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The Nonconformists

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Nick Miller

Chapter 2. Nonconformist Initiations

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1In 1951, Mića Popović moved to the Staro sajmište (“old fair grounds”), which had been constructed in the interwar period and served during the war as a German prison camp. After the war, the government parceled out the halls of the sajmište to artists as studios, but they came to serve as residences as well. Home also to “dark-skinned night workers, cleaners, and street sweepers, together with their wives and countless children,” the sajmište was located in New Belgrade, across the railroad bridge over the Sava River from Belgrade. Mihiz and Popović resided in the Italian Pavilion, while others, including the sculptor Olga Jevrić, the painter Lazar Vozarević, and the writer and dramatist Pavle Ugrinov lived elsewhere on the grounds. A sort of mystique has developed around life in the sajmište, not unlike the mystique that was later constructed around life in Simina 9a.

  • 1 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 77–79.
  • 2 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 250.
  • 3 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 162.

2Popović’s atelier in the sajmište served as the setting for a legendary event in Serbian cultural life after the war. In 1954, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot was performed there after having been rejected for presentation by the governing council of the Belgrade Drama Theater, probably due to political pressure. Godot had already left a profound impression on Mihiz, who had seen it in its first season at the Theatre de Babylone in Paris in 1952.1 The Belgrade Drama Theater reasoned that the proposal to perform Godot, coming on the heels of Milovan Djilas’ humiliation by the League of Communists, could result in “complications.” At that moment, the performance of a play which at best testified to the alienation prevalent at that time seemed inopportune to the council of the theater. But the production had been fully prepared and dress rehearsals had been nearly completed, so the cast and crew were ready to present it elsewhere if the opportunity arose. According to Ugrinov, who was involved in the production when it had been at the Belgrade Drama Theater, the French cultural attache offered to let the performance go on in the garden of the French embassy.2 After a time, though, a more compelling setting was found: Popović’s forty-by-twenty-foot atelier. To Ugrinov’s suggestion that his studio might serve well as an improvised theater, Popović reportedly responded simply, “Excellent!”3

  • 4 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 77.

3With the exception of the painter Stojan Ćelić, who had done the original scenery but was now in Paris, the original cast and crew for the ill-fated Belgrade Drama Theater presentation showed up at Popović’s atelier on the appointed night, along with about forty guests, who are said to have included all of the theater critics in Belgrade and the rest of the intelligentsia who were brave enough to attend an “illegal private meeting.” The second half of the play was accompanied, as if on cue, by a storm. In the words of Popović: “Power went out. We lit candles. Lightning flashed and temporarily lit the scene dazzlingly. Thunder boomed above the very building. The finale of the production was simply magnificent.”4 The staging of Godot left an imprint on the Serbian intelligentsia of the era: the endless waiting of Vladimir and Estragon for guidance reflected the search for enduring values of Popović’s generation.

AFFIRMATION

  • 5 Pavle Vasić, “Prva samostalna izložba,” in Politika (September 28, 1950) 4. Ješa Denegri (Pedesete(...)
  • 6 Protić, Nojeva barka, v. 1, 321.
  • 7 Mića Popović, “Predgovor katologu izložbe” in Lazar Trifunović, editor, Srpska likovna kritika: Iz (...)

4Popović was the first of the siminovci to establish himself. His one-man show at the Art Pavilion at Kalamegdan, which opened in September, 1950, consisted of 160 paintings and drawings ranging from his first works, from 1940, when he was a high school student, to those painted in 1950. “Interest in the exhibition,” wrote the critic Pavle Vasić, “was so much the greater for the fact that Popović is the first painter from the generation formed during and after the war” to exhibit.5 There has been some debate over the importance of this show, partly as a result of a certain dissonance between the paintings and the text of the catalog of the exhibit, written by Popović. The introduction proclaims the death of socialist realism, while the paintings themselves are generally agreed to have been less adventurous. In fact, the famous introduction to the catalog was choreographed: Miodrag Protić attended a meeting at Žika Stojković’s house in an official capacity as a representative of ULUS to discuss with Popović his introductory statement.6 The exhibit opened just a year after Kardelj’s speech to the Slovene Academy in December 1949 and the Third Plenum of the Central Committee of the KPJ held in the same month, the two events which heralded the beginning of the end of administrative measures and the hesitating birth of the borba mišljenje, which would be declared at the sixth party congress in 1952. Popović was thus the first painter to take advantage of the barely-liberalized atmosphere and proclaim his independence from socialist realism. No matter how choreographed, his catalog introduction is still taken as the first proclamation of an aesthetic other than the socialist realist in postwar Yugoslav painting.7

  • 8 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 47.
  • 9 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 47.
  • 10 See Mića Popović, Sudari i harmonije (Novi Sad: Bratstvo i jedinstvo, 1954) 45–46.
  • 11 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 57.
  • 12 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 48.

5Popović recognized early his need to find his “own way” as a painter. “The search for one’s own way in art coincides with the process of achieving personal self-consciousness.”8 This search ran counter in Popović’s mind to the demands of socialist realism, which was not only an artistic doctrine but “a lifestyle, an understanding of the need for the entirety of human existence to be reduced to one dimension, and for other dimensions to be proclaimed not only superficial but harmful and forbidden.”9 His critique of socialist realism boiled down to two primary allegations: first, that socialist realism never had any resonance in Serbian culture, and thus never built its own justification within the culture;10 second, that socialist realism’s very artificiality meant that it had to be imposed, and thus it became one more tool in the hands of “totalitarians” who used it to enforce intolerance of other forms of expression.11 But Popović did not dismiss socialist realism out of hand. By the 1960s, he would even express appreciation for it. Popović’s writings include this flirtatious quote from 1960: “Maybe even socialist realism is not such a senseless demand! Maybe it is just formulated awkwardly! Maybe it’s too much dogma! Maybe too little!”12 And then of course came his conversion from abstract painting to realism in 1971, when he introduced Scenes, a return to social realism, a turn which demanded some sort of reckoning with the earlier Stalinist principles.

  • 13 Popović, “Predgovor,” 479–80.

6Popović’s 1950 exposition attacked socialist realism on three fronts: its notion of the theme, the question of the incorporation of artistic inheritances from the past, and the acceptability of seeking one’s own form of expression. His attack was sometimes veiled, sometimes quite open. For instance, in a somewhat cloaked attack on the didactic nature of socialist realism, Popović asserted that “the content of the painting begins right where the viewer predisposed to literature thinks that it ends—that is, in the theme.” To those inclined to the socialist realist pedagogy, who argued that the proper painting for the proletariat would educate literally, Popović suggests that for them “Van Gogh’s sunflowers would remain an average botany textbook.” Instead, he proposes, “the method by which [they] are composed, drawn, colored and created from material, thus the form, that is at the same time also…the content of the painting…deeply human, powerful, and fully defined psychologically.”13

7More openly, Popović criticized the current fashion of rejecting impressionism while embracing the old masters:

one dare not skip over that which is already discovered…impressionism, with its lessons on color and atmosphere, was as important a discovery as, for instance, the discovery of perspective…to force in our era the methods of classical painting, robbed of impressionist truths, means to be backwards.

  • 14 Popović, “Predgovor,” 481.

8In place of the standard practice of parceling out the heritage of European art into the acceptable and the unacceptable, Popović argues that “socialist art must have its [own] content and its [own] form, if only because the border between those two concepts is not marked, because they mutually condition each other; in short, because they cannot be separated.”14 What remains, then, of socialist art is an art which is arrived at by painters working on their own forms of expression, as socialists, utilizing the lessons of the past in creating a new synthesis of form and content for this era. Popović then had the same goal as the cultural leaders of the socialist realist regime, but he believed that the new art must emerge as individual inspiration rather than as a result of regime pedagogy.

  • 15 Popović, “Predgovor,” 485.

9In his most open and confrontational passage, Popović noted that in ULUS meetings “what was called discussion was reduced to the repetition of poor, vulgar theories between those who accepted them and those whose job was to get them accepted.” But his reading of the conclusions of the Third Plenum told him that now the state would encourage “that which comes before truthful art—the right to seek it.”15 Popović then offered an eloquent testimony to the value of finding “one’s own expression”:

  • 16 Popović, “Predgovor,” 482.

The need to proclaim an experience, to say something personal, in and of itself takes its own form. The reason for art probably lies in that need. Every creation which is undertaken for some other reason: political speculation, forceful maintenance of achieved reputation, profit, or something similar, can be useful for the creator, and perhaps even visionary for society, but such a creation is not art. To have something to say brings with it one requirement and one power: that one be sincere. It seems to me that only complete sincerity in the choosing of motif and before the chosen motif can underlie true art.16

  • 17 “Otvorena je izložba slika Miće Popovića,” in Politika (September 25, 1950) 4.
  • 18 Miodrag Protić, Srpsko slikarstvo XX veka (Belgrade: Nolit, 1970) 393.
  • 19 Borislav Mihajlović, Ogledi (Belgrade: Novo pokoljenje, 1951) 219.

10The 1950 exhibition drew 7,000 visitors in its first two weeks (with “young visitors from the exhibitor’s generation in especially notable numbers”).17 Critics treated it kindly but somewhat patronizingly. The paintings in the exhibition ranged from his earliest efforts to his work with the Zadar Group. Miodrag Protić describes them as “daring within acceptable limits,” which is not all that daring.18 Mihiz—no art critic—described Popović’s paintings in the Kalamegdan exhibition as “neorealism,” as opposed to “new realism,” the regime’s term for socialist realism.19

  • 20 Protić, Nojeva barka, v. 1, 285.
  • 21 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 57.

11The paintings betrayed a whole host of influences and by general consensus announced a painter of some unrealized potential. Several of them help situate Popović: Self-Portrait with Mask (1947), Citizens (1949), and New Belgrade (1950). Self-Portrait with Mask speaks for itself as a metaphor for the painter living under false pretenses, exemplifying the difficulties inherent in living the aesthetic he proclaimed in his 1950 exhibition catalog. Citizens had been deemed unworthy of the new era by Branko Šotra in the eighth ULUS exhibition in June 1949.20 Regime critics, who believed it represented a slava (Popović denied this) saw in it a longing for the past. At the very least, it illustrated people who appeared unmoved, apathetic, which was unacceptable in the era of socialist construction.21 A fruitful comparison can be made between Boža Ilić’s Sounding the Terrain in New Belgrade and Popović’s New Belgrade. Whereas Ilić’s version focuses on the collective struggle of the laborers, Popović’s workers are more distant, not clearly enthusiastic, and the painting’s effect is less inspiring, more of a record than a prescription. Even though the exhibition demonstrated Popović’s debt to interwar figural painting, the fact that it was the first truly independent exhibition in postwar Yugoslavia, taken with the aggressive catalog notes and the timing—relatively early in the period of liberalization following the Tito–Stalin split—made it an event, and one that is remembered as a critical part of Popović’s resume to this day.

  • 22 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 20.
  • 23 Others have said that Mitra Mitrović, Djilas’s first wife and another force in Serbian cultural po (...)
  • 24 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 20.
  • 25 Author’s interview with Dobrica Ćosić, July 29, 2002.
  • 26 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 32.

12Popović’s Zadar experience and 1950 exhibition marked him as a rebel right away. Mihiz had to work his way into the Serbian public conscience. By 1951, with Ćosić’s help, he was working in a unique field, writing criticism for NIN (Nedeljne informativne novine), the new weekly founded in 1951 whose editor, Stevan Majstorović, described it as “not quite official” in an era when most publications in Yugoslavia were pretty much official.22 NIN was one of Ćosić’s initiatives. It began publishing in 1951 and has continued without interruption to this day.23 The weekly was edited and staffed by veterans of Mladi borac, who appealed to Ćosić to support their venture with the Central Committee of the KPS. NIN would earn a quick reputation as a relatively open voice.24 Still, Mihiz’s installation as NIN’s literary critic seems odd. His personal history made him an unlikely candidate to be a regime-sanctioned critic. It was quite a coup for the noncommunist and little-known writer from Irig, who claims to have been invited to join the staff precisely because he was not a communist. In reality, he would not have been given the job without Ćosić’s endorsement.25 Mihiz, Popović, and Stojković would regularly require their patron’s help. Given the new regime’s need to nurture new talent, it is not surprising to hear that his bosses tolerated Ćosić’s friendship with Simina 9a’s “heretics” because “the leadership at that time wanted to win over as many followers as possible.”26 Mihiz made the most of Ćosić’s gift, quickly creating a place for himself in the public eye.

  • 27 Whereas Mihiz says he lost his job after Djilas’ fall, and his official biography says he worked i (...)

13The staff of NIN envisioned Mihiz as “a stubborn opposition journalist.” He would become the most popular literary commentator in Serbia, working formally for NIN until 1954.27 He was allowed to choose his subjects and write with a minimum of oversight. His editors requested only the requisite self-censorship, to which Mihiz assented. He would later reminisce longingly about his days with NIN:

  • 28 Borislav Mihajlović, “Novinama reč mržnje i ljubavi,” in Mihajlović, Književni razgovori, 10.

