The thesis of the doctoral dissertation Biblical and Folklore Foundations and Literary Forms of the Motif of Virgin Mary in Slovenian Poetry between the World Wars is that, in individual literary authors, the motif of Mary in the selected period shifts from the original Biblical image of Mary, one enriched with a traditional theological explanation and folk belief, to an individualized understanding of her character, her image and her role in human life.
In order to achieve this goal, the semi-subjective literary interpretation method – the close reading method – has been used, in accordance with the methodologies belonging to the texts’ respective fields. Then, by means of interdisciplinary connection, correlations have been drawn between individual texts.
In the first part of the dissertation, the image of Mary, as described in the Bible and developed in the early Christian tradition and in folk songs, is explored. The starting point of the development of the motif of Mary is her role as the Mother of God, presented in the New Testament of the Bible (I.1.1) and in the typological explanations of the Old Testament, developed in the first centuries of Christianity (I.1.2). The Church Fathers always discuss Mary in the context of her relationship to Christ (I.2). Slovenian folk legendary and religious songs, which are a part of a wider European tradition, see the image of Mary in the organic connection between her maternal, human basis and her place in heavenly glory (I.3).
The second part of the thesis is taken up by the analysis of the motif of Mary in Slovenian poetry between World War I and World War II, focusing on the following poets of the period: Anton Vodnik, Božo Vodušek, Vital Vodušek, Edvard Kocbek, Tine Debeljak, Jože Pogačnik, Miran Jarc, Srečko Kosovel, Alojz Gradnik, Pavel Golia, Ivan Čampa, Mother Elizabeta Kremžar, Mara Lamut, Ana Gale and Ljubka Šorli. Among the literary types and genres, the most often represented is the poem in the narrow sense of the word. Hymns, sonnets, narrative poems and even an epic are also analysed. The classic forms usually correlate with the subject of worship, while free forms contain more notice of a personal relationship to the Mother of God. The poems are written in the style of religious expressionism, new reality, social realism, constructivism, and impressionism as well as the traditional poetic expression, continuing on the poetics of the earlier stages of classical poetic traditions. The innovativeness of the period mostly shows in authors who collaborated in the magazine Križ na gori. The most widespread is the motif of Mary, Mother of humankind, to whom a believer comes in supplication and praise. Less commonly, Mary’s image is directly connected to the source of her biblical image or specific folk songs. Intermedial links have also been established, linking the poetry to fine arts or music, some of which the authors are aware of, while the others have been discovered through our research into the cultural context.
The discussion of the motif of Mary in Slovenian poetry in the time between World War I and World War II offers a methodological starting point to discuss her motif further in other literary periods of Slovenian literature or other literary genres.
This doctoral thesis is the first scientific study of the motif of the Mother of God in any of the Slovene literary periods, and brings to light important findings on the development and transformations of the motif of Mary in literature, theology, patrology and folkloristics, and binds them into an integral whole, using Slovenian poetry in the time between World War I and World War II as a basis.