Conrad First The Joseph Conrad Periodical Archive

Joseph Conrad’s Publications in Slovenian Serializations

Majda Šavle, University of Primorska

© Majda Šavle. No part of this text may be reposted or republished without the permission of the author.

[3,560 words]


At the turn of the twentieth century, Ivan Prijatelj (1875–1937), a modernist translator of Russian literature and scholar of contemporary Slavic literatures, set the rules for literary translations in Slovenia. As Majda Stanovnik (1934–) notes in her study Slovenski literarni prevod 1550–2000 (Slovenian Literary Translation 1550–2000) (2005), Prijatelj stipulated that:

. . . only outstanding, widely acclaimed works should be translated into Slovenian; among these, only those agreeable to Slovenian readers should be accepted; and only competent translations should be published. (Stanovnik 2005, 314)

The following account of Joseph Conrad’s publications in Slovenian serials and other publishing formats confirms that these principles were generally observed. What is more, it also shows that not just prominent Slovenian writers, playwrights, and poets but literary critics, editors, and publishers all contributed translations. In fact, it was thanks to those editors who were themselves translators that literary translations were able to prosper as an independent part of Slovenian culture as early as the first decades of the twentieth century.
Stanovnik also observes that before World War II there was a need for “increased diversity of translated texts regarding their source literatures, and after the war a need for balance in national provenance, genre, and aesthetic orientation” (Stanovnik 2005 , 314). As a result, literary criticism of native as well as of translated literature was already emerging in an array of Slovenian periodicals during the 1920s and 1930s: Jutro, a political paper; Kritika, a journal of literary criticism; Sodobnost, the oldest Slovenian journal for literature and culture; Ljubljanski zvon,a literary review; and Novice, a weekly newspaper. Often, as in the case of Matej Šmalc (1888–1960), who was the first to introduce Joseph Conrad to Slovenian readers, it was the translator who wrote the accompanying commentary or critical appreciation. Šmalc studied Italian and French Language, Literature, and Culture in Florence, Vienna, and later at the Sorbonne in Paris. In 1915 he completed his doctoral dissertation on the Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) under the supervision of the well-known Swiss philologist and lecturer Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke (1861–1936). From 1920 till 1933, when Šmalc was ‘forcedly retired’ because of his support for the progressive education movement in Slovenia,1 he served as General Secretary of the University of Ljubljana. Interestingly, he translated, not from Italian, but from French, German, and English, including Brecht’s Herr Puntila und sein Knecht Matti, Maeterlinck’s Les auvegles and L’intruse, Beaumarchais’s Le barbier de Seville, J. B. Priesley’s Let the People Sing and Take the Fool Away; R. B. Sheridan’s The School for Scandal.
In 1927, Šmalc wrote two contributions connected to Conrad: a translation of the short story “Lagoon” (“Laguna”) from the collection Tales of Unrest (1898), and a brief article on Conrad’s life and work titled “An Account from Abroad” (“Inozemski pregled”). Both were published in the fourth issue of Ljubljanski zvon (The Ljubljana Bell), a literary magazine launched on 1 January 1881 as the gazette of a circle of young Slovenian liberals, mostly from Carniola.2 Soon after its establishment Ljubljanski zvon became the most prestigious literary magazine published in Slovenian, its editorial roster including significant authors, journalists, and political activists such as Fran Levec (1846–1916), Janko Kersnik (1852–97), Oton Župančič (1878–1949), Fran Albrecht (1889–1963), and Anton Ocvirk (1907–86). Besides contributions by many important Slovenian poets and writers, and translations of well-known international authors, the journal published also articles covering the field of humanities and social sciences. After the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis Powers in 1941, it was closed down by the occupying Italian authorities of the Province of Ljubljana (Slovenia). As with the journal Slovenec (see below), the new government authorities did not allow it to restart after the end of the war.
