Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

Ideologies and National Identities

 | 
John Lampe
, 
Mark Mazower

Chapter 5. How to Use a Classic: Petar Petrović Njegoš in the Twentieth Century

Andrew B. Wachtel

Texte intégral

  • 1 Quoted in Ljubomir Durković-Jakšić, Njegoš i Lovćen (Belgrade, 1971), 260.

“[Njegoš is] the immortal apostle and herald of the unity of our people.”
King Aleksandar1

  • 2 “Njegoš je Crna Gora,” Stvaranje, vol. 36, #11, 1981, 1311.

“Njegoš is Montenegro and Montenegro is Njegoš.”
Josip Vidmar2

  • 3 NIN #2625, 19 April 2001.

“Njegoš is a Serbian writer and this emerges logically from his work.”
Zora Latinović3

  • 4 This was true even in Russia, a country that had obviously achieved political independence long be (...)

1It is a truth self-evident that an East European nation in search of its identity must have a national literature and a national poet. Following the model proposed originally by Herder in the early nineteenth century, East European nation-builders have generally conceived their fellows in terms of linguistic communities, and in most cases cultural self-definition preceded and was a precondition for the achievement of political independence. That is to say, language created nations, rather than the other way around. Poets like Sándor Petôfi in Hungary, Adam Mickiewicz in Poland, and Alexander Pushkin in Russia were and still are prized by critics for their exquisite verse. But what eventually earned them large bronze statues in the streets and squares of their respective countries was not so much the quality of their literary output as their ability to express the nation’s collective self (or so, at least, claimed the nation-building intellectuals who pushed the candidacy of these “national poets”). The appearance of a national poet was seen as proof that a given people had attained a level of cultural development sufficient for its pretensions to nationhood to be taken seriously.4 Elites in each country mobilized fellow citizens by using the person and the work of the national poet as a source of pride and a rallying point for future cultural and political development. If high culture had previously been seen as something borrowed from others, now Poles, Hungarians, or Russians could imagine beginning their own tradition, and future generations of writers would inevitably trace their genealogy back to Petôfi, Mickiewicz, or Pushkin rather than to Shakespeare, Homer, Dante, or Goethe.

  • 5 James Frusetta’s previous chapter in this volume discusses an analogous case in the history of the (...)

2In the South Slavic lands, the situation was no different. Here, too, with almost miraculous alacrity poets appeared—France Prešeren in Slovenia, Ivan Mažuranić in Croatia, and Petar Petrović Njegoš in Montenegro—to create literary monuments in the vernacular, helping to codify (and sometimes even to create) the modern literary language in the process. Among the South Slavs, however, the situation was complicated by the fact that it was not clear then, and in some cases it remains unclear today, what nation a given “national” poet’s work represented. That is, if Pushkin was unequivocally a Russian writer, Mickiewicz a Pole, and so on, Ivan Mažuranić might well have been not a Croatian national but an Illyrian, proto-Yugoslav writer, and, as we will see in this essay, Njegoš has been considered, at various times, to be the national writer of Serbs, of Yugoslavs, and of Montenegrins.5 This reflects, of course, the contested nature of national identity in the lands of the former Yugoslavia, just as it points to the arbitrariness of allowing a single poet to stand for the nation as a whole.

3Petar Petrović Njegoš was undoubtedly an outstanding figure. He was born in 1813 to the Njegoši tribe in Montenegro, perhaps the most isolated European land of its day. Unlike the other South Slavic lands at the time, however, it did possess an independent political existence, albeit a rather tenuous one, under the rule of a series of prince-bishops who provided both secular and religious leadership to a group of exceptionally fractious clans.

Photograph of Njegoš as a Montenegrin mountaineer—1851

4As it happened, Njegoš’s uncle had been the previous prince-bishop, and upon his death in 1830 Njegoš was appointed in his stead. Njegoš spent the rest of his short life (he died in 1851) laboring to improve the situation of his homeland. He strengthened the power of central authority, opened Montenegro’s first schools, built its first roads, and defended his tiny land against Ottoman onslaughts. Simultaneously, he produced a body of literary work that helped to lay the foundations for modern South Slavic literature (see photograph on page 132 for a typically romantic image of Njegoš).

5His epic in dramatic form entitled Gorski vijenac (The Mountain Wreath) was published in 1847. It has been hailed as the greatest work of South Slavic literature, and seen as the national epic of Montenegro, of Serbia, and of Yugoslavia (both the first and the second). More recently, it has been reviled as a blueprint for ethnic cleansing and banned in the school curriculum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its author has been treated as a secular saint, and his body has been exhumed and inhumed multiple times since his death in 1851 by those who wished to use Njegoš for their own national and political purposes. This essay will concentrate primarily on the ways in which Njegoš and his most famous work were used by nation-building elites to create Yugoslav, Serb, and Montenegrin national identities throughout the twentieth century and to this day, but first we must say a few words about the work itself.

  • 6 Actually, there is general agreement among contemporary historians that the massacre described in (...)

6The Mountain Wreath opens with a dedication to Karadjordje, the leader of the first Serbian uprising against Turkish rule in 1804, who is extolled as a military leader of equal stature to Napoleon, Suvorov, and Kutuzov. The attempt to elevate a character from Serbian history to a pan-European pedestal is part of Njegoš’s overall strategy for his epic to imbue a relatively minor event in Montenegrin history with universal significance.6 The introduction closes with an invocation of the legendary Serbian medieval hero of the battle of Kosovo, Miloš Obilić, thereby tying the hoped-for rebirth of Serbia to its legendary demise in 1389.

  • 7 P. P. Njegoš, The Mountain Wreath, ed. Vasa D. Mihailovich (Irvine, Ca.: Charles Schlacks Publishe (...)

7With the beginning of the main body of the text, Njegoš switches to the ten-syllable line of the folk epic and introduces his central character, the brooding Bishop Danilo. Danilo contemplates and curses the conquests that have been made by Islam, and thinks about how they can be rolled back. True, Montenegro itself is still free, but Danilo believes that this freedom is threatened, not by arms but by slow conversion to Islam. Danilo curses the Slavic apostates: “May God strike you, loathsome degenerates, / why do we need the Turk’s faith among us?”7 However, Danilo’s belief that only a “religious cleansing” of his land can effect its eventual rebirth is tempered by his recognition that the Montenegrin Moslems are nevertheless blood relations. It is Danilo’s tragedy to be paralyzed by this knowledge.

