Key Figures in Slovene Literary Translation
Oton Župančič did not only influence the Slovene language with his original works, but also with an extensive and above all extremely high-quality translation œuvre (which includes also his excellent translations of Shakespeare’s plays) – he is considered one of the greatest Slovene translators of all time. Literary historian Joža Mahnič (1981, 177) even referred to him as “the founder of modern and high-quality translating among Slovenes".
Alojz Gradnik translated several fundamental works of Italian, Serbian, Croatian, Russian, Spanish, French and English literature, while introducing Chinese, Bengali, Japanese and Persian poetry to Slovene readers through indirect translations. Gradnik valued his work as a translator greatly, and decided to publish many of his translations alongside his own original poems.
The translation work of Fran Bradač has, among other things because he was often pressed for time, remained in the shadow of the translations of Anton Sovre, and later Kajetan Gantar and Primož Simoniti. Nevertheless, it should be highlighted that it was in fact Bradač who brought some of the fundamental works of the literature of Antiquity to Slovene readers.
The classical philologist Anton Sovrè is one of the most renowned and eminent Slovene literary translators, and this is reflected in the fact that the most important professional award for translation is named after him. His substantial and recognizable translation œuvre, characterized by meticulous style, tied to his mastery of the expressive potential of Slovene, has brought numerous Greek and Latin classics to Slovene readers.
Throughout his life, Izidor Cankar was constantly present, directly or indirectly, in Slovene culture, art, language and politics. Initially, his vision focused on editorial and artistic activities, but during his final years he contributed significantly to Slovene literature through his work as a translator of some central English literary works.
Vladimir Levstik was, in terms of the number of his translations, one of the most prolific Slovene translators. He introduced the Slovene readership to numerous important novels of the Russian realist period, especially to the works of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy.
Fran Albreht (known also as Albrecht) was one of the most important translators in the early post-Second World War period, translating from German, Czech and Serbian, both theatrical texts as well as fiction, but also children's literature. As the co-founder and first president of the Slovenian Association of Translators, he helped improve the status of literary translators in Slovene society.
Josip Vidmar was an influential figure in cultural sector in post- Second World War Slovenia, who largely guided the cultural development of socialist society. A prolific literary translator, of both Russian writers and of some of the central texts of Moliere's œuvre, he also wrote theoretical treatises on translation. He believed that translation played a key role in the development of peripheral language communities, such as the Slovene language community.
In the Slovene cultural sphere, the translator Karel Dobida was best known as the director of the National Gallery and a connoisseur of local and foreign art. After the Second World War, he contributed translations of many French canonical authors, such as Anatole France, Gustave Flaubert and Alphonse Daudet to Slovene literature.
Božidar Borko, who established himself primarily as a cultural mediator between the Slovene, Slavic and Romance literary systems, is known for his persistent endeavours to educate Slovene readers about translated literature, contributing significantly to the shaping of the Slovene cultural sphere.
France Vodnik was one of the most influential Slovene Catholic intellectuals in the interwar period, who had a profound impact on Slovene cultural life, especially as a critic and essayist. After 1945, political circumstances forced him to focus on translation, and he soon became one of the most important Slovene translators from the Polish language, making a significant contribution to the development of the Polish-Slovene cultural contacts in the decades after the Second World War.
The life and work of Silverster Škerl was dedicated to Slovene culture, literature and language. Initially, he worked as a publisher and editor, but eventually circumstances compelled him to find his vocation in literary translation.
Božo Vodušek was a Catholic expressionist poet who mainly translated poetry from German, Russian, French and Croatian. He is best known for his translations of Goethe and Baudelaire.
The life and work of Mile Klopčič was dedicated to social and political activism from an early age. He translated many important works of world literature, especially Russian poetry, which makes him one of the most highly regarded translators of the older generation in Slovenia.
Tone Potokar is particularly relevant for Slovene literature because of his translation opus, which includes translations of many literary works from three South Slavic languages, namely Croatian, Serbian and Bulgarian, into Slovene, and translations of key Slovene literary works into South Slavic languages. With his translation work, he significantly strengthened the cultural ties among the nations of socialist Yugoslavia.
The translator, writer, and playwright Mira Mihelič was a prominent literary and social figure in Slovenia in the post-Second World War period. The recipient of the Sovre Prize (for her translations of Faulkner’s Light in August, Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel, and Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers) and the Prešeren Prize for literary and lifetime achievements, Mihelič was also the first woman to head the Slovene Writers' Association and to serve as the Vice-President of the Slovene PEN Centre. Her translations made a significant contribution to forming the Slovene translation culture in the post-war period, while the originals of her translations are considered to be, almost without exception, essential texts of the Western literary canon.
