THE BRITISH LIBRARY

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11 posts categorized "Serbia"

05 December 2016

The Brothers Jovanović National Library

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In 1920 the Serbian Legation in London donated 250 small size unbound fascicles of Serbian literature to the British Museum Library. This donation was a welcome addition to the Library Serbian collections, which then consisted hardly of a few hundreds Serbian literary works.

These issues were part of a collection of Serbian literature published in Pančevo, a small town in the then Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, from 1871 to 1912. The works were published by the Brothers Jovanović, Kamenko (1843-1916) and Pavle (1847-1914), printers and booksellers from Pančevo. In 1870 the Brothers Jovanović established a Serbian printing-press, and in 1872 a bookshop in their hometown. Their aim was to publish and sell Serbian school textbooks and literature, the long awaited educational and cultural needs of the Serbian people in Austro-Hungary.

The Brothers Jovanović’s bookshop was the first major Serbian publishing bookshop in the Monarchy, and with the bookshops funded earlier in Belgrade, in the neighbouring Princedom of Serbia, were the first to establish modern Serbian publishing and book trade.

Between 1871 and 1912 the Brothers Jovanović published about 400 Serbian titles of which about 100 were school textbooks.
The collection of works donated to the Library had been published in the series called: “The Brothers Jovanović National Library” from 1880 to 1890.

NBBJCover

 Front cover of a volume in the series. The Brothers Jovanović National Library. Jovan Rajić, Battle of Dragon and Eagles. (Pančevo, 1884). British Library 012265.e.5/44.

Above is the layout of the cover of the Brothers Jovanović National Library series: their bookshop was shown here as a cultural edifice built on the pantheon of Serbian and world literature presented and promoted in this series. Front of their national library are the Corinthian columns adorned in ribbons bearing the names of the greats of Serbian and world literature (the text in Cyrillic on the left column reads: Dositej, Kraszewski, Hugo, the right column bear the names of: Njegoš, Gogol and Goethe. The name of the series is inscribed across the arc which sits on the columns. In the left-hand corner is a roundel portrait of Dositej Obradović (1739-1811), a Serbian philosopher and writer, and in the right-hand corner is a roundel portrait of Prince Bishop of Montenegro Petar II Petrović Njegoš (1813-51).

The Brothers Jovanović published literature in affordable paper-back issues in small octavo format, printed in a small font. The majority of works in the series were made up of separately published issues. These were published in non-consecutive instalments usually over a several-month period. Up to 24 issues were produced per year and in total the series comprises 216 such issues published from 1880 to 1890.

The set of 250 issues donated to the Library also includes issues published by the Brothers Jovanović’s bookshop from 1871 to 1912, which were subsequently added to the Brothers Jovanović National Library series (they are numbered in the series from 217 to 348), when the bookshop was sold to the new owners in 1913. This set of 250 issues is incomplete as 11 issues are missing.

The Library’s set was bound in 124 volumes placed at shelfmarks 012265.e.5/1-149 and a number of works are bound together. It is the only single set held in a British public collection, and one of the most complete in Britain and Serbia. The Library’s set holds 158 separate works. The whole collection is described in 168 catalogue records

This collection has a historical significance for the British Library as the donation notably boosted its existing collections of Serbian literature. Today this collection is relevant for the study and research into the development of modern Serbian literacy, language and literature. It is a very useful survey of primary sources for the development of Serbian literature.

Radicevic

Frontispiece and title page with the author’s portrait and his autograph. Branko Radičević, Poems. (Pančevo, 1880). British Library 012265.e.5/95.

The collection contains works of the major Serbian writers of the Enlightment, Classicism and Romanticism who, in their lexical and stylistic innovation, contributed greatly to the development and promotion of modern Serbian literary language. This new literary form was based on the principles of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić’s language reform.

Pucic
Frontispiece and title page with the author’s portrait. Medo Pucić, Poems. (Pančevo, 1879 [reissued in the series 1913]). British Library 012265.e.5/101.

Đorđe Popović-Daničar, editor of the Brothers Jovanović National Library series,  saw that the modern writers of all periods and those who wrote in Russo-Slavonic and in Slavonic-Serbian were represented in the series thus showing the continuity in Serbian literature. He contributed greatly to the series by writing introductory texts, compiling works of lesser known writers, translating and transliterating from Russo-Slavonic and in Slavonic-Serbian into the contemporary Serbian language and the new orthography, and by translating from a number of major European languages. Popović-Daničar was remembered as the first translator of Don Quijote from Spanish into Serbian.

The presentation of Serbian national poetry is another strong feature of this collection.

Boj na Kosovu

 Frontispiece. From Battle of Kosovo. (Pančevo, 1880 [reissued in the series 1913]). British Library 012265.e.5/121.

A great prominence of Serbian national poetry in the series pointed not only to the significance and influence of spoken national language for the creation of the new literary language, but it also reflected the contemporary national and political aspirations and struggles in the Balkans and the rest of Europe of that period, leading up to the First World War.

Hajduci
Frontispiece. From Serbian Outlaws in National Poems. (Pančevo, 1882 [reissued in the series 1913]). British Library 012265.e.5/110.

The fact that in this series the Brothers Jovanović ventured to showcase Serbian literature, together with other works of world literature in Serbian translation, was surely a sign of confidence and trust they had for the future of the Serbian literature and its readers.

Milan Grba, Lead Curator South-East European Collections

Reference:

Žarko Vojnović, Iz Sparte svetlost, to jest, Život i podvizi Kamenka i Pavla braće Jovanovića: ujedno i bibliografija izdanja. (Pančevo, 2010). YF.2014.a.12874

 

20 October 2016

In the service of the children of Serbia 1915-1947

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In 1995 a tiny book of great significance for Anglo-Serbian relations was donated to the British Library. It is a brief account of the life of Florence Maw and a record of her years in Serbia and Yugoslavia from 1915 to 1953. The book was privately printed in London in 1957 and only three copies are recorded in British public collections.

Maw

 Florence Brereton Maw (1876-1953); front cover of Una P. Moffet, Lena A. Yovitchitch, Florence Maw: the chronicle of her lifework in Serbia. (London, 1957). British Library YA.1995.a.26004.

Maw was one among the hundreds of British women who volunteered their services for Serbian people in the First World War. She was a native of Cheshire, from a Quaker family, and during the war served as a member of the London-based Serbian Relief Fund, a charity formed in 1914 to provide humanitarian aid to Serbia.

This biography also sketches a portrait of Jean Rankin, Maw’s lifelong friend and collaborator, who was among the first to go to war-torn Serbia, whose people were in dire need of help. Rankin served as a trained nurse in the Serbian Relief Fund’s first hospital in Skopje in 1914, while Maw served as an orderly in the Fund’s third hospital in Kragujevac in 1915. They assisted soldiers and civilians affected by war and lived through the great typhus epidemic  Maw took part in the gruelling retreat of Serbia in 1915.

