Miroslav Krleža (pronounced [mǐrɔ̝slav̞ kř̩le̞ʒa]; 7 July 1893 – 29 December 1981) was a Yugoslav and Croatian writer who is widely considered to be the greatest Croatian writer of the 20th century.[2][3][4][5] He wrote notable works in all the literary genres, including poetry (Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh, 1936), theater (Messrs. Glembay, 1929), short stories (Croatian God Mars, 1922), novels (The Return of Philip Latinowicz, 1932; On the Edge of Reason, 1938), and an intimate diary. His works often include themes of bourgeois hypocrisy and conformism in Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.[6] Krleža wrote numerous essays on problems of art, history, politics, literature, philosophy, and military strategy,[7] and was known as one of the great polemicists of the century.[8] His style combines visionary poetic language and sarcasm.[9]

Miroslav Krleža
Miroslav Krleža in 1953
Miroslav Krleža in 1953
Born(1893-07-07)7 July 1893
Zagreb, Croatia-Slavonia, Austria-Hungary
Died29 December 1981(1981-12-29) (aged 88)
Zagreb, SR Croatia, Yugoslavia
OccupationNovelist, playwright, poet, philosopher, essayist, cultural critic
Literary movementExpressionism, Socialist realism
Notable worksMessrs. Glembay
Croatian God Mars
The Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh
The Return of Philip Latinowicz
The Banquet in Blitva
The Banners
SpouseLeposava "Bela" Kangrga[1]

Krleža dominated the cultural life of Croatia and Yugoslavia for half a century.[6] A "Communist of his own making",[7] he was criticized in Communist circles in the 1930s for his refusal to submit to the tenets of socialist realism. After the Second World War, he held various cultural posts in Socialist Yugoslavia, and was most notably the editor of the Yugoslav Lexicographical Institute and a constant advisor on cultural affairs to President Tito. After the break with Stalin, it was his speech at the 1952 Congress of Yugoslav Writers that signaled a new era of comparative freedom in Yugoslav literature.[10]

Biography edit

Miroslav Krleža was born in Zagreb,[11][12] the son of a constable.[12] He enrolled in a preparatory military school in Pécs, modern-day Hungary.[13] At that time, Pécs and Zagreb were within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Subsequently, he attended the Ludoviceum military academy at Budapest.[14] He defected to Serbia, but was dismissed as a suspected spy.[11] Upon his return to Croatia, he was demoted in the Austro-Hungarian army and sent as a common soldier to the Eastern front in World War I.[11] In the post-World War I period, Krleža established himself both as a major Modernist writer and politically controversial figure in Yugoslavia, a newly created country which encompassed South Slavic lands of the former Habsburg Empire and the kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro.

Krleža was the driving force behind leftist literary and political reviews Plamen ("The Flame", 1919), Književna republika ("Literary Republic", 1923–1927), Danas ("Today", 1934) and Pečat ("Seal", 1939–1940).[2] He became a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia in 1918, but was expelled in 1939 because of his unorthodox views on art, his opposition to Socialist realism, and his unwillingness to give open support to the Great Purge, after the long polemic now known as "the Conflict on the Literary Left", pursued by Krleža with virtually every important writer in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, in the period between the two World Wars. The Party commissar sent to mediate between Krleža and other leftist and party journals was Josip Broz Tito.

After the establishment of the Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia under Ante Pavelić, Krleža refused to join the Partisans headed by Tito.[11] Following a brief period of social stigmatization after 1945, he was eventually rehabilitated.[11] In 1947, he became vice-president of the Yugoslav Academy of Science and Arts in Zagreb and, from 1958 to 1961, he was president of the Yugoslav Writers' Union.[15] During this time, Croatia's principal state publishing house, Nakladni zavod Hrvatske, published his collected works. Supported by Tito, in 1950 Krleža founded the Yugoslav Institute for Lexicography, holding the position as its head until his death. The institute would be posthumously named after him and is now called the Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography.[16]

From 1950 on, Krleža led a life as a high-profile writer and intellectual, often closely connected to Tito. He also briefly held the post of president of the Yugoslav Writers' Union between 1958 and 1961. In 1962, he received the NIN Award for the novel Zastave ("The Banners"),[17] and in 1968 the Herder Prize.[18]