8The other Christian Montenegrins lack any trace of Danilo’s hesitation, as the straightforward response of one of the clan leaders to Danilo’s brooding indicates: “Is today not a festive occasion / on which you have gathered Montenegrins/to rid our land of loathsome infidels?” (Njegoš, 7). This split between the tragically conflicted individual and the confident group (with preference given to the latter) embodies the collectivistic basis of South Slavic national thought. Ultimately, the epic’s plot revolves at least as much around whether Danilo can join himself to the collective will as it does on the massacre of the converts that forms the work’s ostensible subject. The collectivistic bias of The Mountain Wreath is further emphasized by the intermittent presence of an updated version of a Greek chorus. The role of the chorus, here called a Kolo (the Serbian national round dance), is to open up the historical level of the epic by connecting events of the drama with earlier moments in Serbian history.

9When the Montenegrin leaders gather, it is clear that all are in favor of destroying their Islamicized kin. Yet Danilo still hesitates and calls for talks with the converts, hoping they can be baptized without violence. These unproductive talks do not cure Danilo of his inability to act, and the whole middle section of the work is a long pause during which Njegoš builds tension by moving the central question into the background. He provides in its stead a series of vignettes of Montenegrin life, a veritable encyclopedia of folk customs and beliefs.

10In the course of the work Danilo’s ambivalence is raised to a basic principle of world organization. By far the strongest expression of this philosophy appears in the statements of the old Abbot Stefan. Unlike Danilo, however, Stefan is not paralyzed by his recognition of the world’s essential duality. Instead, he exhorts the Montenegrin Christians to purge the country of its Islamic element, arguing that resurrection of the Serbian people can only come through death. Thus, as is the case with many epics, the direction of this work is circular (like the Kolo that plays such a crucial role here), with events in the poem’s present forging a tie to the medieval Serbian kingdom. Like the Odyssey, The Mountain Wreath will end with the hero’s return to the home that had seemingly been lost; in this case, however, the home is the unity of national life that was lost at Kosovo, and the hero is a collective rather than an individual. Ultimately, even the wavering Bishop Danilo is won over, although he never gives an overt order for the massacre. And when he is informed that, at least in one area, the “Turks” who did not run away were killed, their houses burned, and their mosques destroyed, he rejoices with the others.

  • 8 The Mountain Wreath: Poetry or a Blueprint for the Final Solution?” Spaces of Identity 1/4 (http:/ (...)

11Before beginning our discussion of the ways in which Njegoš has been used in creating various national identities, one general comment is in order: it is neither possible nor productive to make a simple statement about the relationship between The Mountain Wreath and contemporary events in the former Yugoslavia. I do not say this from the point of view of a relativist who believes that no claim regarding an author or his work is better than any other. Rather, it is because a work of literature as great and complex as this one is ambiguous enough to allow for a wide variety of interpretations. I fully agree with Srdja Pavlović who says that “the long-gone Montenegro that Njegoš wrote about had little in common with the Montenegro of his time, and has nothing to do with contemporary Montenegro.”8 At the same time, it cannot be denied that there is something deeply troubling about a text that implies the absolute inability of members of the same linguistic group who adhere to different religions to live together without brutal conflict and that, with whatever reservations, ultimately does celebrate the massacre of one religion’s adherents by the others.

  • 9 Rešetar describes these editions in the introduction to the 1905 edition (Zadar, Izdanje hrvatske (...)
  • 10 See Andrew Baruch Wachtel, Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in (...)

12Nineteenth-century interpretations of him and his work were notably uncontroversial. The Mountain Wreath was early on treated both as Njegoš’s greatest work and as a major if not the major work of South Slavic romanticism. After its first printing in 1847, it was republished a dozen times through 1905, and an authoritative commentary by the Slavist Milan Rešetar was produced in 1890.9 Rešetar treats the destruction of the Islamicized Montenegrins as both a historical fact and the central theme of the work. He does not consider this theme in its ethical dimension, but neither does he see it as having any relationship to the present. Rešetar simply says that Njegoš saw these events as “the beginning of the Serbian people’s battle for liberty” (Rešetar, iii), and it was abundantly clear to the commentator that Njegoš was a Serbian writer. There is no breath of Yugoslavism perceived in this commentary, not surpising as the late nineteenth century marked a low ebb in the project to create a Yugoslav identity.10

  • 11 Primeri nove književnosti, ed. Jeremija Zivanović (Belgrade, 1921), 139.

13As the Yugoslav movement picked up steam in the years after 1903, and particularly after the founding of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes in 1918, however, it became important for the new “Yugoslav” nation to have a national poet to represent it in the world literary and cultural pantheon. Njegoš was chosen as just such a national poet. The Mountain Wreath, despite its Serbianism and its intolerance toward Islamicized Slavs who made up some 10 percent of the new nation’s population, was clearly Njegoš’s greatest work, and so it was reinterpreted in a Yugoslav vein. Already by 1921, the author of an overtly Yugoslav-oriented literary anthology cum textbook could say that Njegoš “to this day has remained on the highest poetic pinnacle of our people,” adding that “well-known passages in The Mountain Wreath are the most beautiful and greatest that our artistic literature exhibits.”11

  • 12 For a full account of Njegoš’s design for the church, his burial there in 1855, exhumation in 1916 (...)

14However, the real work of transforming Njegoš into the Yugoslav national writer par excellence was carried out in 1925 in conjunction with the translation of Njegoš’s remains from Cetinje to a mausoleum on top of Mt. Lovćen, the highest peak in Montenegro. This was not the first time that the author’s body had been moved. At his death in 1851, Njegoš had asked to be buried on Lovćen, in a church dedicated to St. Petar Cetinski that he had designed and erected in 1845. For a number of reasons this desire could not be carried out immediately, and he was first interred at the monastery in Cetinje. However, in 1855 his mortal remains were transferred to Lovćen and they remained there until 1916. At that time, the Austrians, who had crushed the Serbian and Montenegrin armies in the course of 1915, decided to commemorate their victory by raising a monument to Franz Joseph on the top of Lovćen. Evidently it was felt to be unseemly for the Austrian Emperor to share this lofty perch with a symbol of South Slavic national feeling, so the Austrian authorities demanded that Njegoš’s remains be removed from Lovćen and transferred to Cetinje. However, the care and stealth with which the Austrians carried out the exhumation (it was supervised by clergy of the Orthodox Church in order to avoid any accusation of desecration) attests to their recognition that Njegoš’s bones carried as much symbolic weight as did his work.12

Two designs from the 1921 competition for the Njegoš mausoleum

A further design proposed in the 1921 competition for the Njegoš mausoleum

  • 13 See Durković-Jakšić, 127–268 for a full discussion of these debates.

