THE BRITISH LIBRARY

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08 June 2018

The Zagreb magazine ‘Nova Evropa’

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The magazine Nova Evropa (New Europe) was published in Zagreb from 1920 until 1941. Initially it was a weekly periodical, then for 10 years Nova Evropa was issued as a 10-day and bimonthly magazine, and from 1930 as a monthly publication. The founder and editor of Nova Evropa over the whole period was Milan Ćurčin

Exceptionally and almost uniquely in interwar Yugoslavia, Nova Evropa was printed in the two scripts of the Serbo-Croatian language, Roman and Cyrillic. Contributions were either published in the original script or were transliterated into the other at the editor’s discretion, regardless of the contributor’s manuscript, nationality or background. This was done not only for commercial reasons but also with the aim of bringing together different literatures in the newly-created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later renamed Yugoslavia).

I Mestrovicev Hrist

Christ (detail) by Ivan Meštrović. Nova Evropa, 23 December 1920. P.P.4839.fid.

The Yugoslav Nova Evropa was modelled on a British political and current affairs journal, Robert William Seton-Watson’s weekly review The New Europe (1916-20; P.P.3611.abk.). Ćurčin was equally inspired by Seton-Watson’s engaged, informed and critical journalism as by the British press and journalism in general, whose traditions and values he adopted while working in London during the First World War. The liberal, open and progressive political journalism that Nova Evropa had as its high ideal was subsequently promoted in a multicultural society whose traditions, however, were different to British ones.

Like its London predecessor, the Zagreb Nova Evropa advocated the revival of a new Europe in accordance with the League of Nations’ proposals for international cooperation and collective security; reduction of armaments and open diplomacy; an international court and economic, social and cultural cooperation between nations. Nova Evropa was against isolation and provincialism in Yugoslavia and argued for close cooperation with the neighbouring countries as well as for constructive and peaceful international policy, for national self-determination, and the equality of nations in a post-war Europe.

II Marko Marulic Splicanin

 Marko Marulić by Meštrović. Nova Evropa of 1 July 1924.

While following Seton-Watson’s advice on political journalism, Nova Evropa diversified its editorial concept by welcoming contributions on social, economic and cultural life in the country, neighbouring countries and the rest of Europe. Nova Evropa developed the complex structure of a journal that was open to various topics in any discipline of social sciences, arts, humanities and sciences, and that scrutinized society, economy and politics in high-quality contributions. For example, special thematic issues were dedicated to various domestic topics from the geography and anthropology of the country to the life of immigrants inside and outside the country, and to broader international and current affairs topics such as the Ukrainian question, conditions in Russia, national minorities, prominent public figures, etc.

III Njegoseva grobnicaNjegoš’s mausoleum on Mount Lovćen by Meštrović, Nova Evropa, 1 January 1925

 The central political and cultural concept discussed in Nova Evropa was the Yugoslav question. This political concept was seen in Nova Evropa as an agreement of peoples united by their own will, equal and free in a common national state. Some researchers argue, not quite rightly, that Nova Evropa advocated integral Yugoslav pan-nationalism (Yugoslavness) despite the different ethnic groups and minorities in the country. For Nova Evropa the creation of the Yugoslav state was the irreversible final achievement of all Yugoslavs, but in the cultural sense, however, Yugoslavness was presented as a mosaic of colours and variations, as a celebration of diversity. Nova Evropa of 26 February 1927 pronounces:

Therefore: Yugoslav civilization is one and properly bound together; and Yugoslav culture - mosaic, contrast, diversity. Civilization is a unification and equivalence of segments, culture is a federation of untouched and free elements, according to their programme and their will.

Nova Evropa argued for a concept of ‘Open Yugoslavness’ which was closely related to the idea of social justice, equality, tolerance and ethics. This vision of Yugoslavia and a new Europe bore a close resemblance to the vision of Tomáš Masaryk whose ideas Nova Evropa promoted and celebrated.

IV Goethe
Goethe by Meštrović, Nova Evropa, double issue of 22 March 1932 dedicated to Goethe’s centenary 

This ideology of open Yugoslavness was also advanced through the visual arts and the works of the leading Yugoslav artist Ivan Meštrović, a Croatian sculptor and one of the founders of Nova Evropa. Other prominent Yugoslavs and founders of Nova Evropa were Ćurčin’s magazine co-editors Laza Popović and Marko Kostrenčić, and well-known Yugoslav scholars and writers such as Jovan Cvijić, Josip Smodlaka, Milan Rešetar, Ivan Prijatelj, Tihomir Ostojić, Julije Benešić, Miodrag Ibrovac and Milan Grol among others. In 22 years about 1000 authors published over 3450 contributions in the magazine.

V Mestrovic autoportretMeštrović’s self-portrait. Nova Evropa, 15 August 1933 dedicated to Meštrović’s 50th birthday.

In addition to the magazine, special editions of Nova Evropa were published as offprints or separate publications;  in total 19 such editions were produced and at least two editions remained unpublished.

VI Izdanja NE Advertisement for Nova Evropa books, Nova Evropa, 26 January 1939..

The British Library holds a full set of Nova Evropa: 426 issues, in total about 10,000 pages, bound in 34 volumes.

