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Croatian medieval literatureEdit

Croatian medieval prose is similar to other European medieval literature of the time. The oldest testaments to Croatian literacy are dated to the 11th and 12th centuries, and Croatian medieval literature lasts until the middle of the 16th century. Some elements of medieval forms can be found even in 18th century Croatian literature, which means that their influence had been stronger in Croatia than in the rest of Europe. Early Croatian literature was inscribed on stone tablets, hand-written on manuscripts, and printed in books. A special segment of Croatian medieval literature is written in Latin.[1] The first works on hagiography and the history of the Church were written in the Dalmatian coastal cities (Split, Zadar, Trogir, Osor, Dubrovnik, Kotor), for example the "Splitski evanđelistar" (6th–7th century) and other liturgical and non-liturgical works. The beginning of Croatian medieval literature is marked by Latin hagiography, with texts about Dalmatian and Istrian martyrs: Saint Duje, Saint Anastasius, Saint Maurice and Saint Germanus. In Panonia in northern Croatia, works about Christian cults were created, such as that of Saint Quirinus, Saint Eusebius and Saint Pollio. For centuries, the Croats wrote all their works regarding law, history (chronicles) and scientific works in Latin, so they were available as part of a wider European literature.

Croatian medieval prose was written in two languages: Croatian and Church Slavonic, using three different alphabets, Glagolitic, Latinic and Bosnian Cyrillic.[2] Among these there was some interaction, as evidenced by documents carrying two forms of letters; especially with respect to Glagolitic and Cyrillic texts, and some Latin relied on Glagolitic forms. That interaction makes Croatian writing unique among Slavic prose, and even in European literature. Croatian medieval literature reflects the general trends within European literature, though there were some different traits, for example, literature directed at the common people; a strong background tradition of oral literature, blending religious topics and interweaving of genres. A significant part of Croatian early literature is based on translations, with typical Central European edits. Croatian early literature was influenced by two spheres: from the East (Byzantine and Church Slavonic inheritance) and from the West (from Latin, Italian, Franco-Italian and Czech traditions).

From the 14th century, western influence remained strong in Croatian literature. Recognizing these patterns, Croatian authors, mostly anonymous, adapted their work to the specific needs of the community in which and for which they wrote. Despite their writings being in large part translations, this literature achieved a notably artistic level of language and style. One of the most significant achievements was keeping alive the Church Slavonic literal language (especially in the Glagolitic alphabet). In later periods elements of that language came to be used in expressive ways and as a signal of "high style", incorporating current vernacular words and becoming capable of transferring knowledge on a wide range of subjects, from law and theology, chronicles and scientific texts, to works of literature. Such medieval works in the people's own language are the starting point for the literature of later periods. Anonymous poets and singers, developing their own styles, of typically religious poetry, and of this period, were referred to as the "začinjavci" by later authors and sources.

The oldest artefacts of Croatian medieval prose are glagolitic inscribed stone tablets: Valun tablet, Plomin tablet and the Krk inscription from the 11th century, and the Baška tablet from the 11th or 12th century. The Baška tablet is the first complete document we have on the language of the people with elements of literal Church Slavonic. It is often regarded as the "birth certificate" of the Croatian language, and carries the first mention of the Croats.[3] The inscribed stone records King Zvonimir's donation of a piece of land to a Benedictine abbey in the time of Abbot Drzhiha. It provides the only example of the transition from Glagolitic of the rounded Macedonian type to the angular Croatian alphabet.

Other early writings are the Senj tablet, Plastovo tablet, Knin tablet and Supetar tablet, all dating to the 12th century and the Hum tablet from the 11th or 12th century. The fragments of the Vienna leaves from a Glagolithic codex dating from 11th/12th century, written somewhere in Western Croatia, represents the first liturgical writing of Croatian recension in the Church Slavonic.[4] The Povlja tablet (Croatian: Povaljska listina) is the earliest document written in the Cyrillic script, dating from the 12th century and tracing its origin to Brač.,[5] it features the standard "archaic" Chakavian dialect.

Other legal documents such as the Vrbnik Statute, Vinodol statute and Kastav Statute describe the regulations of those coastal cities as administrative centres.

From hand-written documents, only fragments are saved, and they bear witness to a rich literary tradition on Croatian soil. These are part of biblical-liturgical works: fragments of apostles, such as Mihanović's apostle and Grašković's fragment, both created in the 12th century; fragments of missals such as the first page of Kievan papers from the 11th or 12th century and the Vienna papers from the 12th century, those are the oldest Croatian documents of liturgical content; fragments of breviaries, like the London fragments, Vrbnik fragments and Ročki fragments, all dating to the 13th century. All of the glagolitic documents form a continuity with those created at the same time in Bulgarian, Macedonian, Czech and Russian areas. But by the 12th and 13th centuries the Croats had developed their own form of glagolitic script, and were adapting the Croatian language with Chakavian influences. In doing so, the Croats formed their own version of Church Slavonic which lasted into the 16th century. At the same time, biblical books were written according to the model of the Latin Vulgate. From that time come the oldest surviving texts of hagiographic legends and apocryphal prose, an example being the Budapest fragments (12th century with part of a legend about Saint Simeon and Saint Thecla from the 13th century, part of apocryphal works of Paul and Thecla).

Renaissance literatureEdit

Missale Romanum Glagolitice

The first book printed in Croatian is the Missale Romanum Glagolitice (Croatian: Misal po zakonu rimskoga dvora). Dating from 1483, it was notable as being the first non-Latin printed missal anywhere in Europe. It is also the first printed book of the South Slavic idiom.[6]

New poetical forms from elsewhere in Europe were absorbed during the 15th and 16th centuries. The Croatian renaissance, strongly influenced by Italian and western European literature, was most fully developed in the coastal areas of Croatia.

In the Republic of Ragusa, (today's Dubrovnik), there was a flowering of vernacular lyrical poetry, particularly love poems. One of the most important records of the early works is Nikša Ranjina's Miscellany, a collection of poems, mostly written by Šiško Menčetić and Džore Držić. Poems in the miscellany deal chiefly with the topic of love and are written predominantly in a doubly-rhymed dodecasyllabic meter.

