Slovak-American and Czech-American Literature
Dawn B. Sova
Slovak and Czech émigrés in the United States have produced little in the way of lasting literature, despite having long established a presence in this nation. In part, this lack is due to the multiplicity of ethnic identities encompassed by both groups whose members, due to shifting boundaries in the European region from which they emerge, have at times also been identified as German, Moravian, Austrian, Hungarian, and even Polish.
The recent political division of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia is the culmination of centuries of separate ethnic identities and separate languages within the same nation. Since 906, the Slovaks had been separate from the Czechs, and the two were not officially brought together until 1918, when Czechoslovakia was created. The Slovaks, who had been part of Hungary, were fragmented in their language and had used Latin, Hungarian, or Czech in writing their literature until a standard Slovak was developed in the nineteenth century. The Czechs, on the other hand, had been relatively in control of their own state under Austria, and, as a result, they were more linguistically homogeneous. Despite their close physical proximity, language, customs, and even literature have developed in distinct paths that call forth a charge of ethnic favoritism against the critic who might choose to discuss the writings of both people under one heading. The fault, of course, lies not in the historical ignorance of the critics but more in the greater visibility of Czech immigrant writers who have published since the end of World War II.
As recently as 1982, the Toronto-based Czechoslovak émigré publishing