Although only a short biography drawing on a few surviving personal records, the book provides an insightful account of the work of the Serbian Relief Fund. Thanks to the generosity of the British people the Fund organised six hospitals for Serbia, looked after 65,000 Serbian prisoners of war, and supported the education of over 300 Serbian children in Britain, among other humanitarian efforts.

After the liberation of Serbia in 1918, the Serbian Relief Fund played a prominent role in bringing relief to the devastated country. Serbia lost over 22% of her pre-war population and up to 250,000 Serbian children were orphaned by the end of the First World War. In the aftermath of the war the Fund worked with the government of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes to establish modern medical and social institutions primarily for the care of children, disabled war veterans and the sick people.

Funds raised by British children for Serbian orphans during the war were used for the creation and upkeep of an orphanage in the town of Niš in Serbia. In 1919 Maw was put in charge of this orphanage which, in the absence of any suitable housing, was accommodated in a dilapidated former poorhouse.

Maw Serbian orphans (1)Serbian orphans in countryside.  The Home’s annual summer camp was set up in the hamlet of Manastir in Sićevo, 20 kilometres east of Niš. From Florence Maw. 

As the work of the Serbian Relief Fund was ending in 1921, the Committee decided to invest the remaining funds in a purpose-built modern orphanage in Niš. Construction began in 1924 in the grounds of the St. Pantaleon Church, between the village of the same name and the Nišava River, two kilometres from the town centre. Maw closely supervised the building of the orphanage designed by Iulian Diupon, a Russian émigré architect.

Maw OrphangeThe Anglo-Serbian Children’s Home (Englesko-srpski dečiji dom), with British, Serbian and Yugoslav national flags flying. (From Florence Maw).

The Anglo-Serbian Children’s Home was built to accommodate 50 children and about six staff. It had a large open space around it with a garden, an orchard, and a large playground. Its inauguration on 7 November 1926 was a local and national event in the presence of Prince Paul and Princess Olga, government and church officials, British envoys and guests, and Church of England delegates. The Serbian Relief Fund was represented by Mrs Carrington-Wilde, a former president of its subcommittee for the education of Serbian children in Britain, who came from England for the occasion. She continued to visit the Home every two years on behalf of the Serbian Relief Fund estate. The Home was mainly funded by a proportion of the interest earned from the Fund’s final investment, deposited for this purpose in 1921. Other income came from donations from the local authorities, charities and people of Niš.

Maw and Rankin were responsible for the children’s upbringing, with a focus on discipline, practical training and traditional moral values. Children were brought up in the Orthodox tradition and religious holidays were observed according to Serbian and British customs. The children were directed according to their potential or abilities to apprenticeships, the army, engineering, nursing, commerce, teaching, law or religion. Maw was known in Niš and at the Home as “Sister Mother” (сестра-мајка), a term of respect used in Serbia for British nurses in the First World War. She had great authority over the children but never mastered Serbian and addressed her protégés only in English as “my child”.

The book finishes with a chapter on her precarious life under German occupation and the struggle to keep the children safe in the vortex of the Second World War. The Gestapo had taken possession of the Home and by the time the children were allowed to return at the end of 1944 the Home and its estate had been plundered and damaged, and the country was under the control of Yugoslav Partisans.

After the Second World War the communist authorities sought to undermine the Home’s strong link with the Serbian Church and to impose their own ethos and values. These pressures ultimately led to Maw’s and Rankin’s resignations and the handover of the Home to the city of Niš in 1946.

Maw and Rankin decided to retire on modest state pensions to a little cottage in Dubrovnik. In 1951 they made a final visit to Britain before returning to Yugoslavia. Rankin died suddenly in 1952 and only a few months later Maw passed away. Two of Maw’s devoted war orphans were beside her until the end.

Maw Retirement

 The cottage in Dubrovnik where Maw and Rankin lived in retirement from 1947 to 1953 (From Florence Maw).

In 1954 on the initiative of a former member of the staff of the Home, the Serbian Church had a marble plaque made with the following inscription: “To the Glory of God and in memory of Florence Maw and Jean Rankin who devoted their lives to the service of the children of Serbia, 1915-1947.”

Maw Anglo_Serbian Children_s Home 1926-1946

The Home today is a listed building widely known as “The English Home” (Енглески дом). Since 1965 it has been a hall of residence for High School Students. Photograph © Bratislav Arsić, 2016.

In 1953 the British authorities transferred the ownership of the Home to the Yugoslav authorities on two conditions: to serve its original purpose as a home for children, and to set up a Serbian Relief Fund commemorative plaque on a wall of the Home.

Maw Carrington Wilde

A 1938 bust by the sculptor Slavko Miletić of Mrs Carrington Wilde in front of the Home.The Serbian inscription reads “A great friend of the Serbian people.” The bust was removed from the courtyard in 1948 but reinstated in 2004.
Photograph © Bratislav Arsić, 2016.

The Anglo-Serbian Children’s Home is a lasting memorial to the work of the Serbian Relief Fund. It represents the outstanding achievement of a band of truly exceptional people who made a difference in the First World War. Its archives were destroyed in the Second World War, but we can assume that several hundred orphaned children were brought up by this institution from 1919 to 1946.

The Home will celebrate its 90th anniversary on the present site on 7 November 2016.

Milan Grba, Lead Curator Southeast European Collections

Further reading:

Francesca M. Wilson, Portraits and Sketches of Serbia. (London, 1920). 012350.f.15.

Simon Milčić. Engleski dom, kuća nade i ljubavi : svim domcima ma gde bili. (Niš, 2009).

Aleksandar Rastović, Marija Ranđelović. English-Serbian Children’s Home: 1926-2011. (Niš, 2014).

 

 

16 June 2016

What’s in a Name? Looking forward to Balkan Day 2

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The Balkans have had some bad press: from the verb ‘balkanize’, frequently used during the wars of the 1990s, which describes the process of fragmentation or division of a region to the frequent coupling with pejorative words like ‘feud’ or ‘bloodshed’. But when you look at it more objectively, why should a region as rich and varied as the Balkans be classified by violence any more than a area like Alsace-Lorraine, which has surely seen its fair share?

Balkans
The Balkan Peninsula (detail) by Jovan Cvijic (London, 1920). Maps X.4391

In the end, it all comes down to PR and perception. While Alsatian wine, gastronomy and chateaux are well-known tourist attractions, the Balkan countries also have their culinary delights, their liqueurs and their share of palaces, be they Austro-Hungarian or Venetian. When Istros published Faruk Sehic’s transformational novel based on memories of his beloved river Una, the title of the book had to be changed from the original Book of the Una to Quiet Flows the Una in order to indicate the name of a river unfamiliar to English readers. The same problem would not have occurred for a book written about the Rhine. Likewise, people feel alienated by stories from Skopje and Sofia, simply because they reach our public consciousness far less often than Strasbourg.