In Split, the Dalmatian humanist Marko Marulić was widely known in Europe at the time for his writings in Latin, but his major legacy is considered to be his works in Croatian,[7] the most celebrated of which is the epic poem Judita, written in 1501 and published in Venice in 1521. It is based on the Biblical tale from a Deuterocanonical Book of Judith and written in the Čakavian dialect and the work is described by him as u versi haruacchi slozhena ("arranged in Croatian stanzas"). It incorporates figures and events from the classical Bible, adapting them for contemporary literature.[8]

The next important artistic figure in the early stages of the Croatian renaissance was Petar Hektorović, the song collector and poet from the island of Hvar, most notable for his poem Fishing and Fishermen's Talk. It is the first piece of Croatian literature written in verse in which travel is not described allegorically, but as a real journey, describing the beauties of nature and homeland. Hektorović also recorded the songs sung by the fishermen, making this one of the earliest examples in Croatian literature to include transcribed folk music within the text.[9] This makes Ribanje a work that blends artistic and folk literature. At the same time in Hvar, Hanibal Lucić was translating Ovid's work (Croatian: "iz latinske odiće svukavši u našu harvacku priobukal"). He also wrote drama, Robinja (The Slave Girl being the first secular play in Croatian literature) and love poetry.

Croatian literature expanded into prose and plays with authors such as Dinko Zlatarić, Mavro Vetranović and Marin Držić. The first Croatian novel,[10][11] Planine (English: Mountains) written by Petar Zoranić and published posthumously in 1569 in Venice, featured the author as an adventurer, portraying his passionate love towards a native girl. It was uniquely stylized, and provided a description of the surrounding land against the backdrop of the then current political situation of invading Turks.

Baroque literatureEdit

Ivan Gundulić (1589/8-1638)

The prevailing Baroque culture emerged in Croatia later during the 17th century, where it was a period of counter-reformation. In literature, it was marked by flamboyance, with pious and lofty themes using rich metaphors in which the form becomes more important than the content. Regional literary circles developed, such as Dubrovnik, Slavic, Kajkav and Ozalj.[12] At this time, the lack of a standard Croatian language became a prominent issue.

Dubrovnik became the chief literary centre, with Ivan Gundulić playing a leading role. Gundulić's most famous play is Dubravka, a pastoral written in 1628, where he rhapsodises on the former glory of Dubrovnik and it contains some of the most famous verses in Croatian literature: O liepa, o draga, o slatka slobodo (Fair liberty, beloved liberty, liberty sweetly avowed). In his greatest work, Osman, Gundulić presents the contrasts between Christianity and Islam, Europe and the Turks, West and East, and what he viewed as freedom and slavery. The work is firmly rooted within the rich literary tradition of the Croatian Baroque in Dubrovnik and Dalmatia and is considered one of its masterpieces.

Other notable literary figures in Dubrovnik at the time were Junije Palmotić, Ivan Bunić Vučić, Ignjat Đurđević, Stijepo Đurđević, Vladislav Menčetić, Petar Bogašinović, Petar Kanavelić, Jerolim Kavanjin and Rafael Levaković. Many works were translated from Latin and Italian into the local vernacular language and specifically, that used by the lower-class peasantry of the city.[13]

In the kajkav circle, the most important figure was the Jesuit Juraj Habdelić who wrote on religious themes. His best-known work is Zrcalo Mariansko (Mary's Mirror), and he produced a kajkav to Latin dictionary.

Petar Zrinski translated his brother Nikola's epic poem The Siren of the Adriatic Sea into Croatian

In the Slavic circle, another Jesuit, Antun Kanižlić wrote the epic poem Sveta Rožalija (St Rosalia) the story of the saint of Palermo.

The ozalj circle is characterised by the language that unites all three dialects - kajkav language mixed with čakav, štokav and ikav-ekav elements. The most important authors in this circle are Petar Zrinski, Ana Katarina Zrinska, Fran Krsto Frankopan and Ivan Belostenec.

A large number of scientific works were also produced at this time, especially lexicons.[12]

  • Ivan Lucić wrote the first scientific history of Croatia in Latin: De regno Dalmatiae et Croatiae.
  • Ivan Belostenec, a Pauline monk and member of the ozalj circle wrote a kajkav-Latin dictionary: Gazophylacium.
  • Jakov Mikalja, wrote a Croatian-Italian-Latin dictionary: Blago jezika slovniskoga (Blessed Slavic language) and published the first orthography of the Slavic languages
  • Bartol Kašić, whose most important work is Institutionum linguae Illyricae, the first Croatian grammar which was published in Rome in Latin.

18th century literature and the Age of EnlightenmentEdit

In the 18th century there was a new attitude to towards literature, as the greater part of Dalmatia and Slavonia were freed from Ottoman rule, and new ideas of Enlightenment were circulating from Western Europe, especially with regard to the social reforms of Maria Theresa and Joseph II in the northern part of Croatia. The artistic range is not as great in this period as during the Renaissance or the baroque, but there is a greater distribution of works and a growing integration of the literature of the separate areas of Dalmatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Slavonia, Dubrovnik and northwestern Croatia, which will lead into the national and political movements of the 19th century.

The most prominent Croatian author of the Enlightenment era was Pavao Ritter Vitezović, who was a historian and the founder of the modern Pan-slavic ideology. He published histories ("Stemmatographia", "Croatia Rediviva"), epics ("Odiljenje sigetsko"), reformed the lettering system, formed a printing press, and wrote chronicles and calendars. Many of his ideas formed the basis of the later Illyrian Movement (also known as the "Croatian National Revival") protesting the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.[14]

The Slavonian Antun Kanižlić, author of the poem Sveta Rožalija, was the first of the northern writers to encounter the work of the Dubrovnik poets, particularly that of Ignjat Đurdevića. Kanižlić was one of the main protagonists of the "Slavonskoga duhovnoga preporoda" (Slavonian spiritual revival), which was strongly influenced by the southern literature from Dalmatia.

In Dubrovnik at that time were a number of prominent scholars, philosophers and writers in Latin, for example Ruđer Bošković, Bernard Džamanjić, Džono Rastić, and at the turn of the 19th century Đuro Hidža and Marko Bruerević-Desrivaux who wrote in Latin, Italian and Croatian.

