Croatian Literature

By | October 16, 2021

The literature of the Croatians, who belonged to different political centers of power (Hungary, Venice, Habsburg Monarchy, Ottoman Empire) for centuries, had a regional character for a long time. Belonging to the Western Church or to Catholicism and the Latin cultural sphere proved to be a unifying bond between the separated Croatian people.

Since the 10th century, Church Slavonic translation literature in Glagolitic script (Glagolitsa) with elements of vernacular has developed on the Dalmatian coast (Senj) and on the islands (Krk, Rab). The “Bašćanska ploča”, a Glagolitic stone inscription from around 1100, is the oldest Croatian language monument. After the Turkish penetration into the Balkan Peninsula, Croatian literature remained primarily oriented towards the Western European cultural model.

In the 15./16. In the 19th century, inspired by Italian models, important Renaissance literature developed on a vernacular basis in the city-states of Ragusa (today Dubrovnik), Split, Zadar and Hvar; Her most outstanding representatives included Šišmundo Menčetić (* 1457, † 1527), Džore Držić (* 1461, † 1501) and D. Zlatarić (poetry) as well as M. Marulić, P. Hektorović and M. Držić (comedies).

Significant works of poetry, epic and drama were also created in the Baroque period (17th / 18th century; universalism, tradition of rhetoric, mannerism, bucolic). Worth mentioning in Dalmatia are Ivan Bunić Vučić (* 1591, † 1658), Junie Palmotić (* 1606, † 1657), I. Đurđević and v. a. I. Gundulić, with whom the ragusan literature reached its last climax, in northern Croatia P. R. Vitezović, Ivan Belostenec (* around 1596, † 1675), F. K. Frankopan and J. Križanić, who propagated Pan-Slavic ideas.

While Dalmatia lost its leading role in the Croatian culture, developed in the 17th and 18th. In the 19th century, on the basis of the Kajkavic dialect, the inland Croatian-Kajkavic literature with the center Zagreb (comedies by T. Brezovački) and in the Bosnian area the popular and edifying literature of the Franciscans (A. Kačić-Miošić). Didactic and educational literature originated in Slavonia, v. a. by M. A. Relković and Matija Petar Katančić (* 1750, † 1825).

In the 19th century, the rich regional heritage was brought into line with modern national needs. The more recent Croatian literature emerged under the sign of Illyrism (1830s / 1940s). L. Gaj, ideologist and organizer of the Illyrian movement, together with the Serb V. S. Karadžić reformed the written language of the Serbs and Croats on the basis of the štokavian dialect, so that since the middle of the 19th century (1850 Vienna Language Agreement) they had a common literary language (Serbo-Croatian language).

The literature of national rebirth (»preporod«), which was shaped by German Romanticism and Pan-Slavic ideas (especially by the Slovak J. Kollár), was v. a. oriented towards the independent national tradition and opposed the political and linguistic fragmentation with an all-South Slavic sense of togetherness, v. a. S. Vraz, Antun Mihanović (* 1796, † 1861), P. Preradović (poetry), I. Mažuranić (epic) and D. Demeter (drama).

The second half of the 19th century led from Romanticism to Realism and was ruled by A. Šenoa, in addition to the E. Kumičić, A. Harambašić, A. Kovačić, V. Novak, Ksaver Šandor Đalski (* 1854, † 1935) and J. Kozarac stood out. The reflexive, visionary poetry of S. S. Kranjčević pointed beyond realism.

Towards the end of the 19th century, Croatian modernism emerged, whose representatives placed the autonomous character of art in the foreground, such as the French-inspired poet A. G. Matoš, the poet and narrator V. Nazor, the playwright I. Vojnović and the narrator D. Simunović.

In turning away from the modern, Expressionism, characterized by commitment and protest, emerged as early as the First World War. A. B. Šimić, A. Cesarec and the young M. Krleža felt connected. The strong social and socio-critical orientation was also retained in the post-expressionist period. In the interwar period, some important works were created: novels and dramas by Krleža, poetry by T. Ujević, D. Cesarić, I. G. Kovačić, G. Krklec and Dragutin Tadijanović (* 1905, † 2007), narrative prose by S. Kolar.

