Elements of the Slovakian spoken language appeared in literary texts during the centuries preceding the 18th century, but Anton Bernolak (1762-1813) was the first who attempted to create a literary language. Bernolak's language was used by two talented writers, Jozef Ignac Bajza (1755-1836), the author of the first Slovakian novel, and the famous classical poet Jan Holly (1785-1849), who wrote his epic poems in alexandrine verse in order to prove the Slovakian language malleable enough to be equal to complicated forms of ancient poetry.
The two main representatives of Slovakian literary classicism are the poet Jan Kollar (1795-1852) and the historian Pavel Jozef Safarik (1795-1861), even though both continued to write in Czech, their work belongs equally to Czech and Slovakian literary heritage.
Both writers adopted J.G. Herder's philosophical conception about the glorious future reserved to Slavs, and they became the most important promoters of Pan-Slavism. Holly, Kollar and Safarik greatly helped to awaken national conscience and showed the way to the creation of native literature.
The most prestigious personality of the 19th century is undoubtedly Ludovit Stur (1812-1856): writer, scholar and deputy in the Hungarian Diet. He was the main architect of the creation of a modern literary language (1844).
This language, based on the dialect from central Slovakia, was adopted by the entire nation. Inspired by the Helegian philosophy, he developed the concept of Slovakian romanticism, whose main characteristics are the pre-eminence of patriotic thought and the attachment to popular traditions.
During the difficult period of forced "Hungary-isation" that followed the missed revolution of 1848, a few writers endeavoured to maintain the morale of a population progressively stripped of its culture.
This situation delayed the advent of realism in Slovakia, and thus it is not before 1870 that a new generation of writers began to raise the level of Slovakian literature.
"Realistic" authors chose their subjects in contemporary life, rather than in the past. This is true for the poet Pavol Orszagh Hviezdoslav (1849-1921) and for the novelists Svetozar Hurban Vajansky (1847-1916) and Martin Kukucin (1860-1928).
At the beginning of the 20th century a literary group called "The Slovakian modernists" whose leader was the poet Ivan Krasko (1876-1958) stood out among the rest. His style is close to those of western symbolists yet exemplifying the worries of the poet for his peoples' fate.
Prevalent in this writing style and common to all the literary streams of 19th century Slovakia, is the constant concern to defend the very existence of the nation; its language and its culture.
The establishment of the Czechoslovakian republic (guaranteed by France with the treaty of Trianon) enabled young talented Slovaks to go France to continue their studies; the painters Imro Weiner-Kral and Ludovit Fulla were among them.
Guillaume Appolinaire and Andre Breton influenced young Slovakian poetry, whose most talented representatives were Vladimir Reisel, Jan Rak, Ctibor Stitnicky and Rudolf Fabry.
Impregnated with their French culture, many were the Slovakian writers like Alexander Matuska, Albert Marencin, Vladimir Minac and Jan Stevecky who contributed to bring the two countries closer together.
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