Dimitrije Mitrinović

Dimitrije "Mita" Mitrinović (Serbian Cyrillic: Димитрије Мита Митриновић; 21 October 1887 – 28 August 1953) was a Bosnian Serb philosopher, poet, revolutionary, mystic, theoretician of modern painting and traveler.

Dimitrije Mitrinović
Dimitrije Mitrinović, 1920.jpg
Mitrinović in 1920
Dimitrije Mitrinović

(1887-10-21)21 October 1887
Died28 August 1953(1953-08-28) (aged 65)
Richmond, England
Resting placeHighgate Cemetery
Other namesMita Mitrinović
EducationMostar Gymnasium
Alma materUniversity of Munich
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionYugoslav philosophy
Western philosophy
SchoolCritical theory
Main interests


Early life and radicalismEdit

Mitrinović was born in 1887 into a family of Orthodox faith and Serbian culture at Donji Poplat, municipality Berkovići in Herzegovina during the Austro-Hungarian occupation. His father, Mihailo, was in the service of the Austro-Hungarian government and ran an experimental farm. Dimitrije was educated at Mostar Gymnasium. As a young student he was the formulator of the principal program of the political movement Mlada Bosna (Young Bosnia), in his country's struggle for independence from Austria-Hungary and in the moves to create a united Yugoslavia. During this period Mitrinović edited the Sarajevo literary paper, Bosanska Vila, whose contributors included poets Risto Radulović and Vladimir "Vlado" Gaćinović. All three were born a few years apart in the late second half of the nineteenth century and all three have been members of secret political societies illegal in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Of the three friends, only Mitrinović survived World War I (Gaćinović died in 1917 and Radulović died in an Austrian prison camp in 1915).

Having studied history of art in Munich, Mitrinović came to England in 1914 to work for the Serbian Legation in London and moved among influential cultural circles in this country. From late 1914 to early 1915, there was an exhibition of work by Ivan Meštrović at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which included a model of a monument he had designed to commemorate the Battle of Kosovo.

Career and thoughtEdit

A mysterious personality in Serbian and European cultural history, he began his work in the field of art by translating Rig-Veda and the works of Virgil into Serbian. He studied philosophy and art history while staying in Rome, Madrid, Paris, Munich, and Tübingen. He was one of the first advocates of the avant-garde artistic group Der Blaue Reiter and gave a lecture on the art of Wassily Kandinsky.

Being in favour of the building of a universal utopia, like many of the leading minds of his time, he wrote about the inevitable creation of the Pan-European community. Ten years before La rebellión de las masas by Ortega y Gasset, Mitrinović prophesied: "Being different from the other races, the population of Europe has always given birth to its contradictions and always with the chances of their solution in some ultimate synthesis."

He was a regular contributor to the epoch-making periodical The New Age (the author of the column "World Affairs"), alongside Ezra Pound, and according to Edwin Muir, Mitrinović "has erupted with wild and profound contemplations ... not looking several ages ahead, like Shaw or Wells, but several millennia ahead."

The Utopian and messianic ideas of Mitrinović (influenced by philosophical concepts of Husserl and Peter Demianovich Ouspensky, the esoteric doctrine of G. I. Gurdjieff, and the psychoanalytical school of Freud, Jung and Adler) were brought to the attention of the public not only in the periodical The New Age but also in the periodical The New Atlantis (which Mitrinović edited) and The New Albion (which he co-edited with A. R. Orage).

Mitrinović founded the Adler's Society (the English Branch of the International Society for Individual Psychology), but later he and Adler went different ways due, allegedly, to "politicizing of his [Mitrinović's] scientific concepts". Mitrinović later founded the New Europe Group.

Mitrinović advocated a metaphysical Utopia (based on Plotinus, Clement of Alexandria, Lao Tzu, Jakob Böhme) but was also politically pragmatic. He published an open letter to Adolf Hitler in 1933 in which he accused Hitler of "behaving and acting as an evil superman ... possessed with some weird vision" which is "incomprehensible for the human mind and belief and quite certainly, and in all forms and essence, directed against the Orthodox soul."