Newspapers are of life and for life, that which flows and that which will flow, for the scent of days which pass never to return. Broadminded and fanatically intolerant at the same time, they provide shelter, feed, and give voice to the first fashionable idiocy that they find, easily and jovially, under one single condition: that they are not boring or tired.28

  • 29 Borislav Mihajlović, “[Odgovor na anketno pitanje o književnim uticajima],” in Mihajlović, Književ (...)
  • 30 Mihajlović, “[Odgovor…],” 16.

14As a critic, Mihiz wished not only to criticize but to do so eloquently. He modeled himself after two predecessors who “were the first among us who made literature out of literary criticism”: Jovan Skerlić and Antun Gustav Matoš.29 Skerlić and Matoš were contemporaries and rivals, so the challenge of somehow melding the two into his own work also appealed to Mihiz: “anyone among us who engages in this work must choose between Scylla and Charibdes. Or, at his own risk, sail between them.”30

  • 31 On Matoš in English, see Eugene E. Pantzer, Antun Gustav Matoš (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981).
  • 32 Quoted in Pantzer, Antun Gustav Matoš, 65–66.

15Skerlić and Matoš are interesting choices as mentors for a critic working in the early 1950s. Skerlić, a university professor, the premier Serbian literary presence of his own era, and a prolific writer until his early death in 1914, represented the decadent, formalistic literary establishment against which the interwar surrealists and social writers reacted. Matoš was a Croat who deserted from the Austro-Hungarian army in 1894, only to find a comfortable part-time refuge in the bohemian Belgrade that Skerlić could not stomach.31 He unashamedly placed form ahead of substance in his criticism. Where Skerlić was reserved, Matoš was acid-tongued and venomous, even towards those who might have been his friends; where Skerlić sought order and rigor in literature, Matoš sought individuality and ardor. As Matoš put it: “We are different poles. He is the socialist; I, the nationalist. He is, or claims to be, Yugoslav; I am Croatian. He is a realist, I am not. He, the professor; I, the Bohemian. He preaches, I mock.”32 A further distinction must be made, one with relevance to the 1950s in which Mihiz wrote: Matoš valued aesthetics, Skerlić sought social and political engagement. Could Mihiz “sail between” the two extremes and be a critic for all tastes?

  • 33 Borislav Mihajlović, “Odronjeni bregovi,” in Mihajlović, Književni razgovori, 33.
  • 34 Borislav Mihajlović, “Književni razgovori,” in Borislav Mihajlović, Od istog čitaoca (Belgrade: No (...)

16There were other extremes to navigate: being a literary critic in the early 1950s meant taking sides in the modernist/realist debate, but Mihiz refused. His enthusiasm respected no such borders. He praised equally Mihailo Lalić (a realist) and Oskar Davičo (a modernist). In a piece written in 1953 as a summation of postwar Serbian literature to that point, he firmly rejected as false the division between modernism and realism. Furthermore, he disparaged the foundation upon which that debate was conducted—that there was such a thing as a socialist literature, that such a measure could even be applied. “There is not, there does not exist, there never has been, and there will never be a literary direction that is socialist in and of itself, and there is no formal literary method that is a priori antisocialist.”33 For him, the debate was “forced”; one picked sides and then “automatically prejudged the worth of a given work.” Mihiz resented the use of administrative methods by the party as much as he resented the superficial epithets of the writers themselves.34

  • 35 Mihajlović, “Književni razgovori,” 169.

The modernists are, a priori, people without links to reality, sterile, too French;…conservatives [realists] are, apriori, hard people, they use the means of political demagogy, they will not suffer a broadening of literary and psychological viewpoints, they do not read and they know nothing…and so on a priori, all that, before the fact, forever.35

17This situation annoyed Mihiz. He found the methods of both sides to be beside the point, a fundamental misreading of the literary history of his people: there had always been realists and modernists, there had always been conflict and competition between the two literary visions, and the politicization of the debate sapped it of its potential for provoking real growth in Serbian literature. In place of “a priori” judgments, Mihiz believed that he utilized real criteria—which could be contested, but which, he asserted, were strictly literary:

  • 36 Mihajlović, “Književni razgovori,” 160.

My value criterion is different: how much a work includes less manner and more living artistic truth, how much a work brings new content, new viewpoints, and more life, how much a work has stronger and firmer links to the soil on which it was born, and with the time about which or from which it speaks.36

  • 37 Mihajlović, “Književni razgovori,” 165–66.

18Good literature, Mihiz believed, linked “our most contemporary modernity with the noble threads of our tradition.”37

  • 38 On this meeting, see Peković, Ni rat, ni mir, 195–213; for a less formal contemporary view, see St (...)
  • 39 Vinaver’s columns under the title “Beogradsko ogledalo” were collected in Beogradsko ogledalo. Sch (...)

19These ideas Mihiz laid out most forcefully in November 1954, at a special meeting of the League of Writers of Yugoslavia.38 This meeting was not a planned session; rather, it was called precisely to clear up some of the controversy and indecision that plagued Yugoslav writers at that time. Writers were receiving mixed messages: the borba mišljenja had been approved, even declared, in 1952 at the Sixth Congress of the KPJ/LCY, and the 1952 Congress of Yugoslav Writers had met, with Miroslav Krleža delivering the opening speech which called for an engaged literature freed of the strictures of socialist realism; furthermore, in 1953, Nova misao (New Thought) had been launched by Djilas in the spirit of the new ideological struggle, yet a year later Djilas fell and Djilasism entered the lexicon of post-split Yugoslav politics; no writer felt certain that literary politics were autonomous from daily politics; and finally, although it had appeared to many writers that the modernist/realist debate had lost steam in 1953, by late 1954 it was obvious that it had not. The November plenum of the Yugoslav Writers’ Union was intended to clear the air. Eleven Yugoslav writers delivered addresses. “All improvisation was excluded,” according to Stanislav Vinaver.39

  • 40 Miroslav Krleža, “Referat na plenumu saveza književnika,” in Krleža, Eseji, 61–83.
  • 41 Borislav Mihajlović, “Reč u diskusiji na izvanrednom plenumu Saveza književnika Jugoslavije 1954. (...)

20Krleža gave the keynote address, which emphasized several themes: that Yugoslav literature was in a deep crisis; that Yugoslav writers were too busy borrowing from the west, which had little to offer; that modernism had taken the autonomy of art to excess; and that still as always, Yugoslav society required an engaged art and literature.40 Other speakers ranged across the spectrum, but Krleža oddly found himself on the conservative side of the aisle at this meeting. He attempted to strike a balance that was uncomfortable for most, especially those on whom he might have counted in earlier periods—the modernists. For instance, while he rejected western influences (associated with the modernists), he also spurned strict bureaucratic control of art and literature (associated with the realists). He characterized the preceding few years as ones of profound crisis in Yugoslav writing, which offended the modernists, who had of course initiated the “crisis” with their challenge to socialist realism, and then realism in general. Mihiz was not a scheduled speaker, but he tendered commentary on Krleža’s keynote address.41

  • 42 Mihajlović, “Reč u diskusiji,” 36–37.
  • 43 Ćosić agreed, by 1951: “Milan Bogdanović is ruined as a writer…That professor of literature at the (...)
  • 44 Vinaver, “Plenum književnika 1954. godine,” 214.

21Mihiz felt that the speech revealed a Krleža whose earlier creative, experimental voice had been quieted by fear of the new.42 Mihiz first observed that Krleža, like his contemporary Milan Bogdanović (who was the vice-president of the SkJ), had “become blind to new colors.”43 The substance of Mihiz’s comments focused on three issues: the so-called crisis in Yugoslav literature; the poverty of western literature and Yugoslav over-reliance on it; and the conflict of “modern and conservative” styles. In each area he believed Krleža’s fears were misplaced. Although Mihiz framed his remarks respectfully, Stanislav Vinaver noted that Mihiz’s conclusion was “as dazzling at the blade of a yataghan: that Krleža’s judgment betrays serious signs of senility.”44

  • 45 Mihajlović, “Reč u diskusiji,” 37.
  • 46 In these comments, he only reinforced similar remarks made in his article “Književni razgovori,” d (...)

22Mihiz would have none of the crisis identified by Krleža. Pointing out that Ivo Andrić, Mihailo Lalić, Oskar Davičo and Petar Šegedin had all published their best work since the war, and that Vasko Popa and Miodrag Pavlović had emerged as brilliant modernist poets, Mihiz asserted that “there is no crisis in literature, and periods which look like crisis are most often those in which good literature is created.”45 Mihiz contended that hindsight would prove that this was not a barren era, much the contrary. He also challenged Krleža’s dismissal of western literature and western influences on Yugoslav literatures. He discerned “provincialism” in Yugoslavia’s relationship to foreign art and literature—first in its idolization of the west, but also in its (paradoxical) knee-jerk rejection of western influences. Mihiz believed that Yugoslav literature enjoyed a natural relationship with foreign literature: “…I must say that I cannot imagine the greater part of our literature, from its beginnings to the present, [existing] without the influence of foreign literature.”46 Finally, Mihiz dismissed the modernist/ realist debate insofar as it was thought to be a product of modern times, the socialist era, of left-oriented literature. He compared the current modernists and realists to two contemporaries from a century and a half before: Zaharija Orfelin and Dositej Obradović.

Dositej Obradović turned entirely to the West, had a healthy soul, [was a] sober, worldly, active social participant; and we had Zaharija Orfelin, a free spirit. Thus, if I may so state it, one poet of dreams, as was Zaharije Orfelin, who was a wild soul, and one realist, who extracted his ideas from the West. They lived parallel lives, but were extraordinarily different.

  • 47 Mihajlović, “Reč na diskusiji,” 39.

23For Mihiz, modernism and realism were the continuation of past traditions, past conflicts—between western-oriented materialism and the poetry of dreams.47 Mihiz concluded with a bit more comment on the notion of “crisis.” Rather than fearing it, he found crisis to be at the center of literary creativity.

  • 48 Mihajlović, “Reč na diskusiji,” 39.

To those radiant lovers of harmony and nice comradely relations in literature, who holler and ask: “Whence the strained situation in literature?”, I would answer with another question: And what sort of situation would you like in place of strained? Dulled, perhaps? Not me, thanks.48

24Mihiz’s comments were remarkably bold. They provide a key to understanding his approach: good literature acknowledges, if not reveres, its own traditions; it is open to outside stimuli; and it thrives on the competition of ideas and forms.

  • 49 “Atelje 212,” NIN (Belgrade) January 30, 1955, 8.
  • 50 “Atelje 212,” 8.
  • 51 On Atelje 212, see Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja (Belgrade: Beogradski izdavač (...)
  • 52 (No author) “Volim komade s pevanjem i pucanjem” in Blic (Belgrade) June 27, 2000 (no page number)

25Whereas Popović and Mihiz struggled against the tide in the early years of Tito’s Yugoslavia, Ćosić simply rode it, carried effortlessly to the top thanks to his active involvement with the party and the new regime. After the war, Ćosić took advantage of his position and his inclinations to provide cover for his friends and, after the Tito–Stalin split, to press for a bit of liberalization. Aside from NIN, described above, Ćosić takes credit for several other initiatives, one of which was the “off Broadway” theater Atelje 212, which opened in 1955. It was the brainstorm of Mira Trajlović, with the support of Mihiz, Ćosić, Mića Popović, Dušan Matić (another of Belgrade’s interwar surrealists) and a few others. Mihiz came up with the name: the founders viewed the theater as the spiritual heir to Popović’s atelier (the scene of the first staging of Waiting for Godot), and it held 212 seats; thus, Mihiz proposed, Atelje 212. Trajlović envisioned it as a self-sufficient “small stage” for avant-garde productions, without the “bureaucratic apparatus” or a regular ensemble,49 and sold the idea to the Belgrade city administration with the help of Ćosić and a promise not to ask for money. Waiting for Godot was presented in its first week, that of March 1, 1955.50 It would later be at the center of many a storm, as its productions tweaked the bureaucratic sensibilities of Serbia’s communist leadership in the late 1960s and 1970s. Although Ćosić was not a particularly visible founder of the theater, he had some influence. It had already been felt in the work of the Belgrade Drama Theater, a more formal presence.51 Aside from contributing in some small or large way to the foundation of these theaters, Ćosić has also been credited with supporting a more adventurous theater repertoire before it was acceptable, as the socialist-realist regime gave way in the early 1950s. Soja Jovanović, who would become a leading theater director in the 1950s, has noted that she directed Branislav Nušić’s “Suspicious Person” in 1948 with the help of Ćosić, who arranged for rehearsal space and some funding. Velibor Gligorić, one of the new regime’s favored writers (and “a complete Zhdanovite” in Jovanović’s opinion) condemned it; Ćosić told her to “be patient and work, your time will come.”52

  • 53 (No author) “Volim komade s pevanjem i pucanjem,” (no page number).
  • 54 Stojković, “Okolo,” 336.
  • 55 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 55.
  • 56 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 55.
  • 57 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 16.
  • 58 Zoran Žujović, “Knjiga o ljudima Rasine,” Politika (Belgrade) July 8, 1951, 6.
  • 59 Ćosić’s bibliography, published in the Godišnjak Srpske akademije nauka i umetnosti v. 84 (1977) 3 (...)
  • 60 Wachtel, Making a Nation, 152.

