Slovak literature until 1945

by Professor Ján Gbúr

During the greater part of its historical development Slovak literature has evolved within the territories of multiethnic and multinational states. Slovak literary texts are works of art by authors either of Slovak origin who worked abroad or who were born outside Slovakia but worked in the Slovak Republic. This fact is reflected in the different language versions of the literary texts. In the very earliest days of a written form, Slovak literature (9th century) texts were written in Church Slavonic, while from the Middle Ages to the Baroque various forms of Slovak in the pre-standard phase of a language were applied in addition to universal Latin. From the era of Humanism a significant part of the literary works in Slovakia used Czech. Besides all of these languages German and Hungarian were also occasionally applied in Slovak literary works. Following Ludovít Stúr’s codification of the Slovak language, the dominant language of Slovak literature authors became standard Slovak.
Contemporary Slovak literature has been crystallising since 1780s, but its historical journey has included both positive and negative milestones. Particularly adverse conditions for the development of Slovak literature were created after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, which deformed all aspects of Slovak national development. Following the establishment of Czechoslovakia (1918) more favourable conditions for the development of Slovak literature were established. Emancipation efforts to establish an independent Slovak state were completed with the demise of the Czechoslovak Federal Republic (1992) and subsequent establishment of the two separate Czech and Slovak Republics (1993). Since that time, as part of the newly-established independent Slovak state, Slovak literature has been given greater opportunities to positively influence national culture.