15By the end of the war Njegoš’s chapel had been severely damaged. Negotiations between Montenegrin authorities and the new government in Belgrade went on for years regarding respectively when, in what building, and at whose expense Njegoš would be reburied. Essentially, Montenegrin authorities favored restoring the original church. Belgrade authorities had mixed feelings on the subject, and at first opened a competition for new designs for Njegoš’s mausoleum. Some were quite far from the original Byzantinesque building (see photographs on page 136). In the end, however, a combination of Montenegrin wishes and financial reality (it proved much cheaper to reuse the stone from the mostly destroyed church than to bring new materials to the site) won out. The king made funds available from his own purse, and the rebuilt chapel was a replica of the original (photograph on page 137).13

The rebuilt Njegoš mausoleum as it stood on Mt. Lovćen from 1925 until 1970

  • 14 Even the daily newspaper Jutro, in far-off Slovenia, gave the event quite a bit of space. On 22 Se (...)
  • 15 Quoted in Durković-Jakšić, 260.

16The chapel was rededicated and Njegoš’s remains were reburied there in September 1925 in the course of a three-day ceremony sponsored and attended by King Aleksandar himself. The tone of the event, which was described extensively in the Yugoslav press, bordered on a piety more appropriate for the treatment of a saint than a writer.14 Before the transfer, the coffin holding Njegoš’s remains was opened to allow the king and queen to have a look. The coffin was again opened on Lovćen in the presence of the entire Orthodox Church hierarchy of Yugoslavia. And the plaque that was placed above his mausoleum by the king officially inscribed Njegoš as the Yugoslav national writer, calling him “the immortal apostle and herald of the unity of our people.”15

  • 16 Not everyone was willing to make of Njegoš and The Mountain Wreath exemplars of Yugoslav culture. (...)

17The solemnity of the reburial was enhanced by the simultaneous, albeit coincidental, announcement that the Austrian government was returning to Yugoslavia the original manuscript of The Mountain Wreath, which had been in their possession since Njegoš had submitted it to the Habsburg censorship. Like the transfer of Njegoš’s remains, the return of the manuscript was hailed as an historic moment; it encouraged the conflation of religious, political, and literary canonization.16

  • 17 Jaša M. Prodanović, “Gorski vijenac kao vaspitno delo,” Srpski književni glasnik, second series, ( (...)

18Nevertheless, turning Njegoš into an avatar of Yugoslav identity required more than just a pronouncement from the king. Serious literary critics as well as more humble textbook writers needed to find strategies that would make Njegoš and his Mountain Wreath acceptable, nay admirable in a Yugoslav context. One widespread method was to concentrate not on the plot of his major work, but rather on more abstract philosophy. As one critic put it: “His Mountain Wreath is a hymn to freedom, a rejection of force and tyranny, a glorification of national and human ideals, the affirmation of moral ideas over brute desires.”17 The problem, however, elided by most Yugoslav-inclined commentators, is that the Islamicized Slavs who bear the brunt of the Montenegrins’ attempts at “ethnic cleansing” are not identical to the tyrannous Ottomans. It may indeed have been true that only a united Montenegro could have kept the Turks at bay, but it is also true that unity is achieved in The Mountain Wreath through fratricidal bloodletting. When the global tyranny of Turk against South Slav is echoed by the local tyranny of Christian Slav against Moslem, the result is tragic. Njegoš seems to have recognized that his “hymn to freedom” was built on blood and to have agonized over it, but interwar commentators ignored this.

  • 18 Ivo Andrić, “Njegoš, the Tragic Hero of Kosovo Thought,” 16; reprinted in Ivo Andrić, Sabrana djel (...)

19Perhaps only Ivo Andrić was able to bring Njegoš into the Yugoslav canon without distorting the essence of his position. In his essay “Njegošas Tragic Hero of Kosovo Thought,” Andrić does not speak directly about The Mountain Wreath. Rather he concentrates on its author’s personal situation, seeing him as a synecdoche for Yugoslavia (see Document 1 for a fuller exposition of Andrić’s position): “The tragedy of this struggle was sharpened and deepened by the unavoidable fratricidal battles that our difficult history has frequently provided. The tragedy was all the greater for Njegoš in that from his high point of view, like all the great and light-bearing souls of our history, he could capture at a glance the totality of our nation, without differentiating between belief or tribe.”18 Njegoš is equated with Danilo and is seen as having been placed in the same position as Prince Lazar, who, according to the oral poems of the Kosovo cycle, was forced to choose between an earthly and a heavenly kingdom. In Andrić’s reading, Prince-Bishop Njegoš combined in himself the earthly and heavenly kingdom, but no angel asked him which he would choose. He had, instead, to try to balance the two, and this tragic balancing act is seen to have defined him and his greatest work.

  • 19 P.P. Njegoš, Izabrana pisma, 152.
  • 20 “Njegoš and Yugoslavism,” Nova Evropa [Zagreb] XI, 1 (1 January 1925), 3.

20A different tack was to shift attention away from the subject matter of The Mountain Wreath and turn readers’ attention to extratextual information. This background information was meant to bolster Njegoš’s credentials as a proto-Yugoslav and to imply, fairly convincingly in fact, that The Mountain Wreath should be seen as an evocation of a distant historical period rather than as a call to similar action in the present. In one oft-quoted let-ter to Osman-Pasha of Skoplje, for example, Njegoš had said: “I would like more than anything on earth to see accord between brothers in whom a single blood flows and who were nursed with the same milk.”19 Comments like these, in addition to the fact that Njegoš was never a stickler for the external regalia of religion, allowed Yugoslavizing commentators to make extravagant claims, such as those made in Document 2 below by Nikola Skerović, “Led on by the great idea of the liberation of his nation and its amalgamation into a single great, free, and enlightened motherland, Njegoš felt equally close to Belgrade, Zagreb, Travnik, Dubrovnik, Skadar and Mostar. He had the same brotherly feelings toward the rebellious Bosnian Vizir Gradaščević, to Ali-Pasha Rizvanbegović and to Osman-Pasha Skopljak as he did toward Aleksandr Karadjordjević or Ban Jelačić. It was all the same to him whether one or another of them was baptized or not or what their names were; the important thing for him was that they were all sons of the same mother, of a single people, that they were brothers.”20

  • 21 It is, for example, the only passage provided in Istorija jugoslovenske književnosti sa teorijom i (...)

21Interwar textbooks, especially ones designed for young readers, took a different tack. In the excerpts they presented from the work of the national writer, they avoided entirely passages that might be uncomfortable or difficult to interpret. Given the numerous digressions in The Mountain Wreath, this proved rather easy. By far the most popular excerpt for such purposes was the section in which Vojvoda Draško describes his visit to Venice. Of course, it has nothing at all to do with the most problematic action of the work, nor does it touch on the central philosophical message of permanent struggle. It is, however, quite funny, and was deemed to be the safest passage for student consumption.21

22While the postwar Communist government rejected much of the legacy of interwar Yugoslavia, they decided to continue, and even to enhance the candidacy of Njegoš as Yugoslavia’s national poet. Their most intensive effort in this regard can be seen in the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Mountain Wreath in 1947. There were two major stumbling blocks to the creation of a red Njegoš, however. First of all, his work was overly Serb-oriented. But as this issue had been successfully skirted by their interwar predecessors, postwar Yugoslav critics had homegrown models for dealing with it. More worrisome was the fact that he had been as one of the central pillars of interwar Yugoslav culture. If Njegoš was to be rehabilitated in the Communist context, he would have to be freed from the weight of his previous interpretive history. This required a certain amount of interpretive legerdemain.

