykového odboru Matice slovenskej (1933), Čítanie pre meštianske školy (1934 – 1937), Prekladová knižnica Matice slovenskej (1934 – 1939), Spisy umeleckého odboru Matice slovenskej (1934), Spisy historického odboru Matice slovenskej (1936 – 1938), Turnajová knižnica Matice slovenskej (1936 – 1937), Spisy Národopisného odboru Matice slovenskej (1937), Spisy pedagogického odboru Matice slovenskej (1937), Spisy literárnohistorického odboru Matice slovenskej (1939). The most significant editions were: M. Schmidt’s Svetová knižnica (1919 – 1922), Lipa’s Malá knižnica (1919), Zora, zábavno-poučná knižnica (1922 – 1923), Knižnica Vatry (1925), Divízia Čsl. Červeného kríža’s Lacné knižky (1927), Knihy Živeny (1930 – 1938), Živena Poučné čítanie pre dedinský ľud (1932), Knižnica Nár. hospodára (1932), O. Štanglerová, Hodonín Signum aenem (1932), Publikácie LUK-u (1932), Literárnoumelecké združenie Úsvit Ratolesť (1933), Knihovna právnickej fakulty univerzity Komenského (1934 – 1938), Knižnica slovenského remeselníka a obchodníka (1936), Knižnica štátneho ústavu pre zveľaďovanie živností (1935), Románová príloha Živeny (1934 – 1939), Publikácie Roľníckej osvety (1936), Štátne nakladateľstvo, Prague Papršleky, knižnica pre slovenskú mládež (1937), Knižnica Právneho obzoru (1938 – 1940). After 1940 BPPA printed for new publishers: Robotnícka sociálna poisťovňa – RSP Nový sociálny život (1941 – 1943), J. Horáček Knihy pre mládež (1940 – 1945), Knižnica Linquistica slovaca (1940), Knižnica Slovenského národného múzea (1941 – 1944), Séria A. Spisy poučné (1941), Séria B. Spisy náučné (1942 – 1943), Knižnica Nášho národa (1942), Spisy Slovenskej akadémie vied a umení (1943 – 1945), Náučná knižnica SAV (1943), Vlastivedná knižnica SAV (1944 – 1945), Dramatická tvorba Tranoscia (1944), Tvorba Tranoscia (1945). After 1945 new publishers were added to BPPA with their editions: Štátne nakladateľstvo Mladý život (1946 – 1949), J. Horáček Tulipánik, čítanie pre najmenších čitateľov (1948), Všeslovanská slovesnosť (1946), Svet Obzory (1946), Náučná knižnica SAV (1946), Vlastivedná knižnica SAV (1947), Knižnica slovenského národného múzea (1948), Halierová hasičská knižnica (1948).
BPPA dispatched the main national journals: 12 annual Slovenských letopisov, 66 annual Národných novín, 47 annual Orla, 6 annual Raráška, 35 annual Černokňažníka, 56 annual Slovenských pohľadov, 45 annual Sborníka Muzeálnej slovenskej spoločnosti, 17 annual Časopisu Muzeálnej slovenskej spoločnosti, 35 annual Živeny, 17 annual Slovenského remeselníka, 25 annual Kocúra, 20 annual Sborníka Matice slovenskej, 14 annual Gemer-Malohontu and the 13 annual Slniečka, publishing the 66 annual Slovak Pictorial Calendar at their own costs.
For demonstration we include a small percentage of the works printed in the BPPA from 1918. Some did not come out at all, listed as planned costs in parentheses.

1918 Radlinský – Nábožné výlevy (20 000)
1926 Verne – Deti kapitána Granta (5 000)
1927 Stodola – Náš pán minister 2 000
Palárik – Drotár 2 000
Dubňanská – Malierečka 2 000
Slovenský obrázkový kalendár 6 000
Langer – Pes druhej roty 3 000
Šoltésová – I., II. zv. sp. 3 000
Kukučín – VI. zv. zobr. sp. 2 000
Kalinčiak – II. zv. zobr. sp. (2 000)
Kalina – I. zv. zobr. sp. (1 500)
1928 Stodola – Bačova žena 2 000
Letopis Živeny 3 000
1929 Krčméry – Žatva (2 000)
Medvecký – Štátny prevrat (2 000)
Podjavorinská – I. zv. (3 000)
Podjavorinská – II. zv. (3 055)
Podjavorinská – III. zv. 2 000
Podjavorinská – IV. zv. (2 000)
Stodola – Belasý encyán 1 500
Tajovský – XIII. zb. zobr. sp. 1 500
Tajovský – VI. zv. 1 500
Timrava – I. zv. zobr. sp. 2 000
Berndorf – Špionáž 3 000
Podjavorinská – Veršíky 2 000
1930 Zelenák – Domáca liečba (5 000)
PVasilev – Ruská tajná polícia 3 000
Šoltésová – Moje deti 2 500
Suchánsky – Záhadné lietadlo 2 000
Marschier und Krepier (3 000)
1931 Dobšinský – Slovenské povesti 2 000
1932 Suchánsky – V Brazílii 2 000
1933 Chomkovič – Rôzne spôsoby 2 000
Bodický – Rozpomienky a pamäti (2 400)
Slovenský obrázkový kalendár 1 500
K 80. výročiu Škultétyho 3 000
1934 Suchánsky – Tri snúbenice 1 500
Branecký – Poklady M. Čáka (5 000)
Časopis Dennica 3 000
Hitler – Mein Kampf (3 000)

