THE BRITISH LIBRARY

European studies blog

15 posts categorized "Serbia"

23 March 2015

The Serbian Typhus Epidemic - 100 years on

Add comment Comments (4)

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

Add comment Comments (0)

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

Add comment Comments (0)

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

Add comment Comments (0)

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

28 April 2014

Vuk Stefanović Karadžić and Serbian National Poetry : a Bicentenary

Add comment Comments (0)

Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic image
Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (1787-1864, above, picture from Wikimedia Commons) was a Serbian philologist and a reformer of the Serbian literary language.

This year marks the bicentenary of the publication of Karadžić’s Мала простонароднЬа славено-сербска пєснарица (‘Simple little Serbian-Slavonic song book’, Vienna, 1814; BL shelfmark 1461.e.17.) and of a Писменица сербскога іезика (‘Serbian grammar book’) . 2014 is also marks the 150th anniversary of his death in Vienna in 1864. The forthcoming Balkan Day seminar at the British Library on 13 June 2014 will highlight the cultural achievements and the legacy of this great reformer.

Two hundred years ago Karadžić began a revolutionary reform which gave the Serbian nation a standardised literary language, a complete 30-character Serbian Cyrillic alphabet and revised orthography which included the six new characters of the Serbian alphabet (Ђ, Ј, Љ, Њ, Ћ and Џ). Another of Karadžić’s lasting achievements was his life-long collection and publication of traditional Serbian national literature, especially Serbian national poetry. Over the course of 50 years Karadžić published several editions of selected Serbian national poetry, the first three volumes in Leipzig in 1823-24 (of which the library has volumes one and two; shelfmarks 1064.h.26. and 1064.h.27.), and a definitive five-volume edition published in Vienna in 1841-65 (11585.f.11.; volume five was published posthumously by Karadžić’s widow).  The Serbian state acquired Karadžić’s large archive, and has continued to publish his papers to the present day. 

Before Karadžić’s reforms, Serbian literature was written in Church Slavonic from the Middle Ages, then in the mid-18th century in Russo-Slavonic, and later in Slavonic-Serbian (slavenoserpski, a mix of the national spoken language and Russo-Slavonic). Although supported by the Church and the State, these languages were not easily understandable by the ordinary Serbian people who communicated in their own national language. It was this everyday spoken language that produced the traditional national literature that formed the basis for Karadžić’s reforms. Karadžić thus created a new literature and a new literary language breaking all ties with the establishment which remained furious and hostile in Karadžić’s lifetime to the new alphabet, orthography and language. The last remaining restrictions on Karadžić’s alphabet and orthography were lifted only after his death.

Karadžić was not only an ideologist and supporter of the language reform but an active contributor to the creation of the new literary language. In 1818 Karadžić produced a Serbian dictionary, a central text of the contemporary Serbian language.    

Srpski rjecnik
Karadžić’s Serbian dictionary, Српски рјечник (Vienna, 1818) 12976.r.6.

This Serbian dictionary was the first book printed in the new alphabet according to the new orthography. Here Karadžić executed to perfection the main principle of a phonetic orthography, Adelung’s dictum ‘write as you speak’: Karadžić introduced 30 letters representing 30 sounds in the Serbian literary language, and in the dictionary he published over 26,000 words as he remembered them. This was a trilingual Serbian-German-Latin dictionary produced in collaboration with Bartholomäus (Jernej in Slovene) Kopitar who was Karadžić’s teacher and the mind behind his literary and linguistic reforms, and it was Kopitar who encouraged Karadžić to collect and preserve Serbian traditional national poetry, tales and proverbs. Kopitar, who was an assistant keeper in the Imperial Library in Vienna, introduced Karadžić’s work to Jacob Grimm  and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who introduced and promoted Serbian national poetry in Europe.

The entries in the Serbian dictionary represented all the genres of the national oral tradition, and some entries had an encyclopaedic, ethnographic or historiographical format and character.  

Srpski rjecnik_entry
The opening above shows the entry for marriage (женидба in Serbian) and describes in great detail the marriage ceremony and customs in Serbia.

Another important cornerstone in the development of the Serbian literary language and literature was Karadžić’s translation of the New Testament in 1847. The British Library holds an 1868 edition of the Bible in Djura Daničić’s translation of the Old Testament and Karadžić’s translation of the New Testament into Serbian (3061.e.4.).