Balkan Mountains
“Balkan Mountains (© iStock) 

Balkan Day 2014 was billed as ‘a celebration of culture and identity’ and featured regional writers like Dubravka Ugresic, Andrej Nikolaidis and Muharem Bazdulj, among others. This was the first step of an initiative on behalf of Istros Books and the British Library to promote and raise awareness of the region and its culture here in the UK and to raise awareness.

Balkan Day I was greatly appreciated in academic and literary circles, and it is our great hope that this year’s follow-on event  will be just as popular, as we welcome Bulgarian/British writer Kapka Kassabova and the poet Fiona Sampson as well as translators Christopher Buxton, Mevlut Ceylan and Stephen Watts to Balkan Day II: A Rich Heritage of Stories. It will also be an opportunity to view the screening of Hermann Vaske’s riotous documentary film, Balkan Spirit, a film which is rarely shown in the UK but which goes a long way towards breaking down stereotypes and highlighting the positives. The director himself is coming along to this special screening and will be available for a Q&A afterwards, before an open-mike session where all participants and guests can voice their own experiences and thoughts.

In both events, we focused on local literature and translation of those stories into English, in order to highlight the links between the cultures, and the efforts being made to build cultural bridges to further understanding of a much-maligned region. At the recent UK launch of the above-mentioned Bosnian novel, Joseph Cock of Today’s Translations gave us an historical reminder of those links:

‘Perhaps translation in the Balkans has a far greater historical pedigree than we recognise. After all, Jerome, the patron saint of translators, hailed from Illyria, the name given to the Balkan Peninsula in Classical Antiquity.’

However, he goes on to point out a fact we know too well:

‘Yet despite the multitude of stories waiting to be told from the recent history of this region, the literature remains woefully underrepresented to English-speaking audiences.’

Bulgarian rug
Bulgarian rug  (© iStock)

On 24 June the British public] will have the rare opportunity to hear the only two Albanian to English literary translators working today: Robert Elsie and John Hodgson, without whom the UK reader would not have been introduced to the novels of Nobel-nominated Ismail Kadare, or heard the voice of one of Albania’s best-known political dissidents, Fatos Lubonja. There will also be the chance to hear about how the stories of their respective homelands affect the writings of Bulgarian comic author, Alek Popov, and Romania’s Ioana Parvulescu, who is also an historian at Bucharest University. Her broad knowledge of fin-de-siecle Bucharest, of the whims and charms of people of that age, make this an enchanting book and a wonderful example to life in Europe at that time. In both cases, the stories these authors have to tell open new worlds and new perceptions to readers who may have shied away from literature in translation.

Susan Curtis-Kojakovic, Istros Books

 

07 March 2016

A British Woman Soldier in First World War Serbia: Flora Sandes

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Among the many accounts written by foreigners who witnessed Serbia’s stoic retreat in 1915 were quite a number by women. Most of them were there in some medical capacity, including Cora Josephine “Jo” Gordon, who arrived in Serbia as an assistant to a Red Cross unit, along with her husband. In their “day jobs”, they were actually artists. Jo Gordon seems to have been tomboyish and highly resourceful. She learned Serbian quickly, outwitted exploitative inn owners during their hard journey to the coast, visited the frontline, and washed her adventures down with large shots of Rakiya.

Flora Sandes followed a course that was more unusual again. Having first served as a nurse, she joined the Serbian Army for her own safety during the retreat, and became the only British woman officially enlisted as a soldier in the First World War. (Russian, Serbian and [Austro-Hungarian] Ukrainian women also served, on different sides of the conflict). Flora’s own book is An English woman-sergeant in the Serbian Army, written in 1916 to rally support for the small country.

Flora_Sandes_in_uniform
Flora Sandes in Serbian Army Uniform (image from Wikimedia Commons)

When the retreat across the mountains began, Flora was as fussy as anyone from her well-heeled background, and must have been quite alarming. In her memoir, she recounts that she threw the furniture out of a scruffy hotel room and set about scrubbing the floor before erecting her own camp-bed. Later, she would distance herself from the male soldiers when they camped in the open air, relenting finally when she realised that her doing so constituted a security risk, as an ambush party might spot her.

Flora Sandes, wedding
Flora Sandes (top left), attending a traditional Serbian wedding. Photograph from her second book The Autobiography of a Woman Soldier (London, 1927) 9084.df.40

Following an injury incurred in combat in 1916, Sandes returned to medical work, but was not officially demobilised until 1922. She went on to marry a Russian émigré, Yuri Yudenitch, and the pair lived in France and then in Belgrade – where many White Russian exiles found sanctuary after the Revolution – until the Second World War. In German-occupied Belgrade, her husband died of a heart condition, and Flora spent almost three years living in poverty. After the liberation of the city, she returned to the UK, still a forceful character who chain-smoked and ploughed her own furrow.

Flora Sandes, Belgrade
Flora Sandes as a Lieutenant of the Serbian Army in Belgrade. Frontispiece from The Autobiography of a Woman Soldier

She spent her final years living near her family in Rhodesia and Surrey, and died in 1956 at the age of 82 after making a final visit to Serbia for a reunion of her old comrades of 1915. In addition to her two autobiographies (one now translated into Serbian), she is the subject of two full biographies and a Radio 4 documentary from 1971, which can be found and listened to among the Library’s sound recordings.

Flora Sandes stamp

In commemoration of the war’s centenary, Serbia Post and the British Embassy in Belgrade have recently issued a set of six  stamps featuring British women who worked in Serbia between 1914 and 1918. A set has been donated to the Library, as Milan Grba explained in a recent blog post. Flora Sandes (right) is among the women honoured, a redoubtable pioneer of equality alongside those whose medical and humanitarian work did so much to gain recognition for women in fields once reserved for men.

Janet Ashton, Western European Languages Cataloguing Team Manager

References/further reading

Jan and Cora Gordon, The Luck of Thirteen: wanderings and flight through Montenegro and Serbia (London, 1916) 9083.ff.3

Alan Burgess, The lovely sergeant: the life of Flora Sandes. (London, 1965). X.639/721

Louise Miller, A fine brother: the life of Captain Flora Sandes (Richmond, 2012) YC.2013.a.2462

Flora Sandes, An English woman-sergeant in the Serbian Army (London, 1916) 09082.aa.25. (Serbian translation by Spiro Radojčić, Engleskinja u srpskoj vojsci Flora Sandes (New York, 1995). YF.2005.a.27142)

 

14 February 2016

Serbia celebrates British heroines of the First World War

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The British Library has gratefully received a donation of a set of postage stamps which commemorate the role played by British female doctors, nurses and humanitarian aid volunteers in Serbia during the First World War.

British Heroines in WW1 Serbia
The Serbian Mail  issued the commemorative stamps last December in partnership with the British Embassy in Belgrade which donated a set to the British Library. BBC Scotland recently reported on this initiative, while the British Embassy in Belgrade dedicated a Facebook page  to the commemoration of the First World War events in Serbia.