Towards the end of the period, a comprehensive Dubrovnik dictionary was published by the Franciscan Joakim Stulić. A famous Latin scholar in northern Croatia was chronicler Baltazar Adam Krčelić, while in Slavonia, Matija Petar Katančić (author of the first Croatian printed version of the bible) and Tituš Brezovački (the most important playwright in the kajkav area) also wrote in Croatian.

Matija Antun Reljković

A special place in the literature of the 18th century is held by the poet and writer Filip Grabovac and the Franciscan writer Andrija Kačić Miošić. Grabovac's "Cvit razgovora naroda i jezika iliričkoga aliti rvackoga" (Conversation of peasants and the Illyrian language), from 1747 unites Croatian medieval literature with that of the Bosnian Franciscans, while Kačić's "Razgovor ugodni naroda slovinskoga" (Peasant conversation of Slavic people) from 1756 in verse and prose, was once one of the most widely read books in the Croatian language (translated into a dozen languages and has been reprinted almost 70 times by the end of the 20th century). It was this work, together with that of Matija Antun Relković, that definitively set the idioms for the Croatian language in the Croatian National Revival movement. Relković, as a prisoner in Dresden, compared Slavonia with Germany in his 1762 poem "Satir iliti divji čovik" (Satyr or Wild man). Relković's influence is generally contained in his linguistic idioms and other grammatical and philological works. Having spread the štokavian idiom in the second half of the 18th century, he is, along with Andrija Kačić Miošić, considered to be one of the most decisive influences that helped shape the Croatian standard language.[citation needed]

Other notable contributors of religious and educational work, lexigraphic, grammars and histories, were Bosnian Franciscans, most notably Filip Lastrić, Nikola Lašvanin and from Hercegovina, Lovro Sitović Ljubušak. In Slavonia, besides Kanižlić, other authors were writing moral teachings and Enlightenment ideas in verse.

Theatre in the 18th century was performed in almost all the coastal cities from Dubrovnik, Hvar and Korčula to Zadar, Senj and Rijeka, and in northern Croatia from Zagreb and Varaždin to Požega and Osijek. In Dubrovnik, 23 plays by Molière were translated and performed, still unusual at the time. The best drama written in the Croatian language during the 18th century was "Kate Kapuralica" by Vlaha Stulli. The great playwright of the period was Tituš Brezovački who wrote in the kajkav dialect («Matijaš grabancijaš dijak», «Diogeneš»).

Romanticism and the Croatian National RevivalEdit

See also: Illyrian language conceptions

Brief Basics of the Croatian-Slavonic Orthography (1830)

The basic component of Romanticism in Croatian literature is the growing movement towards national identity. In addition to connecting with their local heritage, there was a belated influence of German Romanticism and the national awareness of other areas within the Habsburg monarchy. The Illyrian movement began in 1835 as a small circle of mostly younger intellectuals, led by Ljudevit Gaj, based around the magazine "Danice ilirske" (Illyrian Morning Star). They had plans for the cultural, scientific, educational and economic development of Croatia. At the centre of their activities was reform of the language, in particular, the foundation of a single standard, based on the rich literary heritage. A common orthographic book set the new grammatical standards for the language, had been published by Gaj in 1830, entitled "Kratka osnova horvatsko-slavenskog pravopisanja" (otherwise known as "Gaj's Latin alphabet"). Gaj's Latin alphabet was one of the two official scripts used to write Serbo-Croatian until the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

Novelists of the period were Ivan Mažuranić, Stanko Vraz and Petar Preradović. Mažuranić's poem "Smrt Smail-age Čengića" (The Death of Smail-aga Čengić) (1846) is considered to be the most mature work of Croatian romanticism, a combination of Dubrovnik literary style and folk epic tradition. The literary magazine "Kolo" (Wheel) was launched in 1842 by Dragutin Rakovac, Ljudevit Vukotinović and Stanko Vraz. It was the first Croatian periodical to set high aesthetic and critical standards. Writing patriotic, love and reflective lyrics Preradović became the most prolific and popular poet of the period.

Dimitrije Demeter, author of the patriotic epic "Grobničko polje" (Field of Graves) in 1842, laid the foundation for the New Croatian Theatre, as manager and writer. His most important dramatic work "Teuta" (1844) draws on Illyrian history. Other writers of the time are Antun Nemčić, author of one of the few comedy-dramas "Kvas bez kruha" (Yeast bread), and who was also known for his travel writing: "Putositnice", and "Pogled u Bosnu" (View into Bosnia). Matija Mažuranić wrote some of the best prose of the period. Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski was a politician, scientist, historian, and the first writer of plays based on more recent Croatian literature: "Jurana i Sofije" (1839), and he also wrote travelogue texts. Ljudevit Vukotinović began writing in the kajkav dialect and along with Vraz is one of the pioneers of literary criticism.

Other notable literary contributions were made by Antun Mihanović (notably Horvatska Domovina which later became Our Beautiful Homeland)

Protorealism and RealismEdit

Statue of August Šenoa in Vlaška street, Zagreb

The period after 1848 saw a new generation of writers who acted as a transition between Romanticism and Realism. Some literary historians refer to it as "Protorealism", a time marked by the author August Šenoa whose work combined the flamboyant language of national romanticism with realistic depictions of peasant life. Šenoa considered that Croatian literature was too remote from real people's lives and that artistic creations should have a positive effect on the nation. He introduced the historical novel into Croatian literature, and from 1874 to 1881 edited the literary journal "Vienac" (Wreath) which was the focal point of Croatian literary life until 1903. It was in that magazine that he published many of his works, including the first modern Croatian novel "Zlatarovo zlato" (Goldsmith's Gold, 1871), poems, stories, and historical novels, making him the most prominent Croatian writer of the 19th century.

The patronage of Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer enabled the founding of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1866, as well as the re-establishment of the University of Zagreb in 1874.[15][16] Another important figure of the time was Adolfo Veber Tkalčević, a philologist, writer, literary critic and aestheticist.He continued the tradition of the Illyrian movement, at the same time introducing elements of Realism into Croatian literature. He was the author of the first syntax of Croatian literary language, Skladanja ilirskog jezika ("Composing the Illyrian language", Vienna 1859). He authored several school-level textbooks and his Slovnica hrvatska published in 1871 was both a standard high-school textbook and a norm and codification of standard language for the period.