Matej Bor was a singular and innovative Slovene translator, poet, novelist, playwright, and essayist, who devoted more than two decades of his life to Shakespeare and translated about half of his plays into Slovene.
Janko Moder did not only make his mark on Slovene literary history with his extremely extensive translation opus, but also as the spiritus movens of the Slovenian Association of Literary Translators and a tireless promoter of literary translation in general. His bibliography includes more than 400 translations from more than 20 different languages.
Radojka Vrančič introduced Marcel Proust's novelistic opus In Search of Lost Time to the Slovene readership, along with other canonical French authors. This monumental endeavour is to this day considered one of the greatest translation triumphs in the period after the Second World War. Each year since 2002, the Association of Slovenian Literary Translators has presented an award named after Radojka Vrančič to the best young translator under the age of 35.
Janez Gradišnik is rightly considered one of the greatest Slovene translators of all time due to his extensive and exceptionally high-quality translation opus, with which he enriched the number of classic works of world literature in the Slovene literary system. He made his name with the translations of the most demanding works from English, German, French, Serbian and Russian.
Niko Košir was one of the leading Slovene literary translators working from the Spanish and Italian languages. His translation œuvre encompasses translations of key Italian authors from different periods (including Bocaccio, Machiavelli, Verga and Pirandello), as well as translation of canonical Spanish texts, such as the epic The Poem of the Cid (El Cantar de mio Cid) and Cervantes's Don Quixote (Don Quijote).
Ivan Minatti is best known to Slovene readers as the author of the poem “Nekoga moraš imeti rad” [You must love somebody], which has become almost a folk poem, and as the Slovene translator of Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince. Although Minatti holds an important place in the Slovene culture mostly on account of his poetry, his translation opus is of great importance as well, particularly his translations of poetry from ex-Yugoslavian languages.
Tone Pavček established himself as a poet early in life as one of the authors of the poetry volume Pesmi štirih [The Poems of the Four], which announced a new turn in Slovene poetry. Pavček received several important Slovene awards for his poetry collections. His translation opus is important as well: he translated poetry mostly from Russian, Croatian, Serbian, and other Slavic languages.
Janez Menart is considered one of the all-time best Slovene translators of English and French verse, but his importance for the Slovene translation field transcends his own translation œuvre, since he also encouraged his fellow poets to translate the most important works of world poetry.
Kajetan Gantar is one of the key mediators of the heritage of Antiquity in Slovenia. He has translated a wide range of different texts, and is known particularly for his translations of Greek and Latin poetry. His translated texts are characterized by his linguistic refinement in searching for translation solutions, including his reliance on practically all the registers of Slovene and Slovene phraseology.
The life and work of Vital Klabus was dedicated to cultural engagement, either through critical reflection on the cultural and political situation during the time of Communist Party rule, or through his translations of important French, English and German authors.
Vlasta Pacheiner Klander is the most important Slovene Indologist and translator working from Sanskrit. As one of the few experts on ancient India in Slovenia, she has introduced a number of well-known and less well-known works of ancient Indian literature to Slovene readers through her translations and research papers. She has also carried out pioneering work in the field of Slovene Indology and has made a lasting impact on the development of the Indian-Slovene contacts.
Veno Taufer – poet, versatile author, playwright, and translator with an extensive œuvre – introduced a number of important poets to the Slovene audience. It is largely owing to Taufer that some of the most complex modernist poetry has been published in Slovene.
With his many outstanding translations of fundamental works by influential Marxist and Western philosophers, Frane Jerman enriched the Slovene academic and cultural landscape, while playing a constructive role in the development of translation studies in Slovenia by promoting theoretical discussions on translation. The Jerman Award, presented for exceptional translations of texts from the fields of social sciences and humanities into Slovene and given by the Slovenian Association of Literary Translators, is named after him.
Primož Simoniti was a distinguished literary and cultural historian, an expert in the period of Humanism, and, at the same time, one of the key translators working from Latin and Ancient Greek into Slovene. His masterful translations of novels from the Antiquity and Medieval Latin poetry are an invaluable addition to the Slovene translational canon.
Among Slovene translators, Marija Javoršek is associated with the formally pure, but also vibrant and vivid French authors, whether they be lyrical (Baudelaire, de France, Hugo, Genet, Verlaine), tragic (Corneille, Racine) or mischievously tongue-in-cheek (Corneille, Molière, la Fontaine). Her translations, of both fiction and verse, are substantial, marked by her own personal expression, and her attitude towards the style and the form of the original.
