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SLAVIC PRINTING IN FASCIST ITALY: I morti ritornano (Mrtvi se vračajo) [Dead People Return].



A first edition of a novel by France Bevk was published under difficult circumstances by one of the last Slavic publishing houses persisting on the Italian Fascist territories. The text inside is Slovenian, but the main title had to be translated to Italian and the author’s name has been Italianised. 

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This is a first edition of a novel with a title in Italian and Slovenian I morti ritornano (Mrtvi se vračajo), written by one of the most fertile Slovenian authors of the 20th century, France Bevk. Born in the western part of the country under the Austrian-Hungarien Empire, Bevk received his education in Koper (Capodistria) and Gorizia, where he remained working in the fields of writing and edition.

After the area was annexed to the Fascist Italy in 1918, Bevk continued publishing in his native Slovenian language. In 1920 and 1930, after the language became systematically supressed by the Fascists, France Bevk took the leadership in publishing Slavic prints in the area. Among others he was a director of a publishing house Goriška matica, where, under a severe Fascist censorship, he published most of his pre WWII works.

When Italy entered the war, in 1940, Bevk was sent to a prison camp as a political prisoner. He remained there until the capitulation of Italy in 1943, after which he joined the Partisans. After the war France Bevk remained an active writer and is today known as an author of numberless popular works, especially stories for children.   


Goriška Matica Publishing House

Goriška matica was a publishing house, founded in Gorizia (today Italy) on a newly Italian controlled territory after WWI, in 1919. It was specialised in publishing Slavic, mostly Slovenian books.

Until the war, the territory with a major Slavic population, belonged to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. After the territory was annexed to Italy, exposing the Slavic inhabitants to growing Fascist power, which during the 1920s started supressing the Slovenian and Croatian language.

Matica in Goricia, run by the Slovenian intellectuals from the region and with a printing press Edinost (Unity) in Trieste, was one of the last Slavic publishing companies, fighting to keep the native language. By the late 1920s all the publications of the press had to undergo a Fascist censorship and hundreds of thousands of books were destroyed. In 1933 the publishing house had to Italianise its name to Unione editoriale Goriziana, and was eventually closed in 1940. This book was already published under Italian title with a Slovenian translation in brackets.

The publications of Goriška matica in the 1920s and 1930s were known for good quality texts of the contemporary Slavic authors from the region of Gorizia, Trieste and Karst, and often well designed modern covers, made by academic artists and modern designers.


References: OCLC 7698085. Brecelj, Brecelj, Marijan: Bevk, France, akademik (1890–1970). Slovenska biografija. Slovenska akademija znanosti in umetnosti, Znanstvenoraziskovalni center SAZU, 2013. http://www.slovenska-biografija.si/oseba/sbi140529/#primorski-slovenski-biografski-leksikon (14. januar 2018). Izvirna objava v: Primorski slovenski biografski leksikon: 2. snopič Bartol – Bor, 1. knjiga. Uredniški odbor Gorica, Goriška Mohorjeva družba, 1975.

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