Also at that transition time were the poet, playwright and novelist Mirko Bogović, poet and teacher Dragojla Jarnević, storyteller and collector of folk ballads Mato Vodopić, Vienac editor Ivan Perkovac, poet Luka Botić and philosopher and writer Franjo Marković. Politician and publicist Ante Starčević wrote poetry, plays and literary critiques. Josip Eugen Tomić wrote poems, comedies and historical novels, Rikard Jorgovanić was a poet and storyteller.

Šenoa's requirements to provide literature for the people paved the way for Realism. The cultural framework of the time was bound up with national and political issues, and many young writers were involved with political parties. A large number of writers from the various Croatian provinces helped to bring the new direction into Croatian literature.

The first Croatian author of the new form was Eugen Kumičić, who encountered Realism in Paris. As a writer of Istrian, Zagreb and Croatian history, he moved between romanticism and naturalism in his "Olga i Lina" (1881). A younger, and more radical, militant writer was Ante Kovačić, who wrote a series of poems, short stories and novels, the best-known of which is "U registraturi" (In the Register, 1888). The work combines biting social satire with naturalist descriptions of Croatian bureaucracy and peasantry, along with a fascination with the supernatural inherited from Romanticism, and was one of the most powerful novels in 19th-century Croatian literature.

Ksaver Šandor Gjalski dealt with subjects from Zagorje's upper class ("Pod starimi krovovi", Under Old Roofs, 1886), affected poetic realism and highlighted the political situation in »U noći« (In the Night, 1887).

Vjencelav Novak

The most prolific writer of Croatian Realism was Vjenceslav Novak, starting from his hometown in Senj, broadened his range to include Zagreb and Prague. In his best novel "Posljednji Stipančići" (The Last Stipančićs, 1899) dealt with the collapse of a Senj patrician family. Meanwhile, Josip Kozarac wrote about the penetration of foreign capital into the previously patriarchal Slavonia ("Mrtvi kapitali", Dead Capital, 1890; "Tena", 1894). Towards the end of the Realist period, Janko Leskovar wrote his psychological novels, for example "Misao na vječnost" (1891), in which he would analyse his characters. His work would lead directly into Modernism in Croatian literature.

Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević was the most important of the 19th-century poets: ("Bugarkinje", Folk Songs 1885; "Izabrane pjesme", Selected Poems 1898; "Trzaji", Spasms 1902). Drawing on the style of earlier patriotic poetry, he used sharp sarcasm and cold irony, along with deep pathos and rhetoric. He embraced universal and cosmic themes, which made the young Kranjčević stand out among his contemporaries, such as August Harambašić, whose main themes were patriotism or romantic love.

Josip Draženović's "Crtice iz primorskoga malogradskoga života" (Sketches from a Coastal Small Town Life, 1893) focused on people and their relationships on the Croatian coast at the end of the 19th century. At the threshold of the modernist era, the poet, playwright and novelist Ante Tresić Pavičić brought classical and Italian poetry forms into his work. The collections "Valovi misli i čuvstava" (Waves of Thought and Emotion, 1903), and "Sutonski soneti" (Twilight Sonnets, 1904) were to influence some of his younger contemporaries.

Modern literatureEdit

Modern literature up to 1914Edit

Statue of A.G. Matoš in Zagreb

The modernist movement manifested itself not only in literature, but also in the visual arts, and other aspects of cultural and national life. From the beginning, there were two distinct threads: one mainly apolitical, cosmopolitan, and aesthetic ("Mladost", "Hrvatski salon", "Život"), while the other was younger, more progressive and political ("Nova nada", "Hrvatska misao", "Novo doba", "Narodna misao", "Glas"). A few prominent writers, such as Antun Gustav Matoš and Dinko Šimunović, were not involved in either movement. The difference between "old" and "young" lasted for more than a decade and was related to similar movements in the rest of Europe. In addition, there was a new openness to other influences and literature in French, German, Russian, Italian, Polish and Czech all left their mark.

The struggle for creative freedom in literature and the arts was led by modern idealist Milivoj Dežman (Ivanov).[17] On the other side, Milan Marjanović believed that Croatian literature should be the driving force in the political struggle of the people. Similar thinkers of the time were Ante Kovačić, Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević and Vladimir Nazor. The novelist and playwright Milutin Cihlar Nehajev, ("Veliki grad", Big City, 1919), wrote a series of essays on national and foreign writers, and his "Bijeg" (Escape, 1909) is considered typical of Croatian modernist novels with its alienated and confused vision looking to solve national problems by escape.

Milan Begović

Modernism was particularly strong in the field of poetry. The freely-expressed eroticism, ecstasy and rebellion against the discipline of life in Milan Begović‘s "Knjiga Boccadoro" (Boccadoro Book, 1900) acted as a manifesto and remains a standard of Croatian poetry. Begović's poetry was similar in style to that of Dragutin Domjanić, although Domjanić tended to be more lyrical and sentimental. He achieved some success with his poem "Kipci i popevke", (Statuettes and popular songs 1917). Another prominent poet of the period was Vladimir Vidrić, whose work forms part of the wider European symbolism movement.

In theatre, Ivo Vojnović captivated the public with plays such as "Ekvinocij" (Exquinox, 1895). Although his early works dealt with cosmopolitan themes, Dubrovnik remained his major inspiration especially in "Dubrovačka trilogija" (Dubrovnik Trilogy, 1903). In that work, the subject relates to realism, although the technique and inspiration is entirely modernist.

Vladimir Nazor

Around the same time, Vladimir Nazor began his career, and was to become one of the most versatile and prolific authors of the modern age ("Slavenske legende", Slavic Legends, 1900). His writing is modernist, though based on a realist tradition. Some of the most outstanding narrative prose was written by Dinko Šimunović, whose novels described life in the rural hinterland of Dalmatia.

Two very successful playwrights of the time were Milan Ogrizović and Josip Kosor. Ogrizović used themes from folk songs in works such as ("Hasanaginica"), and he also wrote passionate dramas ("Vučina", 1921), while Kosor is best known for his dramatic "Požar strasti" (Fire of Passion, 1912).

