Vanessa Redgrave
Stane Sever


1828   Prešeren's first job in Ljubljana  
rešeren's mother in particular wanted him to work in provincial government, as a state employee, which was not a simple matter in those days. During Metternich's absolutist regime, the sons of the German aristocracy and bourgeoisie, irrespective of the grades they achieved and their success at university, took precedence over educated Slovenes. The young law graduate started his first job in 1828, working for the lawyer Leopold Baumgartner. Maybe it was a coincidence - or maybe not - that Prešeren's first employer was considered in Ljubljana to be a freethinker, a "freigeist". Prešeren, too, could be described as such, particularly because of his relaxed attitude to religion, as well as to state and church politics. At first, Prešeren shared lodgings with Miha Kastelic, another man trying his hand at literature and later the publisher of Kranjska čbelica (The Carniolan Bee). Literary history, however, does not paint a very kind picture of Kastelic - he was considered a rather dubious character. Prešeren's mother, too, found the company her son was keeping unsuitable and she soon persuaded France to move, together with his sister Katra, to live with his uncle Jožef, a priest. Moreover, the poet's mother never resigned herself to her son being a lawyer, a profession which she considered to be morally questionable and therefore not to God's liking. Consequently, in addition to his job, France soon started working without pay as an apprentice in various state offices, in order to increase his chances of getting a permanent post. But his mother's worries were not over: she badly wanted to marry her son off and enclose him in the secure and comfortable confines of bourgeois life as soon as possible. At this point we will not try to guess what this would have meant for the development of Slovene literature, but it is very likely that France would have had a happier life "on this earth". In 1829, his mother and uncle thus arranged for France to meet Marija Johana Khlun, a rich young German woman from Graz in Styria. The few reliable sources from that time show that at first France liked Marija Johana, but he was soon scared off and started to weigh a rich dowry against his freedom and independence. A part of the poet's thinking can perhaps be explained with the verse "A dowry, priceless far above all mark" from the sonnet O, Vrba. And we must not overlook Prešeren's characteristic attitude to women. Marija Khlun was considerably older than his other muses who were, as a rule, young girls. She was also very fond of him, which was in contrast to his other attempts at love. After his initial enthusiasm, Prešeren started withdrawing from Marija; he did not reply to her numerous letters and generally neglected all contact with her, but he never summoned up the courage to have a serious talk with her. This did prick his conscience, as can be seen in some of his poetry (Sonetje nesreče - Sonnets of Unhappiness), whilst his general despondency and dissatisfaction with himself were also responsible for the very bad results he achieved at the legal examinations he sat in Klagenfurt in 1832. Until then, he had always excelled academically, but now he only just scraped through and this was one of the main reasons for the subsequent rejections of his applications to have his own legal practice.

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