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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 20th 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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10. Tatarka’s multilayered identity (The myth and reality of the author’s archai)



       Tatarka’s multilayered identity1

       (The myth and reality of the author’s archai)

With his emphasis on individuality and uniqueness Dominik Tatarka is a typical author of the modern. His seriousness, humourless deliberations, his seeking the essence of things, dignified solutions and starting points, his presence in culture and literature in Slovakia together embody, despite the mistakes which no human life can avoid, not only the limits of correctness, but also the mythical dimension of an artistic-human fate.

In summary it is possible to say: the initial tragic feeling of life and uncertainty evoked by his father’s death brings him early to adulthood and sparks a desire for harmony, community and love. The hard reality of his life’s journey, however, continuously shows him that in his own romantic imagination he wants more than he can get from life. He acts, despite the conditions, as if they could actually be changed. Education and intellectual potential enable him to have a vision of a better future. With his activities and his exemplary achievement, Tatarka maintains the continuity of Slovak intellectuals who had almost no conditions for a dignified life but nevertheless took hold of the right to live as free citizens. ← 179 | 180 →

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