British Heroines in WW1 Serbia_2
 The stamps tell the story of the British women who arrived to Serbia to assist the wounded and sick in war. They came individually or as part of two organisations which were set up in Britain at the beginning of the war to assist the allied countries in wartime. The Scottish Women’s Hospitals was founded by the Scottish Federation of Women’s Suffrage Societies in Edinburgh through the efforts of Elsie Inglis, and the Serbian Relief Fund was founded in London by the journalist Bertram Christian, among other British experts on the Balkans.

 British Heroines in WW1 Serbia_4Stamps showing Flora Sandes (left) and Katherine MacPhail (right). Sandes (1876-1956) was officially recruited to the Serbian Army in 1915 and promoted to Sergeant in 1916. She was the only British woman in active military service in the First World War and the only female officer in the Serbian Army. MacPhail (1997-1974) worked at the Military Hospital in Belgrade during the First World War. After the war she remained in Serbia where she founded the country’s first children’s hospital in 1921.

The collection of postage stamps is accompanied by biographical details of six British women, four of whom were members of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, a voluntary organisation staffed entirely by women. The portraits of the women, together with the images, present instances of their work in Serbia and on the Salonika front.

British Heroines in WW1 Serbia_6
Stamps showing Isabel Hutton (left) and Elsie Inglis (right). Hutton (1887-1960) worked on the Salonika Front, transferring to Vranje in 1918 where she treated victims of the typhus and Spanish flu epidemics and, in 1919, helped to found a civilian hospital. Inglis (1860-1917) was the founder of Scottish Women’s Hospitals and established the first war hospital in Serbia. She refused to leave the hospital when the Serbian Army was forced to retreat, and was imprisoned and later repatriated.

The Serbian Mail issued the commemorative postage stamps in Serbian Cyrillic and Latin scripts in parallel English translation with captions in German and French.

The Serbian army and civilians suffered terribly from the war, cold, hunger and infectious diseases. The Scottish Women’s Hospitals and the Serbian Relief Fund medical units were among the first to arrive to Serbia to attend and nurse the sick and wounded. They also, together with their Serbian colleagues, doctors and hospital orderlies, gave their lives in the service of others and were among the early victims of war and disease in Serbia.

British Heroines in WW1 Serbia_8
Stamps showing Evelina Haverfield (left) and Elizabeth Ross (right). Haverfield (1867-1920) came to Serbia in 1915. Like Elsie Inglis, she was imprisoned and repatriated after the retreat of the Serbian Army but continued to work organising the Serbian Relief fund and later helped to establish soup kitchens on the Salonika Front. After the war she opened a home for war orphans in Bajina Bašta. (On Elizabeth Ross, see below.)

Elizabeth Ross, who came to Serbia from Persia where she had been working as a doctor, died in the Serbian typhus epidemic of February 1915. Dimitrije Antić, the director of the hospital where Dr Ross worked, left this account of her:

It is my duty, and the place is right, to mention with great respect the name of a foreign colleague from Scotland, Miss Elizabeth Ross, who came to help as a volunteer in the most difficult moments for my hospital. She tirelessly treated soldiers sick with typhus, fearless for her life, day and night. Everyone around her was falling down with typhus; she saw that very well and she was aware that the same destiny awaited her; but, despite my appeals and warnings to look after herself, she heroically performed her grave and noble duty till the end. Unfortunately, the inevitable came quickly: Miss Ross contracted typhus. She was even more courageous in sickness: severely ill, she lay quietly in her bed in a very modest hospital ward. Her only complaint was that she couldn’t provide medical assistance any longer to our sick soldiers! Indeed, one of the rare shining examples of medical sacrifice. She is buried in Kragujevac town cemetery.

Upon hearing the news of her death in Serbia, the residents of her home town of Tain in Scotland raised funds for the memorial ‘Dr Elizabeth Ross Bed’ at the Kragujevac Military Hospital where she served, and for surgical and medical needs in Serbia. The Serbian daily Samouprava informed its readers how Dr Ross managed six wards in the hospital without nurses, relying solely on the help of hospital orderlies. “There was no wood for cooking or for heating, something was always missing; one day there was no bread,another there were no eggs or milk and so on.” On the day of her funeral service all local stores were closed and large numbers of the people of Kragujevac came out to pay their respects.

The tradition of respect has been kept alive to the present day. Each year on 14 February at noon Kragujevac remembers Dr Elizabeth Ross.

Milan Grba, Lead Curator South Eastern European Collections

References/further reading:

A History of the Scottish Women's Hospitals. Edited by Eva Shaw McLaren. (London, 1919). 9082.bbb.32.

Elisabeth Macbean Ross, A Lady Doctor in Bakhtiari Land. Edited by Janet N. MacBean Ross. (London, 1921). 010076.de.28

D. Antić, ‘Pegavi tifus u kragujevačkoj i rezervnoj vojnoj bolnici 1914-15’. In Vladimir Stanojević, ed., Istorija srpskog vojnog saniteta (Belgrade, 1925). YF.2011.a.22007.

Želimir Dj. Mikić, Ever yours sincerely: the life and work of Dr Katherine S. MacPhail. (Cambridge, 2007). YK.2008.b.4740. Serbian original: Uvek vaša: život i delo dr Ketrin Makfejl. (Novi Sad, 1998). YF.2015.a.24057.

Louise Miller, A fine brother: the life of Captain Flora Sandes. (Richmond, 2012). YC.2013.a.2462.

Ž. Mikić, A. Lešić, ‘Dr Elizabeta Ros – heroina i žrtva Prvog svetskog rata u Srbiji’. Srpski arhiv za celokupno lekarstvo, 2012, vol. 140, 7/8, pp. 537-542. Available via SCIndeks

 

17 December 2015

“In true heroic mould”: witnessing the retreat of Serbia, 1915

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A century ago, in December 1915, the first complete calendar year of the First World War was drawing to a close.

A number of new countries had entered the fray during the preceding 12 months, adding pressure to those states which had been fighting one another since 1914. Among the most vulnerable nations of all was Serbia, a small country ravaged by typhus and other diseases, and fighting its third war in as many years. Because of its government’s alleged role in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, it was the main target for annihilation by the Austro-Hungarian high command.

Serbia had emerged as chief victor from the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, but assimilating its new territories was a huge challenge without the added burden of another war, and fallings-out among former allies left wounds which reopened in 1915. In September, Bulgaria joined the War on the side of the Central Powers, hoping to win Macedonian territory taken by Serbia in 1913.