26Ćosić wanted to write. He was a storyteller: after listening to Ćosić tell war stories for an entire May 1945 night in Sarajevo, the actress Nada Čarapić is said to have “begged him on her knees to leave politics and start writing.”53 He also credits his friends from Simina 9a with having stoked his desire to write. Stojković reports that he heard the “first, oral version of the chronicle-novel of the Rasinski detachment… on the spot on May 1, 1947, late in the evening and the entire following night.”54 Ćosić began writing what would become Far Away is the Sun (Daleko je sunce) in 1949, but it took several false starts for him to find his writer’s touch and complete the book, which was published with the support of Milan Bogdanović and Isidora Sekulić.55 Ćosić claims to have been self-taught, never having studied literature in school, a veritable primitive in the modern city after the war. Bogdanović not only taught him how to watch plays, but “how to drink wine” afterwards.56 Far Away is the Sun appeared in 1951. The book was the product of his desire to prove to the world and the Soviets that the Yugoslav Partisan war was real, that people fought and died out of commitment to communism, that Stalin and his Cominform lackeys unfairly denigrated the revolution. Ćosić confirms in his diaries that the book was a preordained success, with praise coming in even before it was published.57 He and his reviewers agreed that it suffered from poor character development, but also that it showed that one could write honestly about Partisans.58 It was a success, translated into numerous languages59 and becoming a standard on the reading list of all Yugoslav schoolchildren.60

  • 61 All citations will be from the 1966 edition of Daleko je sunce (Belgrade: Prosveta, 1966).

27Far Away is the Sun chronicles the ordeals of a Partisan detachment in the winter of 1942/43.61 The action concerns the fate of four characters, or better, two pairs of characters: Commissar Pavle and Commander Uča, the political and military leaders of the detachment respectively; and Vuk, the captain of one četa in the detachment, and Deputy Commander Gvozden (Uča’s second-in-command). There are two themes that drive the action, one dependent on the other: first, the leaders of the surrounded detachment must decide whether to remain where they are (as Uča wishes, on Jastrebac) or to divide up and cross the Morava River (favored by Pavle); second, the detachment must deal with the behavior of the Gvozden, who has shown signs of cowardice. Each of these sets of tensions illuminates the main point of the story, which is that Partisans fight for the higher ideal of communism and for all of the people of Serbia (and, by extension but not expressly, Yugoslavia) and do not fight for anything that can be characterized as local, provincial, or narrow. Beyond that didactic task, the novel has some depth, and reveals ambivalence on the personal level as men and women attempt to fulfill their higher calling. We can also divine, more or less in passing, some of Ćosić’s personal goals for a communist Yugoslavia.

28The central tension in the novel is between Pavle and Uča, the commissar and the commander, representing the political and the military sides of the Partisan equation. Both are communists, of course. The decision that they face is a difficult one: encircled by Germans on Jastrebac, should they continue to fight as a single detachment on the mountain, or should they divide in two, move off the mountain and across the Morava river, and then take up the fight again? The decision has both military and political sides: Who should decide? Which decision will save the detachment? Is saving the detachment more important than fighting Germans, Četniks, Ljotićevci, Nedićevci, and Bulgarians? What does the regional party leadership say? Pavle and Uča, closest of friends until this fateful moment, disagree on the next move: Uča believes they should stay on Jastrebac, Pavle equally strongly believes they should divide up and head across the Morava. Each will throw the weight of his position into the struggle: Uča knows military strategy, Pavle is the representative of the party. The conflict, however, does not remain on the level of competing authorities. Other factors are at work.

  • 62 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 67.
  • 63 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 29.

29The other important pair of characters are Vuk and Gvozden, the first the head of one četa in the detachment, the other Uča’s deputy. Like many of the men, Gvozden is from Jastrebac. Early in the story, Uča’s plan has the quiet approval of the men from the region. They see no reason to fight on the other side of the river. When Mališa, a very young fighter, asks “why should we go fight for others?,” he speaks for many.62 Gvozden also agrees with Uča that it would be best to remain, although his position is not as openly provincial as that of the diminutive Mališa. The decision, though, is eventually posed as one between local needs—fighting the enemy in and around one’s own village and one’s own people—and the higher goal, as represented by the commissar, Pavle. Vuk would be one of Pavle’s firmest supporters in the crisis, but he also has more provincial motives (which he, unlike Gvozden and Mališa, never openly reveals): his wife and child are at home in their village, which lies across the Morava. “His greatest desire was to cross into his region and to take revenge on them [Četniks].…His desire would be fulfilled with Pavle’s proposal, and he would surely go with the četa.”63

30One of the basic questions that the novel could be expected to address (given Ćosić’s own stated purpose of countering Soviet postsplit propaganda) is the nature of party authority. Early in the dispute between Uča and Pavle, the head of the detachment’s youth organization, Vukšan, is troubled by his first taste of uncertainty:

  • 64 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 17.

For Vukšan…the party meeting would remain forever in his memory. At it, he lived through his first disappointment in his childish notions about the party. He could in no way imagine that communists, and old and good communists at that, would not agree, would argue, would even perhaps hate each other.64

  • 65 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 20.

31Vukšan favors Uča’s plan, but also is certain that if there is disagreement among the party members, it must be that one of them is an “opportunist.” In the end, he decides that he “will obey the party…it never errs.”65 In spite of his own agreement with Uča’s military diagnosis, he opts for the party, in the person of Pavle.

32The key scene in the story occurs relatively early: when Gvozden is deeply shaken by the tragic slaughter of Serbian hostages in the hands of the Germans, he breaks down. Most unsettling for him is the discovery of a young child alive beneath a dead cow. The survivors of the massacre report on the German policy of murdering one hundred hostages for every killed German soldier. Gvozden is sickened, and concludes that the only way to save the local people is to temporarily disband the detachment altogether. Pavle appeals to his party loyalty. Gvozden responds:

  • 66 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 113.

Well look at what misfortune this is for the people. Are you a communist? Do you think about the people? You are a commissar? The party does not dare do the things we do! This is not the party line! This is the destruction of the people! We need to protect the people and the detachment.66

  • 67 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 117.
  • 68 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 127.

33Gvozden will not be reconciled either to leaving the mountain or continuing to fight. Pavle concludes that something must be done, lest Gvozden’s defeatism contaminate the entire detachment. The first thing Pavle does is to use Gvozden’s actions against Uča: “objectively, your position leads to the destruction of the detachment,” he tells Uča, who refuses to believe that his own desire to stay on Jastrebac has opened the door to Gvozden’s breakdown.67 But Pavle’s view wins out. The episode concludes with the most dramatic scene in the novel. Pavle rallies the detachment’s party members to judge Gvozden, who is condemned to death by a committee including Uča and Vuk. Vuk, the man who has his own personal reasons for supporting Pavle, then executes the unlucky deputy commander.68

  • 69 Wachtel, Making a Nation, 152–4.
  • 70 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 155–56.

34Far Away is the Sun has rightly been described as a novel which depicts the tension between the higher goals of communism and the localisms that plagued pre-communist Yugoslavia.69 Ćosić’s Pavle emerges by the end of the novel as the victorious figure: Gvozden and Uča are dead, Vuk takes Uča’s place as commander of the detachment. However, this novel has many ambiguities. None of the characters could be expected to be portrayed in the stark terms demanded by socialist realism—this was the first Partisan novel to appear after the end of that cultural phase, but Ćosić’s Partisan unit is riven with contradictory impulses. For instance, can anyone reading this novel be convinced that the execution of Gvozden was thoroughly just, except according to the most rigid logic of the revolution? Pavle explains that logic: “You thought that we would just do battle with the enemy? No, this showed that even people like Gvozden can harm us. Why?! Our battle is not just war, but revolution. It has its own moral, and that is battle to the end without regard for one’s self.”70 While the reader (the Yugoslav of 1951) was probably meant to come away having learned the lesson that Pavle learned, one wonders, for instance, if contemporary readers could have overlooked Vuk’s duplicity as he personally executed a man who stood in the way of his own personal fight, across the river. Even Pavle’s doubts must have remained with readers who were not previously inclined to share the revolutionary moral. The novel is marked by ambivalence.

35The ambivalence might be the result of the fact that one finds Ćosić’s voice in many of the characters—none is truly his alter ego. The only characters whom the author dislikes are the occasional cowards. Uča, Vuk, Pavle, and Gvozden, four main characters divided by unbridgeable chasms in belief and loyalties, all emerge as admirable figures. Through them, we learn Ćosić’s dreams for the revolution. Uča looks forward to radical change:

  • 71 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 79–80.

It’s strange…this blood, this fate of ours. I know a little history and do not know of another people that have had a similar fate. In all of our history we have had in all two occupations: farming and war. And other peoples have created culture, science, industry, cities, and other miracles. It’s time for our people to abandon old occupations for good, and to take up these others. That for me is revolution. Somehow I believe that this is the last war for us. We’ve probably fought enough.71

  • 72 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 189.

36Anyone familiar with Ćosić will recognize an early rendition of a theme that would recur in his work: the notion that Serbs (for Uča is not talking about “Yugoslavs” here) have been fated to war. Beyond that, however, we see a theme that is less well-known but just as prominent in Ćosić’s work: the need to abandon old ways and bring Serbia fully into the modern world. The preparation for such a radical transformation can be found in the words of Pavle the commissar, which echo Zogović’s interpretation of Njegoš’s The Mountain Wreath: “When I think about our generation, it reminds me of a young forest which storms have attacked and torn up root and trunk…broken its branches…broken it all! Only the strong and powerful remain whole. Yes, Vojo, that is revolution!”72 Far Away is the Sun found a prominent place in the canon of postwar Yugoslav literature. Although the novel was just a few steps removed from the socialist realist norm that was expiring as Ćosić wrote, Far Away is the Sun marked Ćosić’s challenge to that orthodoxy.

37Ćosić intended to follow up on Far Away is the Sun by pursuing a deeper examination of the phenomenon of Stalinism in Yugoslavia. Thus, he asked for and received permission to travel to Goli Otok, the most notorious internment camp for alleged “cominformists,” as those loyal to Stalin were called in Yugoslavia. He claims that he went in the spirit of authorial inquiry and not in any other capacity. It is impossible to know why he really went, whether he is telling the truth, and thus impossible to render judgment. He has been accused of having gone as an interrogator for the regime; he claims he went to better understand the enemy, but with compassion. He claims he returned and informed Ranković what was going on, and that Ranković was shocked. The entire story, which Ćosić recounts in interviews from 1988, seems rather sanitized, but there is no way to ascertain whether there is more to know. The tale of Ćosić’s trip to Goli Otok has, however, been used against him as evidence of his close collaboration with the regime.

  • 73 Djilas, Rise and Fall, 60.
  • 74 See Tony Judt, Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944–56 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University (...)

38Mihiz challenged orthodoxies as well, as an outsider. He sought certain qualities in the books he reviewed, and he did not often review a book he did not like. In spite of his mild iconoclasm, Mihiz only tested the limits of the tolerance of the government and his editors a couple of times. One of the times came with his reviews of a couple of books by Marko Ristić, whom Mihiz abhorred. Ristić was one of the small prewar group of Belgrade surrealists. They were lively participants in the “struggle on the literary left,” many, including Ristić, sharing the field with Krleža in support of revolutionary free expression. Djilas, a sympathetic observer, has said that “it would have been hard to find anyone who so loathed his own class, and what smacked of it, as did Ristić.”73 But that loathing was a common element among surrealists, as it was among the avant-garde of the interwar period in general. As the grandson of Jovan Ristić, the nineteenth-century Serbian politician, Ristić had much to detest. Ristić’s surrealism and his love for France went hand in hand. One even wonders whether his ferocious demands for vengeance on collaborators were inspired by the same tragic phenomenon in post-liberation France, where the call for punishment for collaborators acted as catharsis for intellectuals who sat out the war.74

  • 75 Marko Ristić, Književna politika: Članci i pamfleti (Belgrade: Prosveta, 1952); Marko Ristić, Pros (...)
  • 76 Ristić, Kniževna politika 2d ed. (Belgrade: Rad, 1979) 9. All citations for this section will be f (...)
  • 77 Ristić, Književna politika, 10.