  • 22 It is interesting in this regard to contrast the treatment of the 100th anniversary of The Mountai (...)
  • 23 After his fall from grace with his colleagues, Djilas would write a highly roman-tic biography of (...)
  • 24 The fact that Njegoš had been a religious in addition to a political leader was, of course, somewh (...)

23One might wonder why the Communists bothered, but in addition to the convenient timing of the jubilee (in the first year that the new government had the energy to put on a big cultural show), the work and its author had a number of advantages. First, he was long dead. As opposed to such still-living interwar advocates of Yugoslavism as the great sculptor Ivan Meštrović, for example, Njegoš could not respond to reinterpretations of his legacy. In addition, Njegoš’s ethnic background was an advantage. Since the main lines of cleavage in interwar Yugoslavia had been between Serbs and Croats, it would have been unwise to promote a Serb or Croat as national writer.22 But as Montenegro was by far the smallest Yugoslav republic and the Montenegrins had never been accused of hegemonic tendencies, Njegoš could be accepted by all; and commentators in 1947 made sure to refer to him as a Montenegrin, rather than as a Serbian writer. It probably did not hurt that Yugoslavia’s two leading cultural tsars—Milovan Djilas and Radovan Zogović—were themselves from Montenegro.23 The fact that Njegoš had also been a central political figure was also significant, helping to legitimate the new regime’s insistence on a close alliance between politics and culture.24 Finally, The Mountain Wreath was genuinely popular, at least among the semi-literate Serbs and Montenegrins who made up a substantial portion of the population. Because his work is mostly written in the deseterica (the decasyllabic verse form employed in most Serbian and Croatian oral epic verse), it was easier for them to digest than works written in a more obviously literary style. As the research presented in chapter 7 by Maja Brkljačić indicates, Njegoš was frequently referred to in the epics that were written to commemorate contemporary events in postwar Yugoslavia, an indication that he was indeed a living presence to at least a percentage of the population.

  • 25 Pobeda (Montenegro), 7 June 1947, 4.

24In any event, the 7 June anniversary was celebrated as a national holiday (the front page of the Croatian newspaper Vjesnik on 9 June 1947, for example, displayed a portrait of Njegoš with the headline “The celebration of the hundredth anniversary of ‘The Mountain Wreath’ is a holiday for all the nations of Yugoslavia”), while Njegoš and The Mountain Wreath were transformed into precursors of the most up-to-date Communist thought. New editions of The Mountain Wreath were published in Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, a new translation appeared in Slovenia, as did the first-ever Macedonian translation. twenty-five thousand copies were published in Montenegro alone to ensure that “practically every house in Montenegro will have it.”25

25As might be expected, Pobeda, the organ of the Montenegrin “People’s Front,” contained the most lavish press coverage. Seven of this biweekly’s eight pages on 7 June and six of eight on the 11th were devoted to the festival. The lead article on 7 June, by Niko Pavić, concentrates in one place all the catchphrases and interpretive moves that were employed to recanonize The Mountain Wreath and its creator in a Communist spirit:

26The Mountain Wreath has played a gigantic role in the patriotic and martial upbringing of our younger generations over the past 100 years. This role is no smaller today. Quite the reverse. The War for National Liberation, the most difficult and the most glorious period in the history of our peoples, brought it closer to us than it had ever been. Tito’s generation embodies, in new conditions and in broader fashion, those very qualities of our people which were the key factor in all their triumphs, those qualities that are sung, with unheard of poetic strength, in The Mountain Wreath: self-sacrifice, heroism, the refusal to give in, and the noble hatred of enemies of and traitors to the fatherland, the highest conscience and answerability to the people and history. That is why, during the course of the War of National Liberation, the verses of The Mountain Wreath sounded like a password on the lips of our fighters, and they could achieve their heroic feats, which enabled the realization of the ideals of national freedom and a better life. That is why when we read The Mountain Wreath today we see in its heroes the same qualities we see in the heroes of our War of National Liberation. Those same people who perfectly developed and completed the struggle for national liberation, fulfilled the ideals and dreams of the great Njegoš and the heroes of The Mountain Wreath. That is why The Mountain Wreath is today a true textbook of patriotism for today’s and future generations. That is why we celebrate its hundredth anniversary not only as the most important cultural event of the new Yugoslavia, not only as a confirmation of a new attitude toward great people and events from our past, but as a true national holiday.”

27Of primary importance is the idea that the partisans of the Second World War were merely updated versions of the “freedom fighters” Njegoš had described. The uncomfortable fact that Njegoš’s work describes, with a fair amount of enthusiasm, the slaughter of a group very similar to that which made up some 12 percent of the nation’s population was easily elided by turning what in The Mountain Wreath is a homogeneous ethno-religious group (Islamicized Slavs) into the more generalized “traitors.” Of equal importance is the claim that the simple folk (i.e., the workers and peasants who officially made up the backbone of Yugoslav Communist society) both knew and appreciated Njegoš (again, Brkljačić’s article in this volume indicates that this was not entirely untrue). Thus, despite Njegoš’s noble background, he was an honorary man of the people. It is also noteworthy that the ethic of heroism, such an important component both for Serbianizing unitarist thought as well as Yugoslav multicultural ideology, is preserved intact here.

  • 26 The correspondence between Meštrović and the Yugoslav authorities relating to his mausoleum can be (...)
  • 27 For a discussion of Meštrović’s 1925 plan, see Nova Evropa 1, 1, 1925. The illustrations are repro (...)

28In the early Communist period Njegoš’s work does not seem to have been a source of friction. The Mountain Wreath was a featured part of all school curricula throughout the country, and discussions of it were limited to scholarly commentary. The same could not be said of his resting place, however. Already in 1950, in preparation for the 100th anniversary of Njegoš’s death, the idea of erecting a monument to the poet in Cetinje had been broached. In 1952, the republic government of Montenegro, through Yugoslavia’s embassy in Washington, asked Ivan Meštrović (who was then teaching at Syracuse University) to design the monument. Meštrović responded with a plan for a mausoleum to replace the one on the summit of Lovćen.26 This was actually the second proposal he made for the site, for he had produced some drawings in 1925 at the request of King Aleksandar (see photograph on p. 138).27 The design that he proposed in the 1950s (and that stands on Lovćen today) differs considerably, although it retains the same overall Secessionist feel characteristic of most of the sculptor’s monumental projects from the Kosovo Temple to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Avala (see photograph).

