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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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11. The relativistic and materialistic perception of mankind (The postmodern and the work of Dominik Tatarka)



       The relativistic and materialistic perception of mankind

       (The postmodern and the work of Dominik Tatarka)

11.1 Dominik Tatarka in contemporary reflections

In the expanded revised edition of Dejiny slovenskej literatúry (History of Slovak Literature) Viliam Marčok in the sub-chapter The so-called fictional situation and gradual regeneration of courage for an alternative viewpoint. Dissident prose. The definitive arrival of the postmodern (1976 – 1988)1 writes:

“In records of the spontaneous and uncorrected movements of his free spirit, which he himself called písačky (writings), he began a radical reconstruction and defence of his own – and our – private individuality. The crystallization points of this reconstruction became the obscenely candid records of his own erotic experiences and desires. He left his own dreams, visions, deliberations and memories to whirl around them, along with fragments of stories, records of persecution by the security forces, fragments of sent and unsent correspondence, angry pamphlets on period texts and attitudes, etc. Thus, a frank and multi-genre anti-literary record of courage regarding the freedom of the spirit arose. (…..) By applying the perspectives of an uncensored autobiography, thematizinga person outside of great histories and ideologies, aiming for ← 187 | 188 → a multi-genre and ostentatiously anti-literary method of presentation (P. Zajac), his texts spontaneously embody the main tendencies of the postmodern.”

Marčok in this synopsis joins in a short paragraph a summary of the work of Tatarka and a summary of the opinions of...

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