This year Slovenia is the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair. At the same time, it is 175 years since the first publication of Zdravljica, a particularly important poem from the pen of the greatest poets of Slovenian literature, France Prešeren.
On this occasion, in cooperation with the Slovenian Cultural Centre (SKICA) Berlin and the German Romantic Museum (DRM) in Frankfurt am Main, we opened the exhibition France Prešeren in slovenska romantika (France Prešeren and Slovenian Romanticism).
The exhibition in the manuscript room of the German Romantic Museum presents a selection of the first and most important editions of the poems of France Prešeren and Luiza Pesjak, held by the National and University Library in Ljubljana. The authors have also presented the historical context and outline of the development of Slovenian literature, which Prešeren entered, and the important legacy he gave to Slovenian and European culture.
The five showcases demarcate the view on the poet, where we get to know him as a human being, a poet, a visionary, a contemporary and a literary hero. First autobiographically, then with a tribute to the painter who depicted his chosen one – we enter the intimate journey of his life, where the birth and death of his love for Julia is the source of his poetry; then in the poignant experience of the end of the joy of the individual in the Sonnets of Misfortune, in the challenging form of the Sonnet Wreath and also in the tender poetic confession of the Gazelles; then through the ideas of the artist and the tragedy of the poet’s fate and Prešeren’s personal and Slovenian message to the world in Zdravljica; then through his role models and contemporaries, whether sympathetic or not; and finally through the work of his pupil and admirer Luiza Pesjak, the poet, writer and playwright who did Prešeren honour by making him the hero of her own literary work.
The home of the poet’s work in Europe was also substantiated in March 2020, when the European Commission awarded the European Heritage Label to Prešeren’s Zdravljica, placing this precious document among the most important monuments testifying to the history of European ideas and integration, and the National and University Library, as the custodian of the manuscript, became the headquarters of the conservation area.
The authors of the exhibition are DDr. Igor Grdina (The Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts) and Dr. Urška Perenič (University of Ljubljana, The Faculty of Arts). The exhibition was coordinated by Dr. Ines Vodopivec (NUK) and Dr. Raphael Stübe (DRM) and designed by Maj Blatnik (NUK). The sound recordings of Prešeren’s poems in German were contributed by the Ars Programme of Radio Slovenia.
The exhibition will be on display until 25 November 2023 at the German Romantic Museum in Frankfurt.