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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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5. Water as the Beginning and End (The water motif)



       Water as the Beginning and End

       (The water motif)

“I am a Carpathian shepherdAnd worship everything that is real”

Dominik Tatarka: Navrávačky

“Water flows, pain hurts.”

D. Tatarka’s mother

Dominik Tatarka was the kind of writer we can consider to be a key element in his own creative work. He is an author who said about himself: “For me writing is all about my own experience; writing is my self-awareness”.1 The interpreter of his work must also consider the author himself. Although educated at Charles University and the Sorbonne, he still refers to himself as a “Carpathian shepherd…” and as readers, we cannot ignore these epithets because they carry clear connotations. Perhaps it was because he was a modern, well-travelled man who knew many countries and languages that Tatarka made a point of identifying himself with Slovakia.2

The geography of Slovakia and its special features are very relevant to the theme of water. The immense Carpathian horseshoe overarches the country from the west, across the north and into the east. One section of this horseshoe is made up of the High Tatra mountains in the north; in the south the River Danube forms a natural boundary into which the rivers Váh, Hron and ← 111 | 112 → Nitra all flow. This small country has 1500 mineral springs and many spas, each with their own distinctive healing powers. Archaeological findings show that...

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