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France Prešeren
Prešeren, 1850 oil portrait
Prešeren, 1850 oil portrait
Born (1800-12-03)3 December 1800
Vrba, Carniola, Habsburg Monarchy (now Slovenia)
Died 8 February 1849(1849-02-08) (aged 48)
Kranj, Austrian Empire (now Slovenia)
Occupation Poet, lawyer
Language Primarily Slovene, some works in German.
Nationality Carniolan, Slovene
Literary movement Romanticism
Notable works The Baptism on the Savica
O Vrba
Sonnets of Misfortune
A Wreath of Sonnets
Zdravljica

France Prešeren (2 or 3 December 1800 – 8 February 1849) was a 19th-century Romantic Slovene poet whose poems have been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Slovak, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Bengali, as well as to all the languages of former Yugoslavia, and in 2013 a complete collection of his "Poezije" (Poems) was translated to French.

He has been generally acknowledged as the greatest Slovene classical poet and has inspired virtually all later Slovene literature. He wrote some high quality epic poetry, for example the first Slovene ballad and the first Slovene epic. After his death, he became the leading name of the Slovene literary canon.

He tied together the motifs of his own unhappy love with that of an unhappy, subjugated homeland. Especially after World War II in the Slovene Lands, one of Prešeren's motifs, the "hostile fortune", has been adopted by Slovenes as a national myth, and Prešeren has been described being as ubiquitous as the air in Slovene culture.

During his lifetime, Prešeren lived in conflict with both the civil and religious establishment, as well as with the provincial bourgeoisie of Ljubljana. He fell victim to severe drinking problems, facing rejections and seeing most of his closest friends die tragically. His lyric poetry dealt with the love towards his homeland, the suffering humanity, as well as his unfulfilled love towards his muse, Julija Primic.

Although he wrote in Slovene, some poems were also written in German. As he lived in Carniola, he at first regarded himself a Carniolan, but gradually took the broader Slovene identity.

Legacy

Žive naj vsi narodi Prešeren Schuman
A memorial with “Žive naj vsi narodi” the first line of the Slovene national anthem by France Prešeren near the Schuman roundabout, Brussels.

Prešeren's legacy in Slovene culture is enormous. He is generally regarded as the national poet. In 1905, his monument was placed at the central square in Ljubljana, now called Prešeren Square. By the early 1920s, all his surviving work had been catalogued and numerous critical editions of his works had been published. Several scholars were already dealing exclusively with the analysis of his work and little was left unknown about his life. In 1945, the anniversary of his death, called Prešeren Day, was declared as the Slovene cultural holiday. In 1989, his Zdravljica was declared the national anthem of Slovenia, replacing the old Naprej, zastava slave. In 1992, his effigy was portrayed on the Slovene 1000 tolar banknote, and since 2007, his image is on the Slovene two-euro coin. The highest Slovene prize for artistic achievements, the Prešeren Award, is named after him.


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