The novelist Franjo Horvat Kiš wrote about life in the Croatian zagorje, while Ivan Kozarac wrote novels "Đuka Begović" (Devil's Blood, 1911), about Slavonia. The forerunner of modern fiction was Janko Polić Kamov, poet ("Psovka", "Ištipana hartija", 1907), narrator, innovative novelist ("Isušena kaljuža" 1957), playwright essayist and critic. His prose remains essentially modern even today in both its structure and subject.

The most complete European and Croatian writer of the period was Antun Gustav Matoš, who wrote his first short story in 1892 "Moć savjesti" (The Power of Conscience). His work spanning essays, reviews, novels, poems, and travel books was highly influential. The publication of the anthology Croatian Young Lyrics (1914) marked an end of an era - the year that Antun Gustav Matoš died and the First World War began. Twelve authors contributed to the anthology: Ivo Andrić, Vladimir Čerina, Vilko Gabarić, Karl Hausler, Zvonko Milković, Stjepan Parmačević, Janko Polić Kamov, Tin Ujević, Milan Vrbanić, Ljubo Wiesner and Fran Galović. All of these authors were influenced by Antun Gustav Matoš and Vladimir Vidrić, and many would later become well-known names in Croatian literature.[18]

Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić

Fran Galović, a prolific writer of modern novels and plays, was also known for poems in his native Podravina dialect ("Z mojih bregov", Rolling Hills, published in 1925). Vladimir Čerina was best known for his poems "Raspeće", Crucifixon, 1912. Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić achieved success as a writer of Croatian fairytales ("Priče iz davnine", Fairytales, 1916) which interweave fantasy with real characters. The journalist Marija Jurić Zagorka wrote historical novels that achieved great popularity. A. G. Matoš in this period published critical reviews "Naši ljudi i krajevi" (Our People and Regions, 1910) and "Pečalba" (Profit, 1913), and wrote serials and poems.

The political events of the early 20th century and the movement for a united south Slavic state (Yugoslavia) were compelling topics in the literature of the time. Ivo Vojnović wrote about the Vidovdan myth, while Srđan Tucić published "Osloboditelje" (Liberators, 1914). Vladimir Nazor wrote several works on the theme of Croatian history "Velog Jože" (1908), "Hrvatske kraljeve" (Croatian Kings, 1912), "Istarske priče" (Istrian Tales, 1913) and "Medvjeda Brundu" (Bear Brundu, 1915). Milan Ogrizović's play "Banović Strahinja" was shown in 1912.

Modern literature between the wars 1914 to 1945Edit

The period immediately before the First World War was marked by a new avant-garde movement. Janko Polić Kamov, in his short life, was an early forerunner, with his modernist novel “Isušena kaljuža” (The Drained Swamp, 1906–1909) now considered to be the first major Croatian prose work of the genre. A new generation of futurist young writers began to appear, where expressive use of words was more important than a formal structure. Along with the new literary styles, came a stronger politicization of content that would continue to mark poetry and prose during the First World War and beyond.

Literary magazines and Matica HrvatskaEdit

The magazine “Vihor” (Whirlwind, 1914) gathered together a group of young writers who supported the unification of the South Slavs. In this, they were strongly influenced by the expressive and ideological works of sculptor Ivan Meštrović, and writers Ivo Vojnović and Vladimir Nazor, who before the First World War had revived common Slavic mythology. Avant-garde poetry was published in a number of magazines, for example, “Kokot” (1916), “Vijavica” (1917), “Juriš” (1919) and “Književnik” (1924). Along with the avant-garde, mainly expressionist poetry, Leninist revolutionary ideas were promoted in magazines such as “Plamen” (1919) and “Zenit” (1921–23 in Zagreb; 1924–26 in Belgrade). Ljubo Micić was the most radical promoter of the avant-garde in literature, music, and art, advocating “zenitizam” as a synthesis of the original Balkan spirit and contemporary European trends (futurism, expressionism, dadaism, surrealism).

In addition to these avant-garde magazines, a significant contribution to the literary life of the period role was played by DHK “Savremenik” (published intermittently 1906–41), which gathered together writers of different generations and poetic orientations, “Hrvatska njiva” (1917–26; from 1919 “Jugoslavenska njiva”) offered more moderately traditional poetic viewpoints as in “Vijenac” (Wreath, 1913–28). The magazine “Nova Evropa” (1920–41), with its liberal and south Slav unity orientation, had a strong impact in the first half of the 1920s. Miroslav Krleža in 1923 launched his second magazine “Književna republika” (Literary Republic, banned in 1927), bringing together leading leftist writers, focusing on inequality and social injustice, offering a sharp critique of the ruling regime in Yugoslavia.

After the assassination of Stjepan Radić and the introduction of the dictatorship at the beginning of 1929, consciousness of a Croatian identity strengthened among many writers, along with a growing resistance to Serbian dominance. Since normal legitimate political activities were limited by public safety orders, the movement found expression in cultural associations and literary publications. Matica Hrvatska became the centre of intellectual and literary gatherings, within which Communist writers such as Miroslav Krleža and August Cesarec were active. Their magazine “Hrvatska revija” (Croatian Review, 1928) provided the Croatian literary voice of the time, bringing together the best authors of all orientations. But the Matica administration gradually eased out the leftist writers, particularly after Filip Lukas' article “Ruski komunizam spram nacionalnog principa” (Russian communism as opposed to national principles, 1933).

Those with strong nationalistic views moved to magazines such as “Hrvatska smotra” (Croatian Folklore, 1933–45), and “Hrvatska prosvjeta” (Croatian education, 1914–40), while most leftist Croatian authors gathered around “Književnici” (Writers, 1928–39), which in its early years was open to liberal ideas, then around the journal “Kritika” (1928), “Literatura” (1931–33), “Kultura” (1933) and “Izraz” (Expression, 1939–41).

