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|Born||3 December 1850
|Died||11 July 1926
|Occupation||Writer and professor|
Life and work
Detela was born in Moravče in the Upper Carniola region of present-day Slovenia. He finished his secondary schooling in Ljubljana (he was a classmate of Ivan Tavčar's) and later went to Vienna to study classical languages and French. After he finished his studies there, he became a professor in the city and later a principal at the Novo Mesto High School, where he served from 1890 until 1906.
Detela was a Catholic writer. His first published work was a short novel, Malo življenje. It was published in the Ljubljanski zvon magazine in 1882. In it (and also later novels Prihajač (1888) and Gospod Lisec (1894), he realistically depicts the life of Slovenian peasantry and the first occurrences of village capitalism. The writer, familiar with French realism and its miles (the environments that surround a particular person or his living space), at times depicted them, but his major beliefs were not shared with the ideology. He was more of a traditionalist and a patriarchist.
His arguably best work, Trojka (1897), describes the lives of three village noblemen and three high-schoolers from Lower Carniola, who were studying in Vienna at the time. A confiding Lovro Bojanec goes through many experiences and later finds his way into a family life, hard-working and exemplary Dr. Vladimir Dragan becomes a tragic ruin, and a dandy exploiter Radivoj Čuk continually proclaims his patriotism in many a word whilst sitting around in Viennese cafés. The principal female of the story is a coquette, Irma Majer, who makes the trio fall in love with her, but is later shot by her suitor, baron Berger.
Detela also had a good sense of humor and the light side of life, but his satire wasn't bitter. He is said to be more of a teacher than an artist in most of his work. Various era-specific questions are addressed (sometimes with a learning curve and/or light irony) in the short novels Rodoljubje na deželi (1908), Novo življenje (1908), Delo in denar (1910), Sošolci (1911), Tujski promet (1912), Svetloba in senca (1916) and Vest in zakon (1927). His best comedies and satires include : Kislo grozdje (1833), Žrtva razmer (1912), Spominska plošča (1914), Trpljenje značajnega moža (1916), Nova metoda (1917) and Kapitalist Rak (1923).
Detela wrote two historical novels describing the late years of the Counts of Celje: Veliki grof (1885) and Pegam in Lambergar (1891). The latter was long thought to be the best of the Slovene historical novels, but features very little "psychological argumentation and tangible descriptions". He also wrote short historical novels Hudi časi (1894, describing the Illyrian provinces era) and Takšni so (, about Catholic martyrs in the Protestant era, but they are thought to be lacking in terms of content.
His comedies Učenjak (1902), Dobrodušni ljudje (1908) and Dobrodelnost (1919) describe the lighter side of life with a sense of lenient reprimand.
His most defining traits are satiric playfulness, benevolent criticism of life and Catholic lecturing. His work further fill the gallery of Slovene men both from the peasantry, proletariat, the petty bourgeoisie and the intellectual community. The positive subjects are typically good, honest, hard-working and persistent, whilst the negative are parasites, self-interested, fake patriots, speculative, overly focused on the artistic aspect or religious. He also never forgets to add a moral advice or two.
He died in Ljubljana at the age of 75.
- Enciklopedija Slovenije; knjiga 2, Mladinska knjiga, Ljubljana, 1988
- Janež, Stanko, Pregled Slovenske književnosti, Založba Obzorja Maribor, 1978
- http://nl.ijs.si:8080/fedora/get/sbl:0357/VIEW/ (Slovenian biographical lexicon bio)
- http://www.dlib.si/v2/Results.aspx?query=%27contributor%3dFran+Detela%27 (his works in the collection of the Digital library of Slovenia)