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Old Slovak Literary Masterpieces Reshaped In Popular Art

Slovak young men with traditional shepherd’s axes, broad leather belts and big black hats don’t surprise anyone… Unless they have tattoos and hipster’s haircuts at the same time. Even more surprising is the fact that such a modern-traditional outfit appeared in a new video on the topic of one of the greatest Slovak poems Mor ho! And there’s even more!

Slovak writers of the 19th century attracted youth’s interest

Young people read a little… Too little. But if they read, then certainly not literary works of the best writers of Slovak Romanticism, such as Ľudovít Štúr, Samo Chalupka, Ján Botto… And even though they are forced to read them (especially due to school leaving examination), nevertheless, most of students don’t read the whole books, but only their content on Internet. The result? They do not understand and they are not interested.

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One of the best Slovak comedians Michal Kubovčík had decided to change this sad situation and to show to the youth through their specific language some literature masterpieces, such as Margita a Besná (Ján Botto, ballad, 1879), Mor ho! (Samo Chalupka, poem, 1864) or Rysavá jalovica (Martin Kukučín, novel, 1885). Kubovčík himself likes the Slovak history and literature a lot as he is an actor of the theater Radošinské naivné divadlo (a famous and very popular author theater of Stanislav Štepka). By his own words, we need to do useful things, too. He named his entertaining-educational project as Baštrng.

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Fight against an occupant, true women’s horror and deal in cow

Every Slovak should know the poem Mor ho! (Crush him!) by Samo Chalupka, but not everybody understands what it is exactly about. A team of Michal Kubovčík used modern language, slang in particular, visualizations and metaphors of today’s world to explain its content. After watching the video you immediately get a clue that only few brave Slovaks made a stand against a strong occupant who got ashamed and shocked after a hard fight. The poem is exactly about it, just from the Roman period.

The second video is even more ‘brutal’. The ballad Margita a Besná (Margita and the Fury) by Ján Botto, based on an old legend of the Strečno castle, says about a widow longing for a groom and her daughter-in-law Margita. She is jealous of young and beautiful Margita and sees her as a rival. After murdering the girl she got paranoid, followed by drowned ghosts and ending her life exactly as Margita – drowned in river Váh. Rap in Western Slovak slang and zombies might surprise you, as well.

Rysavá jalovica (Red heifer) by Martin Kukučín in the last video shows two problems of olden rural Slovakia – alcoholism and neighbourhood, with a heifer for sale in the centre of attention. Definitely, Slovak Romanticism is exciting as hell!

Author: Veronika M.

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