  • 28 The book by Durković-Jakšić, which goes to great lengths to show that Njegoš’s desire was to lie p (...)

29It is unclear what drove Montenegrin officials to agree to replace the mausoleum that Njegoš himself had designed and that had been restored in 1925. Most likely, it was a desire to de-Serbianize Njegoš, to make his resting place less Byzantine and thereby to bring his body into line with the interpretive paradigms that had already been developed for his work. Whatever the reasons, the project generated controversy, with Montenegrin and Yugoslav government officials mostly in favor and at least a portion of Serbian and Montenegrin cultural figures opposed. The final decision was not made until the late 1960s, after Meštrović’s death. The destruction of the old mausoleum was ultimately a minor cause celebre, albeit one that was kept out of most public organs.28

The present-day Njegoš mausoleum, built to designs by Ivan Meštrović and opened in 1971

  • 29 These discussions were contentious all over the former Yugoslavia. For a discussion of their impac (...)
  • 30 The series of articles began with an attack on Mujagić by Miroslav Egerić, a professor of Philosop (...)

30As Yugoslavia began to collapse, Njegoš’s position as Yugoslav national poet became shaky. The opening salvo appears to have been fired by a school teacher named Mubera Mujagić in 1984, at a public meeting sponsored by the Writers’ Organization of Sarajevo to discuss proposed revisions in the nationwide required school curriculum.29 Her suggestion, that The Mountain Wreath as well as Ivan Mažuranić’s The Death of Smail-Aga Ćengić be removed from the nationwide curriculum because they might “evoke national intolerance,” led to a series of responses and counter-responses in the Belgrade biweekly Intervju.30 While not disputing Njegoš’s position as a great writer and thinker, Mujagić, who publicly identified herself as a Yugoslav, asked: “What kind of spirit can these works offer us? Can they evoke catharsis in the reader, a feeling of unity, Yugoslavism, accord, solidarity, toleration, and cosmopolitanism, or do they create bile, poison, and hatred towards anyone who belongs to another belief or nation.” Mujagić’s critics responded to her allegations in a couple of ways, either defending Njegoš as a great thinker and writer whose thought soars above all petty local differences and forms an indelible part of the national legacy that should not be removed just because it might offend someone in the present (Egerić), or by insisting that the characters and times described in Njegoš’s work had nothing to do with the nations of contemporary Yugoslavia (Vučelić). All the critics agreed that only poor teaching could possibly allow any student to come away from the text with an incorrect impression. No one responded directly to the claims made by Mujagić, and backed up by a teacher named Jakov Ivaštović who reported having the same experience, that students did indeed interpret The Mountain Wreath in a nationalist vein. The most amazing aspect of the discussion, however, was not the specifics, but rather the fact that it took place at all. Despite the fact that this was, at least from an outsider’s perspective, an obvious question to be raised about Njegoš’s masterpiece, within Yugoslavia the subject was such a taboo that apparently no one in the previous 65 years had ever asked it before, at least not in public.

  • 31 Petar Petrović Njegoš, Gorski vijenac, preface by Jovan Deretić (Belgrade: Prosveta [Skolska lekti (...)

31Perhaps as a result of these questions, by the late 1980s Njegoš’s Yugoslav-oriented partisans clearly felt it necessary to defend the Yugoslav national writer against charges of chauvinism. Thus Jovan Deretić, in 1989 in the preface to the last “Yugoslav” edition meant for school use, felt constrained to prove that what had previously been considered the central action of the work was actually of secondary importance (see Document 4 for more of Deretić’s strategy). “The annihilation of the converts to Islam, the fateful question of Montenegro appears first and foremost as an object of dread, hope and desire. It is presented in dreams, in poetic indications, and rumors. … But Njegoš is least of all concerned with the course of events. He does not even show the annihilation of the converts on stage but rather presents it in mediated fashion, in the announcement of a herald … and so one gets the impression that the poet wished to deemphasize the bloody clash as much as he could, to make it invisible.”31

32Once the collapse of Yugoslavia was final, the need to defend Njegoš’s position as Yugoslavia’s national writer disappeared. By 2002, two main schools of thought had emerged regarding Njegoš. One can identify, first, “Njegoš-bashers,” whose goal has been at a minimum to remove Njegoš from his traditional position as national icon and at a maximum to blame his work for Serbian ethnic cleansing in the 1990s. This position is countered by a pro-Njegoš party that is itself split between Serbs and Montenegrins who are not in favor of Montenegrin independence, and pro-independence Montenegrins who would use Njegoš as a national symbol.

33The theory that Njegoš provides a kind of blueprint for ethnic cleansing is widespread not only among Bosnian Moslems, but also among Serbian liberals. It appears as well in books by other authors intended for a more scholarly and Western audience. Thus, the Croatian researcher Branimir Anzulović puts it straightforwardly in his Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide, a book specifically designed to expose the dangers of Serbian myth-making in the wake of the wars of Yugoslav succession: “The rejoicing over the massacres and their description as a baptism in blood that leads to the nation’s rebirth make the poem [The Mountain Wreath] a hymn to genocide.”32 The self-identified “Yugoslav” author Bora Ćosić is only slightly more circumspect in his assessment. Asked whether The Mountain Wreath can be seen as a kind of breeding-ground for atrocities, Ćosić replied: “Difficult to say. I do know that a criminal like Željko Ražnjatović (Arkan) … is an admirer of Njegoš. And it turns out that he’s not the only one whose heart begins to stir with black emotions at the reading of Njegoš’s description of ethnic cleansing as a bloody baptism leading to the rebirth of Serbia as the most powerful nation in the region.”33 A similar understanding of Njegoš and his work prompted Carlos Westendorp, then the international community’s High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to ban Njegoš from school textbooks in 1998.34

  • 35 Komentar Gorskog vijenca (Nikšić, 1984), 394.
  • 36 A further elaboration of this theory can be found in a recent book on Montenegrin national identit (...)

34Recently, the question of how and whether Njegoš’s work should be read has become less important. Rather, the issue is how he and his legacy can be used in the ongoing debate about whether there is or should be such a thing as a Montenegrin national identity separate from a Serbian identity. The opening salvos in this debate were fired as early as 1986 in a scholarly commentary by Slobodan Tomović. In the context of a careful, but controversial reading of The Mountain Wreath, Tomović claims that the terms Montenegrin and Serbian were not synonyms for Njegoš: “It is evident that Njegoš uses the terms “Montenegrins” and “Montenegrin” in all cases when his literary heroes address gatherings or their contemporaries directly, in distinction to “Serbian” which the author uses nostalgically to evoke pictures of the distant past.”35 This claim, even in a work that still presented Njegoš as a Yugoslav author (15–16), opened the possibility that Njegoš could be used not as a unifying symbol for Serbs and Montenegrins but rather as a wedge to demonstrate their essential difference.36

  • 37 Božina Ivanović, Antropomorfološke osobine Petra II Petrovića Njegoša (Podgorica, 1994), 135.

