During his lifetime Srečko Kosovel published no more than forty-odd poems, but he nevertheless became one of the few canonized Slovene poets and a widely praised and prominent representative of the Slovene “historical avant-garde”.
Kosovel’s poetry collection Integrals emerged as the summit of his art, a distinctive phenomenon in wider Central European literature. Departing from established poetry forms and conventions, its exceptional originality made waves in the European literary currents of the 20th century.
“Integrals contain experimental poems beyond Kosovel’s impressionist or expressionist phases. Anton Ocvirk, their editor, arranged them into four themed clusters: the first focusing on antagonisms in Europe, the second on the fare of Slovenes threatened by foreign rule, the third on Kosovel’s new lyrical poetry, and the final on chaos and a cosmos permeated by visions of death. In spite the editor’s conviction that poems selected in Integrals were purely “constructivist”, the edition reveals an essentially syncretic nature: fundamental expressionist elements merging with dadaist, surrealist and explicitly futurist strokes,” writes Nike Kocijančič Pokorn in the book’s preface.
The image of the New European Man taking centre stage in Kosovel’s Integrals is the image of man shaped by the philosophical thought of Friedrich Nietzsche. Starting with deconstruction, venturing across ‘the bridge of nihilism’, Kosovel settled in constructivism on consistent ethical grounds, fanning the development of the literary movement on the European scale. His Kons poems (Konsi in plural) remain singular even within it, due to their idiosyncratic displacement of time and space, the use of self-quotation, interventions of melodious language he called ‘velvet lyricism’ to effect semantic breaks, and Kosovel’s orientation in ‘fluid philosophy’. His Konsi form the pinnacle of European constructivism, breathing life and flair into the movement beyond the borders of the Soviet Union.
Original title: Integrali
Edited by: Andrej Blatnik
Afterword: Nike Kocijančič Pokorn