39Aside from becoming communist Yugoslavia’s first ambassador to France in 1945, Ristić joined the literary struggles of the post-split era with gusto. Although not a founder or editor of any of the modernist journals, he actively supported the modernist cause after 1952. Much of his work published after the war consisted, however, of reprints of his essays and literary criticism from the 1930s, the heyday of Serbian surrealism. Two such books appeared in 1952, one (Literary Politics [Književna politika]) followed closely by the other (Space-Time [Prostor-vreme]).75 The first collection was much more coherent than the second: Literary Politics gathered those articles from the prewar that Ristić thought would be a “literary-historical retrospective of a battle against reactionary thought” as well as a “weapon in the battle against the remainders of reactionary thought.”76 In his own words, his “ideefixe” was “the disdain, or even the scorning of ‘beautiful literature,’ literature as such, literature in the traditional sense of the word, in the first place so-called belles-lettres.”77 The timing of the book’s publication implied that Ristić viewed it as a contribution to the opening up of literary life following the collapse of the socialist-realist regime. Ristić understood, even reveled in, the fact that his contributions were both literary and political, for he (and those of his generation, those who fought the battle on the left in the 1930s) could not imagine a literature that was not intensely political—the linkage of art and political life was real for him. Space-Time, the second book to appear in 1952 from Ristić’s hand, was no less political; in fact, it included his liberation-era articles calling for death to traitors.

  • 78 Mihajlović, Od istog čitaoca, 111. The review, entitled “An Article With a Bit of a Pamphlet: On a (...)
  • 79 Mihajlović, Od istog čitaoca, 112. Vladislav Petković Dis was a turn-of-thecentury Serbian poet.

40Mihiz’s reviews were crushing. On Literary Politics: “As with every critic who bases his work predominantly on the destruction of an aesthetic, so too is Marko Ristić stronger when he destroys than when he builds.”78 Ristić would never deny that he wished to obliterate prerevolutionary literary norms, any literature that proposed to be measured for its beauty rather than its moral, any literature that shirked engagement. “Openly biased…he viewed all literature to that point [the 1930s] as disqualified, acknowledging from almost the entire history of our literature (which, it seems to me, he does not know very well) only Dis.”79 What also offended Mihiz about this book is likely to intrigue modern readers: an “index” of those mentioned in the body of the book. It included the likes of Sigmund Freud and St. Francis of Assisi, Draža Mihailović and Slobodan Jovanović, Miroslav Krleža and Miloš Crnjanski, plus dozens of others. Some had lengthy biographies, others a few words. Arbitrary and final in its pronouncements, Ristić undoubtedly viewed it as a product of his approach, the surrealist’s love of coincidence and paradox. Ristić’s index is the moral equivalent of his liberation-era articles in Politika: damning but self-serving, random yet puritanical. Some entries represented casual character assassinations, others whimsical forays into a history he had no reason to understand or to expect the reader to care about (the entry on Krleža is a long aside on the various historical events that occurred on the same day as the great Croatian writer’s birth). His one word verdict on Vladislav Živojinović Massuka—gloomy (mračan)—enraged Mihiz, who finished his review of Literary Politics with an index entry of his own:

  • 80 Mihajlović, Od istog čitaoca, 115.

MARKO RISTIĆ—writer whose works, by his own admission, are exhausted. As a former writer he became an ambassador, as a former ambassador he again became a writer. During the occupation he lived under the Occupation. A good part of his life he spent warring with professors, academics, and ambassadors. Fate wished that he himself would become an ambassador and academic, and since Nemesis is consistent, it is expected that he will soon become a professor. Not gloomy. Not light, either. So—half gloomy. His links to pathos are of astronomical origins. In recent times he has taken up the exhumation of literature.80

  • 81 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 36. Peković describes Majstorović’s review as a pure response to the (...)

41In the same issue of NIN, Stevan Majstorović gave Ristić a positive review. Mihiz has claimed that Majstorović’s review was done in good humor to distance NIN from what was bound to be a controversial evaluation of an important and favored Yugoslav writer.81

  • 82 This review appeared under the title “Marko Ristić: ‘Prostor-Vreme’” in November 1952 in NIN; Miha (...)
  • 83 Mihiz, Od istog čitaoca, 117, 122.
  • 84 Predrag Palavestra found Ristić’s work to be brilliant. Zoran Mišić believed that Ristić was “the (...)
  • 85 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 37–38.

42The publication of Place-Time gave Mihiz the welcome opportunity to renew his dismissal of Ristić.82 Here Ristić was a writer of “great culture,…little talent and weak creativity” who had shown with this book that he “is a better stylist than original thinker and ideologue.”83 It should be noted that virtually no other Serbian critics felt the same way about Ristić as Mihiz.84 But Ristić’s judgments were secondary in most critics’ eyes to the fundamental role he played in fueling the revolt in Serbian literature against tradition, a role that he continued to play in the modernist/realist debate of the 1950s, and a role that Palavestra and especially Mišić found convincing. The irony is that Mihiz himself claimed (much later) to favor the modernists in that debate, “less out of aesthetic convictions…more out of the consciousness that it was a struggle for the freedom of expression, struggle for freedom in general.”85 Nevertheless, Ristić was precisely the opposite of what Mihiz looked for in a writer. Where Ristić envisioned the destruction of prerevolutionary literary models and a complete transformation of Serbian literature, Mihiz sought modern connections with older models.

  • 86 Milivoj Nenin, “Ništa novo, a neponovljivo,” in Vladeta Janković and Milan Janković, eds. Drugi o (...)
  • 87 Marko Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” in Hanifa Kapidžić-Osmanagić, editor, Kritički radovi Marka Ri (...)
  • 88 D. Adamović, “Moze se reći da u tim književnim sferama nikad nijedna bitka nije definitivno dobije (...)

43Marko Ristić never responded to Mihiz, which is no surprise, given the generational difference between them and the fact that Ristić occupied a far higher place in the Yugoslav cultural hierarchy than Mihiz. However, they did share strong but contrary feelings on one subject, a subject that allows us to imagine the contours of a debate between them. The subject was Miloš Crnjanski. When Mihiz died in 1997, one of his eulogists remarked wistfully that he “still owes us…a book about Crnjanski.”86 Crnjanski, author of Diary about Čarnojević (Dnevnik o Čarnojeviću) and Migrations (Seobe), which is universally considered one of the greatest novels in Serbian literature, was clearly Mihiz’s favorite author. Crnjanski had become active in rightwing politics in the 1930s, and after the war remained in England, his reputation tarnished. Interestingly, Crnjanski was also once a friend and collaborator of Ristić, who published in 1954 a lengthy essay on Crnjanski, Rastko Petrović, and Paul Eluard entitled “Three Dead Poets.”87 The title alone conveys the sense of Ristić’s piece, especially given the knowledge that Crnjanski had many years yet to live. Living or dead, though, Ristić argued that one could not be a poet and a right-winger, never mind a fascist, as he believed Crnjanski had become.88 Mihiz, of course, later described the essay as “shameful.”

  • 89 Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” 315.

44Ristić composed “Three Dead Poets” in his typical first person, in this case a cloying prose that faked sympathy with his “dead” colleagues. “I look at them now, they are three poets, three authentic poets. I look at them, phantoms. I had three friends, three poets. Three fates. I am speaking of dead poets, of dead friends. I will speak about how poetry dies in a living poet, how friendship dies.”89

  • 90 Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” 360–61.
  • 91 Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” 317.
  • 92 Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” 321.

45The thesis of Ristić’s piece, which is, like much of his work, rather seductive, is that Crnjanski, Petrović, and Eluard all faced an existential decision at a certain point in their careers: “How to live,” as Ristić put it. “We knew that there was something much more important on the agenda in literature than [mere] literature…”90 Crnjanski, whose early prose and poetry had inspired Ristić’s generation, “turned into his own opposite, found release in the glorification of war and fascism.”91 Describing Crnjanski’s fall, which he dates between 1919 and 1929, Ristić does not even honor his classic novel Migrations, which appeared in the latter year: that “secretive presence of poetry” that Ristić noted in Migrations “could be heard … in travel writing and essays which Crnjanski wrote between 1922 and 1930.”92 Crnjanski’s degradation was complete by the early 1930s.

  • 93 Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” 325.

It is disgusting and bitter to remember how, after the death of the poet Crnjanski, a gentleman with the same name flitted between editorial boards, the palace, ministries, courts and the police…. the poet was dead; the rebel became a conformist, the promiscuous son returned to the true path, the dreamer came to his senses, the nihilist repented, the anarchist became a monarchist, spite remained spite.93

46Crnjanski, Petrović, Eluard: all are judged ultimately according to their choice to embrace or disdain the future, which for Marko Ristić meant surrealism. In “Three Dead Poets,” Ristić uses both politics and poetics to measure the careers of his three subjects, but one senses, in fact it is impossible not to conclude, that this essay represents a bit of literary triumphalism.

  • 94 Borislav Mihajlović, “Miloš: Poslednja Čarnojevićeva seoba,” in Borislav Mihajlović, Portreti (Bel (...)
  • 95 Borislav Mihajlović, “Pesnik,” in Mihajlović, Portreti, 180.
  • 96 “Razgovor o romanu ‘Seobe’ Miloša Crnjanskog” in Delo (Belgrade) January 1963, 7.
  • 97 “Razgovor,” 25.

47Mihiz placed Crnjanski at the pinnacle of Serbian prose writing: “the most gifted writer of the Serbian language, as long as it has been written and spoken.”94 Furthermore, he refused to disqualify Crnjanski because of his political choices: “He was not the conscience of his time, nor its morals, nor its roadmap.”95 In fact, where Ristić was disgusted by Crnjanski’s refusal to move forward in his poetry, instead embracing and renewing his commitment to the modernism in which he was steeped, it was Crnjanski’s evocation of a Serbian past that endeared him to Mihiz most deeply. When Crnjanski allowed the Serbian Literary Guild to publish his Second Book of Migrations (Druga knjiga seoba) in 1962, thirty-three years after the first volume, some critics lamented its archaic tone. Mihiz welcomed it as “re-creative to an exceptionally great degree, because it wishes to capture a time, to capture people from a certain time, and to recreate them in a book.”96 Other critics found fault with the second book for its lack of a “poetic impulse” in comparison to the first volume; Mihiz responded that he had “the impression … that Crnjanski did not want that in the second part of Seobe, that he stopped himself…”97 For Mihiz, in other words, Crnjanski was not only not rooted to a style that time had passed by, he was dedicated to resuscitating that style—a goal that Ristić would have found ridiculously beside the point for a twentieth-century writer of any ambition whatsoever.

  • 98 Mihajlović, Ogledi, 229.
  • 99 Vasić, “Prva samostalna izložba,” 4.
  • 100 Trifunović, Slikarstvo, 147.

48Mihiz’s devotion to Crnjanski reflected his fidelity to Serbia and its cultural traditions. For Popović, though, Serbia no longer offered inspiration; he had to leave. His friends all knew it. In his long review of Popović’s 1950 exhibition, Mihiz asked “where will Mića Popović go tomorrow? That can only be guessed.”98 Pavle Vasić, who noted Popović’s uncommon openness to different styles in his “desire to find his own expression,” had a suggestion: Popović “should be allowed to see European painting schools, the works of the great masters, in order to supplement his education, to broaden his artistic horizons.”99 Mihiz understood that Popović was singularly open to outside influences. Popović would in fact be a mercurial painter, changing styles abruptly through his fifty-year career. In retrospect, Lazar Trifunović would write that “in Popović’s work there is no gradual development, logical advance or quiet maturing; changes were quick and staccato with the result that his painting gives the impression of constant search and moving forward, climbing high at some points and inevitably falling down at others.”100 Trifunović traces Popović’s shifts: his contrary, challenging nature would provoke him to reject socialist realism (offering his “neorealism”); then to the tendency of Serbian painters to copy West European models he would respond with a return to the fresco (his cycle “The Village of Nepričava”); to “aestheticism” Popović offered abstract painting (“Of Fog, of Bones” and informel). Finally, when abstract painting was exhausted, he turned to the committed realism of “Scenes Painting.” These herky-jerky switches would all occur as part of Popović’s extended education, most of which took place outside of Serbia. Popović would soon leave for Europe, which for Serbs usually meant Paris.

  • 101 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 69–112.
  • 102 Popović and Klunker, Mića Popović, 40.
  • 103 Trifunović, Slikarstvo, 47.
  • 104 “Francuzi o slikarstvu Miće Popovića,” Politika (Belgrade) May 29, 1953, 4.

