Friday, 30 September 2016

Ante Kadic: The Role of Vlado Gotovac in the Croatian Democratic Movement - JCS 21


Journal of Croatian Studies, Volume XXI, 1980
"The poem's fate is becoming similar to our own"
Before I sketch Vlado Gotovac (1930) both as an essayist in the literary periodical Kritika (1968-71) and the main editor of the cultural and political weeklyHrvatski tjednik (1971), I will talk about him and his poetic output until the fatal autumn of 1971.
Gotovac belongs to that "middle" poetic generation (though already in their fifties), which appeared after Jure Kaštelan (1919) and Vesna Parun (1922), and which liberated postwar Croatian belles-letters from the prescriptions of socialist realism and espoused rather the West European models. From them really began the period of "liberation" and a gradual flowering of all branches of cultural life. This blossoming era, usually labelled as "the Croatian spring", was interrupted by Tito's drastic ukase, on December 1, 1971 (in Karadjordjevo, one of his sumptuous resorts.
Gotovac was born in Imotski, in that mountainous region of Dalmatia which gave birth to several good writers. As he himself narrates[1], he spent his early childhood in Bosnia (in Prnjavor), where he heard from an old Moslem woman many stories and fables. After secondary school in Split, he obtained his master's degree in philosophy from the University at Zagreb. He was for years employed as a journalist at the Zagreb television station.
Gotovac is a voracious reader. Besides the German philosophers, he has studied the Russian, French and English writers. He has sometimes been accused of being too much influenced by T. S. Eliot. He thinks that Marx is "unavoidable" if one tries to understand the present times, but recognizes that the Bible had exercised a decisive impact upon his mental outlook (Weltanschauung)[2]. He admits to be a socialist, but above all a humanist; instead of being considered a nationalist, he prefers to be viewed as a patriot in the country where his nation is oppressed.
Gotovac began to write at an early age. On account of his thematic novelty and unusual approach to poetry, at first the editors of various periodicals refused to publish his contributions. In Miroslav Vaupotić, a well-known critic and professor of Croatian literature, Gotovac found not only an admirer but also a fervent propagandist. Once the ice was broken, Gotovac's collections of poems came out regularly until 1971[3] when he was accused by the orthodox watch-dogs for counter-revolutionary tendencies and condemned to four years in jail. Since he was released, Gotovac has remained jobless and for ten years the publishing houses have refused to accept a single one of his books. Recently he himself has issued ("samizdat") a slender volume of his poems.[4]
Gotovac was interviewed several times by foreign correspondents, and therefore the Yugoslav authorities have initiated a new process against him.
Although Gorovac's poetry has certain similarities with that of his contemporaries and friends (e. g. Slavko Mihalić), it is unique to himself: so difficult and easy, deep and naive, covered with seven veils and sincere, that the connoisseurs would recognize it even if he did not sign it.
The poet wishes each his verse to be a whole; nevertheless, all of them together, like stairs, lead to his abode where in solitude he meditates over life in general and his own in particular:
The door of my house is made only for me
And only one flight of sirs leads to my room.
In this entire building is expressed the malice of solitude.
My house--a house without encounters.[5]

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