Following the deaths of Tito in May 1980, and Bela Krleža in April 1981, Krleža spent most of his last years of his life in ill health. He was awarded the Laureate Of The International Botev Prize in 1981. He died in his Villa Gvozd in Zagreb on 29 December 1981 and was given a state funeral in Zagreb on 4 January 1982.[19] In 1986, Villa Gvozd was donated to the City of Zagreb. It was opened to the public in 2001,[20] but is temporarily closed due to the 2020 Zagreb earthquake damage as of 2021.[21]

Works edit

Krleža with President Josip Broz Tito

Krleža's formative influences include Scandinavian drama, French symbolism and Austrian and German expressionism and modernism, with key authors like Ibsen, Strindberg, Nietzsche, Karl Kraus, Rilke, and Proust.[citation needed]

Krleža's opus can be divided into the following categories:

Poetry edit

Although Krleža's lyric poetry is held in high regard, by common critical consensus his greatest poetic work is Balade Petrice Kerempuha (Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh), spanning more than five centuries and centred on the figure of plebeian prophet Petrica Kerempuh, a Croatian Till Eulenspiegel.[22]

Novels edit

Krleža's novelistic oeuvre consists of four works: The Return of Philip Latinowicz, On the Edge of Reason, The Banquet in Blitva, and The Banners.[11][23][24] The first one is a novel about an artist. On the Edge of Reason and The Banquet in Blitva are satires (the latter located in an imaginary Baltic country and called a political poem), saturated with the atmosphere of all-pervasive totalitarianism,[24] while The Banners has been dubbed a "Croatian War and Peace". It is a multi-volume panoramic view of Croatian (and Central European) society before, during, and after World War I, revolving around the prototypical theme of fathers and sons in conflict. All Krleža's novels except The Banners, have been translated into English.[citation needed]

A bronze monument to Miroslav Krleža, created by Marija Ujević-Galetović, was placed in 2004 near the house where he lived for 30 years near Gornji Grad, Zagreb, Croatia[25]

Short stories and novellas edit

The most notable collection of Krleža's short stories is the anti-war book Croatian God Mars,[24] on the fates of Croatian soldiers sent to the World War I battlefields.[26]

Plays edit

Krleža's main artistic interest was centered on drama. He began with experimental expressionist plays like Adam i Eva and Michelangelo Buonarroti, dealing with defining passions of heroic figures, but eventually opted for more conventional naturalist plays. The best known is Gospoda Glembajevi (The Glembays), a cycle dealing with the decay of a bourgeois family.[27] Golgota is another play, political in nature.[28]

Diaries and memoirs edit

Krleža's memoirs and diaries include Davni dani (Olden days) and Djetinjstvo u Agramu (Childhood in Zagreb). Other works include Dnevnici (Diaries) and the posthumously published Zapisi iz Tržiča (Notes from Tržič) chronicle multifarious impressions.

Selected works edit

Translations into English:

Krleža, Miroslav. The Banquet in Blitva (Banket u Blitvi, 1939). Translated by Edward Dennis Goy and Jasna Levinger-Goy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2004.

_____. The Cricket Beneath the Waterfall, and Other Stories (Cvrčak pod vodopadom). Various translators; edited by Branko Lenski. New York: Vanguard Press, 1972.

_____. Harbors Rich in Ships: Selected Revolutionary Writings (The Glembays, 1928, and other early texts). Translated by Željko Cipriš. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2017.

_____. Journey to Russia (Izlet u Rusiju, 1925). Translated by Will Firth. Zagreb: Sandorf, 2017.

_____. On the Edge of Reason (Na rubu pameti, 1938). Translated by Zora Depolo. New York: New Directions, 1995.

_____. The Return of Philip Latinowitz (Povratak Filipa Latinovicza, 1932). Translated by Zora Depolo. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1995.

