Lev Detela - a Rebel among Men of Letters
On the basis of the 26 books by Lev Detela, the Slovene writer living in Austria, his essays on literary history and literary criticism, and the Slovene as well as foreign reviews of his works, the author presents-after introducing basic biographical data – a survey of the writer's co-operation with various journals and newspapers (including his editorial activity), her opinion of Detela's fiction and basic information about Detela's conflict with the Slovene literary circles at home and abroad.
The Slovene writer, Lev Detela, who now lives in Austria was born on 2 April 1939 in Maribor. He finished at the grammar school in Ljubljana in 1958 and enrolled at the Department of Slavonic languages at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana. During his studies he began to publish news items and short literary articles in Ljubljanski dnevnik (The Ljubljana Daily) and Mlade poti (The Youths' Paths) newspapers. In 1960 he moved to Vienna where he enrolled to study Slavonic languages and the history of art. He graduated in 1968. From 1970, when he became a free-lance writer, he has made his living exclusively from writing and publishing essays on culture. There are 25 works published by Detela to date and another work which he wrote with his wife. Of the published works, seven are written in German and the rest in Slovene. Detela is evidently an avant-garde writer drawing on Kafka and existentialists. His works are predominantly surrealistic and represent an authentic depiction of subconscious roaming and pains that are the results of a conflict between the hero's internal impulses and the outside world. Detela's poems and 'tales' are fantastic and often grotesque parables of human weaknesses. Occasionally he writes realistic prose which is more easily comprehensive to the wider public.
In the area of literary history and criticism Detela is one of the most significant intermediaries between the Slovene and the German linguistic domains. His essays, criticism and surveys of Slovene literary works and cultural life are published in leading German dailies and renowned literary journals. On the other hand, his regular writing about Austrian and German works offers an insight into these cultures to the Slovenes in Slovenia as well as abroad. In addition to his works published in German periodicals, his fiction and articles are also frequently published in the Trieste and Klagenfurt papers. Equally important are Detela's cultural reports and contributions to programmes broadcasted on foreign radio stations. Detela received numerous literary awards and financial sponsorship for his works of fiction. He has been a member of various literary organisations and associations for decades. Detela's bibliography comprises several hundred published works which in turn were the subject of around 130 articles and assessments by various authors published in various parts of the world.
Among the most important characteristics of Detela's fiction are the genuine and persuasive narration, his masterly command of language and a conspicuously distinctive style, the manifold expressionism of original literary means, and his courageous introduction of extremely unconventional forms into Slovene literature. Another feature of his work is the subject matter which consistently explores either the existentialist or basic ethical issues of humans and mankind in general. Detela's works represent a rebellion against every kind of convention in literature and life communicated through startling means of expression and themes which often unveil the "inviolable' universality of specifically Slovene taboos.
By all means Lev Detela has confirmed his talent for writing; his literary achievements, regardless of whether they display authenticity in all respects or not, are sufficiently persuasive, powerful and efficient to secure him a prominent position among contemporary Slovene writers. Despite the wide lack of understanding of his works and long lasting indifference towards his opus in his home country, we can say that Detela belongs to the group of Slovene writers and poets who have an unquestionable artistic potential from whom we can safely expect many more valuable contributions to the Slovene literary opus.