Lives Journal 2

Damir Globochnik

 

THE FIRST STEREOTYPES IN SLOVENIAN CARICATURE

 

The spreading of stereotypes was greatly aided by satirical magazines and caricature which became an essential element in the propaganda and political struggle due to the possibility of visualising stereotypical impressions that had become embedded in the unconscious. In creating stereotypes caricaturists followed public opinion, relying on common values, ideas and desires; they drew from the collective memory and the unconscious. Momentary needs also influenced the formation of stereotypes. Caricaturists abandoned certain stereotypical patterns or adapted them to new circumstances; they adopted and created new stereotypes.

 

In the mid-19th century, political caricatures became commonplace in satirical magazines, and in the beginning of the 20th century they also became a regular feature in the daily press. We first see them in Slovenian satirical magazines at the end of the 1860s. The publication of the first satirical magazines was influenced by journalistic tradition and the importance Slovenian newspapers had gained in public life, as well as by the liberalisation of political life and the examples given by other nations,

 

One of the first (and probably partly original) stereotypes to appear in Slovenian caricature is the “nemshkutar”. The nemshkutar or “nemchur” (German: der Deutschthümler) was a turncoat. Such a person was of Slovenian origin but decided to belong to the German social, cultural and political sphere.

 

In 1870, the poet, author, linguist, editor and political publicist Fran Levstik (1831–1887) published caricatures of two of the best-known Slovenian turncoats on the front covers of two out of seven issues of Pavliha (the third Slovenian satirical magazine in order of appearance). The caricatures were drawn by Karel Václav Klích (1841–1926), main illustrator and editor of the leading Viennese humoristic newspaper Der Floh (1869–1881, 1883–1919).

 

The front cover of the first issue of Pavliha featured a caricature of the paunchy Dr. Vincenc Ferreri Klun (1823–1875). The caricature is of the style in which the disproportion between a large head and small body accentuates the satirical effect. The caricaturist and Levstik (Klích drew the caricatures according to Levstik’s instructions) placed on Klun’s fat head a high “German” or “nemshkutar” top hat. Klun is dressed in a tailcoat, which alongside the top hat was considered in the second half of the 19th century to be a “symbol of capital and intelligence” (a translation of the German liberal slogan “Besitz und Bildung”). People who possessed one or both of these values were the German party’s main supporters. [fig. 1]

 

Klun’s journalistic and public activity in the 1850s bore the signs of an awareness of national or provincial belonging. In 1867, he was elected to the Carniolan provincial diet as a candidate of the Slovenian Party on the basis of a federalist program. In June 1867, he separated from the Slovenian deputies in the Reichsrat in Vienna over the question of the concordat. Insurmountable differences between Klun and the Slovenian camp arose when Klun, faithful to his liberal persuasion, voted for the December constitution (1867) and the following year for the separation of Church and schools.

 

The caricature on the front cover of the 4th issue of Pavliha features Karel Dezhman praying before what symbolised German culture and the nemshkutarji – the liberal top hat, without which the liberal or “free-thinker” “is akin to a virgin devoid of innocence” (Fran Levstik, Dragutin Dezhman, Pavliha, 1870, No. 5). The top hat is adorned with poppy heads: Dezhman was intoxicated by German culture.

The top hat was considered at the time to be German headwear. It was supposed to be worn by correspondents for German newspapers from Vienna and Trieste who were based in Ljubljana. [fig. 2]

 

