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Dominik Tatarka: the Slovak Don Quixote

(Freedom and Dreams)


Mária Bátorová

The book deals with the question of resistance to Soviet hegemony in Central Europe after 1968, when Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia. The political and cultural situation in the context of Central Europe is presented through the life and work of the Slovak dissident, the writer Dominik Tatarka, who signed Charta 77 immediately after Václav Havel. For the first time, the wider context of resistance to violence and to intellectual as well as material hegemony is explored here. Using the comparative method, this work considers historical, philosophical and sociological ramifications of this resistance. To understand the issues of dissent means to comprehend the alternative and parallel culture of the 20 th century. Thanks to this culture and the efforts of intellectuals in particular, the present-day relatively free conditions for creation and life in general were created. On the basis of the literary work and life of one of the Charta 77 signatories, Dominik Tatarka, this work addresses the topic of dissident literature. By the use of the comparative method Slovak literature is analysed alongside other literatures of Central Europe (e.g. the literature of Czech dissent Václav Havel, Ludvík Vaculík), as well as French (exploring the genetic connection between Dominik Tatarka and Albert Camus). This illustrates the wider context of the idea of freedom and free cultural values characterizing Tatarka’s work.
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4. Types of depiction



       Types of Depiction1

Tatarka’s work is close to visual art. He never painted but his decorated letters are well known. In his literary portraits he uses colours, perspective and atmosphere in similar ways to those of a visual artist (in paintings and sculptures).

If authenticity is the basis of Tatarka’s style, then the setting of his works is defined by his own vision of the world, by images stored in his memory and reflecting his experience. There is always something which appeals to his imagination and stimulates his creativity. This is the case with the images deeply ingrained in his memory and reworked in his novels in various modifications. These include his self-portrait, a portrait of his mother, visualizations of sexuality and of his inner world. His descriptions are never complete or exhaustive. In fact they are not external but instead capture characters through their inner qualities, movement, action…

The authenticity of the images which are consistently present in Tatarka’s work can be especially seen in the way they change over time: the image of ← 85 | 86 → the mother in the character of Margitka in Farská republika (Parish Republic), her image in the novella Ešte s vami pobudnúť (To Stay with You for a While).

Other images occur only once but leave a deep experiential mark which the author is unable to shake off. He develops these as poetic images (not novelistic), created (according to Bakhtin) using the...

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