Since it was a monthly magazine, the contributions, “Lagoon” included, were not printed in instalments. The rationale was, as Gail Fraser has pointed out in another context, that “serial division into two or three parts would destroy the reader’s sense of uninterrupted communion with the author and his work—a feature that helps to distinguish the genre” (Fraser 1996, 30). “Conrad’s genre,” noted Šmalc, is “psychological realism—realism of a new life, generated beyond all national borders and embracing the world” (Šmalc 1927, 256).
Šmalc’s translation of “Lagoon” received no critical response, yet, eleven years later, it was still sufficiently appreciated to be offered to Slovenian readers living in America by the journal Ameriški družinski koledar (American Family Almanac). Published by the Cultural Society of the Yugoslav Socialist Alliance, which also issued the newspaper Proletarec (The Proletarian),3 it began publication in Chicago in 1915. It was the most widely distributed periodical among American Slovenians, providing articles on general political themes in the United States and abroad, popular scientific articles, poetry, and prose by Slovenian authors in both Slovenia and America, as well as translated literature. Slovenian publisher, writer, and poet Frank Zaitz (1888–1967) was the most important editor of Ameriški družinski koledar and edited both it and Proletarec from 1920 until their last issues (in 1950 and 1952, respectively).
There was, however, a visible difference between the format of “Lagoon” in Ljubljanski zvon and that in Ameriški družinski koledar. Ljubljanski zvon was printed as a booklet, with plain texts and illustrations, while Ameriški družinski koledar was full of advertisements. Reading Conrad’s story in the latter is arguably more difficult as a result of interference by these visual “effects”: the text is in small font while the texts of the surrounding advertisements, offering services by Slovene organizations and the products of Slovene producers or merchants, are in bold and framed [LINK: “Laguna” front page and pp. 178–9).
Between these two publications a series of Conrad’s works were serialized or published in book form in Slovenian translation. In 1928, readers of Ljubljanski zvon were again presented with a Conrad translations, this time not a novel or a short story but an extract from the fifth chapter of Some Reminiscences (later: A Personal Record) (1912), entitled “Prispevek k teoriji umetniškega ustvarjanja” (“Contribution to the Theory of Artistic Creation”) The author of this translation was Fran Albrecht (1889–1963), at that time editor of Ljubljanski zvon.4 After studying law in Vienna and, after the First World War, the Slovenian language at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, Albrecht went on to hold a number of very important cultural and political positions. From 1919 to 1920, he edited Svoboda (Freedom) (1919–20), a magazine founded by the Social Democratic Union of Slovenian Cultural Associations, and Ljubljanski zvon from 1922 to 1932. In 1933, he co-founded Sodobnost5(Modernism), the first Slovenian literary magazine, and from 1944 to 1948 he served as mayor of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. He was also the first chairman of the Slovenian Association of Literary Translators (est. 1953). Besides being a translator of leading German, Scandinavian, and English playwrights—he translated, among others, Schiller, Goethe, Ibsen, and Shaw—he was a writer, poet, and literary critic.
In his introductory paragraph to the translation a passage that runs from:

