Edvard Kocbek Collection
The Edvard Kocbek Collection is located in the depot of the National and University Library in Ljubljana. It is actually his personal bequest to that same library. Kocbek was the greatest Slovenian poet and writer of the 20th century, who, as a Christian Socialist, joined the Slovene National Liberation Front under the control of the communists during the Second World War. Due to his divergent opinions about the war and the policies of the new communist regime, immediately after the war he was placed under the surveillance of the secret police (known as the UDBA). After that, he was very soon placed under a kind of public isolation, which implied limited movement and restricted access to intellectual life.
Ljubljana Turjaška ulica 1, Slovenia 1000
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Name of collection
- Edvard Kocbek Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The collection of Edward Kocbek is stored at the National and University Library in Ljubljana, in other words, in the department called the Manuscript Catalogue, and it is publicly available for research. This collection was created through the donation made by Edward Kocbek himself, and expanded after his death by a donation of his sons. Firstly, in 1966, Kocbek donated a collection of his poetry to the library, and later, after the democratization of Slovenia, his sons Jurij and Matjaž donated the greatest part of Kocbek's bequest in 1994. Kocbek's collection dates back to the interwar period, when his involvement in Slovenian public and cultural life began, and he simultaneously began collecting materials for his private archives. The creator did not have the clear intention to collect the materials, as the collection was created by Kocbek's spontaneous intellectual work. The regime's attitude towards Kocbek's creativity was hostile, so it was banned from the public for a certain period, from which it may be concluded that the collection was considered a body of dissident literature. The proper institutionalization of the collection only occurred after the fall of the communist dictatorship in Slovenia and Yugoslavia (interview with Omerza, Igor).
The whole collection with all of its records reflects the spirit of Kocbek's disagreement with Tito's regime and his criticism of the socialist system, as well as the ideology of communist totalitarianism. Certainly, one of the topics which most preoccupied Kocbek's activity was the Slovenian national question in the Yugoslav state, as well as Slovenian public and cultural life from the 1920s to Kocbek's death (interview with Omerza, Igor).
Description of content
The collection of Edward Kocbek has been archivally curated and catalogued, divided into eight major units: personal documents, works, letters, correspondence sent, correspondence received, correspondence belonging to others, the works of others, and finally miscellaneous materials. His personal documents consist of public records, his autobiography, biography, bibliography and a large number of photographs, as well as portraits he had collected from various periods of his life.
The works unit contains various collections of poetry and prose, their translations into different languages; then non-art prose works divided into three chronological intervals, Kocbek's prose from the time of pre-war, wartime and post-war periods, especially his books, personal diaries, essays, articles, speeches, lectures and interviews, and also his translations of poetry and prose by others writers. In the third and fourth units, there is a high number of letters Kocbek exchanged with family members, friends and acquaintances, among which are the most prominent are letters to German writer Heinrich Böll and Slovenian writers Boris Pahor and Alojz Rebuli, members of his intimate intellectual circle.
The collection is preserved in physical form and is currently being digitized. The languages used in the collection are primarily Slovenian, but also other languages such as Serbian, Croatian, French, German, and Italian.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
Geographical scope of recent operation
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Kljaić, Stipe
1) Kocbek, Edvard. Strah in pogum, Ljubljana: Državna založba Slovenije, 1951
2) Omerza, Igor. Edvard Kocbek - Osebni dosje št. 584, Ljubljana: Karantanija, 2010
Omerza, Igor, interview by Kljaić, Stipe , May 25, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection