Petan’s most notable and internationally acclaimed form of expression are the aphorisms. In the Enciklopedija humorja (Encyclopaedia of Wit), Petan informs the reader of the number of aphorisms he’s written in the past thirty years – some 5,000 in all, a most impressive figure. As for their literary provenance, Petan states: “Aphorisms do not belong to the epic or the lyrical. They belong to ethics.” Beginning with Petan’s first book of aphorisms, political and social life of the time continued to be his constant source of inspiration. The communist regime, of course, in its endless self-approving, long-winded verbosity and puffed-up self-glorification, watched with scrutiny over any potentially dissenting voices.
Satire was thus in the inner circle of politically suspicious forms of expression. The short, acrimonious and intense ‘reality-check’ nature of the aphorism was perhaps best suited among all the possible responses to the tedious and hollow political speeches of the day. Here is one sharp example of Petan’s politically satirical barbs: “I’ve been asked why I write, and this here is my reply: unfortunately, the pen doesn’t fire bullets.”
Witty one-page photo-caricatures by Stane Jagodič illustrate Petan’s most remarkable book of aphorisms, Pred nami potop (Before Us, the Deluge). The title, paraphrasing Louis XV’s famous maxim: “After us, the deluge”, is an endorsement of the quality inherent in Petan’s work. Perhaps it could best be summed up by the phrase: “new skin for ancient wisdom.” As much as it is distinctly Petan’s, it is also quintessential to the identity of the European culture and above all, to the European literary tradition.
From the afterword by Andrijan Lah
Edited by: Andrej Blatnik
Afterword: Andrijan Lah
Afterward translation: J. M. Dintinjana
Price: 10,00 EUR