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595 VANSOVÁ, Terézia (1857–1942) Writer, author of the first Slovak novel for women; women’s activist, promoter of women’s education, active in the Slovak women’s association Živena (founded in 1869 and named after an old Slavonic Goddess of life); editor of the first Slovak women’s magazine Dennica (Morning star) (1898). Pseudonym(s): ‘Johanka Georgiadesová,’ ‘Milka Žartovnická’ and ‘Nemophila.’ Terézia Vansová, born Medvecká, was one of twins (a boy and a girl) born in Zvolenská Slatina (Upper Hungary, Austria –Hungary; Slovakia) on 18 April 1857. Both twins were rather weak but their parents Terézia (born Langeová) and the almost thirty years older Samuel Medvecký paid little attention to the girl twin, Terézia, their seventh child. After graduating from elementary school, twelve-year-old Terézia attended the private school of K. Orfanides in Banská Bystrica and later, the private institute of T. Fábryová in Rimavská Sobota, where she obtained the fragmentary and sketchy knowledge typical for women’s education in that period, as well as language skills in German and Hungarian. She was particularly fond of the German language, which became a source of literary inspiration and the medium of her early literary attempts . Like other socially aware women writers of the period, she later taught herself in order to supplement her non-systematic and insufficient education. Early on, her father had accepted the entreaty of Terézia’s teachers to “let the girl learn,” but her mother was worried that learning would “make [Terézia] unwomanly. Such learned women are an object of ridicule for the world and so they get married with great difficulty. Who would marry such an eccentric?” (cited in VáclavíkováMatulayov á 1937, 30). Later, Terézia’s husband would also trivialize her literary ambitions, at least initially; he only started to support her after she began editing the journal Dennica (Morning star). All these significant turns in life certainly contributed to the resigned and sober attitude of Terézia Vansová to women’s emancipation as an ideal directly related to the question of women’s education. In a letter to editor J. Škultéty, she wrote: “I would have to be silly not to know that the field for the so-called woman question is infertile in this area [i.e. of education]” (cited in Mráz 1937, 36). She advocated women’s education mainly in the Slovak women’s 596 association Živena, together with Elena Maróthy-Šoltésová, and in her wide-ranging public activities as the wife of a pastor. Her later steps in life were equally sober and pragmatic. In 1875, she married Ján Vansa (1846–1922), a Lutheran pastor with whom she lived in Lomnička, later in Rimavská Píla and, from 1911 onwards, in Banská Bystrica. Their only child, a son, died in early childhood. As a young mother and pastor’s wife living in the German language environment of Lomnička, she wrote in German on children’s education and expressed her grief for her son’s loss in poems also written in German. It took her a long time to recover from the loss of her child and only her work in the movement for national revival kept her going. Moving to the Slovak region of Rimavská Píla also helped her recover. Vansová and her husband adopted a daughter, Oľga, in addition to which Vansová was involved in many social activities. In 1889, she published the sentimental novel Sirota Podhradských (The orphan of the Podhradský family) in the manner of the German Familienroman. The prominent Slovak writer and national activist Svetozár Hurban Vajanský welcomed it as the first Slovak women’s novel and praised Vansová’s ability to reach a broad female audience. While the use of the Slovak language as a literary language was provocative, Vansová, unlike many of her contemporaries, did not choose to write a story with an explicit national revival motif; instead, she focused on a young woman’s moral strength in the face of misfortune. While Vansová’s fiction was dominated by the sentimental style of trivial women’s literature, a realistic technique prevailed in her memoir writing, as in the book Môj muž (My husband), published serially in a magazine between 1924 and 1926, and as a book under the title of Ján Vansa in 1938. In this work, she depicted her everyday coexistence and collaboration with her husband (who helped her edit...


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