With its subtitle Slovenian Experimental Dramatic and Performative Texts from the Modernist Period (1966–1986), the anthology The…
The Bailiff Yerney and His Rights is Ivan Cankar’s work that has probably seen themost translations into foreign languages. In addition, this famous story has often been adapted for other artistic media. So far, there have been around forty dramatisations, adaptations, musical compositions, librettos, screenplays, radio plays and even an adaptation for comics. Dramatisations and adaptations of Cankar’s story have been continuously created from its first publication in 1907 until today, the only exception being the period in the transition from the 20th to the 21st century when there were no new adaptations of The Bailiff Yerney.
Recently, interest in it has increased again in artistic media and in literary theory and philosophy, testifying to its universality and continued relevance. The problem field of this book, I Worked for 40 Years: Dramatisations and Adaptations of Cankar’s The Bailiff Yerney, is specific and clearly defined, so it does not delve into an in-depth reading of Cankar’s story and its reception. Instead, it devotes itself to a fundamental investigation of the past transpositions of The Bailiff Yerney from a literary work of art to other forms of artistic production, especially dramatisations and their stagings in the theatre. In addition to the adaptations for drama and music theatre, which until now have been the most numerous and have ranged from the early (partial) adaptation by Rudolf Golouh from 1910 to the latest (“based on the motifs”) by Žiga Divjak from 2018, the book also provides an overview of adaptations for radio, film, television and comics. The book’s author, Aldo Milohnić, specifically highlighted the first (known) complete dramatisation by Milan Skrbinšek, created exactly one hundred years ago, and the most progressive and most performed adaptation by Ferdo Delak, which appeared ninety years ago, first as a text for the drama theatre, and then also as a libretto for the opera.
This book is the product of several years of research into dramatisations and adaptations of Cankar’s story. These research efforts also resulted in the exhibition, I worked for 40 years. From our collections: The Bailiff Yerney – from Cankar to Skrbinšek and Delak, designed by Aldo Milohnić and Tea Rogelj and on display at the Slovenian Theatre Institute from 29 November 2022 to 28 February 2023. Milohnić has conceived this research as an open work, as he is aware that it does not cover 40 LET SEM DELAL | 163 all adaptations, let alone performances in drama and music theatre, broadcasts on the radio, etc., which have been countless. However, the book I Worked for 40 Years: Dramatisations and Adaptations of Cankar’s The Bailiff Yerney brings some new findings about adaptations and performances that have been poorly researched or even completely neglected until now. In addition, for the first time in one place, it contains information on all dramatisations, adaptations and productions of The Bailiff Yerney, which the author has so far managed to record and process.
The book also includes a selection of visual material collected by the author from various sources, mainly from the Slovenian Theatre Institute. Some of these materials were also presented in the exhibition mentioned above. The title of the book I Worked for 40 Years is a leitmotif, a kind of mantra that is constantly repeated by Cankar’s Yerney, who, after working on the farm for forty years, had to go on a journey from Pontius to Pilate in search of his bailiff ’s rights. The author notes that in the contemporary vocabulary, it would probably be better to call them workers’ rights because today, Yerney could be a symbol, or even the embodiment, of the precarious worker. As we have seen in the radically new version of The Bailiff Yerney, written and directed by Žiga Divjak (and based on the motifs from Cankar’s story), this member of the former peasant proletariat has been transformed into a member of the modern precariat.
Editor: Zala Dobovšek
Reviewers: Lev Kreft in Mateja Pezdirc Bartol
Selection of photographic material: Aldo Milohnić with Tea Rogelj in Zala Dobovšek
Digitalization and preparation of materials: Andrej ovsec
Author index: Aldo Milohnić in Zala Dobovšek
Language editor: Martin Vrtačnik
Translations of summaries: Jana Renée Wilcoxen
Design and preparation for the press: Nina Šturm