35A companion piece to Tomović’s commentary is a book published by the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences (CANU) in 1994 under a title that translates to Anthropomorphological Characteristics of Petar II Petrović Njegoš. Based on an analysis of the writer’s bones carried out when his remains were transferred to the Meštrović-designed mausoleum in 1974, this book represents a bizarre combination of nineteenth-century racial theory, medieval respect for the bones of a saint, and modern national consciousness. The author, Božina Ivanović, carefully avoids any use of the word “Serbian” in his text, focusing exclusively on a meticulous, practically grotesque, analysis of Njegoš’s skeletal remains in order to confirm the claims of Njegoš’s contemporaries who, in his paraphrase, saw him as “an Adonis from the Montenegrin mountains … the Montenegrin Achilles and Orpheus, the Saul and the Samuel of his people, as handsome as Apollo, someone an artist would have chosen as a model for Hercules and a philosopher as a model for his life.”37 Along the way, Ivanović proves to the reader that Njegoš most likely stood between 191 and 193 centimeters tall, and that his brain mass was exceeded only by that of Turgenev (see photograph).

The skull of P.P. Njegoš, published in Božina Ivanović, “Antropomorfološke osobine Petra II Petrovića Njegoša”

36Advocates of the view that Montenegrins are in fact Serbs have been quite vocal in attacking this position and in deploying Njegoš to buttress their own claims. As a rule, claims for Njegoš’s Serbianism are accompanied by complaints about the destruction of Njegoš’s mausoleum in 1971, an action that is interpreted, probably correctly, as the work of an alliance of Communists wishing to weaken potential symbols of Serbian identity and Montenegrins interested in building an independent non-Serb identity. Some Serbs, more inclined to full-blown conspiracy theories, blame the Vatican, the freemasons, and others for what is referred to on a website not accidentally registered as Njegos.org as “the pagan building known as the Njegoš mausoleum … deed of a Croat nationalist Ivan Meštrović.” Such a final resting place is clearly unacceptable to those who think like Zora Latinović: “Njegoš is a Serbian writer and this emerges logically from his work. Those who insist on a Montenegrin identity don’t even try very hard to claim him” (NIN #2625, 19 April 2001).

37In one thing at least, Latinović is correct. Those Montenegrins who are striving to create an independent state and an independent Montenegrin identity are not quite sure what they want to do with Njegoš. As opposed to the Montenegrin Academy of Sciences (CANU), which follows the Serbian line of its filial Serbian Academy of Sciences (SANU), and whose members insist at every turn on Njegoš’s Serbian identity, members of the rival, Dukljanska akademija (DANU) seem rather conflicted. Thus, they were recently accused by the priest Velibor Džomić of believing that “the time has come to discard all the old canons, including Njegoš, and replace them with new ones” (as reported in Vijesti, 9 May 2001, and republished on the web at www.medijaklub.cg.yu/kultura/arhiva/maj2001/09.htm).

  • 38 See the interview with him in Feral Tribune, 3 June 2000, #768, 46–47.

38While this vituperative attack was clearly meant to shame partisans of Montenegrin independence (including the present governing political elite), it appears that some of them would in fact embrace the sentiments expressed. For them, it would appear that Njegoš and his cult is something of an embarrassment. He is archaic, violent, monocultural, and requires too much interpretation to remain acceptable. Thus, for the young writer Andrej Nikolaidis (born 1974), there is also no doubt that The Mountain Wreath played an important role in setting the stage for recent events.38 Rather than banning Njegoš, however, this young writer recommends that he simply be put on the sidelines. “Today, I would say that there are several writers, and I number myself among them, who are close in age and who ignore Njegoš’s legacy, although again, after us, there is pretty much no one. In particular, those who are younger than us again are returning to that retrograde tradition because they think that in this way they can affirm the idea of Montenegrin sovereignty and the need for independence.”

39Nikolaidis’s position represents a truly new phase in the use of Njegoš.

  • 39 I have found two other texts published by Nikolaidis in the period 1999–2002 in which he claims to (...)

40For the first time, a group that could be expected to try to make use of him and his work in the process of identity creation is refusing to do so. Could this be an indication of a more general loss of prestige for literature in post-Communist Eastern Europe? Could it be an indication that Montenegrins are looking for new methods of creating national identity, based less on ethnoreligious and cultural ties and more on contemporary European notions of citizenship? Probably not. Nikolaidis’s own obsessive need to emphasize Njegoš’s irrelevance is an indication that his cult simply cannot be ignored in Montenegro, even by those who most wish to do so.39 It is thus almost certain that as their quest to create an independent national identity (with or without a state) continues, Montenegrins will have no other choice but to find a way to reincorporate Njegoš, peeling away from him and his cult the accretions of Serbian and Yugoslav nation builders and defending him from those who would see his work as nothing more than propaganda by literary means.

Sources

Document 1:

41“Let there be then, all that there cannot be.”

42Nowhere in world poetry nor in the fate of any people can I find a more horrifying credo. But without that suicidal absurdity, without that positive nihilism (to make an oxymoron), without that stubborn negation of obvious reality neither the activity nor the very thought of action against evil would have been possible. And in this sense Njegoš is the fullest expression of our basic and deepest collective sense because it was under this motto, consciously or unconsciously, that our struggles for freedom were fought, from Karadjordje to the most recent days.

43As in battle scenes painted by the old masters, in which you see two heavenly armies fighting with each other high above the battle of two human armies, so Njegoš’s most important struggle plays itself out on two planes, the physical and the spiritual, the earthly and the heavenly. For the fateful battle with the Ottoman Empire would be both the subject of Njegoš’s greatest poetic work as well as his biggest political and military problem. Njegoš frequently said: “I am also a martyr on these walls, like Prometheus in the Caucasus.” And in comparing himself to Prometheus he would immediately add that the Turkish Empire was the hawk that gnawed at his insides.

44It was not simply a struggle between two beliefs, two nations, and two races, it was a clash of two elements, the East and the West, and our fate willed that this battle be played out on our territories for the most part and that it divide and separate our whole nation with a bloody wall. We were all thrown and dragged into this elemental battle, and no matter which side we ended up on, we fought with equal intelligence, with equal bravery, and with equal belief in the justice of our cause.