Karel (Dragotin) Dezhman or Deschmann (1821–1889) was one of the most important personalities in political and cultural life at the time in Carniola. In 1852, he became the curator of the regional museum, a position he held until his death. He was initially a patriotic Slovenian. He composed Slovenian and German poems. In 1861, when he was in Idrija, he was elected deputy to the Carniolan provincial diet, which in turn sent him to the Reichsrat in Vienna. In June of the same year, he joined the German Verfassungstreue Partei: the party which supported the December constitution and the February patent. He became the leader of the liberal Germans in Ljubljana, an advocate of German culture and one of the most dangerous opponents of the Slovenian people. He represented more progressive liberal positions than the Slovenian party, for example regarding the influence of the clergy on public life and questions regarding divorce. He opposed the creation of a Slovenian university and the use of the Slovenian language in schools, state administration and theatre. As a supporter of the December constitution he acted against federalism and the demand for a United Slovenia and accused Slovenians of “pan-Slavism” (taken from Avgust Pirjevec, “Dezhman Karel”, Slovenski biografski leksi­kon, 1, Ljubljana 1925, pg. 133).

 

In Slovene eyes, Dezhman became the prototype turncoat. Of all the national traitors, nemshkutarji, Carniolan Germans and liberals he was the most hated and despised by the Slovenians. He was reminded of the patriotic attitude of his youth with the help of humoristic narrative poems (tales in verse), such as Proklete grablje (Damn Rake), which Dezhman had published in Bleiweis’ Koledarchek slovenski za leto 1855. The idea for the poem comes from Majar’s Carinthian tales. Dezhman’s versification of the anecdote about “the damn rake” talks about a presumptuous final-year pupil of Ljubljana’s grammar school, Anzhe from Rovte, who after successfully completing his school-leaving exams, no longer wanted to speak Slovenian. When he accidentally stepped on a rake, which struck him on the mouth, he forgot his acquired knowledge of broken German and swore in Slovenian: “damn rake!”

After 1861, thanks to Dezhman’s satirical poem, the rake became Dezhman’s coat-of-arms or satirical attribute and a recognisable symbol for the turncoats and the nemshkutarji in Carniola. A minute depiction of a rake is also present in a caricature on the front cover of Pavliha. Karel Klích hid them in the first letter of his signature.

 

In the first Slovenian satirical magazine, Brencelj (1869–1875, 1877–1886), Dezhman was the most caricatured personality who appeared in all editions, always with a rake in hand. Dezhman is the first permanent hero of Slovenian caricature. “A rake is precisely what your haughty lips are in need of,” wrote the editor of Brencelj, journalist, dramatist, narrator and satirist Jakob Aleshovec (1842–1901) in a parody of Dezhman’s poem (“Proklete grablje (Stara pesem, po D. Dezhmanu ponarejena)”, Brencelj, 1871, No. 3). 

 

In the caricature Prazno delo (Empty Work) (Brencelj, 1871, No. 23), Dezhman let go of the rake for a moment in order to blacken the Slovenian candidates with the help of the German-speaking Ljubljana newspaper, the Laibacher Tagblatt. Dezhman applies black paint to the Slovenian deputies (to blacken: to sully or defame). [fig. 3]

Another nemshkutar was the liberal Karl von Wurzbach (1809–1886), state and provincial deputy who was Governor of Carniola from 1866 onwards. In the caricature Governor Wurzbach welcomes his friends (Brencelj, 1871, No. 11) Wurzbach holds the “damn rake” in his hand. Nemshkutarji, including Karel Dezhman, cheer him with raised top hats.

It is interesting that the caricature of Dezhman as a turncoat prevailed over other portrait depictions (Dezhman’s painted portrait, photographs and statue in the National Gallery).

 

The stereotypical depiction of a nemshkutar probably came about through the Slovenian word “shkric” which denotes either of the tails of a tailcoat but can also mean a bourgeois dressed in a tailcoat. From oral tradition, the word shkric made its way into journalistic and literary language.

Maybe Brencelj adopted the manner of depicting a German bourgeois from German satirical magazines and connected him with the stereotypical way of presenting Germans and nemshkutarji who in caricatures almost always appear dressed in a tailcoat and top hat. In the 19th century, the Slovenian norm was the peasant farmer, while the bourgeois and later nemshkutar shkric was scorned.

