Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe

Start Over

Vodnik, Valentin

  • SlovenianLiterature (fictional prose/drama)Literature (poetry/verse)Publishing, periodicals
  • GND ID
    Social category
    Journalists, editors, publishersCreative writers
    Vodnik, Valentin
    Vodnik, Valentin

    Valentin Vodnik (Šiška nr Ljubljana 1758 – Ljubljana 1819) came from a family of farmers and craftsmen. He attended grammar school in Novo Mesto (Lower Carniola) and the Jesuit gymnasium in Ljubljana (1769-75). Afterwards he joined the Franciscan order and studied theology. He was ordained in 1782 and served as a priest in Sora, Bled, and Ribnica (1784-92). In 1793 he became a parish priest in Koprivnik, near Bohinj (Upper Carniola), where he became acquainted with Baron Žiga Zois, who owned ironworks nearby. With Zois’ help he was transferred to a parish in Ljubljana in 1796. He became a professor at the Ljubljana gymnasium (1798) and consequently a secular priest (1804). His educational career flourished under French occupation in the framework of the French-established Illyrian Provinces (1809). As a result, he was pensioned off two years after the 1813 restoration of Austrian rule; his candidacy for the newly established professorship of Slovenian at the Ljubljana lyceum failed, despite endorsement from Zois.

    Vodnik had started to write poems in Slovenian early on. In 1773 he joined the intellectual circle of Marko Pohlin, and in 1768 published a Kraynska grammatika (“Carniolan grammar”). Vodnik contributed Slovenian pieces to the Musen-Almanach Krajnske pisanice od lepeh umetnost (“Carniolan belles-lettres”), a periodical anthology which appeared between 1779 and 1781. After 1793 Vodnik joined the intellectual circle of Baron Zois, which was beginning to dominate Slovenian life and letters. Zois guided his writing by bringing classicist poetics to his attention (Horace, Boileau, and Batteux), and acquainting him with Horace and the Ossian poems. Under the baron’s patronage Vodnik also began his lifelong work of compiling a Slovenian dictionary (which was to remain unpublished, partly for want of a standardized orthography). He edited several volumes of Velika pratika (“Large almanac”, 1795-97) and Mala pratika (“Little almanac”, 1798-1806), publications aimed at a broad reading public, and in their pages published the patriotic Pesma na moje rojake (“Poem to my compatriots”). Between 1797 and 1800 Vodnik edited the first Slovenian newspaper, Lublanske novice (“Ljubljana news”), himself contributing an article series Povedanje od slovenskiga jezika (“On the Slovenian language”, 1797-98). Among the founding texts of the Slovenian national revival, this was the first written in Slovenian.

    In 1806 Vodnik published his first collection of poems, Pesme za pokušino (“Poems for tasting”). In 1809 Pesme za brambovce (“Poems for militiamen”) followed, a translation and Slovenian-slanted adaptation of Austrian patriotic poems. During the period of French rule he was for the most part occupied with the writing of school text books in Slovenian. Among them is the first Slovenian grammar in Slovenian, Pismenost ali gramatika za perve šole (“Grammar for grammar schools”, 1811). In these years, Vodnik’s national thought came to a peak. In 1810 he and Zois prevailed upon the French government not to introduce Serbo-Croat (“Illyrian”, considered by the French the successor language to a putative ancient Illyrian) into Slovenian schools, thus ensuring the conditions for a separate consolidation of Slovenian. In 1811 Vodnik published the ode Ilirija oživlena (“Illyria reborn”). This first Slovenian national hymn praises Napoleon for the establishment of the Illyrian Provinces. After the return of Austrian rule, Vodnik, together with Zois and Kopitar, supported the preservation of a Slavic state under the Habsburg Crown as the “Illyrian kingdom”; this notion in 1816 inspired his ode Ilirija zveličana (“Illyria redeemed”), a counterpiece to his Napoleonic code of 1811, which introduced for the first time the word “Slovenija” (Slovenia).

    Word Count: 552

    Article version
  • Costa, Etbin Henrik (ed.); Vodnikov spomenik: Vodnik-Album (Ljubljana: Kleinmayr & Bamberg, 1859).

    Dimitz, Avgust; “Zwei Briefe Dobrowsky’s an Valentin Vodnik aus den Jahren 1806 und 1808”, Mittheilungen des historischen Vereins für Krain, 16 (1861), 9-11; 17-19.

    Gantar, Kajetan; “Valentin Vodnik in grška poezija”, Slavistična revija, 17.1 (1969), 85-92.

    Koruza, Jože (ed.); Valentin Vodnik: Izbrano delo (Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 1970).

    Kos, Janko; Valentin Vodnik (Ljubljana: Partizanska knjiga, 1990).

    Kos, Janko; Valentin Vodnik: Zbrano delo (Ljubljana: DZS, 1988).

    Kos, Janko; “Valentin Vodnik kot nacionalnopolitični pesnik slovenskega razsvetljenstva”, Slavistična revija, 36.1 (1988), 13-32.

    Prijatelj, Ivan; Duševni profili slovenskih preporoditeljev: Za šestdesetletnico izdali prijateljevi učenici (Ljubljana: Merkur, 1935).

    Prijatelj, Ivan; “Korespondenca med Vodnikom in Kopitarjem”, Časopis za slovenski jezik, književnost in zgodovino, 5 (1926), 121-143.

    Vidic, Fran; “V. Vodnik und die nachillyrische Periode in Krain”, in [various authors]; Jagić Festschrift (Berlin: Weidmann, 1908), 630-635.

    Šašel Kos, Marjeta; “Valentin Vodnik and Roman antiquities in the time of Napoleon”, in Buora, Maurizio; Marcone, Arnaldo (eds.); La ricerca antiquaria nell’Italia nordorientale dalla Repubblica Veneta all’Unità (Trieste: Editreg, 2007), 405-430.

  • Creative Commons License
    All articles in the Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe edited by Joep Leerssen are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://www.spinnet.eu.

    © the author and SPIN. Cite as follows (or as adapted to your stylesheet of choice): Vidmar, Luka, 2022. "Vodnik, Valentin", Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe, ed. Joep Leerssen (electronic version; Amsterdam: Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms, https://ernie.uva.nl/), article version, last changed 20-04-2022, consulted 13-04-2024.