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444 PODJAVORINSKÁ, Ľudmila (pseudonym), born Ľudmila Riznerová (1872–1951) Slovak poet, writer of prose, translator, founder of modern Slovak children’s literature and distinguished (after 1945) with the title of Honorable National Artist. Versatile figure in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century cultural life and an active member of the women’s organization Živena, the first women‘s organization in Slovakia (founded in 1869). Pseudonyms: ‘Božena,’ ‘Damascena,’ ‘Ľ. Podjavorinská,’ ‘Ľ. Šeršelínová,’ ‘Ľ. Špirifangulínová,’ ‘Ľudka ,’ ‘Ľudmila,’ ‘Ľudmila Podjavorinská’ and many others. Ľudmila Riznerová was born on 26 April 1872 in a village called Bzince pod Javorinou . Her mother (name unknown) and father (Karol Rizner, a teacher) had ten children, of which Ľudmila was the eighth. Serious illness affecting her eyes and bodily strength contributed to L’udmila’s introverted and meditative nature as a child. She continued to suffer from ill health throughout her life. Ľudmila attended the elementary school where her father was a teacher, at a time when women had few educational opportunities. The only way to acquire further education was through self-education and the cultural influence of one’s environment. Podjavorinská was lucky enough to grow up in the intellectual environment of a teacher’s family (the five last generations of men in her family had all been teachers) and, as a child surrounded by books from her father’s library, she learned to read in Slovak, Czech, Hungarian and German —later studying and translating literary works from Russian as well. However it was not her parents who encouraged Ľudmila Riznerová to publish her first works in newspapers, but her uncle Ľudovít Rizner, a poor village teacher who had established a library. Ľudmila was brought up to respect her parents and social authority in general, but she soon turned against the traditional lot of the Slovak woman, refusing to respect the social rules that would see her confined to household duties. Ľudmila Riznerová/Podjavorinská was encouraged by three mentors, all of whom were important contemporary female authors and friends of Podjavorinská: the renowned Terézia Vansová, Elena Maróthy–Šoltésová and Božena Slančíková-Timrava. The cultural, political and literary activities of these women, including Podjavorinská, 445 were concentrated in the women’s organization Živena. Male nationalists had created this organization in 1869 with the initial purpose of opening schools for girls—a plan that was postponed for a long time due to state repression of the Slovak national movement. The first two secondary schools for girls were finally opened in 1919 in the town of Martin (central Slovakia). By 1927, there were twelve schools for girls in Martin. Despite frequent financial problems during times of economic crisis, Živena never abandoned its main aim of supporting female authors, organizing meetings, establishing a foundation for retired female teachers, as well as publishing books and articles. Živena also published Národné almanachy (National almanac, ?, 1872); Letopisy Živeny (Chronicle of Živena, 1895–1907); the magazines Živena and Dennica (from 1898) and the magazine Slovenská žena (Slovak women, 1920–1924). Such developments were signs of the times in which Ľudmila Riznerová/Podjavorinsk á lived and worked. Her first poems were published in the Slovenské noviny (Slovak newspaper) in Budapest in 1887. The humorous style of writing and the quality of her work led many of her contemporaries to believe that her pieces had been written by the well-known Slovak author Martin Kukučín, giving her an even greater incentive to write. Two important figures in Slovak cultural life influenced her literary and intellectual growth at this time: Svetozár Hurban Vajanský and Jozef Škultéty. Under the pseudonym ‘Ľudmila Podjavorinská,’ she published her first pieces in their monthly periodical Slovenské pohľady (Slovak views). In 1895, her first poetry book appeared under the title Z vesny života (From the spring of life). She was the first Slovak woman poet to publish a book of poetry, written while recovering from a love affair (the man she loved married another woman)—an experience that strongly influenced her work. Podjavorinská herself never married, and it was around this time that the sentimentality that had characterized her earlier work was replaced by a more complex understanding of the human soul and social relations. Her position as a single female writer was not an easy one. In 1910, her parents moved to the nearby town of Nové Mesto nad Váhom, where they had bought a house. Podjavorinská never adjusted to living in a town but she lost contact with village life...


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