Increasing conflictEdit

Towards the end of the 1920s and into the 1930s, turmoil within the international leftist movement (clashes at the First International Conference of Proletarian and Revolutionary Writers (1927), Kharkov Congress (1930), Moscow Congress of Soviet Writers (1934) between leftist avant-garde authors and those engaged in writing social literature,i.e. propaganda) had its echoes in Yugoslavia. The most prominent left-wing author, Miroslav Krleža found himself in conflict with the authorities as he refused to lower his standards, as he saw it, and become a mere tool for ideological goals. The debate grew increasingly heated while Krleža was publishing the magazine “Danas” (Today, 1934) and “Pečat” (Stamp, 1939–40), culminating in his highly critical essay “Dijalektički antibarbarus” (Dialectical antibarbarus, 1939), which brought him into direct conflict with the leadership of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (who responded by publishing the collection “Književne sveske” (Literary Volume, 1940)).

Second World WarEdit

The establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in 1941 brought hope amongst some that the end of monarchist Yugoslavia would unleash a new creative energy. But the fascist ideology, the strong link to the Axis powers, the repressive practices of the Ustasha regime towards intellectuals (including the murder of Cesarec, Keršovani, Miškina and a slew of others), and the persecution of Communists and members of national minorities, pushed Croatia's intellectuals to distance themselves from the regime. Even some leading non-communist writers such as Vladimir Nazor and Ivan Goran Kovačić joined the partisans. While leftist writers who had not been murdered, such as Krleža, were banned altogether from publishing, the Ustasha authorities attempted to organize a literary presence around the Croatian Publishing and Bibliographic Institute, which issued an anthology of poetry and prose, “Hrvatska enciklopedija” (Croatian encyclopedia). Meanwile, in the territory under partisan control, there was intense literary activity. In addition to Vladimir Nazor and Ivan Goran Kovačić there were Joža Horvat, Mirko Božić, Jure Kaštelan, Ivan Dončević, Jure Franičević Pločar, Marin Franičević, Vjekoslav Kaleb, Vladimir Popović [hr], Živko Jeličić, Josip Barković and others. Although the greater part of their literary output was fairly utilitarian, from this time also came artistic masterpieces, such as Kovačić's intensely emotional indictment of war crimes “Jama” (The Pit, 1944).