Thus, in autumn 1915, Serbia faced a double onslaught. Austrian and German troops renewed their assault on Belgrade from across the Danube, while Bulgaria joined the attack from the east. This was finally too much for the beleaguered country. To avoid surrender, Serbia’s leaders instructed the army to make for the Albanian coast, and so it set out, led by the elderly King Petar and Field Marshal Radomir Putnik, both borne on stretchers before the busy pencils of war artists. Periodically, the stretcher-bearers were forced to halt so they could swap with other colleagues, and the entire convoy of refugees, several miles long, had to halt behind them, standing exposed in wind and rain until the leaders were ready to move on again.

Serbia 1 (2)
The convoy of refugees, picture from Jan and Cora Gordon, The Luck of Thirteen: Wanderings and Flight through Serbia and Montenegro (London, 1916). British Library 12208.a.1/223.

Along the narrow mountain passes and through knee-deep muddy valleys they went, sleeping in makeshift bivouacs or in the open air, leaning on their animals for warmth: the Serbian army, hundreds of Austrian prisoners-of-war, hordes of camp-followers, foreign journalists and medical staff (whose own governments had also instructed them to leave the occupied country) and finally thousands of civilians, encouraged by the government to evacuate rather than fall into enemy hands.

“Quantities of carts passed us filled with furniture, baths, and luggage,” wrote two intrepid British artists who were there. “A smartly dressed family was picnicking by the roadside, sitting on deck-chairs.….Crowds were congregated round a man who was carrying over his shoulder a whole sheep on a spit and chopping bits off for buyers. On a hillside a woman was handing out rakia ….The Crown Prince passed, touching his hat to fifty kilometres of his people.”

Serbia Women resting
Women with an ox-cart resting on the journey.  Picture from The Luck of Thirteen. 12208.a.1/223.

These authors are resourceful and jaunty through all their privations, but some foreign witnesses captured the human pathos with greater sensitivity, noting children who were full of bravado by day but wept quietly in their rough camps at night, when they thought no-one could hear. Tens of thousands of the party of soldiers and refugees died of hunger or disease en route, or in mountain ambushes by Albanian tribesmen avenging incidents from the Balkan Wars.

Serbia Ipek pass (2)
The refugees crossing the Ipek pass, from The Luck of Thirteen, drawn by the authors. 12208.a.1/223.

Ultimately, up to 200,000 desperate survivors were evacuated at the coast by those Entente ships which got through the bombardment by the Austrian navy and air force. They went on to exile in France, North Africa or Greece, where many more would die of flu or of the effects of their journey.

Over the months that followed, a series of books appeared in Britain and the United States, describing the valour and agony of the retreating nation through the eyes of the foreigners who had taken part in the exodus. Many bore a dedication to “Alexander, Crown Prince of Serbia”, for the young man became a symbol of hope for the future of his country, “an apostle of progress as well as a knight Paladin”. After their appalling ordeal, both he and stoic, defeated Serbia seemed “a curious blending of the medieval and the modern,” imbued with “a fine glamour…[and] cast in the true heroic mould.”

Regrouped Serbian troops under the Crown Prince’s command went on to fight on the Salonika Front, which delivered fatal blows to Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire and hence to the Central Powers. Returning home in 1918, the Crown Prince (and Regent for his venerable father) found his ambitions for the future well-supported by his western Allies, greatly bolstered the body of sympathetic literature produced in the aftermath of 1915’s extraordinary journey.

Janet Ashton, Western European Languages Cataloguing Team Manager

References/further reading:

Alice and Claude Askew, The stricken land: Serbia as we saw it. (London, 1916) Copies at W15/8483 and 9082.ee.20.

Fortier Jones, With Serbia into exile: an American’s adventures with the army that cannot die  (New York, 1916). Three copies at W82/6627, 9083.ff.25., and 9081.e.7.

Mabel Stobart, The flaming sword in Serbia and elsewhere. (London, 1916) . 09082.cc.12.

Peter Gatrell , ‘Europe on the move: refugees and World War One’. British Library Website: http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/refugees-europe-on-the-move

23 March 2015

The Serbian Typhus Epidemic - 100 years on

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The devastation caused by the influenza pandemic at the end of World War One is well known; what is less well known is that many parts of Europe were badly affected by diseases throughout the war. One of the first of these was an epidemic of typhus and relapsing fever which started in Serbia at the end of 1914 and killed upwards of 150,000 people in a population of around four and a half million.  Both diseases shared similar symptoms – a high temperature, rashes and constant itching - and were spread by the same means – lice. They were also highly infectious and often occurred together. While the exact start date of the epidemic was disputed, sources agreed that it ended in June 1915. Even in this short time the epidemic was still devastating in a small country where the diseases spread rapidly.

Rockefeller                                                   New York, 1915.  British Library 08248.h.19.

The documents listed below are the key contemporaneous accounts of this epidemic. The differences in emphasis are dramatic, ranging from the appeal for assistance from the Rockefeller Foundation to Minkine’s more clinical account of the epidemic, and from the self-promotion of the Hunter and Strong reports to the critical soul-searching analysis by Serbian doctors in 1925, edited by Stanojević.  

Minkine                                                      Paris, 1915. British Library F7/3088

In contrast to the first of these accounts to be published (that of the Rockefeller Foundation) where the Serbs were portrayed as helpless victims, by the time of the Stanojević analysis there was an active desire not just to understand the causes of the epidemic, but to prevent any future recurrences. The Hunter and Strong reports, published immediately after the war, emphasised the actions taken by their respective groups to relieve the epidemic, but without clear advice about what ‘weather-proofing’ was needed for Serbia to remain disease-free.

Hunter                                                    London, 1920. British Library Wf1/4919

The fact that the epidemic took place during a war, which made ascertaining the facts especially difficult, explained some of the differences between the accounts. These sources reveal why typhus was such a feared disease even after it was found to be preventable; in 1909 it was discovered that the disease was caused by body lice, although the cure was not known until after the war.  

Strong                                              Cambridge USA, 1920. British Library X8/2016

In a parallel with the recent Ebola crisis, the international community was scared that the disease would spread. They realised that an epidemic was not just the concern of one country, but had global implications. A number of countries, particularly in Europe, implemented new and stricter quarantine laws in 1915, specifically citing the risk posed by Serbia.

Stanojevic                                               Belgrade, 1925. British Library YF.2011.a.22007

Despite the dramatic and tragic losses, the typhus and relapsing fever epidemic taught some useful lessons. The epidemic was ended very quickly by the standards of the time. It was a good example of the international community coming together in a common cause, and it demonstrated a key principle in terms of epidemic management, namely that prevention was cheaper than relying on a cure that had not been invented.  


Tara Finn, the First World War Centenary Commemorations Team of Foreign and Commonwealth Office


References:

William Hunter, The Serbian epidemics of typhus and relapsing fever in 1915 (London, 1920).  Wf1/4919 [available online from PubMed]

M. Jeanneret-Minkine, Le typhus exanthematique (Paris, 1915).  F7/3088    

The Rockefeller Foundation, The relief of suffering non-combatants in Europe: Destitution and disease in Serbia (New York, 1915).  08248.h.19.