45The tragedy of this struggle was sharpened and deepened by the unavoidable fratricidal battles that our difficult history has frequently provided. The tragedy was all the greater for Njegoš in that from his high point of view, like all the great and light-bearing souls of our history, he could capture at a glance the totality of our nation, without differentiating between belief or tribe. (15–16)

46Source: Ivo Andrić, “Njegoš, the Tragic Hero of Kosovo Thought” (1935); reprinted in Ivo Andrić, Sabrana djela (Sarajevo, 1984), 13: 9–32.

Document 2:

47Led on by the great idea of the liberation of his nation and its amalgamation into a single great, free, and enlightened motherland, Njegoš felt equally close to Belgrade, Zagreb, Travnik, Dubrovnik, Skadar and Mostar. He had the same brotherly feelings toward the rebellious Bosnian Vizir Gradaščević, to Ali-Pasha Rizvanbegović and to Osman-Pasha Skopljak as he did toward Aleksandr Karadjordjević or Ban Jelačić. It was all the same to him whether one or another of them was baptized or not or what their names were; the important thing for him was that they were all sons of the same mother, of a single people, that they were brothers. (3)

48Lonely Njegoš burned out quickly in his great love and pain. Like a meteor, he shined in the dark Yugoslav sky, leaving behind him a flaming path, by which resurrection could be achieved, a herald of the great future days of liberation. He has remained the highest exemplar of our race, as a priest, a ruler, and a patriot. His broad conceptions of Yugoslavism and of Slavdom, of freedom, fraternity, humanity and enlightenment raise him up high and place him among those individuals who have created an entire national program for years to come. They make him a national Messiah, the creator of a single bright and national religion of heroism, freedom, fraternity, love, and human dignity; they place him among the group of individuals who work for the ages for many generations and they make him truly immortal. (8)

49Source: Dr. Nikola Skerović, “Njegoš and Yugoslavism,” Nova Evropa [Zagreb] XI, 1 (1 January 1925), 1–8.

Document 3:

50The Mountain Wreath has played a gigantic role in the patriotic and martial upbringing of our younger generations over the past 100 years. This role is no smaller today. Quite the reverse. The War for National Liberation, the most difficult and the most glorious period in the history of our peoples, brought it closer to us than it had ever been. Tito’s generation embodies, in new conditions and in broader fashion, those very qualities of our people which were the key factor in all their triumphs, those qualities that are sung, with unheard of poetic strength, in The Mountain Wreath: self-sacrifice, heroism, the refusal to give in, and the noble hatred of enemies of and traitors to the fatherland, the highest conscience and answerability to the people and history. That is why, during the course of the War of National Liberation, the verses of The Mountain Wreath sounded like a password on the lips of our fighters, and they could achieve their heroic feats, which enabled the realization of the ideals of national freedom and a better life. That is why when we read The Mountain Wreath today we see in its heroes the same qualities we see in the heroes of our War of National Liberation. Those same people who perfectly developed and completed the struggle for national liberation, fulfilled the ideals and dreams of the great Njegoš and the heroes of The Mountain Wreath. That is why The Mountain Wreath is today a true textbook of patriotism for today’s and future generations. That is why we celebrate its hundredth anniversary not only as the most important cultural event of the new Yugoslavia, not only as a confirmation of a new attitude toward great people and events from our past, but as a true national holiday.

51Source: Niko Pavić, Pobeda, 7 June 1947, 1.

Document 4:

52In fact, in The Mountain Wreath … there is place for three worlds, three civilizations that have come into contact and become intertwined on our territory: our heroic-patriarchal civilization whose exemplary expression was classical Montenegro; Turkish oriental-Islamic civilization; and Western European civilization introduced by the Venetians. To that openness to other peoples and cultures, which is present despite the fact that these nations were age-old enemies of Montenegro, must be added another openness of the poem, an openness to nature and the cosmos.” (22)

53The annihilation of the converts to Islam, the fateful question of Montenegro appears first and foremost as an object of dread, hope and desire. It is presented in dreams, in poetic indications, and rumors. The eye that can see into the future is able to see a vision of the land “liberated from internal evil.” … But Njegoš is least of all concerned with the course of events. He doesn’t even show the annihilation of the converts on stage but rather presents it in mediated fashion, in the announcement of a herald … and so one gets the impression that the poet wished to deemphasize the bloody clash as much as he could, to make it invisible. (26–7)

54Source: Petar Petrović Njegoš, Gorski vijenac, preface by Jovan Deretić (Belgrade: Prosveta [Skolska lektira], 1989).

Notes

1 Quoted in Ljubomir Durković-Jakšić, Njegoš i Lovćen (Belgrade, 1971), 260.

2 “Njegoš je Crna Gora,” Stvaranje, vol. 36, #11, 1981, 1311.

3 NIN #2625, 19 April 2001.

4 This was true even in Russia, a country that had obviously achieved political independence long before the appearance of Pushkin. Nevertheless, the forced Europeanization of Russian culture in the eighteenth century led to a national cultural inferiority complex, and Pushkin was seen to have marked the beginning of Russia’s reappearance as a cultural nation.

5 James Frusetta’s previous chapter in this volume discusses an analogous case in the history of the other major South Slavic peoples—the Bulgarians and Macedonians— albeit the subjects of dispute are revolutionaries rather than poets.

6 Actually, there is general agreement among contemporary historians that the massacre described in The Mountain Wreath never occurred. Njegoš, however, apparently accepted this legend as historical fact.

7 P. P. Njegoš, The Mountain Wreath, ed. Vasa D. Mihailovich (Irvine, Ca.: Charles Schlacks Publisher, 1986), 7. Further references to this work are made in the text by page number of this edition.

8 The Mountain Wreath: Poetry or a Blueprint for the Final Solution?” Spaces of Identity 1/4 (http://www.univie.ac.at/spacesofidentity/vol_4/_html/pavlovic.html, 2.

9 Rešetar describes these editions in the introduction to the 1905 edition (Zadar, Izdanje hrvatske knjižarnice). Rešetar’s commentary itself proved to be long-lasting, having been republished in various forms ten times between 1890 and 1940. See the commentary to the jubilee edition of the work (Belgrade, 1967) by Vido Latković, 224–25.

10 See Andrew Baruch Wachtel, Making a Nation, Breaking a Nation: Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998), 52–53.

11 Primeri nove književnosti, ed. Jeremija Zivanović (Belgrade, 1921), 139.

12 For a full account of Njegoš’s design for the church, his burial there in 1855, exhumation in 1916 and reburial there in 1925, see Durković-Jakšić. For an excellent discussion of the general phenomenon of politically motivated reburial, see Katherine Verdery, The Political Lives of Dead Bodies: Reburial and Postsocialist Change (New York: Columbia UP, 1999).

