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A Slavic Republic of Letters

The Correspondence between Jernej Kopitar and Baron Žiga Zois


Luka Vidmar

This book discusses the correspondence between Jernej Kopitar, a co-founder of Slavic studies and proponent of Austro-Slavism, and Baron Žiga Zois, an Austrian nobleman and patron of the Slovene national revival. The author treats their letters (composed between 1808–19), which are for the most part unpublished, both as historical sources and as texts. In the first part of the book, he situates them in history and within the genre of the letter, especially in the context of Classical and Enlightenment epistolography; in the second, he deals with their importance for the development of Slavic cultural nationalisms; in particular, he argues that this correspondence successfully bound Slovene, Czech, Polish, Dalmatian, Croatian, and Serbian literati into a Slavic «republic of letters».
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Historical and Genre Definitions of the Kopitar-Zois Correspondence


Historical Definitions

Kopitar and Zois corresponded between 1808 and 1819—that is, at the time when the late Enlightenment and Romanticism defined Central European culture. As persons and writers, Kopitar and Zois were clearly most influenced by the Enlightenment, though there were other spiritual currents, as well. Their correspondence indeed bears the imprints of multiple epistolary traditions.

The Epistolary Tradition of Antiquity

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