Ethics and Dialogue in Autobiography: The Cases of Vitomil Zupan and Lojze Kovačič


  • Andreas Leben University of Graz



Slovene autobiography, modernism, ethics, dialog


Vitomil Zupan (1914–1987), a former partisan and political prisoner, and Lojze Kovačič (1928–2004) who was exiled as a German speaking child with his family from Switzerland to Yugoslavia, rank among the most outstanding autobiographers in modern Slovene literature. After a brief theoretical discussion on ethics and a dialogue on autobiographical discourse, the paper discusses the intersections and dialogical interplay between the real author, the writer, the narrator, the characters and the reader in their writings since the 1970s, taking into account the background of their personal experiences and the political, ideological and social conditions represented in their texts. As they pursued different concepts of self-representation, special emphasis is placed on ethical issues that derive from the autobiographical genre, respectively, from the specifics of the ethics of the told and the ethics of the telling as well as on the significance of ethical questions within the aesthetics of their writing.


This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on April 16th, 2016, and published on July 17th, 2017.

Author Biography

Andreas Leben, University of Graz

Andreas (Andrej) Leben is a professor at the Department of Slavonic Studies at University of Graz. His research interests focus on modern Slovene literature, autobiographical discourse and autobiographical writing, polysystems and cultural transfer, memory culture and the literature of the Slovene minority in Austria. He is head of a FWF-project about the bilingual literary practice in Carinthia and its position in the supra-regional sphere of interaction (https://slawistik. Together with Alenka Koron he is editor of the volume Avtobiografski diskurz(Ljubljana 2011), a collective monograph on the theory and practice of autobiography in literary studies, the humanities and social sciences. Some recent articles: "From Bakhtin to Kovačič: "From the Ethics to the Aesthetics of Life in Autobiographical Writing" (Slovene Studies 36.2); "Gendered Perspectives on Sexuality, Body and Aging in Slovene Autobiographical Literature: Mrak—Zupan—Kovacˇicˇ in: Aging in Slavic Literatures: Essays in Literary Gerontology, ed. by Dagmar Gramshammer-Hohl (Bielefeld 2017).