. . . life is not all beer and skittles. Neither is the writing of novels. It isn’t, really. Je vous donne ma parole d’honneur that it—is—not. Not all. I am thus emphatic because some years ago, I remember, the daughter of a general . . . (Conrad 2008, 276)


Nevertheless, later on, I duly escorted her to the field gate. I wanted to be civil, of course (what are twenty lives in a mere novel that one should be rude to a lady on their account?) . . . (Conrad 2008, 279).

Albrecht comments that “there is a wide discussion of artistic creation taking place here [in Slovenia]; sometimes sophisticated, mysterious, wise words are used; on other, more frequent occasions, the talk is superficial, full of futile speculations, and hollow psychologizing” (Albrecht 1928, 124). “On this matter” he continues, “Joseph Conrad, the great English writer (who was a native Pole!) wrote some very powerful phrases - worthy of consideration, and bound them —with fine, delicate irony—into this very charming and funny story” (125). The “story” to which Albrecht referred was Conrad’s memory of a visit by the daughter of a general during a very difficult period for the writer.6 “I was just then giving up some days of my allotted span to the last chapters of the novel Nostromo,” Conrad recalled (2008, 276). The novel, “a tale of an imaginary (but true) seaboard, which is still mentioned now and again, and indeed kindly, sometimes in connection with the word ‘failure’ and sometimes in connection with the word ‘astonishing’” (Conrad 2008, 276) only appeared in Slovenian in 1958, some thirty years after readers had read about it in Ljubljanski zvon.
Nevertheless, other major Conrad works were translated into Slovenian more quickly. In 1931, the publishing house Tiskovna Zadrugaissued a translation of The Shadow-Line (1917), Senčna črta, translated by Oton Župančič (1878–1949), one of the greatest Slovenian poets of the twentieth century.7 Župančič studied geography and history in Vienna before becoming a poet, playwright, translator, and editor of the journal Ljubljanski zvon (1917–1922). He translated from English, German, Spanish, Russian, Czech, Italian, and Serbo-Croat, including novels by Balzac, Dickens, Voltaire, and Pushkin, and plays by Schiller, Calderón de la Barca, Galsworthy, Shaw, and Wilde. Best remembered for his translations of sixteen of Shakespeare’s plays, Župančič contributed greatly to the growing prestige of translated literature in Slovenia and to its diversity. His translations remained in print throughout the first half of the twentieth century and are even now being reprinted by nearly all of Slovenia’s most important publishers.
Župančič’s translation elicited two responses shortly after. The author of the first, an article entitled “Joseph Conrad—Senčna črta” (“Joseph Conrad—The Shadow-Line”) which appeared in the monthly literary magazine Dom in svet (1888–1944),was Milan Jarc (1900–1942), a Slovenian poet, writer, playwright, essayist, critic, and translator. After pursuing Romance and Slavic Studies in Zagreb (Croatia) and Ljubljana between 1918 and 1922, albeit without completing his degree, Jarc contributed to the most important Slovenian journals and magazines of the pre-war period (including Dom in svet, Ljubljanski zvon, Književni glasnik (?–1941), Mladika (1920–1941), and Mentor (1908–1941). Jarc translated English, Russian, Serbo-Croat, and, above all, French authors.8 It is hardly surprising that Jarc compares Conrad’s narrative style to that of Marcel Proust, claiming that it is sometimes “slow and interrupted by associative recollections” (Jarc 1931, 518). As for Župančič’s translation, Jarc concludes that it is “a masterpiece” (Jarc 1931, 518).
Jožko Prezelj (1894–1969), a translator of Norwegian and Russian literature and the author of the second contribution that appeared under the same title in Ljubljanski zvon in 1932, was also evidently fascinated by Župančič’s translation: “the marvellously congruent, calm tone of narration and the rich, polished language used by master Župančič reflect Conrad’s personality very accurately in the Slovenian rendering” (Prezelj, 1932, 317). Prezelj also observes that Župančič (without the aid of a glossary of nautical terms in Slovenian9, A/N), elegantly solved the linguistic problem of translating maritime terminology, which, at that time, not many Slovenians were familiar with10. He did it without having to recourse to the use of “audacious neologisms,” Prezelj notes (Ibid.). The same could be said for Gregor Koritnik-Griša (1886–1967), who translated two of Conrad’s most popular sea stories, Typhoon (1903) and Youth (1902), as well as the short story “Gaspar Ruiz” from the collection A Set of Six (1908). Also a poet and writer in his own right, Koritnik had studied law in Zagreb (Croatia) and Graz (Austria) and published romantic poems in journals such as Ljubljanski zvon, Dom in svet, and Slovan (1902–17). A translator mainly from English, his favourite authors was Melville, Kipling, and Conrad. He loved the sea – he dedicated it several poems, like “Ob morju” (By the sea) and “Vihar na morju” (Storm at Sea) so it is hardly surprising that he chose to translate Typhoon and Youth.
