The Sorbians are a West Slavic people speaking a language akin to Polish and Czech, and in addition to a fascinating linguistic evolution, an understudied cultural formation and (re)awakening, and a precarious existence as a minority under various German political systems, they also have a worthy bilingual (if late-blooming) literary tradition.
1936) is one of the premier Sorbian writers of our day.
A sense of emotional ease and material well-being accompanies the children's awakening to the unifying aspects of Sorbian culture.
In the case of the linguistic minorities of Low German and Frisian, several Lander are involved, while the Sorbs, divided into two quite different dialects or rather languages, inhabit two Lander, one of which, Sachsen, seems more interested in the support of its High Sorbians, while the Land of Brandenburg is passive in its attitude to the weaker, and more complicated case of the Low Sorbians, who inhabit the watery and lignite-extracting areas of Eastern Brandenburg (Oeter, Walker 2006).
In the area around Cottbus/Chosebus south of Berlin, the Low Sorbian language is officially recognized, but the reality is one of language decay and partly language death.
Almost every country in Europe has them: there are the Sorbians
in Germany, the Pomoks in Greece, the Cornish in England, the Maronites in Cyprus, the Sami in Scandinavia.
Brezan has long fought for recognition of and support for the Sorbians and their culture and, with his latest novella, suggests that one's history's cannot be ignored or forgotten; rather it must be accepted in its entirety, which means it must also be learned.
IN HIS RECENT NOVELLA DIE EINLADUNG, the Sorbian writer Jurij Brezan revives the figures from and reconnects to his critically acclaimed Hanusch trilogy (Der Gymnasiast, 1958; Das Semester der verlorenen Zeit, 1960; and Mannesjahre, 1964) to thematize and problematize East and West German history, the role of memory, and the German notion of Heimat.
The Sorbians are a Slavic minority who have lived in present-day Germany since the sixth century, in an area known as Lausatia in eastern Germany, between the rivers Oder and Neisse.
Many of his works problematize Sorbian culture of the twentieth century, how the survival and welfare of the Sorbians have been closely linked to the Nazis, later the communists, and finally to the almighty economy in a capitalist eastern Germany.
Recognizing the precarious situation of the Sorbian language (there are fewer Sorbian speakers than Gaelic or Welsh speakers), Brezan feels a responsibility to teach young Sorbians their language.
His experiences -- ranging from his expulsion from his Gymnasium during the Third Reich because of an essay he wrote, sufferings as a soldier in Russia, travels in Eastern and Western Europe, activities in the Deutscher Schriftstellerverband, initiatives on behalf of the Sorbians and Sorbian culture, to his reaction to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany -- provide the historical and cultural content for his literary works and his life.