These authors also determined literary life in the 1950s, especially Krleža, who, rejecting the Soviet doctrine of socialist realism and claiming the artist’s individual freedom, decisively determined the development of contemporary Croatian literature. To deal with the war came urban issues and problems of the present. Important stories from this period come from V. Kaleb, P. Šegedin, V. Desnica, M. Božić and Ranko Marinković (* 1913, † 2001), poetry by J. Kaštelan and Vesna Parun.

In the following period, Croatian literature exposed itself between the basic positions of traditionalism and modernism. In the classical-realistic tradition there were among others. Jože Horvat (* 1915, † 2012), Jure Franičević Pločar (* 1918, † 1994), Ivan Raos (* 1921, † 1987) with socially critical and Ivan Aralica (* 1930) with historical topics. Slobodan Novak (* 1924, † 2016) and Nedjeljko Fabrio (* 1937) gave new impulses to novel literature, which not only dealt with historical topics but also with great social upheavals.

According to globalsciencellc, an increasing influence of Anglo-American literature, but also of French existentialists, became apparent as early as the 1950s. The literary magazines played an important role, around which new literary generations were grouped, for example in the 1950s around the magazine »Krugovi« (circles) important authors of modern Croatian narrative literature such as Slobodan Novak, Ivan Slamnig (* 1930, † 2001), A. Šoljan and poets such as Josip Pupačić (* 1928, † 1971), Zvonimir Golob (* 1927, † 1997), S. Mihalić, Vlado Gotovac (* 1930, † 2000) and in the 1960s about the magazine “Razlog” (cause) authors like Milan Mirić (* 1931), Zvonimir Mrkonjić (* 1938), Ante Stamać (* 1939, † 2016), Mate Ganza (* 1936), Dubravko Horvatić (* 1939, † 2004), their themes and artistic processes from traditional forms to were enough for the boldest language experiments.

As influential flow of 1960/70’s proved that at J. D. Salinger and U. Plenzdorf oriented »jeans prose”, which was characterized by the use of slang and jargon elements (“proza u trapericama”) from Branislav Glumac (* 1938), Zvonimir Majdak (* 1938, † 2017) and Alojz Majetić (* 1938).

In the 1970s, a direction of fantastic-adventurous literature developed, the narrative style of which in the successor of M. A. Bulgakow, F. Kafka and v. a. J. L. Borges stood. The authors who referred to Borges (“Borhesovci”) included, inter alia. Representatives of “paracausal” prose such as Pavao Pavličić (* 1946), who placed the genre of the social novel in criminal history, Drago Kekanović (* 1948), who endeavored to renew the village prose, and Goran Tribuson (* 1948), who wrote the Realized the realm of the fantastic. Stjepan Ćuić (* 1945) combined the fantastic with the classically factual literature. Veljko Barbieri (* 1950) combined classical and ancient literary tradition with utopian ideas, while Dubravka Ugrešić (* 1949)emerged with avant-garde and experimental prose, who, like many younger authors, also used methods of trivial literature. Postmodern structures were characteristic of the drama and the more recent narrative prose (Tomislav Bakarić, * 1940; Ivo Brešan, * 1936, † 2017; Ivan Kušan, * 1933, † 2012).

In the 1980s, young poets gathered around the decade-defining magazine “Quorum”. Branko Čegec (* 1957), Miroslav Mićanović (* 1960), Delimir Rešicki (* 1960), as well as the narrators Damir Miloš (* 1954) and Edo Popović (* 1957) and the critic Krešimir Bagić (* 1962).

The 1990s and the immediate present are dominated by short prose, which also addresses the lack of housing in urban space, as well as dealing with the war trauma of 1991/92. Critical mimetism (Zoran Ferić, * 1961; Miljenko Jergović, * 1966; Robert Perišić, * 1969; Ante Tomić, * 1970) stand alongside open escapism (Robert Mlinarec, * 1966; Roman Simić, * 1972) and historical metafictionism (Stanko Andrić, * 1967) opposite. Contemporary poetry is characterized by strong colloquial and narrative elements (Drago Glamuzinafericc, * 1967); Tatjana Gromača, * 1971).

Croatian Literature