In 1933, Tajfun was published in book form by the publishing house Evalit, which in the 1930s offered mostly translated literature, while Youth and “Gaspar Ruiz” were published in instalments in 1935 in the journal Slovenec (Slovenian), a Ljubljana newspaper published between 1873 and 1945, initially thrice weekly, then daily.11 Between 1888 and 1932, it issued the supplement Domoljub (Patriot) and between 1924 and 1932 the supplement Ilustrirani Slovenec(Slovenian Illustrated) containing photos and illustrations of local politics and culture, world events, daily life, art, and entertainment. Its editors included numerous important personalities in Slovenian political and cultural life.
In 1935, Slovenec serialized “Na morju” (“At Sea” [Youth]) in ten instalments from 5 to 17 September, followed by “Gašpar Ruiz” in sixteen instalments from 8 to 25 October.
The only critic to have mentioned Koritnik’s translations of Typhoon and Youth (there were no comments on “Gaspar Ruiz” published) was Slavko Rupel, who, in an article on Mira Mihelič’s translation of Melville’s Moby Dick in the newspaper Primorski dnevnik (1945-), a Slovene language daily newspaper published in Trieste, Italy, in 1967, suggested that it would be interesting to compare the Slovenian maritime terminology used by Mihelič with that used by Koritnik. Like Prezelj before him, Rupel too first observes that in the first half of the twentieth century Slovenian translators had difficulties with “maritime authors” such as Conrad, but then he concludes that after the war Slovenian naval terminology made a huge step forward (Rupel 1967, 5).
A generation later, in 2002, Dušan Fabe followed up on Rupel’s suggestion and devoted part of his doctoral thesis on maritime terminology and English-Slovenian translation to the translations of Conrad’s sea stories. In it Fabe argues that translating Conrad’s fiction raises a fundamental question: “how to preserve in the target language the relation between the poetics, the stylistic means of expression, and the realistic ‘depiction’ of events or the real world, as both intermingle in his works” (Fabe 2002, 204).
It is not known whether the unknown translator of a passage from the short story “Amy Foster” (1903), entitled “Človeka je vrglo na kopno” (Man Cast Ashore), which is the last to have appeared in a Slovenian periodical, encountered problems in translating one of Conrad’s finest stories or not. Whatever the case, he only translated the first five pages, stopping at the point: “He came from there. The doctor pointed with his whip, and from the summit of the descent seen over the rolling tops of the trees in a park by the side of the road, appeared the level sea far below us” (“Amy Foster”). Like Šmalc’s translation of Typhoon, it was published first in Slovenia, in Slovenec on 23 August 1936, and two weeks later, in the section Daily Short Story, in Glas naroda on 8 September, and then in the United States.
The first Slovenian newspaper to appear in New York City, Glas naroda (The People’s Voice) was launched on 27 September 1893. Its founder and co-editor Fran Sakser (1859–1937), a Slovenian journalist, editor, printer, publisher, businessman, and banker, had immigrated to America the previous year; he later published the Slovene-American Almanac (1894–1948) and established a Slovenian printing society in New York. Gradually increasing in frequency, Glas naroda became a daily in 1903. By 1912, it had at least 9,000 subscribers, rising to 14,000 copies and being distributed beyond the local community. During the Second World War, the journal played a significant role in encouraging and helping its readers to offer material and moral support to the destroyed “mother country” Yugoslavia (Slovenia was one of its six regional republics).
The post-war period was a turning point for the Slovenian literary translation. On the one hand, as Stanovnik recognizes, there was “an urgent desire to balance translations of contemporary, modern, and modernist texts with those of canonized literature of the past centuries”; and on the other, “translations ensure a high level of national creativity” (Stanovnik, 2005:314). This is also evident from the chronology of Conrad’s translations. If the editors and publishers of the 1920’s and 1930’s offered the Slovenian reading public only Conrad’s short stories and novellas, with the exception of the novel Lord Jim (1900), translated by August Petrišič in 1937, which were seldom accompanied by notes on Conrad’s biography and bibliography or by critical appreciations of his writing, this was not the case after 1950’s. There is hardly any of Conrad’s most important works, with maybe the exception of the first two novels Almayer’s Folly (1895) and An Outcast of the Islands (1896) that still await to be translated into Slovenian, missing from the list of post-war translations: Nostromo was translated by Božo Vodušek in 1958; The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’ (Črnec z ‘Narcisa’) was translated by Jože Dolenc in 1966; Victory (Zmaga,1986) and Heart of Darkness (Srce teme, 1987), were translated by Mart Ogen; The Secret Agent (Tajni agent, 1989) and Under Western Eyes (Z zahodnimi očmi, 1994), were translated by Miha Avanzo; The Shadow Line (Senčna črta) was re-translated by Maja Novak in 1997. Many of these books were reprinted, the last, The Secret Agent in 2005. All publications received critical appreciation (see Šavle 2006, 136–41), together with the published discussions on the life and work of Joseph Conrad, confirm, that in Slovenia too, Conrad is considered to be one of the great novelists in English.



