Vanessa Redgrave
Stane Sever


  Some of Prešeren's Contemporaries  

Janez Bleiweis (1808-1881), the Slovene politician and national leader, the publisher of Kmetijske in rokodelske novice (Farmers' and Crafts News). History describes him as a controversial person, who would rapidly alter his convictions and principles. His attitude to Prešeren was ambivalent too, even though he cannot be denied the credit for putting Prešeren on the literary and wider cultural map of Slovenia. He advocated the erection of a monument to Prešeren in Kranj. During the last years of the poet's life, Bleiweis tried to give Prešeren a firmer place in public life; he ensured the publication of some of the poems, which lifted the spirits of the exhausted poet.  

Blaž Crobath (1799-1848), a lawyer for whom Prešeren worked in the period between 1834 and 1846. They were already friends whilst students in Vienna. As an employer, Crobath showed great understanding for Prešeren and writers in general. He was considered a supporter of the nascent national movement. His youngest daughter, Luiza Pesjak, later became a poetess.  

František L. Čelakovsky (1799-1852), a Czech poet and collector of folk poetry. Čelakovsky was enthusiastic about Prešeren's poems, and told him so in their correspondence. Čop published Čelakovsky's views, and this recognition meant a lot to the self-conscious Prešeren. Prešeren and Čelakovsky kept corresponding right up to the end. Čelakovsky also corresponded with other literary kindred spirits in Slovenia.  

Matija Čop (1797-1835), Prešeren's friend and literary mentor. At the time, he was one of the most learned Slovenes. He worked abroad, later became a secondary school teacher and finally worked as a librarian in Ljubljana. He spoke nineteen languages and was familiar with all the contemporary world poetry. He assisted Prešeren by advising him and reviewing his work, and they fought on the same side in the battle over the alphabet. With his good reputation in Vienna, he helped to overcome many obstacles in the publication of Kranjska Čbelica (The Carniolan Bee). Čop led a rather ascetic bachelor's life.  

Zalika Dolenc (1804-1882), the daughter of an innkeeper. Prešeren began to frequent Dolenc's inn on the outskirts of Ljubljana during his student years. And when he returned to Ljubljana with a degree under his belt, he was seriously interested in Zalika. She, however, rejected him. The echo of this unrequited love can be found in his ballad Povodni mož (The Water Man). When the poem was first published, Prešeren wrote about Zalika, and only later, in the amended version to be published in the collection Poezije (Poems), did he change Zalika into Urška. The poem Dekletom (To Girls) was also written with the "proud" Zalika in mind.  

Ana Jelovšek (1823-1875), Prešeren's mistress, the mother of his three illegitimate children. She was born into a poor family, her godmother was Julija Primic's mother. She was considered to be a beautiful, but an impetuous girl, who drew the admiration of many men. Prešeren met her at Blaž Crobath's and began to have romantic feelings towards her. After she gave birth to their first child, she had it fostered; this created an unbridgeable gap in her relationship with the poet, which he was never able to overcome. His stormy and exhausting relationship with Ana had an important influence on Prešeren's life.  

Ernestina Jelovšek (1842-1917), France Prešeren's second daughter. On the basis of what her mother had told her and her own memories, Ernestina wrote a book about her father, which is an important source for research into and an understanding of Prešeren's life. Ernestina, too, spent the first part of her life with a foster family, but later her mother took her back. Like her mother, Ernestina was a seamstress, remained a spinster and eventually died in the town alms-house.  

Miha Kastelic (1796-1868), the founder and editor of Kranjska Čbelica, a series of anthologies of Slovene poetry, particularly Prešeren's. At the time, this publication was the main and most important vehicle for the development of Slovene literature. Sources give quite a negative testimony of his character; he was considered a profit-seeking opportunist.  

Lenka Prešeren (1811-1891), France's youngest sister, an important source of information on the poet's life, particularly on relations within the Prešeren family. She spent most of her life housekeeping for her brother Jurij, a priest, who worked in a number of Carinthian parishes and in the Kanal valley. Lenka spent a few months in Ljubljana (during1828/29) with her brother France, whilst he was sharing an apartment with Miha Kastelic.  

Julija Primic (1816-1864), Prešeren's unrequited love. She was the daughter of a wealthy Ljubljana merchant. Prešeren fell in love with her after a chance meeting in the Trnovo church. For many years she was the inspiration for his love poems. Some of the most beautiful (Sonetni venec - A Wreath of Sonnets) he also dedicated to her. Prešeren never forgot Julija.  

Andrej Smole (1800-1840), Prešeren's contemporary and friend, as well as a literary colleague. He was the son of a wealthy innkeeper, but his main interest was literature and the development of the Slovene language and culture. A freethinker and a lively character, who had to leave Ljubljana because of his debts and folly. He used to collect folk literature and also, together with Prešeren, published it. They planned to start publishing a Slovene newspaper, but before they could do this, Smole died due to illness and the rather debauched life he had led.  
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