The Nation between the Epic and the Novel: France Preseren’s The Baptism on the Savica as a Compromise “World Text”

Marko Juvan

Abstract


"The Baptism on the Savica is...a “world text” of the kind that
Moretti describes based on Goethe’s Faust, in view of the fact that it stages local history and the hagiography of a converted national hero against the backdrop of world history and within the aesthetic discourse of world literature. It is a story about the inevitable compromise between the universalism of European Christian civilization and the ethnicity of Slovenians. As opposed to the cacophonic polyphony and the act of ascribing actual spaces to historical periods in the modern epic represented by Faust, the world’s sacred text and the generator of a multiplicity of incommensurable interpretations (Moretti, Modern 45-50), Prešeren’s poem, including its form and genre, is a compromise between epic and novelistic discourse. Prešeren’s Byronic verse tale is a hybrid of the epic and the novel, of drama and elegy. But this generic compromise is so exceptional that it aesthetically empowers the depicted Slovenian world story and, through a history of effects, transforms itself into a Slovenian sacred text."

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