References edit

  1. ^ "Bela Kangrga, udana Krleža – glumica". Serb National Council. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Miroslav Krleža (1893–1981)". lzmk.hr. Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  3. ^ "8th Miroslav Krleža Festival". National and University Library in Zagreb. 18 June 2019. ...undoubtedly the greatest Croatian writer of the 20th century and one of the greatest Croatian writers of all time
  4. ^ Roshwald, Aviel; Stites, Richard, eds. (2002). European Culture in the Great War. Cambridge University Press. p. 201. By the end of the [First World War], Krleža had established himself as the leading figure of twentieth-century Croatian literature, a position he was never to relinquish.
  5. ^ Bubík, Tomáš; Remmel, Atko; Václavík, David, eds. (2020). Freethought and Atheism in Central and Eastern Europe. Routledge. The greatest literary and cultural figure of the time was Miroslav Krleža, who achieved an enormous literary opus that included the most important texts of 20th-century Croatian literature.
  6. ^ a b "Miroslav Krleža". larousse.fr. Larousse Dictionnaire mondial des littératures.
  7. ^ a b Thomas, William; Jackson, Hobdell; Stade, George, eds. (1983). European Writers. Scribner. p. 1809.
  8. ^ Andrew Baruch Wachtel (1998). Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia. Stanford University Press. p. 124.
  9. ^ Maurice Chavardes (31 May 1958). "La Litterature yugoslave et ses tendances". Le Monde.
  10. ^ Wachtel, Andrew (1998). Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia. Stanford University Press. pp. 176–177. ISBN 9780804731812.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Bédé, Jean Albert; Benbow Edgerton, William, eds. (1980). Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature. Columbia University Press. pp. 447–448. ISBN 9780231037174.
  12. ^ a b Newman, John Paul (1 March 2019). Pennell, Catriona; Ribeiro de Meneses, Filipe (eds.). "A Croat Iliad? Miroslav Krleža and the Refractions of Victory and Defeat in Central Europe". History of Warfare. 124 (A World at War, 1911–1949): 244.
  13. ^ Kadić, Ante (1963). "Miroslav Krleža (1893- )". Books Abroad. 37 (4): 396–400.
  14. ^ Newman, John Paul (2019). "A Croat Iliad? Miroslav Krleža and the Refractions of Victory and Defeat in Central Europe". In Pennell, Catriona; Ribeiro de Meneses, Filipe (eds.). A World at War, 1911-1949. BRILL. p. 243. ISBN 978-90-04-27667-3.
  15. ^ Roszkowski, Wojciech; Kofman, Jan (2016). Biographical Dictionary of Central and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century. Routledge. p. 2819. ISBN 9781317475934.
  16. ^ "From the History of the Institute". lzmk.hr. Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography. 27 June 2011. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  17. ^ "Dobitnik NIN-ove nagrade". b92.net (in Serbian). 22 January 2009. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015.
  18. ^ "Summary of the Yugoslav Press". The Service. 28 April 1968. ..Herder prize presented to Miroslav Krleza..
  19. ^ Death of Miroslav Krleža Archived 2011-12-22 at the Wayback Machine, mgz.hr; accessed 19 June 2015.
  20. ^ "Memorijalni prostor Miroslava i Bele Krleža" (in Croatian). Zagreb City Museum. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  21. ^ "Vanjske zbirke" (in Croatian). Zagreb City Museum. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  22. ^ Gribble, Charles E. (1994). James Daniel Armstrong: In Memoriam. Slavica Publishers. p. 79. ISBN 9780893572471. Krleža's masterpiece in form and style is Balade Petrice Kerempuha (The Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh), 1936, written in the kajkavian (northern Croatia) dialect. Kerempuh is an equivalent of the German Till Eulenspiegel.. a peasant clown who enjoys playing tricks on persons of higher rank. In his Ballads Krleža describes.. the centuries-long suffering under the cruel Magyar domination..
  23. ^ Mandić, Ethem (2023). The Political Novel in the South Slavic Intercultural Context. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 68–71. ISBN 9781666928501.
  24. ^ a b c Sollars, Michael; Llamas Jennings, Arbolina (2008). The Facts on File Companion to the World Novel: 1900 to the Present. Infobase Publishing. p. 435. ISBN 9781438108360.
  25. ^ "Otkriven spomenik Miroslavu Krleži". Vijesti Gradskog poglavarstva – Prosinac 2004. (in Croatian). City of Zagreb. December 2004. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  26. ^ Borodziej, Włodzimierz; Laczó, Ferenc; von Puttkamer, Joachim, eds. (2020). The Routledge History Handbook of Central and Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century: Volume 3: Intellectual Horizons. Routledge. ISBN 9781000096187.
  27. ^ "Volume 1". Yugoslav Review. Yugoslav Information Center. 1952. p. 8.
  28. ^ Możejko, Edward (1983). "On the Edge of Reason: The Writing of Miroslav Krleža". World Literature Today. 57 (1): 24–30. doi:10.2307/40138480.

Sources edit

External links edit

Preceded by President of the Association of Writers of Yugoslavia
Succeeded by