Marjan Poljanec is considered to be an experienced and meticulous translator, who has been bringing the works of some of the most important Russian and French authors to Slovene readers for half a century. His translations of non-fiction have furthermore introduced the Slovene audience to famous figures and events from Russian and French history.
Aleš Berger is one of the most important Slovene translators from the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In his finely honed and linguistically accomplished translations, he introduced some of the key 20th century French and Spanish authors, such as Guillaume Apollinaire, René Char, Raymond Queneau, Federico García Lorca and Jorge Luis Borges, to Slovene readers.
Drago Bajt is a translator who has introduced Russian modernist and avant-garde literature to Slovene readers with his translations of literary works and works from the field of literary theory, as well as with his own studies in literary history.
As a poet and a literary editor, Miha Avanzo has made an important contribution to the development of contemporary Slovene poetry. He later became one of the leading translators working from English. In his long career, he has introduced a number of older as well as contemporary canonical American and English authors to Slovene readers. He has also translated the works of some of the most famous authors of international bestsellers.
Two things stand out in Marjan Strojan's translation opus: canonical works written in Old and Medieval English, and poetry by John Milton. Both present a great translation challenge from the literary and linguistic perspectives. The author of eight poetry collections, Strojan is himself an important poet, as well as an editor and critic. His articles on translation are invaluable for their intertwining of theory and long-term translation practice.
Uroš Kalčič began his career as a writer, but later focused almost exclusively on translation from English into Slovene. His translation œuvre is rich and varied, encompassing translations of contemporary canonical authors, such as Salman Rushdie and Orhan Pamuk, translations of key works of the British literary canon, for instance the works of D. H. Lawrence, and also genre fiction, including crime and fantasy.
Srečko Fišer is a Slovene translator, playwright, language editor, publicist, and literary critic. He translates from English, Italian, French and Croatian, and is known and celebrated for his translations of English, American and Italian theoretical works, and classical writers, particularly dramatists, among others, Shakespeare, Molière, and the authors of the Theatre of the Absurd, e.g., Ionescu and Beckett. His poetry translations include Shakespeare, Tasso, Michelangelo Buonarotti and, most recently, Petrarch’s Canzoniere.
The poet and translator Boris A. Novak is an engaged intellectual, who has contributed to the exchanges between the Slovene and the French culture above all with his skilful translations of French and Occitan poetry. He has also contributed to the translation norms at the turn of the 21st century with his thoughts on some of the problems associated with translating poetry.
Vesna Velkovrh Bukilica is a translator working from several languages, but has been recognized in particular for her superb translations of the most stylistically and linguistically demanding works of Spanish and Hispanic authors. Her translations have been awarded several prizes, and she is particularly well-known for her translations of the greatest names of Latin American literature, including the Chilean author Isabel Allende, the Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez and the Argentinian writers Julio Cortázar and Jorge Luis Borges.
Vasja Bratina, a translator working from several languages, has gained critical acclaim for his translations of contemporary Croatian and Italian postmodernist authors, including Predrag Matvejevič, Claudio Magris and, above all, Umberto Eco, whose literary and non-literary works are particularly prominent among his translations. Bratina has been awarded several prestigious awards for his translations from Italian, and his translation of Roberto Saviano's novel Gomorrah is especially highly regarded.
Photo: Vid Ponikvar / Sportida
Gorazd Kocijančič is notable for his translations of philosophical, theological and spiritual texts from Greek, Latin and Hebrew. He has developed his own theoretical views on translation, which could, in the context of translation theory, be classified as hermeneutic due to the influence of Friedrich Schleiermacher, Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber.
Suzana Koncut, the recipient of the Prešeren Fund Award in 2020, is a former dancer and choreographer, well known for her many diverse translations of French literature. She has translated both classical and contemporary texts that demand a great deal of linguistic knowledge, theoretical expertise and a strong will to engage in in-depth research. Her translation œuvre encompasses literary texts, as well as texts from the social sciences and the humanities, and even theatrical texts.
Andrej E. Skubic is well-versed in introducing elements of non-standard linguistic variants and colloquialisms into his translations of contemporary British, American and Anglophone postcolonial literature, showing great skill and ingenuity. His translations of substandard speech in contemporary Scottish texts have been particularly influential.
Nada Marija Grošelj, who translates from Slovene into English and from English, Latin, Swedish, German and Classical Greek into Slovene, is one of the most prolific and awarded Slovene contemporary translators and the recipient, among others, of the Sovre Prize for established translators (for her translation from Latin of works by Ovid and Plautus, and her translations of the Selected Works of Oscar Wilde) as well as of the Young Translator Award. She translates prose and poetry for children, young adults, and adults, as well as historical and contemporary theoretical texts across the fields of, e.g., literature, philosophy, theology, and mythology.