13 See Durković-Jakšić, 127–268 for a full discussion of these debates.

14 Even the daily newspaper Jutro, in far-off Slovenia, gave the event quite a bit of space. On 22 September, it carried a long article on Njegoš and his significance, noting that he was “a great Illyrian, a great Yugoslav, and prophet of today’s freedom.” (5)

15 Quoted in Durković-Jakšić, 260.

16 Not everyone was willing to make of Njegoš and The Mountain Wreath exemplars of Yugoslav culture. As one critic complained at the time, “National ideologues have created a prophet out of him, a precursor to Yugoslav thought, and they have placed him as a link in the chain with which they avidly connect Gundulić and Kašić, and then through Strossmayer and Prince Michael to our days.” Milan Bogdanović, “Vratimo Njegoša literaturi,” Srpski književni glasnik, second series (16, #7), 1925, 577.

17 Jaša M. Prodanović, “Gorski vijenac kao vaspitno delo,” Srpski književni glasnik, second series, (16, # 7), 1925, 562.

18 Ivo Andrić, “Njegoš, the Tragic Hero of Kosovo Thought,” 16; reprinted in Ivo Andrić, Sabrana djela (Sarajevo, 1984), 13: 9–32.

19 P.P. Njegoš, Izabrana pisma, 152.

20 “Njegoš and Yugoslavism,” Nova Evropa [Zagreb] XI, 1 (1 January 1925), 3.

21 It is, for example, the only passage provided in Istorija jugoslovenske književnosti sa teorijom i primerima za III i IV razred gradjanskih škola, ed. Franjo Poljanec and Blagoje Marčić, 2nd ed. (Belgrade, 1934). It is the featured passage in Primeri nove književnosti. The other, shorter, excerpts presented there are similarly “harmless.” One finds the same tendency in post-Second World War readers. Vojvoda Draško is, for example, the only extended passage present in Čitanka za VIII razred osnovne škole, ed. Bojin Dramušić and Radojka Radulović, 8th ed. (Sarajevo, 1960, with approval of the Ministry of Ed. BiH). The same is true for Naš put u jezik i književnost (Priručnik za drugi stupanj osnovnog obrazovanja odraslih), ed. Stojadin Stojanović, et al. (Belgrade, 1970).

22 It is interesting in this regard to contrast the treatment of the 100th anniversary of The Mountain Wreath with the almost complete silence that greeted the 100th anniversary of Ivan Mažuranić’s The Death of Smail-Aga Čengić a year earlier.

23 After his fall from grace with his colleagues, Djilas would write a highly roman-tic biography of Njegoš—Njegoš: Poet, Prince, Bishop, trans. Michael B. Petrovich (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966).

24 The fact that Njegoš had been a religious in addition to a political leader was, of course, somewhat inconvenient. But Communist-era commentators were careful to play this down, noting the fact that he was not doctrinaire and that he usually wore civilian clothes.

25 Pobeda (Montenegro), 7 June 1947, 4.

26 The correspondence between Meštrović and the Yugoslav authorities relating to his mausoleum can be found in the publication Sumrak Lovćena (Belgrade, 1989), 36–47. This book is in fact a reprint of a double issue of the journal Umetnost that was banned by the Yugoslav government authorities in 1971 at the height of the controversy surrounding the erection of Meštrović’s mausoleum.

27 For a discussion of Meštrović’s 1925 plan, see Nova Evropa 1, 1, 1925. The illustrations are reproduced in Sumrak Lovćena, 221.

28 The book by Durković-Jakšić, which goes to great lengths to show that Njegoš’s desire was to lie precisely in the building he designed and no other, is clearly an implicit polemic against the Meštrović mausoleum. More open criticism of the plan was suppressed, however, including the double issue of Umetnost discussed above.

29 These discussions were contentious all over the former Yugoslavia. For a discussion of their impact in Slovenia, see Wachtel, op. cit. 188–89.

30 The series of articles began with an attack on Mujagić by Miroslav Egerić, a professor of Philosophy at Novi Sad on 23 November 1984 (5) and continued with a long and sometimes rambling response by Mujagić on 4 January 1985 (16–18). It was followed a week later by another attack on Mujagić by Milorad Vučelić (36), and concluded with a group of four letters to the editor on 18 January (4). The quotations here are from Mujagić’s response of 4 Januar, 18. My thanks to Dejan Jović for bringing this material to my attention.

31 Petar Petrović Njegoš, Gorski vijenac, preface by Jovan Deretić (Belgrade: Prosveta [Skolska lektira], 1989), 26–7.

32 Branimir Anzulović, Heavenly Serbia: From Myth to Genocide (New York: New York University Press, 1999), 54.

33 “The Hypnosis of an Unresisting Nation.” Interview with Bora Ćosic by Tom Crijnen. First published in the Dutch newspaper Trouw (28 April 1999). Translated by Laura Martz and published on the archive of nettime.

34 As reported on the website http://www.truthinmedia.org/Bulletins/tim98-7-1.html.

35 Komentar Gorskog vijenca (Nikšić, 1984), 394.

36 A further elaboration of this theory can be found in a recent book on Montenegrin national identity by Milorad Popović. In his Crnogorsko pitanje (Cetinje/Ulcinj: Plima/ Dignitas, 1999), Popović claims that Njegoš’s “Montenegrin Serbianism” was a purely political position, developed in response to the contemporary situation. However, in Popović’s view, Njegoš thought of himself as a Montenegrin not a Serb, and his Mountain Wreath is seen as being a purely Montenegrin work of literature, more or less incomprehensible to Serbs.

37 Božina Ivanović, Antropomorfološke osobine Petra II Petrovića Njegoša (Podgorica, 1994), 135.

38 See the interview with him in Feral Tribune, 3 June 2000, #768, 46–47.

39 I have found two other texts published by Nikolaidis in the period 1999–2002 in which he claims to see Montenegrins escaping the yoke of Njegoš.

Table des illustrations

Légende Photograph of Njegoš as a Montenegrin mountaineer—1851
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2426/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 162k
Légende Two designs from the 1921 competition for the Njegoš mausoleum
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2426/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 194k
Légende A further design proposed in the 1921 competition for the Njegoš mausoleum
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2426/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 183k
Légende The rebuilt Njegoš mausoleum as it stood on Mt. Lovćen from 1925 until 1970
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2426/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 247k
Légende The present-day Njegoš mausoleum, built to designs by Ivan Meštrović and opened in 1971
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2426/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 207k
Légende The skull of P.P. Njegoš, published in Božina Ivanović, “Antropomorfološke osobine Petra II Petrovića Njegoša”
URL http://books.openedition.org/ceup/docannexe/image/2426/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 74k

Auteur

Andrew B. Wachtel is Professor of Slavic Language and Literature at Northwestern University, Department of Slavic Languages and Literature and Director of the Program in Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern; his areas of interest include Russian and South Slavic literatures.

© Central European University Press, 2006

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540