Leading writers and their best-known worksEdit
  • Bosnian Croat Ivo Andrić was one of the gifted poets introduced in the 1914 anthology Croatian Young Lyrics. Although after his relocation to Belgrade, he worked within Serbian literature. His early works "Ex Ponto" (1918), "Put Ali Đerzeleza" (The Path of Ali Đerzelez, 1920), "Nemiri" (Unrest, 1921) were written in Croatian ”ijekavica” dialect (which also sometimes appeared in his later works, especially in the speech of Bosnian friars). He published three prose collections in Belgrade "Pripovetke" (Stories, 1924, 1931, 1936). Stylistically virtuous, with an exaggerated sense of psychological analysis, pervaded by unobtrusiveness, his prose analyzed civilization and religious controversy on Bosnian soil. Taken with his post-war novels, his work earned him worldwide recognition, crowned by the Nobel Prize in 1961.
  • Đuro Arnold was a writer of romantic poetry in the tradition of August Šenoa and Franjo Marković, publishing several books of poems. "Na pragu vječnosti" (Threshold of Eternity, 1935)
  • Milan Begović worked as a high school professor in Split before moving to Hamburg and Vienna to pursue a career in theatre. He wrote stories and novels but is best known for plays he wrote in 1920s and 1930s. The best known titles are "Pustolov pred vratima" (Adventurer at the Door, 1926) and the comedy "Amerikanska jahta u Splitskoj luci" (American Yacht in Split Harbour).
  • Mile Budak's work is strongly marked by his right-wing politics. A prominent member of the Ustasha movement, the founder of the newspaper Hrvatski narod (Croatian People) in 1938, a Minister within the NDH Government, he published literary works intensively in 1930-45. His most significant work deals with a Lika village, and the disintegration of traditional values within a closed patriarchal community "Opanci dida Vidurine" (Grandpa Vidurina's shoes, 1933), "Ognjište" (Fireplace, I-IV, 1938), "Kresojića" (Strain, I-III, 1944–45). He also wrote social novels in which he analyzed the urban environment "Direktor Križanić" (Director Križanić, 1938), "Rascvjetana trešnja" (Cherry Blossom I-IV, 1939), and a memoir "Ratno roblje" (Prisoners of war I-II, 1941).
  • The poet Dobriša Cesarić inherited the spirit of romance (translated Russian and German romantics), and on a stylistic-expressive plan, he inherited the poets of Croatian modernity, wrote a related verse with a strong sense of verse music. In his poems, he took on landscape scenes that had a symbolic function, and his seemingly simple poetry gains a deeper, philosophical meaning. He also dealt with scenes from the life of the urban poor as part of the social movement literature in his collection "Lirika" (Poetry, 1931), "Spasena svijetla" (Saved World, 1938). He achieved great popularity in the wider reading circles.
  • Dragutin Domjanić wrote romantic poetry about spiritual love and the nobles and cavaliers of the days gone by. "Kipci i popevke" (Statuettes and pop songs, 1917), "Po dragomu kraju" ("Through the region", 1933)
  • Ulderiko Donadini was a versatile author, writing poems, novels and essays. A follower of Matoš's symbolist-impressionist poetics, he was impressed by Dostoyevsky, and his works combine the spirit of the grotesque with some extremely neurotic characters. He published the collection "Lude priče" (Crazy Stories, 1915), a series of novels "Vijavice" (Whirlwind, 1917), "Kroz šibe" (Through the brush, 1921), "Bauk" (Bogeyman, 1922), dramas "Bezdan" (The Abyss, 1919), "Igračka oluje" (Toy storm, 1921). Gogoljeva smrt ("Gogol's death", 1921).
  • Viktor Car Emin wrote numerous novels and stories deal with economic-social and political problems of the past and the present of Istria. "Nove borbe" (New Struggle, 1926), "Vitez Mora" (Hero of the Sea, 1939). He dealt with the same topics in his works for the theatre.
  • August Cesarec was a versatile author, a poet, novelist, playwright, and political publicist. Politically he belonged to the Leninist left, he was passionately engaged in social controversies. The expressionist style of his early poetry and prose was gradually replaced by a more critical realism as he addressed issues such as the Croatian national identity and social injustice "Careva kraljevina" (The Emperor's Kingdom, 1925), "Zlatni mladić" (Golden Youth, 1928), "Bjegunci" (Fugitives, 1933).
  • Milutin Cihlar Nehajev was a journalist, novelist and dramatist. "Veliki grad" (Big City, 1919), "Vuci" (Wolves, 1928)
  • Vjekoslav Kaleb depicted the environment and people of the Dalmatian hinterland with a sparse expressionist style in his novels "Na kamenju" (On the Rock, 1940), and "Izvan stvari" (Outside of Things, 1942).
  • Slavko Kolar analyzed life in Croatian villages and provinces with a remarkable humour. His best series of novels were "Ili jesmo ili nismo" (Either we are or not, 1933) and "Mi smo za pravicu" (We are for justice, 1936) explored the fate of characters who live in conditions of total deprivation, satirizing provincial intelligence and bureaucracy, particularly political careerism and opportunism.
  • Although the first collection of poems of Gustav Krklec (1899-1977) had the expressionist elements (Lirika "Poetry", 1919; "Srebrna cesta" (Silver Road, 1921), his poetic sensibility was more suited to traditionalist, impressionistic expression and linked verse "Izlet u nebo"(Trip to Heaven, 1928;"Darovi za Bezimenu" (Gifts for nameless, 1942). His wit is especially prominent in epigrams and pamphlets.
  • Josip Kosor was a novelist and playwright. Starting with novels depicting peasant life in Dalmatia, he evolved into a dramatist, being nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times. His plays Passion's Furnace (1912), The Invincible Ship (1921) and Reconciliation were translated for performance in England. Other works include "Žena" (Woman, 1920), "Razvrat" (Debauchery, 1923), "Miris zemlje i mora" ( Scent of Earth and Sea, 1925)
  • Ivan Goran Kovačić, a poet, storyteller, critic and journalist, was an advocate of HSS politics and a follower of Stjepan Radić. In an early novel "Dani gnjeva" (Days of Anger, 1936), he wrote about his native Lukovdol, poetizing the harmony of nature and man, critically treating social injustice. In the poems, published in the posthumous book "Ognji i rože" (Fire and Roses, 1945), he uses dialect to depict the arkadian landscapes of his native country. He achieved exceptional expression in his best-known poem "Jama" (The Pit, 1944) a strong work of universal artistic value, a shocking testimony of war crime.
  • Ivo Kozarčanin, poet, critic and novelist, reached his artistic peak in the novels "Tuđa žena" (Someone else's wife, 1937) and, especially, "Sam čovjek" (Man alone, 1937), dealing with the psychological analysis of neurotic characters struggling to adapt to everyday life. His poems are interspersed with intense eroticism and an intense feeling of loneliness "Mrtve oči" (Dead Eyes, 1938).
  • Miroslav Krleža played a central role in literary life between the two world wars, based not only on his extensive output but also in having a wider public engagement driven by the magazines he published and his contributions to debates on cultural and political issues. His influence and popularity among the younger intellectuals can be seen in the number of his followers, known as the krležijanci. During the First World War, he wrote a series of avant-garde dramas called "Kraljevo" (King), "Kristofor Kolumbo" (Christopher Columbus), "Michelangelo Buonarroti" (Michelangelo) and poetry based on free verse and expressive imagery "Three Symphonies", 1917; "Songs I" and "Songs II", 1918; "Songs III" and "Lirika" (Poetry, 1919). In the period after World War I, he published an anti-war novel in the series "Croatian God Mars". In the second half of the 1920s, in the Glembay cycle (drama "In agony", "Glembays," "Leda") he analyzed the crisis of consciousness of the civic class using psychological realism. In the novels "The Return of Philip Latinowicz" (1932) and "The Edge of Reason" (1938), he dealt with the fate of a sensitive individual confronted with the social environment, and "Banquet in Blitva" (I., 1938, II., 1939), explored the conflict between an individual and despotic political authorities. By reviving the language of old Kajkavian literature, in "Balade Petrice Kerempuha" (1936) he created a complex picture of Croatian history. He also published a series of essay books, travelogues and controversies, which had a great deal of public acclaim.
  • Vjekoslav Majer is a poet of Zagreb scenes, close to Matoš, depicting the everyday life of the small man with social sensitivity and warm humour. Poetry collections "Lirika" (Poetry, 1924) and "Pjesme zabrinutog Evropejca" (Songs of a Worried European, 1934). Prose "Iz dnevnika malog Perice" (From the diary of little Perica, 1935), "Pepić u vremenu i prostoru" (Pepić in time and space, 1935–38), "Život puža" (Life of a snail, 1938), "Dnevnik Očenašeka" (Diary of Očenašeka, 1938).
  • Milan Marjanović "Vladimir Nazor kao nacionalni pjesnik" (Vladimir Nazor as National Poet, 1923), "Stjepan Radić" (Stjepan Radic, 1937), "Mi budale" (We Fools, 1939)
  • Vladimir Nazor "Arkun" (1920), "Niza od koralja" (String of Coral, 1922), "Nove priče" (New Tales, 1922–26), "Priče s ostrva, iz grada i sa planine", "Tales from island, city and mountain, 1927), "Pjesme moje mladosti" (Songs of my youth, 1930), "Fantazije i groteske" (Fantasies and grotesque, 1931).
  • Ante Tresić Pavičić "Govori i pisma iz ere užasa i oslobođenja" (Speeches and letters from a time of exile and liberation, 1922), "Ivan Meštrović" (Ivan Mestrović, 1925), "Plavo cvijeće" Blue Flowers, 1928)
  • Đuro Sudeta wrote melancholy verses imbued with Christian spirituality in his collections "Osamljene staze" (Lonely Tracks, 1924), and "Kućice u dolu" (Houses in the Valley, 1926) in which he dealt with his own childhood, loneliness and foreboding imminent death. One of his best-known works is the fantasy narrative "Mor" (1930).
  • Ksaver Šandor Gjalski "Ljubav lajtnanta Milića" (The Love of Lieutenant Milić, 1923), "Pronevjereni ideali" (Betrayed Ideals, 1925).
  • In his short life Antun Branko Šimić wrote one of the most outstanding poetic and critical-essay works of Croatian literature. Initially writing impressionist poetry using symbolism and German Expressionism, he achieved his best work in poems written in stark verse, with no verbal ornamentation, about the transience of the human body and the life of the poor. During his lifetime he published a collection "Preobraženja" (Transfiguration, 1920) and posthumously Izabrane pjesme (Selected Poems, 1933). He criticized the radical rejection of Croatian classics (Preradović, Vidrić, Vojnović, Nazor), but also the younger contemporaries (Andrić, Krleža).
  • Dinko Šimunović spent most of his life in the hinterland of Dalmatia, writing many stories and two novels dealing with people from his native region. "Mladost" (Youth, 1921), "Porodica Vinčić" (Vinčić Family, 1923).
  • Nikola Šop's poetry was imbued with a profound spirituality, depicting love for the world of ordinary, small people, the poor and vagrants. He introduced a Jesus character into the everyday life of a small man "Pjesme siromašnog sina" (Poems of the Poor Son, 1926), "Isus i moja sjena" (Jesus and My Shadow, 1934), "Za kasnim stolom" (For the Late Table, 1943). In his later poems, he left the topic of earthly joy and dealt with the symbolism of astral spaces.
  • Dragutin Tadijanović dealt with themes of lost childhood, employing a simplicity of language and intentionally naive views evocative of the subject. "Lirika" (Poetry, 1931), "Sunce nad oranicama" (Sun over the fields, 1933), "Pepeo srca" (Ashes of the heart, 1936), "Dani djetinjstva" (Days of Childhood, 1937), and "Tuga zemlje" (Sadness of the Earth, 1942).
  • Leading peacetime poet Tin Ujević began his career in 1914, with his contributions to the anthology "Hrvatska mlada lirika" (Croatian Young Lyrics). In the period around World War I, he was politically engaged as a Yugoslav nationalist, but after the war became disillusioned, leaving politics to devote himself to literature as a professional writer and translator. In addition to poetry, he wrote short stories, essays on foreign and domestic writers, prose, and newspaper articles. In his early poetry, he was close to Matoš, later taking inspiration from Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Whitman. Like other contemporary poets, he made use of highly-stylized folk tales, creating emotional expressions of personal tragedy, loneliness and intense passionate love, especially in "Lelek sebra" (Cry of Silver, 1920), and "Kolajna" (Medals, 1926). His later poems "Auto na korzu" (Car on the promenade, 1932), apart from the surrealist imagery, is also distinguished by the philosophy reflexivity. A representative collection of his poetry "Ojađeno zvono" (Stolen Bell, 1933), a selection of erudite essays and pamphlets "Ljudi za vratima gostionice" (People at the inn door, 1938) and "Skalpel kaosa" (Scalpel chaos, 1938) established Ujević as an outstanding poet of the interwar years.