49Popović was not a provincial, which set him apart from Ćosić, whose travel was a product less of intellectual curiosity than professional necessity and confined to the communist bloc, and also Mihiz, who went to Paris in the early 1950s and spent several fruitful but lonely weeks.101 Popović wished to be influenced by Paris. His first trip to France was in 1951, a three-month stay funded by a state stipend granted on the basis of the success of his 1950 show. After his formal stay in Paris, he continued on to Cairo to visit one of his wife’s relatives, and then Italy. That extension was paid for in part by the sale of his wife’s heirloom diamond ring and some street paintings of Paris that he sold in Egypt.102 Upon his return to Belgrade in 1951, Popović went to work on a new cycle of paintings, “The Village Nepričava,” based on a stay in the village of that name, outside Valjevo.103 In May, 1952, his exhibition opened in Belgrade. Popović was quoted by a Paris art journal saying that he “would like…to establish a link between old Serbian fresco-painting and contemporary art, to express the traditional soul of my people using modern means.”104 These seventeen paintings represented Popović’s attempt to meld Serbian folklore with the tradition of the medieval fresco, and the cycle was eventually judged a failure. There is no question that “The Village of Nepričava” represented Popović’s rejection of the models he had seen in Paris, but the hope that “The Village of Nepričava” would be the foundation of a real Serbian contribution to world art also missed the mark. Nonetheless, the paintings were shown in Paris thereafter and provided the impetus to his contract with Robert Hellebrandt of the Barbizon Gallery, which lasted until 1956.

  • 105 Popović and Klunker, Mića Popović, 42–50.

50Popović’s next attempt was a cycle entitled “Of Fog, of Bones,” which opened in February 1955 with fifty paintings. Edging ever closer to abstraction, these paintings retained some of the feel of the fresco, left over from “The Village of Nepričava.” These were more complex paintings, which used a system of symbolic associations, and they were universal in theme and execution. Still, like “The Village of Nepricava,” “Of Fog, of Bones” reflected the ongoing transition in Popović’s work from figural painting to his eventual arrival as an abstract expressionist. Popović later wrote that his period of travel—primarily to Paris—turned out, in spite of his hopes, to be one of artistic discomfort, in which he refused to open up to Parisian influences, did not find his own style, made no living, and waited expectantly for his own professional arrival, in vain.105 It was not until 1956, according to Popović, that he lost his arrogant expectation of success and began to paint without concern for his reputation or wealth.

  • 106 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 106.
  • 107 Popović and Klunker, Mića Popović, 47.
  • 108 Petar Džadžić, “Mića Popović: ‘Sudari i harmonije’,” in NIN (Belgrade) December 26, 1954, p. 9.

51In his book Clashes and Harmonies (Sudari i harmonije, 1954), Popović brought together letters, travel writings, and confident musings on modern art. They pertained to his travels in France, Egypt, and Italy, and are infused with optimism, openness, reflecting an animated encounter with a world he could not wait to meet and, in some respects, bring back with him to Belgrade. By and large they are naive, even fatuous (“There is nothing easier for a Frenchman than to recognize a prostitute, and nothing more difficult for a foreigner”),106 as he himself later acknowledged: “It was a pleasant, self-confident, impressionistic and superficial piece of writing.”107 Reviewers disagreed: Petar Džadžić thought it was the best travelogue published in Yugoslavia, with occasionally brilliant prose. “If [Popović] doesn’t continue to write he will have a lot of reasons for regret…and he will not be the only one.”108 It also offers a unique contemporary source for some of the important constants in Popović’s ideas, whether about painting or about political and social issues. Popović comes across as a person as concerned about social questions as political freedom and someone who is rather amused at his own “Yugoslavianness” as he travels the west.

  • 109 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 15.
  • 110 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 19–21.
  • 111 So was the Ideological Commission of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (Savez komunista Jugos (...)
  • 112 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 20; quote from p. 41.

52“Patriotism is ignited by distance,” he writes.109 Perhaps it was that distance that provoked his debate with an English cleric (on the voyage to Cairo) over the nature of “freedom.”110 Popović’s companion asked whether there was freedom in Yugoslavia; he was shocked by Popović’s clipped negative response.111 Met with bumbling disbelief, Popović continued, recalcitrant: “There is none, at least not in the sense that you understand it, but I have come from France where they do in fact have the kind you imagine, and I did not notice that they had solved the question of existence with any more success.” Englishman: “But sir, God created people to live in freedom!” Popović: “I agree, but tell me if God would agree that someone who does nothing should live in abundance, while someone else for all of his virtues and all of his sweat barely earns his daily bread?” Popović claimed to be more concerned with unemployment—“a true evil,” which, in conversation with this cleric, Popović obstinately maintained did not exist in Yugoslavia.112

  • 113 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 45.
  • 114 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 46.
  • 115 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 153.

53In Clashes and Harmonies, Popović betrayed his usual conciliatory attitude towards socialist realism. “If it had not been mixed with an overly sugar-coated romanticism, it might have earned distinction as the style of the epoch.”113 This time, in conversation with an Italian host, he noted that socialist realism had been replaced among his peers by a new “revolutionary principal—abstract art, and now they discover things discovered forty years ago.” At this point, he rejected abstraction: “Beauty and taste are relative,” he asserted. “The only power is in what’s real.”114 Popović rather contemptuously placed abstract art and socialist realism at opposite poles—but he held out more hope for the latter: “socialist realism, protected from the possibility of propagandistic deceit…probably coincides with the eternal pendulum of human inclinations and represents the authentic revolutionary future of painting.” Abstraction, on the other hand, “long ago ceased to be avant-garde…a tardy anticonservatism is in fact conservatism of the most primitive sort.”115 Ironically, Popović’s greatest successes as a painter would come in the 1960s and 1970s via abstraction and then social realism.

  • 116 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 17.
  • 117 Stojković, “Okolo,” 336–40; Dobrica Ćosić, “Komuna, stara i nova reč,” in Delo v. 1, no. 2 (April (...)
  • 118 Stojković, “Okolo,” 337
  • 119 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 55.
  • 120 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 55.

54While Popović pursued his goals as a cosmopolitan, outside of Serbia and in the universalist idiom of art, Ćosić remained a cultural and political introvert, rarely leaving Serbia. Ćosić records that the very reason he became a communist was local: he wished to eliminate the impoverishment of the village and to change the life of peasant women.116 He once claimed that his highest ambition as he fought with the Partisans was to become the head of a collective farm after the war. This fixation with the village and the peasant commanded his attention both as a writer and as a public figure. Ćosić left ample evidence that he deeply revered the village, even while hating many of its attributes, and that his own devotion to communism must be understood in terms of his dedication to the transformation of village life; that even his self-proclaimed Yugoslavism was born in his understanding of how communism would reshape agrarian Serbia and Yugoslavia. Between 1945 and 1957, Ćosić served as people’s representative for three districts: his home region of Trstenik, then Župa, and finally Kopaonik. This position entailed regular visits to the districts. Three of these visits have been described—one in 1947, recorded later by Žika Stojković (who accompanied his friend on the trip), the second in 1955, and the third in 1958, both of which were recounted by Ćosić himself within a few months.117 They reveal much about the young communist at the beginning of a writing career. When Stojković and Ćosić arrived in Velika Drenova in 1947 to visit Ćosić’s family, it was immediately apparent to Stojković that Ćosić felt a robust connection with the peasants of the region. Stojković noted how Ćosić “embarrassed the local government when he would show that he understood the ‘situation on the ground’ better than they assumed, and how well he knew the peasants who would come to him.”118 Mića Popović later recalled that on a trip with Ćosić to Kopaonik in 1955 or 1956, “in the middle of nowhere, Dobrica knew by name all of the peasants who lived in the settlements in the mountains, knew their families, their problems, knew what they owned, and shared in their hopes.”119 One reason for Ćosić’s familiarity was the fact that he had spent his youth and the war years in the area. But Stojković and Popović believed that Ćosić was simply a compassionate person. Popović called it a “gift for sharing the fate of those near to him.”120

55In his hopes and goals for the village, Ćosić said that he took his lead from Kardelj when the latter wrote that “the commune must become that social cell which will be most closely linked to the masses, in which people can express themselves most immediately.” He fused the communist meaning of “communal” to an older one that he learned in his own backyard: “mutual, just, equal, harmonious.” The two versions meshed for Ćosić. Above all, Ćosić saw the local commune as a building block to socialism. He ruminated in 1955 on how he would address the locals:

  • 121 Ćosić, “Komuna, stara i nova reč,” 189.

I will speak of people growing together and unifying in the commune, which will affirm all of the social and personal potential of the individual, so violence and force will become superfluous, so that democracy will replace the state, so that together they will be like the air that we breathe, something that is understood, which is here and is not [just] a goal, so that through the commune Yugoslavism will grow and the borders of republics will be erased, so that someday people will write: I am a Yugoslav from such and such commune…121

56Ironically, words very much like those in the final phrase, “Yugoslavism will grow and the borders of republics will be erased…,” would get Ćosić into hot water with a Slovene writer in 1961. That conversation was directly related to the persistence of nationalism in Yugoslavia, so the words stood out. Here they were less remarkable. What emerges from Ćosić’s monologue is a communism in which national identities will become less relevant than the higher identification, Yugoslav, as a result of work on the communal level. Ćosić saw the building of socialism in Yugoslavia as a ground-up proposition.

  • 122 Ćosić, “Komuna, stara i nova reč,” 189.
  • 123 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 24.
  • 124 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 25.
  • 125 Ćosić, “Komuna, stara i nova reč,” 190.
  • 126 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 33–34.
  • 127 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 35.

57At this local level, Ćosić’s struggle was the “long-term battle with backwardness, inertia, passions, politicization, bureaucratism, local and localistic preoccupations, personal ambition, district and regional [ambitions].”122 Ćosić could exhibit great hostility towards the peasantry—he once wrote that “a peasant in politics can only be a tyrant or an opportunist.”123 He recorded approvingly one peasant’s desire that the letter “p” be “erased from the alphabet,” because “p” is the “first letter of the words ‘pussy [pizda],’ ‘friendship [prijateljstvo],’ ‘money [para],’ and ‘protection [protekcija].’ All of man’s misfortunes begin with it.”124 To combat these evils and these attitudes, Ćosić publicly wrote that he was “happy that we have come to a level in the development of democracy that allows more complete fulfillment of the political personality and the general personalities of all political workers both in the district and in the village.”125 Privately, he noted in May 1953 that “for the rural people of Serbia to be happy, the peasantry must be destroyed. That means brutally and bloodily. Any progress must be fed and paid for in blood.”126 But he was equally unsure of success in such a project: “I really truly do not know how we will make our peasants into socialists…”127

  • 128 Ćosić, “Predsednik,” 21.

58In 1958, Ćosić painted an idiosyncratic picture of one ideal communal worker, in this case, the district president. His name was Dušan Brdjanac, and he was not well-loved by those around him. He was too austere; he actually took notes at meetings; he refused to live in the house provided by the local government; he declined to take his yearly vacation; he did not talk much, and when he travelled around his village, he did so on foot. His co-workers described him as aggressive and unfair. Ćosić presented Brdjanac, whom he did not know personally until their meeting in the district, as something unexpected but ideal in a communist commune leader. As Ćosić makes his rounds of the local villages, seeking out corruption and incompetence, he listens “to such ‘accusations’ against the president, and I am satisfied and astounded, bitter, joyful, sad, I beg for dissatisfaction and complaints about him, I want to hear a different attack and other criticism, I would like to catch him in a misdeed…”128 But Ćosić does not catch him—instead, he can only admire this new communist person, this village leader who disdains and rejects privilege, this bureaucrat who refuses to act like a bureaucrat. People like Brdjanac convinced Ćosić that communists could, even should, begin their struggle on the bottom rung of society’s ladder, in the village, with the peasant. Interestingly, when Ćosić found himself twenty years later in his struggle against Titoism, he would condemn it for bureaucratism, corruption, privilege. Those Serbian communists whom Ćosić viewed as Tito’s lackeys he would condemn as typical primitive village headmen, the types that Brdjanac refused to emulate. In fact, he would later argue that the evil of the Serbian peasantry was reflected in the character Prince Miloš Obrenović, whom Ćosić would use as a symbol of his “tyrant” and “opportunist,” and extend as a metaphor for Serbian leaders in the 1970s and 1980s.

  • 129 In 1954, after Roots’ publication, Ćosić said that he had been influenced by Freud, Jung, and Adle (...)
  • 130 Stanisavljević, Koreni Dobrice Ćosića, 12–13.
  • 131 Stanisavljević, Koreni Dobrice Ćosića, 10–11.

59Ćosić’s second novel, Roots (Koreni), appeared in 1954, and dealt with the type of village that Ćosić represented. It won the first NIN award for novel of the year for 1954. Radically different in form than the didactic and transparent Far Away is the Sun, it tackled the complex topic of the Serbian patriarchal village as it confronted modernity in the 1890s. Consciously adopting a “Faulknerian” approach,129 Ćosić began with Roots his twelve-volume saga of the Katić family of Prerovo, a fictitious village in the Morava River valley, the region of Ćosić’s birth and upbringing. In Roots, Ćosić attempted to counter what he considered to be the prevailing treatment of the Serbian village in earlier Serbian literature: as a scene of nostalgia for patriarchal times past and of a fear of the future.130 More explicitly, he wished to “return to the nineteenth century to find the roots of our passions, collapses, and unrest.” He chose to examine peasant politics, in the form of those who supported the Radical party, whose origins were in peasant discontent with Serbia’s still-young government: “that peasant revolutionary movement, [which was] anti-bureaucratic, anti-patronage, anti-miserly in the social, cultural, and political life of Serbia at the turn of the twentieth century.”131 Roots would harshly critique that anti-bureaucratic movement, which Ćosić would conclude was too provincial and too dependent on its leading personalities, corrupted by power, for a Serbia becoming modern. With Roots, Ćosić began a life-long project which would tragically conclude with his misguided support for Slobodan Milošević’s “anti-bureaucratic revolution” in the late 1980s.

