Book by Marijan Dović and Jón Karl Helgason among the ‘Excellent in Science’ (Slovenian Research Agency)

Published on: 30. November 2018

National Poets, Cultural Saints, a book by Marijan Dović (ZRC SAZU) and Jón Karl Helgason (University of Iceland), is one of the ‘Excellent in Science’ achievements according to the Slovenian Research Agency. The selection was made by the members of the scientific councils for individual disciplines at the Agency and approved by the general Scientific Council. While some of the achievements were already presented in October at the ‘Day of the Slovenian Research Agency’, the complete selection will be featured in the Agency’s annual report for 2018.

Published with Brill, the book is a comparative literary history of the phenomenon of cultural saints, as Dović and Helgason term notable writers, composers and other figures in the arts whom European national movements have canonised and celebrated since the mid-nineteenth century following the example of the worship of Christian saints. Dović and Helgason develop an innovative theory that upgrades the established concept of canonisation by focusing on ritual practices and lieux de mémoire. Taking into account the European context of cultural nationalism, they look into the afterlives of Jónas Hallgrímsson and France Prešeren, national poets of two respective peripheral literatures, namely the Icelandic and the Slovenian one. Prešeren’s cult is analysed in the European framework with an innovative approach that links literary studies with cultural history, sociology and anthropology. The canonisation of cultural saints is also the topic of Dović’s book Prešeren po Prešernu (Prešeren after Prešeren [LUD Literatura 2017]), and additional case studies are presented in his edited volume Kulturni svetniki in kanonizacija (Cultural Saints and Canonisation [ Založba ZRC 2016]).