25 / 2007
Janja Žitnik Serafin

Emigrant literature and periodicals: eloquent statistic

In this contribution, I attempt with the help of a comparison of statistical data to ascertain some possible influences on the dynamics of literary publishing and newspaper activity of three Slovene immigrant groups, the pre-war Slovene immigrants in the USA, pre-war Slovene immigrants in Argentina, and after-war Slovene immigrants in Argentina. The choice of communities I discuss within the frame of this comparison includes on the one side at least partly the collective (cross covering) historical period of Slovene immigration in two different states, and on the other, two different historical periods of Slovene immigration in one state, which facilitates the ascertaining of eventual presence of certain influences, and the eliminating of possibilities of some other impacts. The many-years trends of rise and fall of values shown in Pictures 3-5, indicate a characteristic parable of the dynamics of the immigrant community cultural life. In comparing ratios between absolute values, supplemented with data on the extent and time span of the mass immigration wave with the treated communities (Tables 1-3), we are confronted with some distinctive deviations that cannot be explained merely by the influence of basic aspects of cultural life in emigration (particularly the size, territorial concentration, regeneration of the community with new coming immigrants, immigration “service” of the majority of community, and general conditions for individual activities in a given space and time), but they also indicate indisputably the influence of secondary factors (Picture 2). With the second belletristic book production pinnacle of the pre-war immigrant community in the USA (1976-80), the degree of integration in the culture of the new homeland country is undoubtedly evident. We are speaking of mainly literary book publications of the second generation of Slovene immigrants in the USA, which were published mostly by the authors, and partly by some publishing houses of the American mainstream. Just as much clearly expressed in the absolute peak of belletristic book production of the after-war immigrant community in Argentina (1991-1996) is the influence of integration in the culture of the source country. The most belletristic books by the post-war Slovene emigrants in Argentina and of their descendants that were published in Slovenia were issued in the years 1991-1996 when the integration of the Slovene emigrant literature in the primary culture and literary science was at its peak. Those very works (without reprints) present as much as 73 percent of belletristic books of the after-war immigrant community in Argentina in the mentioned period.