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Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav : biography

February 2, 1849 - November 8, 1921

Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav (February 2, 1849 - November 8, 1921) was a Slovak poet, dramatist, translator and for a short time member of the Czechoslovak parliament. First, he wrote in traditional style, but later became influenced by parnassism and modernism.


Hviezdoslav studied in grammar schools in Miskolc and Kežmarok (Késmárk). After his graduation in 1870, he continued his studies in the Law Academy of Prešov (Eperjes) where in 1871 he participated in the preparation of the Almanach Napred ("Forward" Miscellany/Almanac) which marks the beginning of a new literary generation in Slovak literature. Due to his contribution to this Almanac with several radical poems, however, he was ignored in the literature life of the country in the rest of the 1870s and couldn't published his works. During this period he pursued his law carrier in Dolný Kubín but he also carried on with his literature work in his past time. He practiced as a lawyer between 1875 and 1899 in Námestovo (Námesztó) and then in Dolný Kubín again. In 1918 he became a member of the newly created Revolutionary National Assembly (provisional governing body, later parliament) in Prague and from 1919–1920 served as its representative. In 1919 he was chosen as the leader of the re-established Matica slovenská (see below). In 1954, the Literary Museum of P. O. Hviezdoslav was established in Dolný Kubín. A festival of amateur reciters named Hviezdoslav's Kubín has been held there since.

His relation to the Slovak Matica

The Slovak Matica is a cultural institute. During the darkest years of Slovak literary life, Slovak Matica kept alive Slovak literature. The intolerant anti-Slovak policy of the Hungarians forcibly closed the doors of Matica and confiscated its property in 1875. The Matica was re-opened after the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1919. Hviezdoslav was honored by being named its new head. Under his inspired leadership, the Matica spread and grew.


Hviezdoslav was also a versatile translator who endeavored to refine and enrich the Slovak language and to advance its potential as a medium for poetic expression.

He translated many works of such authors like Goethe (Faust, Iphigenia on Tauris, ballads), Schiller (selected poems), Mickiewicz (Crimean Sonnets et al.), Pushkin (Boris Godunov, The Captive of the Caucasus, The Gypsies, Rusalka et al.), Shakespeare (Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream), Słowacki (In Switzerland et al.), Arany (28 lyric poems and ballads), Petőfi (42 selected poems),Tótnyelvre áttett hazafias magyar költemények. Vlastenecké básne z puvodné reči preložil. Margócsy József, Losoncz, 1902. p.28 (2nd edition: 1914) Lermontov (A Song about the Emperor Ivan Vasilievitch, The Song of the Merchant Kalashnikov, The Demon) and Madách (The Tragedy of Man).

These artistic translations were collected after his death into volumes 12 to 15 of The Collected Poetical Works of Hviezdoslav.


Born as Pavel Országh in Vyšný Kubín (Felsőkubin), Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire, Országh became a Hungarian patriot and wrote his poems only in Hungarian until the 1860s. He was of noble origin.Harold Gordon Skilling,T.G. Masaryk: against the current, 1882–1914, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994 p.76 He studied in Miskolc, Kežmarok (Késmárk), Budapest and Prešov (Eperjes). Hviezdoslav (a Slavic name, meaning approximately "celebrating the stars" and/or "Slav of the stars") was his pseudonym from 1875. His earlier pseudonym was Jozef Zbranský.


He introduced the syllabic-tonic verse into Slovak poetry and became leading representative of Slovak literary realism. His style is characterized by extensive use of self coined words and expressions making it difficult to translate his works into foreign languages.

His oeuvre constitutes some 12 volumes of original poetry and additional 3 volumes of translations of classical authors. During his era he was the poet laureate of the Slovak nation. Honoring his quality translation, made in 1905,Madách, Imre: Tragédia človeka. Dramatická báseň. Prel. Hviezdoslav. Turč. Sv. Martin, 1905. 270 l. of The Tragedy of Man by Imre Madách, he was elected a member of the Kisfaludy Society in 1912.Stanislav Šmatlák (, (The Centre for Information on Literature) established by the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic)

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