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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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8. Freedom and dreams



       Freedom and dreams

“Freedom has such a strong flavour that a person gets the taste to even commit death by starvation. You know, men and nations communicate by acts, by work, by gestures, so let all words drone on, bray on or thunder away.”

D. Tatarka, “O uctievaní bohov” (“On Worshipping the Gods”),

“A dream, that is I, conscious and unconscious, from the time of my ancestors heading somewhere, came through me (…) that my life is a pure river. (…) To unselfishly do something good or pleasant for someone – all of this redeems a person from absurdity, gives a person freedom. (…) Nurture freedom in your soul, my love (…) My soul is all I have now; they’ve not engulfed it.”

Dominik Tatarka: Listy do večnosti (Letters to Eternity), p. 69

8.1 The idea of freedom in the literary modern

As a neo-Romantic movement concentrated in artistic utterances about man, his interior, his position in society, law, honour and acceptance, as an unnatural, but continuously acquired attribute of democratic political-social and private relationships, the modern has brought many notable literary figures and literary situations that can be seen as an artistic period document of transformation.

Words like law, war, nation, or the present appellation “collectivity”, freedom, creation, art etc. are all concepts in whose name events in human history have occurred, in whose name wars have been and still are waged with weapons, but also...

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