The largest costs were religious printing. These costs decreased due to political reasons after the First World War and in later years.
After 1918 the most produced prose anthology was Čítanie študujúcej mládeže. Poetry was dominated by P. O. Hviezdoslav, A. Sládkovič, Ľ. Podjavorinská, the most published prose writers were M. Kukučín and J. G. Tajovský, the theatrical editions were instead taken over by ÚSOD. The most theatrical works were published from 1922 – 1925. During the Slovak state and after its liberation printing was only for the Tranoscius theatrical library and the Slovak Chamber Theatre, two bibliophile editions were published including Marína by A. Sládkovič and Lukáč’s Bábel. The printer Neografia started to print other bibliophile editions for Matica.
In this period after political change, mostly linguistic literature figured in educational literature. There were published works by J. Škultéty, Kvačala, Socháň, J. Wagner, Czambela, Vajanský, Holuby, Plicka, Vážny, Václavík, Semkowicz, Babor, Kolísek, Krčméry, Vlček, Huska, Janšák, V. Wagner, Volek-Starohorský, F. Ruppeldt, V. Bobek, I. Houdek, S. Mečiar, Ľ. Novák, Skutil.
Social songbooks were less used in 1918 because of the loss of their awareness function among people, the one exception being Plicek’s Slovenské pesničky, published by the Turnaj Library in 1937.
From 1935, music was sporadically printed, the most often published was Mikuláš Schneider Trnavský. The wanderings of Jozef Holuby are the interesting travel descriptions connecting nature descriptions with botany. From the inventories we should mention Polivka’s Súpis slovenských rozprávok and Osuský’s Súpis literatúry o Tranovskom a Tranosciu, Ormis’ Doplnky k Riznerovej bibliografii, Súpis prác Jána Čajaka and Štefánikov súpis detskej literatúry.
Thanks to the BPPA and Slovenská Matica, quality illustrators were cooperating in book publishing: A. Kováčik, J. Alexy, M. Benka, Ľ. Fulla, M. Galanda, J. Hála, K. Ondreička, J. Vodrážka and translators: B. Škultétyová, J. Škultéty, S. Czambel, J. Halaša, J. Jesenský, F. Jesenský, Z. Jesenská, R. Klačko, V. Pauliny-Tóth, V. Mičátek and others. Inter alia, BPPA brought the Slovak book to a higher level of editing, this “national” printer and publisher in many ways affecting the character of Slovak publishing activities and book printing.

OSVETA PUBLISHING, N. P. 1953 – 1977

Within twenty-four years during the socialist regime Osveta Publishing in Martin devoted itself to publishing various literature: educational, natural science, health, sports, art literature, linguistic and cultural sciences – linguistics and literary science, literature. In 1954 there appeared a new music category and in 1955 Osveta began to publish technical literature, agricultural in 1957, fiction and children’s literature in 1972. From 1953 to 1977 2048 publications were published by Osveta. In addition to books it also published the magazines: Csechszlovákiai sport, Československý šport, Čitateľ, Farmácia, Film a divadlo, Krásy Slovenska, Lekársky obzor, Ľudová tvorivosť, Ľudové čítanie, Matičné čítanie, Miestny rozhlas, Naša práca, Osvetová práca, Pamiatky a múzeá, Príroda a spoločnosť, Svet socializmu, Štart, Veda ľudu, Zdravý národ and Život.

We can conclude that the main determinant for the publishers and the creators was clearly a political influence. Despite all the historic milestones, positive and negative, during the twentieth century, Slovak publishers had an important and irreplaceable role. Printers, publishers, and authors (writers, illustrators, photographers) created a number of unique publications that make up the golden era of Slovak production.


BREZA, Vojtech 1997. Tlačiarne na Slovensku 1477 – 1996 Bratislava : Zväz polygrafie na Slovensku, Univerzitná knižnica Bratislava, Matica slovenská. ISBN 80-85170-25-6, s. 214.

HALAŠA, Pavol – ŠPETKO, Jozef 1958. Kníhtlačiarsky účastinársky spolok v Martine 1869 – 1949 Martin : Matica slovenská. s. 296.

Kolektív autorov 1979. Bibliografia slovenských kníh 1919 – 1938 Martin : Matica slovenská. ISBN 95-017-79, s. 875.

MARČOK, Viliam a kol. 2004. Dejiny slovenskej literatúry III. Bratislava : Literárne informačné centrum. ISBN 80-88878-87-X. s. 471.

MLYNARČÍK, Jozef a kol. 2000. Martin z dejín mesta Martin : Vydavateľstvo Neografie. ISBN 80-88892-34-1, s. 706.

SEDLÁK, Imrich a kol. 2009. Dejiny slovenskej literatúry II. Martin : Matica slovenská. ISBN 978-80-7090-937-9, s. 785.

TELGÁRSKY, Jozef 1973. Bibliografický súpis publikácií Vydavateľstva Osveta, n. p. Martin 1953 – 1972 Martin : Vydavateľstvo Osveta. s. 465.

TELGÁRSKY, Jozef 1980. Bibliografický súpis publikácií Vydavateľstva Osveta, n. p. Martin 1973 – 1977 Martin : Vydavateľstvo Osveta. s. 150.

WINKLER, Tomáš – ELIÁŠ, Michal a kol. 2003. Matica slovenská. Dejiny a prítomnosť. Martin : Matica slovenská. ISBN 80-7090-694-4, s. 495.