Vladimir Stanojević, ed., Istorija srpskog vojnog saniteta (Beograd, 1925).  YF.2011.a.22007

Richard P. Strong, ed., Typhus fever with a particular reference to the Serbian epidemic (Cambridge, Mass., 1920). X8/2016 [available online (copy from Harvard University) at https://archive.org/details/typhusfeverwith00zinsgoog]

23 February 2015

The Champion of Slavonic Peoples: the Andrija Kačić Miošić collection in the British Library

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Andrija Kačić Miošić (1704-1760) was a Franciscan friar, reader in theology and philosophy at religious schools in Venetian Dalmatia, and a national poet. He wrote three works in his lifetime, all printed in Venice: Elementa peripatethica juxta mentem subtilissimi doctoris Joannis Duns Scoti in 1752, a philosophical textbook derived from the works of John Duns Scotus; Razgovor ugodni naroda slovinskoga (‘Pleasant Conversation of the Slavonic People’); and Korabglicza (‘Little Ark’), a collection of biblical stories and Slavonic chronicles from the beginning of the world to his time which was his last work, published in 1760. The most important of these, for which he is best known, is Razgovor ugodni, an epic history of the Slavonic peoples in prose and in 136 epic poems, first published in 1756 with a definitive second edition in 1759.

T.p. V1                             Title page of Razgovor ugodni  (Vienna, 1836). RB.23.b.7396 (vol. 1)

The significance of Razgovor ugodni lies not in its literary merit but in the influence it had on generations of Slavonic people in the Balkans. Kačić Miošić wrote mainly in the Ikavian (ikavica) variant of the Štokavian dialect in Latin script, a language which the common people could read and understand as their own everyday spoken language. The Štokavian dialect became the foundation of the literary languages developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia in the 19th century.

Razgovor ugodni aimed to instruct and inspire the people of the Balkans by their glorious past and to instil the values of national heroism and confidence in the struggle against the Turks. Kačić Miošić wanted the people to remember who they were and where they came from as the important legacy of their honourable past. His poetry did not aim to achieve literary heights, nor did his prose strive for historical accuracy based on documentary evidence. He drew mainly on the available Latin, Italian and Croatian printed sources, as well as on the scarce historical records, but his true inspiration came from his enthusiasm for the Slavonic peoples, especially his admiration for their common efforts in the long struggle against the Turks in the Balkans over a period of two centuries. Kačić Miošić travelled extensively to learn at first-hand about this struggle from people who had orally preserved their national tradition, myths and legends and passed them on for generations. His poetry celebrates the unity, endurance, dignity and faith of the Slavonic peoples and their allies against their oppressors and laments those who have not yet set themselves free.  

T.p. V2
Title page of Razgovor ugodni: ‘Serbsko-dalmatinske vitežke narodne pjesme’. RB.23.b.7396 (vol.2)

Razgovor ugodni was therefore inspired by the idealised history, folk tradition and myth of the Slavonic peoples which Kačić Miošić presented passionately to his readers in stylized decasyllabic verses modelled on national folk poetry. No book before or since has seen more editions in Croatian literature. It was referred to as ‘the people’s songbook’ and became an all-time favourite, printed in 64 known editions from 1756 to 2011. Kačić Miošić was the first Croatian writer to whom a monument was erected, in Zagreb in 1891. Razgovor ugodni was printed in 12 Cyrillic editions from 1807 to 1939.

FrontCoverV1
Front cover of the volume 1 of the ‘Imperial edition’ of Razgovor ugodni. Vienna, 1836) RB.23.b.7396

In 1836 one Venceslav Juraj Dunder (a pseudonym for Vjekoslav Babukić published the 10th edition of Razgovor ugodni in Vienna as ‘Novo Vandanje’. An elegant and richly decorated two-volume bibliophile copy of this edition named ‘Carsko Vandanje’, (the imperial edition), was beautifully printed on fine paper with gilded edges, and decorated with an ornament on each page. The volumes were bound by C. G. Müllner’s workshop in Vienna in calf leather, blocked in colours with gilt and black tooling with leaf corner-pieces. (For a more detailed description see the British Library database of bookbindings.)  This ‘imperial edition’ was not a complete edition of Razgovor ugodni. It includes 58 poems from the definitive 1759 edition.

MSCyrillicManuscript inscription in Russian with a dedication to Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia. RB.23.b.7396, volume 2

This unique copy of Razgovor ugodni was produced as a presentation copy for Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. In the period of national revivals in 1830-40s Kačić Miošić was celebrated and reprinted as a national poet whose vision was the Slavonic peoples’ interdependence and the common purpose of unity and collaboration for cultural and political progress, freedom and emancipation. It is evident from this presentation copy that Dunder shared Kačić Miošić’s sentiments and his understanding of the mutual Slavonic ties and goals.

MSLatinDunder’s autograph inscription in Croatian dedicated to Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia. RB.23.b.7396, volume 2

There are three manuscript inscriptions in the second volume on ornamented flyleaves. The first is in Russian, dated 24 June 1835 and recommending the book to the Tsar as a learned work created in the “Slavonic homeland.” The second is a Croatian dedication to the Tsar, and the third is Dunder’s six-page discussion of the “Serbo-Illyrian language” and the correct reading of the new orthography.

  MSInstructions
Dunder’s text on the new Serbo-Croatian orthography which he promoted, RB.23.b.7396, volume 2


Stamp Tsarskoe Selo1Both volumes bear the stamp “Bibliothèque de Tsarskoe Selo” (left) which reveals the book to have been part of the private library of Tsar Nicholas I at Tsarskoe Selo near St Petersburg. It must have left the Russian Imperial Library in or before 1933 as it was advertised for sale on 20-21 June 1933, with other treasures from Austrian and Russian Imperial libraries, by the auction house of Gilhofer and Ranschburg. It is entry no. 227 in the catalogue of the sale (11910.t.27.) and images of the front cover and spine of volume one are shown in plate 21. The book was valued at 160 Swiss francs. The Zagreb daily Obzor reported on the auction and appealed to the public to raise 2000 Yugoslav dinars for the purchase of “the lavish edition” of Kačić Miošić.

Razgovor ugodni was partly translated into Latin by Emericus Pavić (1716-1780), a Franciscan from Buda, in 1764 (Descriptio soluta et rythmica regum, banorum, cæterorumque heroum Slavinorum seu Illyricorum; 9475.b.9.). This translation led to a wider interest in Kačić Miošić’s works. Alberto Fortis’s translations into Italian from Razgovor ugodni introduced Kačić Miošić’s poems to Western readers for the first time during the Romantic period.  