VII Nova Evropa
The British Library collection of Nova Evropa acquired in 1951

In the interwar period Nova Evropa fostered constructive criticism of the dominant political culture and made an important contribution to the growth of critical and independent thought in Yugoslav society. It worked tirelessly in bringing peoples and communities closer together by understanding and celebrating their cultural differences. It had a distinctive mission to inform the public about events at home and abroad and to collect information and sources about the recent past for future historians. Nova Evropa is not only a useful source for a student of Yugoslav history and culture today; it is a critically important archive for the understanding of the fundamental cultural and political questions of interwar Yugoslavia.

Milan Grba, Lead Curator South-East European Collections

References:

Ljubomir Petrović, Jugoslovenska država i društvo u periodici 1920-1941 (Belgrade, 2000) YF.2010.a.24536.

Jovo Bakić, Ideologije jugoslovenstva između srpskog i hrvatskog nacionalizma: 1914-1941 (Zrenjanin, 2004) YF.2006.a.37642.

Marija Cindori-Šinković, Nova Evropa:1920-1941: bibliografija (Belgrade, 2010) YF.2012.a.15665

Marko Nedić, Vesna Matović (editors), Nova Evropa 1920-1941: zbornik radova (Belgrade, 2010) YF.2012.a.18758.

 

04 December 2013

A library of Macedonian literature in the British Library

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A major critical edition of Macedonian literature in 130 volumes was published in 2008 as a central event to mark the year deemed as a year of Macedonian language in the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). The edition of Macedonian literature was initiated and designed by the Macedonian Writers’ Association (Друштвото на писателите на Македонија established in 1947) and was funded by the Macedonian government as a project of national importance. The stated purpose of the project was to give a creative impulse and commercial confidence to Macedonian publishing, printing, bookselling, librarianship and to Macedonian literature and culture in general.

The project aimed to present the best of the nation’s literature in a comprehensive edition of literary texts and works seen in Macedonia as the national literary pantheon. The Ohrid literary school of St Clement was taken as a starting-point for this ambitious overview of Macedonian literacy and literature. The edition thus covers 1100 years of Old Slavonic literacy and therefore covers the Macedonian language and literary tradition to the present day.

Around 80 scholars, writers and critics, members of the Macedonian Academy, which was a partner in the project, and other specialists took part as compilers, editors and preface authors for each volume published in the edition. The first seven volumes of the edition are dedicated to the Macedonian Slavonic literary heritage from the 10th century until after the Second World War,  the creation of the Macedonian literary language and the beginnings of contemporary Macedonian literature. The founders (основоположниците) of modern Macedonian literature take a central place in this edition, including the prominent writers Kočo Racin, Kole Nedelkovski, Venko Markovski, Slavko Janevski, Blaže Koneski, Kole Čašule, and Aco Šopov.

  Racin - MG

Photograph  of Kočo Racin (from Wikimedia Commons)

Seven generations of Macedonian writers are represented in the edition, from the first-born in the 1920s to the youngest generation born in the 1980s. Around 100 writers are represented by their selected works published in separate volumes, and around 200 writers are presented in critical anthologies in the remaining volumes. All literary genres, poetry, prose and essays,  plays, literary history and criticism and children’s literature are represented. The edition is trilingual; 80 per cent of it is in Macedonian and 20 per cent is in Albanian and Turkish. Works by ethnic minorities within Macedonia and works by writers from Macedonia who wrote or published in other languages –  mainly  Bulgarian, Serbian and English (дводомни писатели) – are included in the edition. The volumes are numbered from 1 to 131 and volume five was intentionally omitted from the series. This omission is to symbolise anyone who is not remembered here and writers who are yet to come.    

Blaze_koneski -MG

Blaže Koneski (from Wikimedia Commons)

This edition of Macedonian literature has multiple significance. On the one hand it examines and promotes nationally and internationally the achievements of Macedonian language and literature, and on the other hand it celebrates the Macedonian cultural identity developed over the decades after the Second World War. The edition is not only a national literary encyclopaedia; it is also a record of the Macedonian past and tells the story of the long journey of the Macedonian people towards a national state in the Balkans. This edition reflects the development of the national tradition, culture and consciousness and their expression by means of language and literature. In 2011 the edition was published in English translation, the work of 80 Macedonian translators and 25 English language editors, coordinated and published by the National and University Library of Macedonia.

The British Library was extremely fortunate and privileged to acquire by donation a copy of the English edition, promoted in this country at a University College London event in 2012. Each volume in the series is catalogued separately in continuous order at the shelfmarks YD.2012.a.6791 to YD.2012.a.6916. In 2013 the library received by donation a set of the 2008 original edition (shelfmark range from YF.2013.a.24215 to YF.2013.a.24342). Both donations are valuable and highly appreciated additions to our Macedonian collections. They introduce a whole national literature to non-Macedonian readers and users of the library. The newly-acquired resources, supplied with bibliographical sources and references, serve as a useful guide to the Macedonian collections in the Library.

Early Macedonian literary works arrived in the library as another important donation from the Yugoslav government to the Trustees of the British Museum Library in April 1948. This was a collection of some 500 Yugoslav books which included poetry by the aforementioned founders of Macedonian literature Venko Markovski Poroi (Skopje, 1945; BL shelfmark 011586.n.49.), Kočo Racin Pesni (Skopje, 1946; 11588.bb.4.), and  Kole Nedelkovski  Pesni (Skopje, 1946; 11588.bb.3.), among other Macedonian literary works.

It seems highly appropriate to acknowledge and put on record these wonderful donations which form an integral and significant part in the development of the Library’s collections over the years. 

Milan Grba, Lead Curator Southeast European  Collections