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France Prešeren

Born: 3 December 1800 Died: 8 February 1849

Nationality: Slovenian

The outstanding Slovenian poet of the Romantic movement.

He was a 19th-century Romantic poet, best known as the poet who has inspired virtually all later Slovene literature and has been generally acknowledged as the greatest Slovene classical author. He wrote some high quality epic poetry, for example the first Slovene ballad and the Slovene national anthem. After his death, he became the leading name of the Slovene literary canon.

Prešeren was born in the village of Vrba near Lake Bled in Gorenjska to peasant parents. In Vienna he finished his law education, where he acquired the familiarity with the mainstream of European thought and literary. Unfortunately, he was unable to open his own office until only two years before his death, prior to this he worked as a law clerk in Ljubljana. He lived single and died poor.

In his poetry he sang of his unhappy love for an unobtainable middle class lady, Julija Primic, his poetic calling and the fate of his nation. His poetic work is contained in the book Poezije, published in 1847.

Although Preseren was not a prolific writer, his work gave new life to Slovenian literature, the development of which had been checked by political and social conditions. The themes and prosodic structures of his verse set new standards for Slovenian writers, and his lyric poems are among the most sensitive, original and eloquent in Slovenian. In his "Sonetni venec" (1834; "Garland of Sonnets"), inspired by his unhappy love, as in his later lyrics, he expresses the national consciousness that he sought to stimulate in his compatriots. He also wrote satirical verses (1845) on contemporary literary conditions in Slovenia. The epic poem "Krst pri Savici" (1836; "The Baptism by the Savica") treats the conflict between Paganism and the early Slovenian converts to Christianity and illustrates Preseren's patriotism, pessimism, and resignation. He is chosen to be on a Slovenian 2 euro coin together with the inscription 'Shivé naj vsi naródi' (God's blessing on all nations), a line taken from his poem Zdravljica, which is also used in the country's national anthem.

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