60Roots introduces Ćosić’s readers to the Katić family, headed by Aćim Katić. Aćim’s past is one possible source of the title of the novel, as he really has no roots as such. He is the son of Kata Katić, who had been married to Vasilije Katić, a Serb who was killed in raids against the Turks. After Vasilije’s death, Kata takes in an itinerant worker named “Luka,” who has no last name but is called “Došjak,” meaning “newcomer.” Aćm is Luka Došjak’s son, but when Aćm enters the army, Kata insists that the boy be registered as Aćm Katić to avoid the stigma of carrying the stranger’s emblematic name. Aćm’s attempts to overcome his own feeling of rootlessness would fire his commanding physical and emotional presence throughout the novel. Koreni has been described as a novel of physical power rather than emotional force, and to the extent that the characters are all drawn with a dynamic vitality, this is an accurate characterization. But it is also a novel of constant internal dialogues and stream-of-consciousness mental harangues in which the real tensions of the novel are revealed. In this and in its Yoknapatawpha-like setting of Prerovo, it comes closest to the Faulknerian model.

61Those tensions involve the fates of Aćim’s two sons, Djordje and Vukašin. They are the source of two different types of frustration felt by the old man: Djordje, the son who was to remain at home and attend to the family holdings, is unable to father children. Even in this patriarchal society in which the woman would ordinarily be blamed pro-forma for this failure, Djordje is considered by all to be the likely weakness in the line. Pathetic in the eyes of his father, Djordje spends his life travelling between Prerovo, Belgrade, and Budapest, trading in pigs and cattle. All he has to show for it is a growing pile of useless gold ducats, which do nothing to sooth the emptiness he feels due to the attention his father pays to Vukašin. For his part, Vukašin has been groomed since his birth to be the schooled gentleman who will carry forward his father’s political interests in the Serbian capital of Belgrade following his years of education in Paris. But Vukašin rejects his father’s politics (Aćim is a leader of the Radical party in their district, a veteran of the Timok rebellion, and a dyed-in-the-wool opponent of the Obrenović regime), marries a daughter of a prominent Liberal, and goes to Belgrade to carry out his own war against the “hajduk” politics of his father and other divisive Serbian political leaders.

  • 132 Dobrica Ćosić, Koreni (Belgrade: Prosveta, 1966) 110.

62The very title of the novel, Roots, can be variously construed. The novel could be describing the “roots” of modern Serbia’s various dilemmas, as Ćosić himself asserted; but the roots could be familial (Aćim describes himself as the true “roots and trunk” of his family132). Ironically, the “real” roots portrayed in this novel do not even exist: the main characters seek roots that they do not feel they actually possess. While Aćim flees his own father’s name (Došljak, the very essence of rootlessness), Djordje’s wife Simka eventually gives birth to a son, Adam, who is actually fathered by Djordje’s servant, Tola Dačić. Simka contrived to sleep with Tola to overcome her own husband’s impotence and assure her ability to remain in the family household. Her success comes at high price: everyone suspects that Djordje is not the father, and his reputation suffers; Aćim will not have anything to do with the child. But six years later, both Adam and Simka lie gravely ill, and she and Djordje come to a final reckoning that allows Djordje to overcome his own shame and embrace his child. Aćim follows suit. Simka dies of her illness; Adam becomes the extension of a family line that began in the anonymity of Luka Došljak’s arrival and now continues via the myth of his own Katić birth. All in all, Ćosić tells the reader that the Katićes’ situation and surroundings, representative of the Serbian peasant of the late nineteenth century, are paradigmatic for a Serbia which is new, not established, cut through with tensions and conflicting goals, but striving to sink the roots that only their own mythology asserts that they actually have.

  • 133 Ćosić, Koreni, 226.
  • 134 Ćosić, Koreni, 82.
  • 135 Ćosić, Koreni, 10.
  • 136 Ćosić, Koreni, 169.
  • 137 Ćosić, Koreni, 195.
  • 138 Ćosić, Koreni, 125.

63The ignoble nature of Adam’s conception accurately reflects what can only be described as a novel seeped in a tawdry, occasionally sordid reality. The Serbian village for Ćosić becomes a place where Aćim would beat his wife with a wet cord while she whined, naked, “like only some newborn animal could,”133 because she could no longer bear children. It is a place where a young Djordje could be introduced to the world of the flesh by his own aunt, Višnja, in the barn134; where “men’s bones are stronger thanks to past slaughter”135; where Djordje whispers to Simka as she slumbers that she should sleep with Tola in order to bear him a son136; where Djordje could demand of his servant, Tola, that he give Djordje his fourth-born son Aleksa should Adam die137; where a peasant uprising can break out as a result of one local headman’s spite and anger over his son’s unacceptable wedding.138 Ultimately, though, these are but occasional commentary on village life. Ćosić’s real critique, the real point of the novel, is that peasant localisms could poison the future of Serbia. Here, Aćim’s conflict with his son Vukašin takes center stage.

  • 139 Ćosić, Koreni, 190.

64Aćim Katić had a plan for his children. Djordje, the firstborn, would handle the business. But Vukašin had been born with great difficulty. The priest who christened him told Aćim to “send this one to school. Nothing will come of him. He barely entered this world… Mothers have trouble giving birth to thinkers and book readers.”139 So Vukašin was schooled, all the way through university in Paris, in the expectation that he would carry on Aćim’s legacy in politics. While Aćim would remain a local Radical party leader and skupština representative, Vukašin would go to Belgrade, become minister of the interior, and make laws and keep order. Aćim:

  • 140 Ćosić, Koreni, 31.

When Vukašin takes the reins [in Belgrade], he will hand over my seat to Djordje, with my help and my people they have to elect him. Simka will bear me grandchildren, and I will care for them, their surname will not be Katić, my grandchildren will be named Aćimović, I will read the newspapers and calmly await my death… and my father was a miller and a servant. A leaf on the roadway. Luka Došljak…140

65Aćim’s plan is foiled by Vukašin’s high-mindedness. Vukašin comes back to Belgrade from Paris, but does not return to his birthplace for three years. When he finally does reappear, it is to tell his father that he plans to marry the daughter of one of Aćim’s political enemies, and that he will not become a Radical tribune as Aćim had been.

  • 141 Ćosić, Koreni, 46–47.

I will not enter into any sort of party. I will not let my life and my abilities be exhausted in radical politicking ….The people do not have anything as a result of your constitutions and your freedom. After the Turks, the people never sought liberty. They only sought bread. And you, radicals, tricked them into thinking that the constitution is bread…Nation, constitution, bread, all of those are just excuses to come to power. More than a few of my friends and those who finished some school before me have fallen into our, no, your, political hajdukery. Who has use for that?141

  • 142 Ćosić, Koreni, 263.

66Vukašin the idealist would become the hero of Ćosić’s multivolume saga of the Katićes, always outside, always the moral voice, never allowing himself to be sullied by day to day politicking, unless the fate of the nation were in doubt. Aćim puts the final touches on this village morality play when he turns to Adam as his last hope. After the authorities refuse to jail or kill him for an attempt on the life of the hated King Milan, Aćim returns to a sick Adam. “They didn’t [even] want to kill me. No one fears me anymore. But you will grow up. I still have you, even if you are not mine. You are not my blood, but you have my surname. That is little. That is much. I will teach you to hate them.”142

TRANSITIONS

  • 143 Peković, Ni rat ni mir, 157 ff.; Djilas, Rise and Fall, 328–30.
  • 144 Djilas, Rise and Fall, 330.

67Regardless of Ćosić’s fixation on rural Serbia, he did participate actively in literary struggles as a modernist. He worked closely with a journal that helped define both the literature and politics of the era: Nova misao, the journal inspired and founded by Milovan Djilas in 1953 to give creative voice to the borba mišljenja proclaimed by the party in the wake of the Tito–Stalin split.143 Along with Djilas and Ćosić, an eclectic crew staffed the editorial board: Oskar Davičo, the surrealist; Miroslav Krleža, the Croatian novelist; Milan Bogdanović, the Marxist critic; Bora Drenovac, Ćosić’s boss on Serbian agitprop; and Mihailo Lalić, the Montenegrin novelist, along with several others. Nova misao (New Thought) reflected the outer limits of permissiveness at the time, pushed by Djilas’ growing impatience with the reform that he expected and demanded in the wake of the 1952 Sixth LCY Congress. Later Djilas was careful to delimit the role of Nova misao: “Neither Nova misao nor its associated groups set out to be a parallel or opposition center, nor did they become such. They were…an informal party grouping, arising from democratic trends…”144 When Djilas fell in January 1954, his collaborators on Nova misao were instantly suspect in the eyes of the party. Ćosić, as a member of the board of Nova misao, could not escape that suspicion, although he did survive it.

  • 145 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 41.
  • 146 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 41.
  • 147 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 39.
  • 148 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 46–47.
  • 149 He was interviewed by party committees on several occasions in 1954, and also apparently followed (...)

68Ćosić never publicly defended Djilas or aired his thoughts on the events surrounding Djilas’ fall. But in his diary, he allowed that the crisis had affected him deeply. Djilas had been for him “the leader of the ideological struggle against Stalinism,” which was a good thing, and the “best liked figure in the party after Tito.”145 Although they were not friends, Ćosić also felt the tug of loyalty to Djilas, since the latter had “indebted [Ćosić] with his confidence in having him with him on the editorial board of Nova misao, the most reputable journal in the country.”146 When the crisis came, he was amazed that “Djilas, the inspiration, imagination…the temperament of the revolution, [was] really being smothered…”147 Others were similarly shaken; Davičo, for instance, apparently threatened suicide, a threat that Ćosić took seriously. For Ćosić, Djilas’ initiatives had been the natural continuation of developments in Yugoslavia following the break with Stalin; Djilas had been for many the most convincing guarantee that the borba mišljenja, the symbol of growing openness in Yugoslavia, would continue. With his fall, Djilas’ followers wondered whether a return to Stalinism approached. The uncertainty of the situation also shook Ćosić. To his diary, he allowed that “the time before 1948 was wonderful…when I wasn’t ambivalent, I felt free to be critical.”148 Now, he worried about the direction of the revolution, and began to feel more than a little paranoid.149

  • 150 For a discussion of the Third Congress, see Marković, Beograd, 330–32, and Peković, Ni rat ni mir, (...)
  • 151 Cited in Marković, Beograd, 331.
  • 152 There is some irony to the fact that Kardelj saved Ćosić’s skin, however circumstantially, since b (...)

69Ćosić has claimed that he came close to being forced out of the party in April, during the Third Congress of the League of Communists of Serbia, which spent most of its time addressing Djilasism in Serbia. While the lead speakers at the congress called for tolerance of divergent opinions, they also warned of foreign influences and that ageless cipher, decadence. Ćosić, however, spoke remarkably openly about the need for true cultural pluralism.150 He rejected “exclusivism in relation to the form of artistic expression,” and asserted that the “League of Communists and individual communists need not a priori attack expression, or a priori fight for some kind of realism.”151 These were conspicuous words, given the timing, and Ćosić was momentarily left dangling by his comrades, who predicted that he would be kicked out of the party for having uttered them. Edvard Kardelj saved him more or less by accident the next day, when he endorsed tolerance of ideological diversity—within limits, as always—and Ćosić thereby appeared less intransigent.152

  • 153 While Mihiz and Mišić praised Pavlović, others, like Zoran Gavrilović, said that “all you needed t (...)
  • 154 Boris Mihajlović, “Čovekov čovek,” in NIN (Belgrade) January 1, 1954, 4.
  • 155 Mihiz’s article “Odronjeni bregovi,” published in NIN in November 1953, praised the growth of tole (...)

70The Djilas crisis put Mihiz in a bad place as well. Nobody doubted that Mihiz played favorites. Nobody contested the status of some of his pet authors: Ivo Andrić, for instance, did not need Mihiz to make his reputation. But Mihiz stood up for Miodrag Pavlović and Vasko Popa, the two poets most often attributed now with having brought Serbian poetry into the modern age, at a time when other critics lambasted them.153 He also favored the work of Mihailo Lalić, Antonije Isaković, Dobrica Ćosić, and Oskar Davičo, but their reputations were either already assured or bound to be made. The fact that he would defend “his” writers is well-documented, however. One case, involving his treatment of Davičo’s book-length poem entitled A Man’s Man (Čovekov čovek), got Mihiz into political trouble.154 Davičo’s collection of poems dealt with the thoughts and reactions of one revolutionary fighter. The author was one of the most active members of the Nova misao collective. It was January 1954, and the Djilas affair loomed. Mihiz was already associated with Nova misao,155 although he and Djilas were not yet bound by friendship—that could not have happened while Djilas still reigned at the top of the Yugoslav communist cultural hierarchy.

