TOMO SKALICA'S TRAVELOGUE (1853) TO HONOLULU*
For many centuries Croatian intellectuals have been citizens of a country dominated by foreign powers; often they have been employed by those governments and have travelled abroad in that capacity.
Some of them left written impressions of Central and Eastern Europe; these reports are valuable not only to geographers, but also to students of the Austro-Hungarian and ottoman empires, of the constant religious controversies between Catholic and Orthodox church, and of fascinating Slavic folklore.
Among these travelogues two excel, the first one written by Antun Vrančić (1504-73) and the second by Ruđer Bošković (1711-87). These two clergymen wrote their travelogues in foreign languages (in Latin and Italian), because Vrančić was reporting to the Austrian emperor who had entrusted him with a delicate mission to the Sultan (Iter Buda Hadrianopolim, 1553), while Bošković from his teen-age years moved in the circle of West-European scientists and communicated his observations to them (Giornale di un Viaggio da Constantinopoli in Polonia, 1784).
The situation changed radically during the Croatian national and cultural revival (1832-48), when travelling became somewhat easier even for the laymen, who wrote only in the vernacular, for they were addressing themselves to their countrymen. They were deeply influenced by new currents of political rebellion, national independence and to a degree by adventurous longings. When they embarked even on short distance trips (as e.g. Stanko Vraz who travelled from Zagreb to Novo Mesto in Slovenia), they gave detailed accounts of what they saw, whom they encountered and which maidens charmed their heart.
If they travelled to neighbouring dominions, they felt as if they were in another world, because of the different rulers and customs, and often a language barrier.
Bosnia was then a part of the Turkish empire. When Matija Mažuranić (1817-81) went to this province in 1839-40, he was so puzzled by differences which existed between the two geographically close regions that, upon his return to Zagreb, he wrote a fascinating account, which excels in its accurate portrayal of Bosnian customs (A View of Bosnia - Pogled u Bosnu, 1842).
Complete article: http://www.studiacroatica.org/jcs/28/2809.htm
Journal of Croatian Studies, XXVIII-XXIX, 1987-88 - Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.