Recently we bought a book to read to our daughter with Slovak fairy tales, both in Slovak and in English translation. Leaving through the stories of O dvanástich mesiačkoch (The Twelve Months), Janko Hraško (Johnny Little Pea), Soĺ nad Zlato (Salt over Gold), Popoluška (Cinderella) and other stories, I was reminded of a trip we took a few years back to the parish and final resting place of Pavol Dobšinský in Drienčany.
Dobšinský (1828 - 1885) is known to many Slovaks as the biggest collector of Slovak fairy tales, all published in his collection Prostonárodnie slovenské povesti (Simple National Slovak Tales). All fairy tales in the book we bought for Ella, perhaps with the exception of Popoluška, are included in this collection.
Since 1861, after spending time as a soldier in the revolutionary army and a professor of Slovak language and literature in Banská Štiavnica, he worked as a priest in the village of Drienčany, in the county of Rimavská Sobota, where he was eventually laid to rest in 1885.
Drienčany is a very small village, counting no more than 240 inhabitants, within 20 minutes drive from Rimavská Sobota. When we got there it was rather dreary, rain coming down on us, the grounds muddy. However, somehow the weather made sense, since we were on our way to the final resting place of the man that single-handedly made sure children today can still enjoy all those beautiful Slovak fairy tales.