  • 156 The story of Davičo’s A Man’s Man and the crisis it provoked are in Peković, Ni rat ni mir, 179–84

71Mihiz found Davičo’s poetry to be brilliant, although he also found fault with its “lack of economy.” But the problem was not with his view of the poem so much as his presumed association with the author and the ideas of the author’s perceived patron, Milovan Djilas. When a hostile but superficial review of Davičo’s work by Tanasije Mladenović appeared in Književne novine a month later (and two weeks following the Third Plenum, at which Djilas was disgraced), Mihiz responded in the same venue that Mladenović had not even tried to understand the poem and that his article “was not literary criticism, it is a political pamphlet of a very weak sort,” and that Zhdanovites “wrote incomparably better.”156 Mihiz, of course, was right: Davičo was being treated as an ideological enemy and not as a writer.

  • 157 Quote from Djilas, Rise and Fall, 370; Mihiz also discusses this period in Autobiografija, v. 2, 1 (...)
  • 158 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 48.
  • 159 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 63.

72Mihiz might have survived the Davičo episode, which was undoubtedly a product of his own spite in addition to artistic conviction, had he not also begun a personal relationship with Djilas at precisely the moment of Djilas’s fall. Mihiz’s wife Milica had been giving private English lessons to Djilas at the time of his disgrace. After the plenum, which witnessed Djilas’s rather abject admission of his ideological transgressions, Mihiz invited himself into Djilas’s life: “I know you’re lonely. I’m not joining the boycott, and I think that a visit from me will not be unwelcome.”157 What followed was a lifelong, albeit oft-interrupted, friendship that brought Djilas into contact with not only Mihiz, but Mića Popović and Žika Stojković as well. Ćosić believed that their initial contact was a result of the fact that Mihiz and Stojković, “respectable moralistic stylists, side with the victim,” but also that for them their friendship with Djilas reflected their “arrogance and [desire for] revenge.”158 Ćosić expressed pity that Djilas had to make friends with those anticommunists: “he abjectly…takes to them the revolution’s dirty laundry.” Mihiz, who “inspired [Djilas] with his paradoxes,” began to wear on Ćosić, his glee at the party’s embarrassment apparently too much for Ćosić to take: “last night I had to keep quiet during Mihiz’s reactionary rants…”159

  • 160 Again, perhaps in 1956; he reviewed until then, anyway.
  • 161 Author’s interview with Dobrica Ćosić, July 29, 2002.
  • 162 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 182–83.
  • 163 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 182–83.
  • 164 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 314.

73One result of Mihiz’s flirtation with Djilas was his removal from the staff of NIN. Sometime between 1954 and 1956,160 he was asked to resign, which he did; he was then given the position of librarian of the Matica srpska in Novi Sad. Ćosić takes credit for providing Mihiz with this parachute, but has noted the absurdity of Mihiz, a drinking, gambling bohemian, as librarian.161 Mihiz writes that his last piece for NIN was his review of Ćosić’s Roots.162 Forbidden for a short while to publish, that right was returned to him in exchange for a promise not to visit Djilas, a promise that he gave with reluctance.163 Stefan Doronjski, his school friend from Sremski karlovci, now a ranking communist, took care of all of the details from the party side. Mihiz is said to have accepted his changed circumstances with his typical resignation, mingled with some anger: “‘We are moving to Novi Sad,’ explains Mihiz, with a trembling and tight voice, beneath which one felt bitterness and resistance. ‘We have decided,’ he continues, and then adds ironically, ‘Naturally—voluntarily!’ … ‘We are moving to Novi Sad; what’s strange about that?’”164 Publicly, however, Mihiz betrayed more enthusiasm. In a 1956 farewell piece in NIN, he wrote of the novelty of Novi Sad, a city “I know so little about.” He expressed his joy at having found a reason to love it: the theater competition known as the Sterijino pozorje, held yearly there. Novi Sad and the Sterijino pozorje would open up an entirely new and fruitful phase of his life.

  • 165 Borislav Mihajlović, “Okultizam,” Politika (November 17, 1957); published in Mihajlović, Književni (...)
  • 166 Author’s interview with Dobrica Ćosić, July 29, 2002.
  • 167 Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz, “Vreme će napraviti red,” in Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 99. This is (...)

74For all intents and purposes, Mihiz’s career as “critic of the moment” ended then, although he did publish one piece in 1957 in Politika that served as his farewell to the genre: it was entitled “Occultism.”165 In it, Mihiz bemoaned the fact that, while the battle for free expression had been won, Serbian writers had become overly complex, as though the intricacy of one’s expression hid some fundamental profundity. He later reminisced that after 1956, Serbian literature “fell into obscurantism and occultism. That was the moment when it seemed to me that our literature became boring.” Mihiz, who apparently hated to write,166 also speculated that he quit writing criticism because “I had probably already become worn out.” He felt that he had outlived his readership: “for each generation it is better for that work to be done by a person of that generation.”167

  • 168 Predrag Palavestra wrote that Mihiz’s conclusions “were short-lived, they weren’t substantiated or (...)
  • 169 See Ljubiša Jeremić, “Brza i pregledna reč Borislava Mihajlovića Mihiza,” introduction to Borislav (...)
  • 170 (No author) “Volim komade s pevanjem i pucanjem.”
  • 171 Luka Mičeta, “Dedovi su pojeli unuke,” in NIN (Belgrade) February 1, 2003.
  • 172 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 318.

75After retiring from NIN and from professional literary criticism, Mihiz was often given that sort of faint praise that true practitioners reserve for the glib dilettante—he was well-read but superficial, he was unschooled in theory but was enthusiastic, he could turn a phrase but had few original ideas.168 Furthermore, fellow critics often renewed the accusation of favoritism.169 Many of these reproaches were deserved, but one senses that when all was said and done, Mihiz was appreciated by the reading public for what he was—a deeply perceptive fellow reader whose judgment novices could trust. Soja Jovanović, a Belgrade theater director, has asserted that “he was a person who knew meaningful people when he saw them.” According to Jovanović (who exaggerated), the reputations of Desanka Maksimović, Branko Ćopić, Dušan Radović, and others were made not because Mihiz praised them, but because he discovered them.170 Others record his role more acerbically: in a biting critique of Dobrica Ćosić and Antonije Isaković, Mladen Markov recently asserted that “the writers of their books were Oskar Davičo and Borislav Mihajlović.”171 Danilo Stojković, in a slam of the Serbian Academy, argued that Mihiz, whose own literary production was comparatively small, deserved a place in the Academy if only for the writers he nurtured. (Mihiz never did make it into the Academy.) Pavle Ugrinov has written that Mihiz was “an amateur, smitten, in the best sense of the word….He was just a ‘professional’ babbler, a so-called ‘oral literary critic’….[but] the most influential critic, because nothing is as effective as word of mouth retelling, especially in an environment in which scandalously few read…”172

76Ugrinov saw something more than exhaustion behind Mihiz’s withdrawal.

  • 173 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 316–17.

Appearing to have both feet in art and aesthetics, and not exactly avante-garde but predominantly traditional, Mihiz in fact stood most firmly in cultural politics and politics itself, and here operated critically, more violently than in literature, and also irreconcilably. Because he was in any case predominantly a critical soul. Gradually he narrowed the circle of artistic and widened the circle of political personalities with whom he was seen.173

77Ugrinov believed that Mihiz’s banishment to Novi Sad liberated him:

  • 174 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 109–110.

In reality, that was the moment, it seemed to me, when Mihiz already slowly began to turn his back on literary criticism and literature and ever more gave in to politics and public life of that type.…As though his brilliant critical beginning in NIN was only an introduction to a more versatile public performance. From one sphere he passed into another wider sphere; from one which he fit into another which he fit even better. Better said: a fulfillment. He was, perhaps, born to it.174

78The “it” was politics and public life; if Ugrinov is right, it would nonetheless be several years before Mihiz fulfilled that public promise.

  • 175 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 71.
  • 176 Trifunović, Slikarstvo, 65.

79Popović was closer to fulfilling his own promise. In May 1956, he and his wife Vera stayed for six months in a cottage on the island of Brehat, off the Atlantic coast of France.175 There he pondered his future. Should he “do away with symbolic expression and explore pictural values more deeply,” or “reduce the painting to pure symbol and free himself of that almost pathological fear of down-to-earth painting?”176 Popović would choose to abandon both symbol and figure and adopt one of the varieties of abstract expressionism produced in the west, art informel. Demanding attention to materials and their means of application rather than the forms produced, relying on the physicality of the painter rather than his precision, informel responded to the sense of alienation felt by its adherents. For Popović, informel would be the first form of painting that he would fully embrace, and it would provide him with his first unqualified successes. It ended Popović’s period of searching, mostly outside of Serbia or Yugoslavia, for an idiom that responded fully to his fear of figural painting, which he would later describe as a fear of the requirements of “pure art.” There is irony in the fact that he finally settled on an abstract style, given his earlier rejection of abstraction as exhausted; but then, in that same breath he had condemned socialist realism (somewhat less categorically than abstraction), and he would return to a social realist style after 1968. Differing from Ćosić and Mihiz in his openness to foreign forms and in his desire to probe his own psyche, Popović’s search took him outside of his own culture: whereas Mihiz merely tolerated his sojourn in Paris in the early 1950s, and would focus his energies entirely on questions pertaining to Serbian culture, Popović tested Serbian or Yugoslav themes, failed, and fled to the west, to cosmopolitan places and a style developed outside of Yugoslavia. And, unlike Ćosić, whose career was devoted to a virtually global project of modernization, the perfection of mankind, Popović’s project was personal and represented a flight from social engagement: informel was, for Popović, an escape to the interior. This escape would consume most of his 1960s. But where Mihiz’s situation had changed abruptly (ultimately for the better) and Popović had begun to find his feet by 1956, Ćosić would endure the early signs of disillusionment at the same time.

Notes

1 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 77–79.

2 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 250.

3 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 162.

4 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 77.

5 Pavle Vasić, “Prva samostalna izložba,” in Politika (September 28, 1950) 4. Ješa Denegri (Pedesete, 36) calls it the first independent show of an artist of the postwar generation, an assertion that depends on one’s definition of the postwar generation. There were two other one-man shows, and one which featured two painters: see Nadrealizam socijalna umetnost, 72. Popović himself has described his as the first one-man show after the war; Mića Popović and Hans Klunker, Mića Popović (London: Flint River, 1989) 37.

6 Protić, Nojeva barka, v. 1, 321.

7 Mića Popović, “Predgovor katologu izložbe” in Lazar Trifunović, editor, Srpska likovna kritika: Izbor (Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga, 1967) 479–87.

8 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 47.

9 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 47.

10 See Mića Popović, Sudari i harmonije (Novi Sad: Bratstvo i jedinstvo, 1954) 45–46.

11 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 57.

12 Ćosić, Mića Popović, 48.

13 Popović, “Predgovor,” 479–80.

14 Popović, “Predgovor,” 481.

15 Popović, “Predgovor,” 485.

16 Popović, “Predgovor,” 482.

17 “Otvorena je izložba slika Miće Popovića,” in Politika (September 25, 1950) 4.

18 Miodrag Protić, Srpsko slikarstvo XX veka (Belgrade: Nolit, 1970) 393.

19 Borislav Mihajlović, Ogledi (Belgrade: Novo pokoljenje, 1951) 219.

20 Protić, Nojeva barka, v. 1, 285.

21 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 57.

22 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 20.

23 Others have said that Mitra Mitrović, Djilas’s first wife and another force in Serbian cultural politics, inspired NIN’s founding; Milovan Djilas, “NIN treba da se čuva,” NIN (April 19, 1991) 49.

24 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 20.

25 Author’s interview with Dobrica Ćosić, July 29, 2002.

26 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 32.

27 Whereas Mihiz says he lost his job after Djilas’ fall, and his official biography says he worked in NIN until 1954, he regularly reviewed in NIN until 1956.

28 Borislav Mihajlović, “Novinama reč mržnje i ljubavi,” in Mihajlović, Književni razgovori, 10.

29 Borislav Mihajlović, “[Odgovor na anketno pitanje o književnim uticajima],” in Mihajlović, Književni razgovori, 14–16.

30 Mihajlović, “[Odgovor…],” 16.

31 On Matoš in English, see Eugene E. Pantzer, Antun Gustav Matoš (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981).

32 Quoted in Pantzer, Antun Gustav Matoš, 65–66.

33 Borislav Mihajlović, “Odronjeni bregovi,” in Mihajlović, Književni razgovori, 33.

34 Borislav Mihajlović, “Književni razgovori,” in Borislav Mihajlović, Od istog čitaoca (Belgrade: Nolit, 1956) 161.

35 Mihajlović, “Književni razgovori,” 169.

36 Mihajlović, “Književni razgovori,” 160.

37 Mihajlović, “Književni razgovori,” 165–66.

38 On this meeting, see Peković, Ni rat, ni mir, 195–213; for a less formal contemporary view, see Stanislav Vinaver, “Plenum književnika 1954. godine,” in Stanislav Vinaver, Beogradsko ogledalo, (Belgrade: Slovo ljubve, 1977) 213–17.

