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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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7. The Adventure of Humanity



       The Adventure of Humanity

       (Dominik Tatarka and Albert Camus)

“…If poverty and life come together without sky and hope – which I came across as I approached manhood in the desperate suburbs of our towns, then there is the most shocking injustice: everything must be done so that these people escape the two-fold degradation of poverty and ugliness …”

Albert Camus, Foreword to The Wrong Side and the Right Side, Slovenský spisovateľ, 2002

Who has never been a Communist before thirty has no heart,Who remains a Communist after thirty is a madman.

The question of social equality has interested people since the start of our civilization, especially those who have a sense of human dignity, honour and justice. 1,800 years before a member of the English parliament, Thomas More, wrote Utopia (1516), Plato wrote his Republic. The humanist thinker Tommaso Campanella continued in addressing questions of social justice and was followed in this by the utopists Saint Simon, Charles Fourier and Robert Owen, some of whom gave their wealth away to serve as role models to others. This led to the start of modern-day Socialism in England, a forerunner to Marxism.

A shared social feeling was uniting intellectuals of all countries, classes and religions at the start of the 20th century when Dominik Tatarka and Albert Camus were born (both in 1913). They both came from poor backgrounds and became fatherless as a result of...

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