The Communards of Paris, 1871 by Stewart Edwards, Jean McNeil

By Stewart Edwards, Jean McNeil

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87 They brought back from their studies at the Protestant universities of Germany the notion of the modern cultural and linguistic nation and planted it firmly in Slovak soil. Thereby they provided the small Slovak intelligentsia with an ideology more adapted to the contemporary world than the old-fashioned ethnic group consciousness that had prevailed hitherto among the intellectual elites of both denominations. Secondly, whereas Bernolak's creation of a Slovak literary language served to demarcate more exactly than before the Slovak identity vis-a-vis the Czechs, the Czechoslovaks were the first to disentangle the Slovak nation from the Hungarian state.

Kollar and SafaHk throughout their lives spoke of themselves as Slovaks. Both men were educated in Slovakia in schools belonging to their Protestant denomination before departing for further studies at a German university. Thereafter both spent most of their active careers outside that country: it was indeed difficult in those days for talented young men to find a suitable niche in a comparatively backward region like Slovakia. Kollar for some thirty years was pastor of the Slovak Lutheran congregation in Pest, while Safar*ik worked first as director of the gymnasium at the Serb cultural centre of Novi Sad and then from 1832 on in Prague.

79 While the Czech contributors, as well as Safah'k,80 wrote in favour of the new, modernized Czech, the Slovak contributors, most of whom were country parsons or village schoolteachers, were obviously thinking of biblic'tina - 'our beautiful, pure, biblical Slovak' as one of them called it81 - when they spoke out against Stur. In many cases they regarded the old biblical language as a protection against the Czechization of the language threatening from Prague. Thus Kollar, the former literary innovator, now headed a conservative reaction, and in the realignment taking place within the Slovak Protestant intelligentsia all that was young and intellectually alive tended to gravitate towards Stur's camp.

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