Modern literature post Second World WarEdit

List of Croatian writers and early workEdit

Medieval periodEdit



Classicism and EnlightenmentEdit





20th and 21st century literatureEdit

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Cvitanic 2011, p. 108.
  2. ^ Cvitanic 2011, p. 107.
  3. ^ Fučić, Branko (September 1971). "Najstariji hrvatski glagoljski natpisi". Slovo (in Croatian). Old Church Slavonic Institute. 21.
  4. ^ Žagar, Mateo (1 January 2005). "Grapholinguistic description of Becki listici". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  5. ^ Rački, F. 1881. Najstarija hrvatska cirilicom pisana listina. Starine 13, JAZU, Zagreb, 197–210.
  6. ^ Eduard, Hercigonja (30 September 1984). "Historical, social and cultural-environmental conditions of the origin and development of croatian glagolitic printing (on the occaison of the 500th anniversary of the editio princeps of the 1483 Missal)". Slovo : časopis Staroslavenskoga instituta u Zagrebu (in Croatian) (34): 17–61. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  7. ^ Marulianum Center for study of Marko Marulić and his literary activity. – Retrieved on 28 November 2015.
  8. ^ Dunja Fališevac, Krešimir Nemec, Darko Novaković (2000). Leksikon hrvatskih pisaca. Zagreb: Školska knjiga d.d. ISBN 953-0-61107-2.
  9. ^ Clifford, Timothy (2009), International Trust for Croatian Monuments (ed.), Italy & Dalmatia: Architecture, Painting and the Decorative Arts, c 1400-1800 (Croatia: Aspects of Art, Architecture and Cultural Heritage ed.), London: Frances Lincoln Ltd, p. 140, ISBN 978-0-7112-2921-1, Hektorovic was the author of an extraordinary work of Croatian literature, Ribaranje i Ribarsko prigovaranje... was the earliest Croatian to transcribe the music of folk songs and include the notation in a text.
  10. ^ Zoranić, Petar (13 March 1998). "PETSTO GODINA OD ROĐENJA PETRA ZORANIĆA, AUTORA PRVOGA HRVATSKOG ROMANA PLANINE". Vijenac (in Croatian). 366. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  11. ^ Ludovik Lenček, Rado (1975). Xenia Slavica: papers presented to Gojko Ružičić on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday, 2 February 1969. Mouton. ISBN 9789027931719.
  12. ^ a b Hrvatska barokna knji%C5%BEevnost (Croatian baroque literature)[circular reference]
  13. ^ Stephen R. Graubard (1998). A New Europe for the Old?, Transaction Publishers, ISBN 0-7658-0465-4
  14. ^ Antoni Cetnarowicz: National revival in Dalmatia, Central Europe, Zagreb, 2006., ISBN 953-6979-21-7
  15. ^ "History of the University of Zagreb". University of Zagreb. 2005. Retrieved 30 September 2010. Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer in 1861 proposed to the Croatian Parliament that a legal basis be established for the founding of the University of Zagreb. During his visit to Zagreb in 1869, Emperor Franz Joseph signed the Decree on the Establishment of the University of Zagreb.
  16. ^ Josip Juraj Strossmayer (29 April 1861). "Akademija znanosti - put prema narodnom obrazovanju". Speech in the Croatian Parliament (in Croatian). Wikisource. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  17. ^ "Dežman, Milivoj". Hrvatska enciklopedija. Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Poetry Anthology Young Croatian Lyrics published". Versopolis: European Poetry Platform. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  19. ^


External linksEdit