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301 MARÓTHY-ŠOLTÉSOVÁ, Elena (1855–1939) First Slovak woman writer to be accepted into the national literary canon; literary critic, essayist and national activist; from 1894 President, Vice-President and Honorary President of the Slovak women’s association Živena; promoter of women’s education. Elena Maróthy was born on 6 January 1855 in Krupina (upper Hungary, AustriaHungary ; today Slovakia), to Protestant pastor and poet Daniel Maróthy (1825– 1878) and Karolína Maróthy, born Hudecová (1834–1857). Shortly after the family moved to Ľuboreč (in the district of Novohrad), Elena’s mother died. An unusually strong relationship developed between Elena and her father, who in 1858 married Lujza Bauerová (1839– 1879). The initially warm relationship between stepmother and daughter changed after the births of Elena’s stepbrother and stepsister. As an adult, Maróthy-Šoltésová bitterly recollected how her stepmother had forced her to do so much housework that she had had no time for school work. After completing the first years of her education at a Slovak elementary school, the young Elena Maróthyová began learning Hungarian in Lučenec; later German in Lučenec and in the district of Spiš. She completed her school education in June 1867, then just twelve years old. Her own experiences made her realize the importance of education for girls. In 1869, at the age of fourteen, she visited the constituent assembly of the women’s association Živena (named after an old Slavic goddess of life), which would play a major role in the Slovak national revival movement. After she became a member of the Živena committee in 1880, Maróthyová, together with Terézia Vansová, made plans to improve the education of Slovak girls through the founding of a Slovak language school for girls. The project not only met with resistance from the ‘magyarizing’ authorities (Slovakia was then part of ‘magyar’ Hungary, whose authorities suppressed the growth of Slovak nationalism), but also from parents who considered a ‘proper’ girls’ education to be one based on conversation classes in Hungarian and German. The Živena school, the first Slovak higher vocational school for women, was finally established in 1919 in Martin, after the formation of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Maróthy-Šoltésová, the Milan Rastislav Štefánik 302 Institute was founded in 1926, also in Martin. This institute aimed to provide education in social care and teacher training for girls’ schools. While the first arguments for women’s education in Slovakia were often made by men [e.g. journalist Ambro Pietor (1843–1906)], Maróthy-Šoltésová’s 1898 essay “Potreba vzdelanosti pre ženu, zvlášť zo stanoviska mravnosti” (The moral need for women’s education) was highly significant: “the major essay on women, and certainly the best by a woman,” according to American Slovakist, Norma Rudinsky (Rudinsky 1991, 128). In 1875, Elena Maróthyová married a merchant, Ľudovít Michal Šoltés (1837– 1915). The couple lived in Turčiansky Svätý Martin, where Maróthy-Šoltésová raised her two children and which was the center of the Slovak national revival movement. The deaths of her daughter Elenka, when she was just eight years old, and her son Ivan, when he was 33, deeply affected Maróthy-Šoltésová and her writing. The diarynovel Moje deti (My children), first published in 1885, became a major work of Slovak literature. In 1885, Maróthy-Šoltésová also published extracts from the novel dealing with her daughter Elenka’s death under the title, Umierajúce dieťa (The dying child). Although the piece was criticized by writer and editor Svetozár Hurban Vajanský for being excessively emotional, it was this work which took her closer to the realism she had been striving for. Moje deti gained wide international recognition and was published as a book in 1923 and 1924, forming part of her Zobrané spisy (Collected works). Although the novel focused mainly on her children and Maróthy-Šoltésová’s relation to them, the writer reflects on her lack of space and time in the contradictory roles of ‘writer’ and ‘mother.’ Terézia Vansová was Maróthy-Šoltésová’s contemporary and closest collaborator. In a letter to Vansová from 1 January 1885, Maróthy- Šoltésová described what it meant to her to have Vansová’s supportive friendship after the death of Elenka: “You are crying with me because of my sorrow, so you are close to me. To give...


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