1.The University of Ljubljana was founded in 1919 as Universitas Labacensis (University of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes) before being renamed Universitas Alexandrina (University of King Alexander I in Ljubljana) in 1919. Until 19145, it was not an independent institution but governed by laws and regulations adopted in the capital of the kingdom, Belgrade. As the kingdom’s youngest and smallest university, it was often deprived of funds and academic and political support from the central authorities. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the University’s operations were compromised and it was threatened with closure, prompting demands for education reform and widespread protests by students, professors, and the Slovenian public.

2.Known as Krain in German and Kranjska in Slovenian, this region of region of North Slovenia was a duchy and crownland of Austria until 1919, when it was divided between Yugoslavia and Italy. It subsequently remained part of Yugoslavia until 1991.

3. Proletarec began circulation in January 1906, intially as a monthly, with only 100 subscribers.

4. Albrecht used a number of pseudonyms: A., Arbiter, Boško, F. A., Marko Studen, Rusmir, or Urška Š.

5. It appeared under different names: Sodobnost (1933–41); Novi svet (1946–53); Naša sodobnost (1953–63); and once more as Sodobnost from 1963.

6. “There were three of these bachelor ladies, of nicely graduated ages, who held a neighbouring farmhouse in a united and more or less military occupation” (Conrad 2008, 276).

7. With writer and playwright Ivan Cankar (1876–1918) and poets Dragotin Kette (1876–1899) and Josip Murn Aleksandrov (1879–1901), Župančič was one of the four principal representatives of Slovenian Modernism. A new Slovenian translation of The Shadow-Line, by Maja Novak, adapted to young readers, was published in 1997. On Tiskarna Zadruga,see Župančič 1917.

8. Jarc’s translations include D. H. Lawrence’s The Woman Who Rode Away, Stendhal’s Three Italian Chronicles, Ibsen’s Nora, and Balzac’s A Seaside Tragedy.

9. It is not known whether he was able to make use of the Serbo-croat edition of the dictionary Pomorska terminologija (Maritime Terminology) that was issued by the Navy Command, since it was published in Zemun (Serbia) in 1931, the same year as Župančič’s translation appeared.

10. While Slovenia is a mainly inland country, having just 43 km of coastline, it has a long naval history and maritime tradition. The “technical language” used by Slovenian seamen underwent many changes, largely as a result of the fact that Slovenia was for centuries ruled by the neighbouring countries using a different language (i.e. Italian, German, Serbo-Croat). Unfortunately, no glossary or dictionary of nautical terms in Slovenian has been published since independence in 1991.

11. In 1952 the publishing house Slovenski Knjižni Zavod published Youth in book form. An abridged translation by Ljubica Rodošek, adopted for young readers, was published in 1997.

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. 1928. “Prispevek k teoriji umetniškega ustvarjanja” [Some Reminiscences]. Ljubljanski zvon 48.2. 124–8.

-----. “Amy Foster.” Accessed 15 July 2012.

Conrad, Joseph. 2008. The Mirror of the Sea and A Personal Record. Ware: Wordsworth.

Fabe, Dušan. 2000. “Semantični vidik angleške pomorske terminologije ter vprašanje slovenskih ustreznic” [“Semantic Aspect of English Maritime Terminology and the Question of Slovene Equivalents”]. Unpublished doctoral thesis. Ljubljana: Filozofska fakulteta.

Fraser, Gail. 1996. “The Short Fiction”. The Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad. Ed. J. H. Stape. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 25–44.

Jarc, Miran. 1931. “Joseph Conrad—Senčna črta.” Dom in svet 10: 154.

Prezelj, Jožko. 1932. “Joseph Conrad—Senčna črta.” Ljubljanski zvon LII: 315–17.

Rupel, Slavko. 1967. “Beli kit. Mira Mihelič.” Primorski dnevnik 112: 5.

Stanovnik, Majda. 2005. Slovenski literarni prevod 1550-2000. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC.

Šavle, Majda. 2006. “Conrad in Slovenia: Translations and Critical Reception.” The Conradian 31.2: 136–41.

Šmalc, Matej. 1927. “Inozemski pregled.” Ljubljanski zvon XLVII: 219–30, 256.

Župančič, Oton. 1917. ”Tiskovna zadruga v Ljubljani.Ljubljanski zvon 37.4 216–18



Majda Šavle teaches English for Health Sciences at the University of Primorska Faculty of Health Sciences, Slovenia. A graduated of English and Italian Language and Literature at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, she was awarded a Master’s in American Literature in 2005 for a thesis titled “The Influence of Joseph Conrad’s Apocalyptic View on American Literature”, and a PhD in Literature Sciences in 2012 for a doctoral dissertation titled “Sports as a Metaphor for Life in American Literature”. She is the author of articles on Conrad, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the methodology of teaching foreign languages.



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