The British Library holds a significant collection of Razgovor ugodni collected over a period of over 160 years, from 1847 to the present day. This comprises nine 19th century editions of Razgovor ugodni, seven in Latin and two in Cyrillic scripts:

Dubrovnik, 1826; RB.31.b.368. A facsimile reprint of an 1801 Venice edition, with an additional poem “Pisma od Napoleona” (Letters from Napoleon);

Vienna, 1836; RB.23.b.7396. The ‘imperial edition’, discussed above;

Zadar 1846; 12264.aa.10.

Zagreb, 1851; 11303.l.25. A inexpensive edition called “Pjesme” (Poems) printed in the spirit of Kačić Miošić to be affordable by ordinary people;

Zagreb, 1862; 12265.cc.6. Another inexpensive edition with Babukić’s introduction revealing that he had prepared Razgovor ugodni for publication in Vienna in 1836 under the pseudonym “V. J. Dunder”

Zagreb, 1876; 11586.df.18. The first of several of Lavoslav Hartman’s (later Kugli and Deutsch, then St[jepan] Kugli) editions;

Zagreb, 1886; 011586.ff.55

The first of the two Cyrillic editions that the library holds (011586.f.74.) printed in Zemun in 1849-50 in two volumes with the title  Србско-народне витежке пјесме (‘Serbian-folk chivalrous poems’), is a selection from Razgovor ugodni.  The other (012265.e.5/81.) was printed in Pančevo in 1890 in the Braće Jovanović bookshop’s popular series Narodna biblioteka (National library) and was presented together with 250 books from this series to the Library by the Serbian Legation in 1920.

There are four 20th-century editions of Razgovor ugodni in the Library of which it is worth mentioning a critical edition of both the  1756 and 1759 editions,  published in Zagreb in 1942 (Ac.741/14.); and a 1946 edition (11588.bb.8.) which was one of 500 Yugoslav books donated by the Yugoslav government to the Library in April 1948.

The Library also holds a critical edition of the 1760 edition of Kačić Miošić’s Korabljica (Little Ark) published in 1945 (Ac.741/14.). We continue to collect works by and about Kačić Miošić as a highlight of our Croatian collections. The most recent acquisitions include a new critical edition of Razgovor ugodni (Zagreb, 2006: YF.2007.a.19001).

Milan Grba, Curator South-Eastern European Collections

Digital versions of Razgovor ugodni

Trieste [i.e. Dubrovnik], 1831 (from the National Library of Austria)

Dubrovnik, 1839 (from the National Library of Austria)

Vienna, 1836 [vol. two only] (from the National Library of the Czech Republic)

Zadar, 1851 (from the University of Wisconsin – Madison)

Zagreb, 1862 (from Harvard University)


Digital versions of Korabglicza

Venice, 1782 (from the National Library of the Czech Republic)

Dubrovnik, 1833 (from the National Library of the Czech Republic) 

 

References

Fortunato Karaman, Andrija Kačić Miošić e i suoi canti. (Pula, 1889). 11840.aaa.25.(6.)

Danilo A. Živaljević, “Andrija Kačić Miošić slovinski pesnik”. Letopis matice srpske, 1892, III, 171, pp. 1-36. Ac.8984.

Vojislav M. Jovanović, “Deux traductions inédites d’Albert Fortis”. Archiv für Slavische Philologie, 1909, Bd. xxx. Hft. 4. Sonderabdruck, [586]-596. 011586.g.94.(5.).

Nikola Žic, “Carsko izdanje Kačićeva razgovora” . Obzor, 1933, 147, p. 3. MFM.MF693

Gašpar Bujas, Kačićevi imitatori u Makarskom primorju do polovine 19. stoljeća. (Zagreb, 1971). Ac.741/19[30]

Francesco Saverio Perillo, Rileggendo Kačić: tra storia e folklore. (Bari, 1979). YF.2004.a.17241

Andriia Kachich Mioshich i bŭlgarite. Editor Rumiana Bozhilova. (Sofia, 2000). YF.2012.a.21898

Stipe Botica, Andrija Kačić Miošić. (Zagreb, 2003). Includes a bibliography of Andrija Kačić Miošić (pp. [269]-319). YF.2005.a.29437

Fra Andrija Kačić Miošić i kultura njegova doba. Editor Dunja Fališevac. (Zagreb, 2007). YF.2008.a.10573







29 October 2014

Language and the making of nations

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On 14 November the British Library will be hosting a study day  ‘Language and the Making of Nations’, organised by the Library's European Studies Department and examining the relationship between majority and minority languages in the countries of Europe and the creation of national literary languages

The creation of a unified language has been significant in the formation of the nations of Europe. Part of the process has been the compilation of standard grammars and dictionaries, an initiative often followed by linguistic minorities, determined to reinforce their own identity. This seminar will look at the relationship between majority and minority languages in the countries of Europe, the role of language in national histories, and the creation of national literary languages. Specialists in the history of the languages of Europe will explore these issues in relation to Czech, Georgian, Italian, Serbian and Ukrainian, as well as Catalan, Dutch, Frisian, Silesian and the Norman French of Jersey.

Language

Programme:

10:30  Registration; coffee

10:50  Welcome

11:00-12:00   Donald Rayfield (Emeritus Professor of Russian and Georgian, Queen Mary, University of London), ‘The tongue in which God will examine all other tongues — how Georgians have viewed their language.’

Marta Jenkala (Senior Teaching Fellow in Ukrainian, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies), ‘Ukrainian language and nation: a cultural perspective’.

Break

12:10-13:10   Mari Jones (Reader in French Linguistics, Cambridge University), ‘Identity planning and Jersey Norman French.’

Peter Bush (Literary translator), ‘Josep Pla and the making of contemporary literary Catalan.’

Lunch

14:10-15:40 Giulio Lepschy (Hon. Professor, UCL, London, School of European Languages, Culture and Society), ‘The invention of standard Italian.’

Prvoslav Radić (Professor, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade), ‘The language reform of Vuk St. Karadžić and the national question among the Serbs.’

Rajendra Chitnis (Senior Lecturer, School of Modern Languages, Bristol University), 'We are what we speak. Characterizations of the Czech language during the Czech National Revival.’

Break

16:00-17:30 Roland Willemyns (Emeritus Professor of Dutch, Free University, Brussels), ‘The Dutch Congress of 1849 and the Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal.’

Tomasz Kamusella (School of History, University of St Andrews), ‘Silesian: a language or a dialect?’

Alastair Walker (Emeritus Research Associate, Department of Frisian Studies, University of Kiel), ‘North and West Frisian: Two beautiful sisters, so much alike, but yet so different.’

The event has received most generous support from NISE (National Movements and Intermediary Structures in Europe), the Polish Cultural Institute, and the international publishing house Brill

Attendance is £25.00 Full Price;  £15.00 for under 18s. To book please email boxoffice@bl.uk or call +44 (0)1937 546546

There is an additional free event, following the study day, from 18:15-20:00.  Maclehose Press and the Institut Ramon Llull will be launching Joan Sales’ novel of the Spanish Civil War, Uncertain Glory, translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush.  Professor Paul Preston (Historian, Director of the Catalan Observatory at the LSE) will be in conversation with Peter Bush.  A wine reception will follow courtesy of Freixenet.