VSK.1851.c10.68
Programme of the Karadžić Centenary Festival. 1851.c.10.(68)

This centenary placard printed in French and Serbian on the occasion of Karadžić’s jubilee, celebrations in Belgrade in 1888, was presented to the British Museum Library on 13 October 1888. The British Library holds a significant collection of over 250 titles by Karadžić from 1814 to 1864 in the first and subsequent editions, in the original and in translation, and in reprints and facsimile editions. The collection has been developed over the period of 173 years from the first acquisition (the Serbian dictionary in 1841) to Serbian fairy tales, acquired in 2013. There are also  works about Karadžić in all major languages, together with books in Serbian and other South Slavonic languages. The library is acquiring the  full set of Karadžić’s collected works in 32 volumes (Belgrade, 1965- , X.0989/612; four volumes are still to be published), which includes a bibliography by Karadžić scholar Golub Dobrašinović. Karadžić’s 1867 book Живот и обичаји народа српскога (‘Life and customs of the Serbian people’) is freely available in digital format  from the British Library (the printed copy is at shelfmark 010127.c.28.).  

To mark the bicentenary of the birth of Karadžić, the British Library held an exhibition Vuk Stefanović Karadžić 1787-1864, from 26 June to 27 September 1987.

Milan Grba, Lead Curator South-Eastern European Collections

References:

Digitised texts:

Copies of Karadžić’s works cited above are available in digital format in The Matica Srpska Digital Library:
Simple little Serbian-Slavonic song book
A Serbian grammar book
Serbian dictionary
Serbian New Testament

Biography and criticism:

Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, Wuk's Stephanowitsch kleine serbische Grammatik verdeutscht und mit einer Vorrede von J. Grimm. Nebst Bemerkungen über die neueste Auffassung länger Heldenlieder ... von J. S. Vater. Leipzig (Berlin, 1824) 628.g.23.

Ljubomir Stojanović, Život i rad Vuka Stefanovića Karadžića. Belgrade : Makarije, 1924. X.902/107.

Duncan Wilson, The life and times of Vuk Stefanović Karadzić, 1787-1864. Literacy, literature, and national independence in Serbia. (Oxford, 1970)  X.989/6017.

Vera Bojić, Jacob Grimm und Vuk Karadžić: ein Vergleich ihrer Sprachauffassungen und ihre Zusammenarbeit auf dem Gebiet der serbischen Grammatik. (Munich, 1977. 11879.aa.2/106

Sprache, Literatur, Folklore bei Vuk Stefanović Karadžić. Beiträge zu einem internationalen Symposium, Göttingen, 8.-13. Februar 1987. Herausgegeben von Reinhard Lauer. (Wiesbaden, 1988) X.0950/210(13).

Vuk Karadžić im europäischen Kontext. Beiträge des internationalen wissenschaftlichen Symposiums der Vuk Karadžić-Jacob Grimm-Gesellschaft am 19. und 20. November 1987, Frankfurt am Main. Herausgegeben von Wilfried Potthoff. (Heidelberg, 1990) YA.1994.a.5100.

Translations:

Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, Volkslieder der Serben. Metrisch übersetzt und historisch eingeleitet von Talvj (Halle, 1825) 1570/5587 ;  (2nd ed. Halle,1835. 1064.h.29.)

Народне Српске Пјесме = Servian Popular Poetry, translated by John Bowring. (London, 1827) 2286.a.1.

Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, Chants populaires des Serviens ... traduits ... par Mme. E. Voïart. (Paris, 1834) 11585.e.19.

Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, Volksmärchen der Serben. ... Ins Deutsche übersetzt .... Mit einer Vorrede von Jacob Grimm. Nebst einem Anhange von mehr als tausend serbischen Sprichwörtern. (Berlin, 1854) 12431.c.20.

Serbian Folk Songs, Fairy Tales, and Proverbs. (London , [1917]) 12430.e.34.

Songs of the Serbian people. From the collections of Vuk Karadžić. Translated and edited by Milne Holton and Vasa D. Mihailovich. (Pittsburgh, Pa., 1997) YK.1999.a.1659.

Serbian fairy tales ... selected, translated and introduced by Jelena Ćurčić ... (London, 2013) YK.2014.a.7619.