 

At the same time, caricatures began featuring the Slovenian auto-stereotype (the stereotypical appearance of an average Slovenian). The figure, which we nowadays most often refer to as Kranjski Janez, has a predecessor in Pavliha (the personification of Levstik’s satirical magazine Pavliha), an illustration of whom appeared at the top of the Pavliha column entitled Gregor Potrebnik. Both were drawn according to Levstik’s instructions by the Czech caricaturist Gustav Jaroslav Schulz (1846–1903). They are dressed in the national, rural dress; Gregor Potrebnik has an umbrella and stick, Pavliha a pipe. Kranjski Janez later appears in other variations. The style of his national costume was subject to change, as was his name. [fig. 4]

 

Kranjski Janez was also inspired by related figures in foreign satirical journals. Stereotypical ways of presenting individual nations began appearing in European caricatures from the 1830s onwards. The permanent heroes of caricatures became figural types with characteristic physiognomies, dress, headwear and other attributes.

Normally, certain characteral, ethnic, folkloric and other characteristics of the nation are taken as pars pro toto. Typified figures must be recognisable, that is why they appear again and again. The best known are: the French Marianne (by extension an allegory of Freedom, a bare-breasted woman with a Jacobin or Phrygian cap, she first appears at the time of the French Revolution), the English John Bull, the German Michel (der deutsche Michel, from 1843 onwards), the Czech Václav or Wenzel and the American Uncle Sam.

 

The Slovenian auto-stereotype Kranjski Janez is directly inspired by the social structure of the population which saw itself as Slovenian. The appearance of Kranjski Janez (a lean man, most often dressed in a ceremonial national costume typical of the Gorenjska region), reflects the farming structure of the Slovenian population, as does the related allegorical figure personifying the nation which appeared later (Slovenia is female as a rule: a girl or woman dressed in the national costume). The part of the population which declared itself to be German lived mainly in the towns and cities.

The satirical journals were, however, aimed above all at bourgeois readers and they represented liberal ideas. At the end of the 19th century, the longest-running Slovenian satirical journal Aleshovec’s Brencelj was an exception in this respect. It was more in line with the views of the conservative and moderate Bleiweis’ Novice. Many readers came from the rural or farming population. In the 19th century, the difference between the urban population and the people from rural parts was not as marked because part of the farming class gradually merged into the middle class. Social differentiation was accompanied by national differentiation.

 

The self-taught artist and theology student Franc Zorec (1854–1930), who after 1877 drew caricatures for the satirical journal Brencelj, often used symbolic and other typified figures, (personifications of Slovenia and the Slovenian, the German Michel, etc.). That is why in the caricature Narobe svet (Upside-down World) (Brencelj, 1881, No. 9) we come across a personification of Slovenia and Pavliha. After being ordained a priest in 1879, Zorec was a chaplain in various places and from 1900 onwards was parish priest in Nova Oselica near Sovodenj. [fig. 5]

 

The process of creating a self-image, an awareness of belonging to the Slovenian national community is also connected with being different from other, especially neighbouring communities – the nemshkutarji (and for the Slovenes of Trieste and Gorizia, the “Lahoni”) could be referred to as “internal neighbours”.

Stereotypes (especially negative stereotypes) always comment on a bilateral relationship. The auto-stereotype and the hetero-stereotype (a simplified idea of foreign nations and groups) help each other because the opponent is attributed negative characteristics which it is supposed we do not possess ourselves. The person creating a negative stereotype sees himself in it like in a mirror. The negative stereotype of the nemshkutar (the bourgeois shkric who is a German liberal by persuasion), is the mirror-image of the rural Kranjski Janez. Meanwhile, the opposite German camp had the stereotypical conviction that all Slovenians were clerical and reactionary due to the large influence of the clergy on Slovenian public life and politics.

 

 

Translated from Slovenian by Marko Petrovich

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Slovenian (gajica)

Slovenian (bohorichica)