This doctoral thesis focuses on two main problem areas: France Prešeren’s poetry in literature textbooks for secondary schools in the period from 1850 to 2010 and its perception throughout time and today. In the first problem area it illustrates the factors and procedures of the poet’s school canonization and how the didactization of the textbook as an aid for individual work with literary texts has developed. In the second problem area it explores both the characteristic features in the understanding, experiencing and evaluating Prešeren’s poetry, and the methods for an efficient school presentation.
Prešeren has been a canonical author throughout all these 160 years, due to the fact that his canonization started while he was still alive. However, although he has always been referred to as “the greatest Slovenian poet”, he has not always been the leading author regarding the number of text units in textbooks. In fact, he was often overtaken by younger literates who were better-suited to the textbook editors’ affinities of the time. Particularly, in the second part of the 19th century, and even later, due to a negative attitude of the school authorities towards love poetry, the selection of Prešeren’s poems was considered less appropriate (for the lower stage, the sonnet Memento mori was usually published, whereas the students of the higher stage read the sonnet cycle Soneti nesreče [Sonnets of Unhappiness]). Some of the love poems were even censured.
From the second half of the 19th century onwards a didactic instrumentarium of high-school textbooks has been in constant development (at first, notes were added, followed by questions and exercises for an active analysis of a literary work). But still, some compositions of textbooks showed a great didactic regression, especially in the period after World War II. The textbooks created since the Seventies include texts on literary studies as well as questions and exercises, whereas modern textbooks tend to develop in the direction of textbooks which only contain texts linked to the curriculum, and offer a relatively small range of literary works (except for, e.g. the Krakar’s anthology from 2003).
A historical review has shown that even Prešeren’s contemporaries had difficulty in understanding his poems, and so did intellectuals or even Prešeren scholars later on. Empirical experiments among Slovene secondary-school students have proved that Prešeren’s poetry is difficult to interpret. Some of his most important poems (i.e. Krst pri Savici [The Baptism by the Savica]) require a large amount of footnotes. This is why the most adequate didactic measure to improve the experiencing of a stylistically demanding classical poetry is the prosification of the poem that comes as an appendix to the original – a fact that was fully confirmed by the results of the pedagogical experiment.