Samorastniki (The Self-Sown), the first featured story, is considered the pinnacle of Prežihov Voranc’s artistic achievement. It centres on the universal problem of unwed motherhood, exposed and analysed within the socio-economic context of a small rural segment of nineteenth-century Slovene society. Marriage laws and customs have, of course, almost universally condemned births out of wedlock, with varying degrees and forms of humiliation administered in different times and places. The same medieval spirit of ignorance that spawned witch hunts also imposed measures, often barbaric, on single mothers up until the very recent past. Their offspring, likewise, suffered historical social and legal abuse. In Prežihov Voranc’s tale, both these aspects are sharply dissected: the agony of the unwed mother, Meta, and the bleak fate of her bastard children. The central story – that of the seduced maiden who ends up becoming a lone parent to a brood of children – is narrated by the youngest daughter, herself now an old woman.
Delving into the second novella, Ljubezen na odoru (Passion Above the Precipice), the reader is cast into the thick of events without temporal or spatial coordinates. The narrator speaks of the life and child-rearing of the Radman family, where the older four siblings look alike while the youngest two appear oddly out of place. We read of Afra Radman, a sturdy and buxom peasant woman, and her old, sullen and grumpy husband. While doing heavy work in the field, the Radman wife meets forester Voruh who offers to help. They start seeing each other, falling in love. Despite the stigma of a harlot attributed to her by the villagers, Afra divorces Radman and tries building a new life with Voruh. Constant struggle with her former mother-in-law and the elder children, who are shovelled with reluctance back and forth between their new and old homes, prove to be insurmountable obstacles. When a glimmer of hope finally appears for the lovers, Voruh is mortally injured in a forest accident caused by Karmuh, the oldest son of the Radmans.
Edited by: Aleš Debeljak
Afterword: Irma M. Ožbalt
Price: 10,00 EUR