39 Vinaver’s columns under the title “Beogradsko ogledalo” were collected in Beogradsko ogledalo. Scheduled speakers included Krleža, Josip Vidmar, Zoran Mišić, Marko Ristić, Ervin Šinko, Marin Franičević, Erih Koš, Oto Bihalji Marin, Janez Menart, Slobodan Novak, and Bora Pavlović; commentary was offered by Mihiz, Milan Bogdanović, Eli Finci, Mihailo Lalić, Boris Ziherl, Petar Šegedin, and Vinaver. See NIN (Belgrade) November 14 and 21, 1954. Vinaver, much older than Mihiz, seems to have shared his temperament; he wrote for Republika between 1950 and 1955; see Vinaver, “Plenum književnika 1954. godine,” 213–17.

40 Miroslav Krleža, “Referat na plenumu saveza književnika,” in Krleža, Eseji, 61–83.

41 Borislav Mihajlović, “Reč u diskusiji na izvanrednom plenumu Saveza književnika Jugoslavije 1954. godine,” in Mihajlović, Književni razgovori, 34–39.

42 Mihajlović, “Reč u diskusiji,” 36–37.

43 Ćosić agreed, by 1951: “Milan Bogdanović is ruined as a writer…That professor of literature at the university has totally lost the habit of reading books.” Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 17.

44 Vinaver, “Plenum književnika 1954. godine,” 214.

45 Mihajlović, “Reč u diskusiji,” 37.

46 In these comments, he only reinforced similar remarks made in his article “Književni razgovori,” described above. Mihajlović, “Reč na diskusiji,” 37.

47 Mihajlović, “Reč na diskusiji,” 39.

48 Mihajlović, “Reč na diskusiji,” 39.

49 “Atelje 212,” NIN (Belgrade) January 30, 1955, 8.

50 “Atelje 212,” 8.

51 On Atelje 212, see Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja (Belgrade: Beogradski izdavačko-grafički zavod, 1994), 31–33. For the Belgrade Drama Theater, see Stojković, “Okolo,” 336; also Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 35–36.

52 (No author) “Volim komade s pevanjem i pucanjem” in Blic (Belgrade) June 27, 2000 (no page number).

53 (No author) “Volim komade s pevanjem i pucanjem,” (no page number).

54 Stojković, “Okolo,” 336.

55 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 55.

56 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 55.

57 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 16.

58 Zoran Žujović, “Knjiga o ljudima Rasine,” Politika (Belgrade) July 8, 1951, 6.

59 Ćosić’s bibliography, published in the Godišnjak Srpske akademije nauka i umetnosti v. 84 (1977) 315–22, shows that it was published in nineteen languages by 1977.

60 Wachtel, Making a Nation, 152.

61 All citations will be from the 1966 edition of Daleko je sunce (Belgrade: Prosveta, 1966).

62 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 67.

63 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 29.

64 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 17.

65 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 20.

66 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 113.

67 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 117.

68 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 127.

69 Wachtel, Making a Nation, 152–4.

70 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 155–56.

71 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 79–80.

72 Ćosić, Daleko je sunce, 189.

73 Djilas, Rise and Fall, 60.

74 See Tony Judt, Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944–56 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992) 45–74.

75 Marko Ristić, Književna politika: Članci i pamfleti (Belgrade: Prosveta, 1952); Marko Ristić, Prostor-Vreme: Eseji i članci (Zagreb: Zora, 1952).

76 Ristić, Kniževna politika 2d ed. (Belgrade: Rad, 1979) 9. All citations for this section will be from the 1979 edition.

77 Ristić, Književna politika, 10.

78 Mihajlović, Od istog čitaoca, 111. The review, entitled “An Article With a Bit of a Pamphlet: On a Book of Pamphlets and Articles” was published in NIN in April 1952.

79 Mihajlović, Od istog čitaoca, 112. Vladislav Petković Dis was a turn-of-thecentury Serbian poet.

80 Mihajlović, Od istog čitaoca, 115.

81 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 36. Peković describes Majstorović’s review as a pure response to the tenuous nature of literary politics in 1952 (Ni rat, ni mir, 135–137); Mihiz’s recollection is that Majstorović wanted to publish Mihiz’s review, but needed to “attack Mihiz sharply at the same time.”

82 This review appeared under the title “Marko Ristić: ‘Prostor-Vreme’” in November 1952 in NIN; Mihajlović, Od istog čitaoca, 116–122.

83 Mihiz, Od istog čitaoca, 117, 122.

84 Predrag Palavestra found Ristić’s work to be brilliant. Zoran Mišić believed that Ristić was “the Dositej of an irrational idea and the codifier of antidogmatic positions” (a positive appraisal). Palavestra, Posleratna srpska književnost, 54–58; Mišić is quoted in Peković, Ni rat ni mir, 136.

85 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 37–38.

86 Milivoj Nenin, “Ništa novo, a neponovljivo,” in Vladeta Janković and Milan Janković, eds. Drugi o Mihizu (Belgrade: Stubovi kulture, 1998) 70.

87 Marko Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” in Hanifa Kapidžić-Osmanagić, editor, Kritički radovi Marka Ristića (Novi Sad: Matica Srpska, 1987) 313–407.

88 D. Adamović, “Moze se reći da u tim književnim sferama nikad nijedna bitka nije definitivno dobijena, ali ni izgubljena,” NIN (Belgrade) February 28, 1954, p. 8.

89 Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” 315.

90 Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” 360–61.

91 Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” 317.

92 Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” 321.

93 Ristić, “Tri mrtvih pesnika,” 325.

94 Borislav Mihajlović, “Miloš: Poslednja Čarnojevićeva seoba,” in Borislav Mihajlović, Portreti (Belgrade: Nolit, 1988) 181.

95 Borislav Mihajlović, “Pesnik,” in Mihajlović, Portreti, 180.

96 “Razgovor o romanu ‘Seobe’ Miloša Crnjanskog” in Delo (Belgrade) January 1963, 7.

97 “Razgovor,” 25.

98 Mihajlović, Ogledi, 229.

99 Vasić, “Prva samostalna izložba,” 4.

100 Trifunović, Slikarstvo, 147.

101 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 69–112.

102 Popović and Klunker, Mića Popović, 40.

103 Trifunović, Slikarstvo, 47.

104 “Francuzi o slikarstvu Miće Popovića,” Politika (Belgrade) May 29, 1953, 4.

105 Popović and Klunker, Mića Popović, 42–50.

106 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 106.

107 Popović and Klunker, Mića Popović, 47.

108 Petar Džadžić, “Mića Popović: ‘Sudari i harmonije’,” in NIN (Belgrade) December 26, 1954, p. 9.

109 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 15.

110 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 19–21.

111 So was the Ideological Commission of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (Savez komunista Jugoslavije, SKJ; the post-split name of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia). It met in February 1956, and Popović’s comment drew the ire of Veljko Vlahović: “He talks about the need for freedom in our country and announces that in our country there is no freedom, and he does not expand about where we haven’t got it. And such things are published here…” Arhiv Jugoslavije, Centralni komitet Saveza komunista Jugoslavije [hereafter AJ, CK-SKJ] Ideološka komisija, “Zapisnik za sastanka Ideološke komisije CK Jugoslavije na dan 3.II.1956 godine,” 63.

112 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 20; quote from p. 41.

113 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 45.

114 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 46.

115 Popović, Sudari i harmonije, 153.

116 Djukić, Čovek u svom vremenu, 17.

117 Stojković, “Okolo,” 336–40; Dobrica Ćosić, “Komuna, stara i nova reč,” in Delo v. 1, no. 2 (April 1955) 183–94. The 1957 trip is documented in Dobrica Ćosić, “Predsednik,” in Prilike, v.2 of Akcije (Belgrade: Prosveta, 1966) 17–23.

118 Stojković, “Okolo,” 337

119 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 55.

120 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 55.

121 Ćosić, “Komuna, stara i nova reč,” 189.

122 Ćosić, “Komuna, stara i nova reč,” 189.

123 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 24.

124 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 25.

125 Ćosić, “Komuna, stara i nova reč,” 190.

126 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 33–34.

127 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 35.

128 Ćosić, “Predsednik,” 21.

129 In 1954, after Roots’ publication, Ćosić said that he had been influenced by Freud, Jung, and Adler in its composition, but that “perhaps literature, such as Faulkner, is more essentially present in Roots than is psychology as a science”; from an interview in Književne novine (December 2, 1954), quoted in Vukašin Stanisavljević, Koreni Dobrice Ćosića (Belgrade: Zavod za udžbenike i nastavna sredstva, 1982) 14. In Time of Power (Vreme vlasti, 1996), Ćosić inserts himself into the Katić story and comments that his first novel had been inspired by Faulker.

130 Stanisavljević, Koreni Dobrice Ćosića, 12–13.

131 Stanisavljević, Koreni Dobrice Ćosića, 10–11.

132 Dobrica Ćosić, Koreni (Belgrade: Prosveta, 1966) 110.

133 Ćosić, Koreni, 226.

134 Ćosić, Koreni, 82.

135 Ćosić, Koreni, 10.

136 Ćosić, Koreni, 169.

137 Ćosić, Koreni, 195.

138 Ćosić, Koreni, 125.

139 Ćosić, Koreni, 190.

140 Ćosić, Koreni, 31.

141 Ćosić, Koreni, 46–47.

142 Ćosić, Koreni, 263.

143 Peković, Ni rat ni mir, 157 ff.; Djilas, Rise and Fall, 328–30.

144 Djilas, Rise and Fall, 330.

145 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 41.

146 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 41.

147 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 39.

148 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 46–47.

149 He was interviewed by party committees on several occasions in 1954, and also apparently followed by UDBa agents. See Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 107–109.

150 For a discussion of the Third Congress, see Marković, Beograd, 330–32, and Peković, Ni rat ni mir, 190–93.

151 Cited in Marković, Beograd, 331.

152 There is some irony to the fact that Kardelj saved Ćosić’s skin, however circumstantially, since by the 1980s Kardelj would become Ćosić’s most loathed Yugoslav communist after Tito.

153 While Mihiz and Mišić praised Pavlović, others, like Zoran Gavrilović, said that “all you needed to know about Pavlović is that he has nothing to say.” Peković, Ni rat, ni mir, 137.

154 Boris Mihajlović, “Čovekov čovek,” in NIN (Belgrade) January 1, 1954, 4.

155 Mihiz’s article “Odronjeni bregovi,” published in NIN in November 1953, praised the growth of tolerance within party circles of divergent opinion; it was interpreted by many to be an endorsement of Nova misao; see Peković, Ni rat ni mir, 163, in which the author describes Predrag Palavestra’s attack on Mihiz. “Odronjeni bregovi” can be found in Mihajlović, Od istog čitaoca, 198–203.

156 The story of Davičo’s A Man’s Man and the crisis it provoked are in Peković, Ni rat ni mir, 179–84.

157 Quote from Djilas, Rise and Fall, 370; Mihiz also discusses this period in Autobiografija, v. 2, 139–61.

158 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 48.

159 Ćosić, Piščevi zapisi (1951–1968), 63.

160 Again, perhaps in 1956; he reviewed until then, anyway.

161 Author’s interview with Dobrica Ćosić, July 29, 2002.

162 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 182–83.

163 Mihiz, Autobiografija, v. 2, 182–83.

164 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 314.

165 Borislav Mihajlović, “Okultizam,” Politika (November 17, 1957); published in Mihajlović, Književni razgovori, 281–86.

166 Author’s interview with Dobrica Ćosić, July 29, 2002.

167 Borislav Mihajlović Mihiz, “Vreme će napraviti red,” in Mihiz, Kazivanja i ukazivanja, 99. This is an interview from 1981.

168 Predrag Palavestra wrote that Mihiz’s conclusions “were short-lived, they weren’t substantiated or systematic, and they could be superficial and unreliable, because they were the result of inspiration, on an impressionistic basis, quick and rash.” Palavestra, Posleratna srpska književnost, 85.

169 See Ljubiša Jeremić, “Brza i pregledna reč Borislava Mihajlovića Mihiza,” introduction to Borislav Mihajlović, Književni razgovori: Izabrane kritike (Belgrade: Srpska književna zadruga, 1971) xii–xiii.

170 (No author) “Volim komade s pevanjem i pucanjem.”

171 Luka Mičeta, “Dedovi su pojeli unuke,” in NIN (Belgrade) February 1, 2003.

172 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 318.

173 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 316–17.

174 Ugrinov, Tople pedesete, 109–110.

175 Gligorijević, Odgovor, 71.

176 Trifunović, Slikarstvo, 65.

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