1. bookVolume 6 (2014): Issue 2 (December 2014)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2450-8497
ISSN
1337-9291
First Published
10 Jul 2014
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

“Because Slovaks are the best people in the world and the Slovak language is the most beautiful language in the world”: Defamiliarising the Slovak “Imagined Community” in Samko Tále’s Cemetery Book

Published Online: 11 Dec 2014
Volume & Issue: Volume 6 (2014) - Issue 2 (December 2014)
Page range: 39 - 47
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2450-8497
ISSN
1337-9291
First Published
10 Jul 2014
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

National identity and language have been understood to be inseparable. This claim is supported by the history of the Slovak language, notably the codification attempts made by Anton Bernolák and Ľudovít Štúr as part of the Slovak National Revival Movement. National community tends to be perceived as being defined and categorized by a unified language, or by a homogenous grammar and lexicon shared equally among the community members. This concept of speech-national communities, I propose, is deconstructed in Daniela Kapitáňová’s Samko Tále’s Cemetery Book (Kniha o cintoríne), published in Slovak in 2000 and translated into English by Julia Sherwood in 2010. Through Samko’s pedantic engagement in Aristotelian categorization of knowledge, in his obsessive attempt to illustrate his (antilogical) logic of what it means to be a Slovak and to be part of a community which has gone through dramatic changes in history, tenets and beliefs which are unquestioningly accepted as truth are mercilessly defamiliarized, or “made strange”. Samko Tále’s Cemetery Book corresponds with Benedict Anderson’s notion of human communities as imagined entities in which people “will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion”.

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