On the 2nd of May 2015 a literature evening organised by the Saint Sava Sunday School was held in the Hall of Bishop Nikolaj in London. At the start of the event, the audience listened to Crnjanski’s poem ‘Lament over Belgrade’ first told in the Kolarac after his return to the fatherland in 1965.
Students from the sixth grade made three sketches with anecdotes about the life of the writer and poet. They were able to illustrate the originality, wit and creativeness of Crnjanski.
Audiences then heard a famous song known as ‘Strazilovo’ which the poet had read out on a broadcast by Radio Belgrade over half a century ago.
Professor Milo Lompar, the president of the Miloš Crnjanski foundation and a regular lecturer at the University of Belgrade talked about the life of Miloš Crnjanski in the context of history, politics and literature of the last century. Professor Lompar has also written several books about Miloš Crnjanski.
Miloš Crnjanski was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century in the south Slav area of Europe where Ivo Andrić in his own words exclaimed that out of all of us, only Miloš Crnjanski was a born writer.
Only after fifty years, did the writer return to his homeland where his works were finally published. Discussions about his return to communist Yugoslavia went on for ten years. Crnjanski returned to Yugoslavia in August 1965 as a British citizen. He worked as a press attaché for the kingdom of Yugoslavia in Rome in 1941. On the invitation of the Yugoslav monarchy which immigrated the same year, Crnjanski came to London.
The first year after immigrating was spent waiting for the war to finish and to return home, however it so happened that Crnjanski would find himself waiting a number of decades to return in which he was barely surviving in terrible living conditions.
With the support of his wife Vida and the well-founded respect for his literary work, Crnjanski continued writing in exile. He was openly anti-communist and his return to the fatherland during the communist era caused a number of controversies. Crnjanski was received but was not accepted in a regime such as that as he remained faithful to his Serbian standpoint.
Crnjanski defined this standpoint during the time of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as he had a presentiment that the Serbs would witness an historical catastrophe because of the idea of Yugoslavism.
A gifted poet and writer, Miloš Crnjanski however did not have the cunning for politics, although he did have the guile for understanding the course of history and was able to almost foresee where the course would end up. He wrote one of the best historical novels in Serbian literature known as ‘Seobe’. His complete literature is a testament to his legacy.
The will of his wife Vida Crnjanski, born Ruzic, established the foundation Miloš Crnjanski which preserves, renews and gathers all of Crnjanski’s works. The foundation is a non-profit and non-governmental organisation which is only able to function because of the help of volunteers, admirers and donators which contribute to the work of the foundation. If you would like to see in more detail how the foundation works please visit http://www.mcrnjanski.rs/
The literature evening dedicated to Milos Crnjanski has great cultural meaning for the Serbian community in London which can be seen in the generational age range of the people attending: From those who knew him personally and listened to his lectures right here in London over half a century ago to students which are studying the literary works of Miloš Crnjanski.
Alongside the melody of Russian music, which Milos Crnjanski happily listened to, the literature evening finished in a pleasant atmosphere thanks to the discussion with Professor Milo Lompar.
Translation from Serbian: Stefan Martinovic
Video recording of Prof. Lompar’s talk is available HERE.