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Slovenian Printing in Fascist Italy / Book Design: Smrt pred hišo [Death Infront of the House]



A uniquely well preserved example of a short novel with fragile wrappers, published by Slovenians under the censorship of the Fascist Italy


8°, 134 pp., with black and white vignettes, [2 pp.], original illustrated wrappers (old owner’s signature in black ink on the title page, tiny tears in margins, overall in a good condition).

1 in stock


The novel was written by one of the most prolific Slovenian authors of the 20th century, France Bevk. He born in the western part of today‘s Slovenia, which was at the time under Austria-Hungary.

Bevk received his education in Koper (Capodistria) and Gorizia, where he remained working as an author and editor. 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, including this novel Veliki Tomaž, where he again touches a subject of a common country person being suppressed by uncontrolled political situation. The subject was, obviously, much disfavoured by the contemporary Fascist government.

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 – The Last Slavic Press in Fascist Italy

Goriška matica was a publishing house, founded in Gorizia (today Italy) on territory annexed to Italy after WWI. It was specialized in publishing Slavic, mostly Slovenian books. Until WWI, the territory with a major Slavic population, belonged to Austro-Hungary. After the war the territory was annexed to Italy, exposing the Slavic inhabitants to growing Fascist power, which during the 1920s started suppressing 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 Italianize its name to Unione editoriale Goriziana, and was eventually closed in 1940.

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 well-designed modern covers, made by academic artists and modern designers.


References: OCLC 7315915.

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