The page of Válek, Miroslav, English Reception
ReceptionCHARACTERISTICS OF HIS WRITING
Miroslav Válek entered literature twice in fact. The first time it was immediately after the Second World War when he published a group of lyrical poems in the Trnava monthly Plameň, which revealed the indisputable talent of the young author. This early phase in Válek’s poetry came to a halt as if forgotten for after 1948 his poetry took a long time to reach publication perhaps due to a creative inertia. The reasons were obvious: a young author certain of his individual talent wasn’t going to conforne in conjunction with the “revolutionary” requirements of socialist realism which at the beginning of the 1950’s was officially promoted in the form of the “Zhdanov aesthetic" rejecting as ideological contraband any connection with the creative experience of modern art. This is why Válek’s definitive entry into literature was signalled by the publication of Touches at the end of the 1950’s at the time of a certain cultural-political “thaw”. Only then did Válek achieve an individual position in the Slovak literary life as an author and at the same time he became a precursor and patron of a whole generation of poets who (together with Válek’s later works) radically changed the artistic structure of Slovak poetry and fundamentally influenced it in the second half of the 20th century.
Touches, Attraction, Unrest, and Love-Making with the Goose-Flesh - these four collections from 1959 to 1965 form the basis of Válek’s creativity. His poetry acquired an existentially vivid and dramatically presented intense human awareness where a whole bipolar world entered its customary field of vision sensing at the edge of its existence a recently passed catastrophe (Second World War) and the possibility of further catastrophe even more terrible (destruction of mankind through atomic warfare). Válek overtly abandons the form of a closed diction and moves toward larger scale work as if organising his texts on the basis of subjects for his poetry in which the structure carries interaction and anti-action, lyrical subjective elements and narrative objectives in dramatic conflict.
The dynamic, resonant and contradictory political development at the end of the 1960’s in Czechoslovakia also entangled Válek. The subsequent two decades were not fortunate for Válek’s poetry. Only after a long period of silence did he publish a poetry composition, Word with a transparently unequivocal declaration of his identity with the Communist party and its “world-historical” mission. The epilogue to Válek’s work was a return to a more intimate mode of the love lyric: the cycle From Water and a cycle of nine sonnets. Picture Gallery (Obrazáreň), published in 1980 in the selection Forbidden Love (Zakázaná láska).
If the semantic structure and thought in Válek’s poetry is characterised by a high proportion of internal stress and psychic tension, his poems for children are its relaxed antipode. They are filled with a free play of language and motif to the child’s acceptance of illogicality filled with humour, which sometimes becomes a gentle irony.
ON THE AUTHOR
I knew of his poems earlier than I knew of him. (...) What he was writing in the prehistoric stage of relations was very close to me. (...) Then our paths became quite different. For both of us what we were doing was not appropriate. He marked a rapid and resounding picture of modern poetry and he tried to harness this gaudy young mare to heavy loads. And he was successful. He put into his poetry his completely contradictory era. (Milan Rúfus)
He belonged to the generation which, at the first sign of the Thaw, rehabilitated poetry as a free art. (...) Válek’s poetry was and is clear and vivid, based on images and events, often in an turban or otherwise civilizational setting. It was and is a poetry, as far as possible, of understanding the people, but at the same time a poetry of a certain personal wistfulness, at times of resignation, at others - only of a sigh. (Miroslav Holub)