As places are limited, please RSVP to geoff.west@bl.uk  if you would like to attend the evening event.

19 May 2014

Christian Doctrine for Slavonic People: an early Bosnian and Herzegovinian printed book

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Nauk_t.p_C38e40
Nauk krstjanski za narod slovinski
(Venice 1611) British Library C.38.e.40.

Nauk krstjanski za narod slovinski (‘Christian Doctrine for Slavonic People’) is an early Bosnian and Herzegovinian printed book, printed in Venice in 1611 by the Bosnian Franciscan Matija Divković (1563-1631). The book is a compilation from the catechisms published by Jacobus Ledisma (1519-1575) and Roberto Bellarmino, translated from Latin into Bosnian, arranged and interpreted by Divković. Divković’s typographical achievements and his Christian Doctrine will be discussed at the forthcoming Balkan Day seminar at the British Library on 13 June 2014.

On the title leaf above Divković explains that he wrote his book to be useful for both clerics and lay people. Under the image of the resurrected Christ, the imprint gives the place and the year of printing, the name and address of the printer, “Pietro-Maria Bertano by the church called Santa Maria Formosa”. The title leaf bears the ownership stamp of the British Museum Library, now the British Library, dated 10 January 1849, the date of purchase from the London bookselling firm of Rodd. This is the only known copy in Britain and the only edition from Bertano’s press in the British Library.  

Jesus preaching_C38e40

The image above shows Jesus preaching to his apostles. The text on this leaf and the rest of the Christian Doctrine identifies Divković’s book as a typical work of the Counter-Reformation aimed at the revival of the Roman Catholic Church.

Here Divković explains that he translated the sacred texts into a “real and true Bosnian language” and further on he mentions “Slavonic language as in Bosnia Slavonic is spoken”. For Divković Bosnian, Slavonic and “our language”, the term he uses throughout the book, are synonyms for one language which is spoken by the people in Bosnia.

The Cyrillic alphabet in the book  is printed, in Divković’s words, using “Serbian characters” but Divković’s Cyrillic has at least ten specific characters of this minuscule Cyrillic alphabet, sometimes referred to as Bosnian Cyrillic (Bosančica); for example Divković uses a vertical rectangle symbol for the Cyrillic character ‘в’ (v).  

Divković writes mainly in the Jekavian (jekavica) variant of the Štokavian dialect with some Ikavian (ikavica) words added to it. In the Italian imprimatur printed in the Christian Doctrine the language and the alphabet are referred to as Illyric: “in lingua Illirica, & carattere Illirico di Fra Mattheo de Bossna”.

Divković’s Štokavian dialect was widely spoken in the lands which are today Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, representing one linguistic entity between Slovenian in the west and the Bulgarian  in the east.

Sto cudesa_t.p_C38e40

The above image shows Divković’s other work Sto čudesa (‘One Hundred Miracles’) bound together with the Christian Doctrine but foliated separately. The British Library has an intact copy in octavo format (Venice, 1611; C.38.e.40.). Both parts of the book have numerous misprints, which is understandable since Divković had his Cyrillic letters moulded in Venice by printers who didn’t know the language or the alphabet. A list of corrections is given at the end of the volume.

The One Hundred Miracles is Divković’s free translation of Johann Herolt’s  Sermones Discipuli de tempore et de sanctis, cum exemplorum promptuario, ac miraculis Beatae Mariae Virginis.

Annunciation_C38e40

Divković’s book contains 12 woodcuts, 10 in Christian Doctrine and two in One Hundred Miracles. The  image of the Annunciation shown here is printed on the verso of One Hundred Miracles’s title leaf which has the motif of a stork feeding with the inscription “Pietas homini tutissima virtus” (Piety is the surest virtue of man).

Divković’s significance lies in the fact that his works have been widely researched and studied as part of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian, Croatian and Serbian written heritage to the present day. Most recently, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first imprint, the Bosna Srebrena Cultural and Historical Institute in Sarajevo published a critical edition of Christian Doctrine and One Hundred Miracles transcribed into Croatian as Nauk kristijanski za narod slovinski and Sto čudesa aliti zlamen'ja Blažene i slavne Bogorodice, Divice Marije. This critical edition was published together with a facsimile of the edition of Divković’s book printed by Pietro-Maria Bertano in Venice in 1611.

The language of his book, the Štokavian dialect, became the basis of the literary languages developed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia in the 19th century.  In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Divković’s importance goes beyond the religious doctrine and church teachings that he spread in his homeland. His main legacy is his reputation as the first Bosnian typographer who printed the first Bosnian book in the language spoken by the people in Bosnia and in an alphabet that anyone in Bosnia could read.  

Nauk_small_C52a7

Divković is the author of four books; all are compilations from Christian literature popular in his time. The above image is a title-leaf of Christian Doctrine known as a “little Christian doctrine” (mali Nauk) printed in Venice 1616. The current research has identified 25 editions of this hugely popular small (16°) format of the work.

The British Library holds a copy printed by Marco Ginami (Venice, 1640-41; C.52.a.7.). It consists of 15 different religious works in prose and verse collected in one volume; one of them is Christian Doctrine, shown here as a constituent part of the work that bears the same title. This copy is one of two copies known to be in existence in Britain. It was acquired in 1889 from Nikola Batistić, a theology scholar and professor from Zadar, Croatia.

References

Đorđe Đorđević, „Matija Divković: prilog istoriji srpske književnosti XVII veka“. Glas Srpske kraljevske akademije LII (1896), LIII (1898), pp. [30]-139 and [1]-135. Ac.1131/3.

Ralph Cleminson. Cyrillic books printed before 1701 in British and Irish collections :a union catalogue. (London, 2000). 2708.h.903.

Matija Divković. Nauk kristijanski za narod slovinski : Sto čudesa aliti zlamen'ja Blažene i slavne Bogorodice, Divice Marije. Uvodna studija, rječnik i tumač imena Nauka kristijanskoga Darija Gabrić-Bagarić, Dolores Grmača, Maja Banožić. Uvodna studija, transkripcija, rječnik i tumač imena Sto čudesa Marijana Horvat. (Sarajevo, 2013) YF.2014.a.10503.

Matija Divković. Naūk karstianski za narodʹ slovinski /ovi naūkʹ Izdiačkoga iezika ispisa, privede i složi ū iezikʹ Slovinski Bogoćliūbni Bogoslovat︠s︡ʹ P.O. fra Matie Divkovićʹ.  (Sarajevo, 2013) YF.2014.a.10504  [Facsimile of the 1611 edition printed in Venice]

Milan Grba, Lead Curator South-East European Collections

Milan Grba, Lead Curator South-East European Collections - See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/european/bulgaria/#sthash.Rl0UhLIL.dpuf