The works of Mitrinović have remained scattered in numerous European periodicals (like the provocative texts based on psychological and philosophical theories, such as: Frojd prema Adleru (Freud versus Adler), Značaj Jungovog dela (The Importance of Jung's Work), Marks i Niče kao istorijska pozadina Adlera (Marx and Nietzsche as the Historical Background of Adler), Načela genija (The Principles of Genius), Carstvo snova (The Realm of Dream). Many of his works (including much of his poetry) were published in Serbian periodicals, and one of his major works, Aesthetic Contemplations, was published in Bosanska Vila.

In addition to the selected works of Dimitrije Mitrinović (published in Serbian, a number of years after his death) and the special study by Predrag Palavestra, Dogma i utopija (Dogma and Utopia) published in Serbian in 1977), two books have been distributed by Columbia University Press, New York; the first of them was published in 1984 and the second one in 1987. The authors of these books are Andrew Rigby (Initiation and Initiative: An Exploration of the Life and Ideas of Dimitrije Mitrinović) and H. C. Rutherford (Certainly Future: Selected Writings by Dimitrije Mitrinović).

In 1914, wishing to establish the movement "The Fundamentals of the Future", he maintained correspondence with the following potential associates: Giovanni Papini, Stanisław Przybyszewski, Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, Upton Sinclair, Henri Bergson, H. G. Wells, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, Leonid Andreyev, Maxim Gorky, Maurice Maeterlinck, Pablo Picasso, Filippo T. Marinetti, Anatole France, George Bernard Shaw, and Knut Hamsun.

Library and archiveEdit

The Mitrinović Library contains a collection of over 4,500 volumes, based on Mitrinović's private collection. The Library thus reflects Mitrinović's very wide range of interests and command of languages. Particular areas of strength are philosophy, politics, society, religions and esoterica. The collection includes rare books on art history, literature, psychology, history, science, oriental studies, astrology, Freemasonry, theosophy, and more. Most material is from the nineteenth and early twentieth century; the main languages used are English and German, with also French and some Asian and Eastern European languages.

Part of the library was bequeathed to the Belgrade University Library in 1956 and part of it donated to University of Bradford in 2003 and 2004.

The archive that was donated to the University of Bradford by the Foundation New Atlantis in 2003 and 2004 includes published and unpublished writings of Mitrinović and documents and correspondence produced by members of Mitrinović's circle, of the New Europe Group, and of the New Atlantis Foundation.


  • Christophe Le Dréau, «L’Europe des non-conformistes des années 30 : les idées européistes de New Britain et New Europe», dans Olivier Dard et Etienne Deschamps (sous la dir.), Les nouvelles relèves en Europe, Bruxelles, Peter Lang, 2005, pp. 311–330.
  • Mairet, Philip, «A.R. Orage: a memoir», London: J.M. Dent, 1936, 132p; reissued under the same title with a new 'Reintroduction,' by Philip Mairet, New Hyde Park, N.Y: University Books, 1966, xxxp + 140p, index. Mairet reveals in his 'Reintroduction,' that the pen-name for the frequent pieces Mitrinović contributed to the 'New Age' was M.M. Cosmoi; Mairet also mentions that he had been "devoted for fourteen years" to Mitrinović's "esoteric school"(p.vii). Mairet was an editorial colleague of Orage's and makes detailed comparisons of Mitrinović's philosophy with the ideas of Orage, Ouspensky and Gurdjieff.
  • «Autobiographical and Other Papers by Philip Mairet», edited by C.H. Sisson, Manchester, Carcanet: 1981, 266p, index. Mairet's lengthy additional reminiscences about Mitrinović are well indexed.
  • Paul Selver, «Orage and the New Age Circle», London: George Allen & Unwin, 1959, 100p, index. Selver offers a four-page description of his initial meeting with Mitrinović.
  • «Certainly, future: selected writings by Dimitrije Mitrinović», edited with introductions by H. C. Rutherford, Boulder: East European Monograph, 1987, 471 p.

External linksEdit