Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj and the Serbian Identity between Poetry and History
Title: Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj and the Serbian Identity between Poetry and History
Author: ALEKSOV, Bojan
Publisher: European University Institute
Series/Report no.: EUI MWP; 2007/08
The recent violent outburst of Serbian nationalism has attracted significant interest in the ever-growing field of nationalism studies. In addition, the so-called ‘cultural turn’ has engaged scholars in the reappraisal of significant aspects of Serbian culture, namely the ones that make it national, such as literature. In Serbian literature, as in that elsewhere, processes accompanying the building of the nation and its identity cannot be understood without proper exploration of the ideological and discursive practices of the national literature as well as modes of its canonization because these factors have defined for individuals who they were and to whom they owed their loyalty. Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj (1833-1904), who already during his lifetime acquired the title of the ‘people’s poet’, was chosen to illustrate the argument of this study. Zmaj imparted the image of a poet as national activist and acted as a key figure in the cultural and political life of the Serbs in Hungary, Croatia and Serbia during the entire second half of the 19th century. Revisiting Zmaj’s life and deeds illuminates the ways in which literary, ideological and political concerns of men of letters related to, and informed, the Serbian national identity-formation. His ideas on the cluster of issues including language, people, state and religion will be reviewed in their historical context as well as against subsequent attempts to adjust or abandon them if they did not fit the dominant national narrative. Using Zmaj I highlight the many-sidedness and historical contingency of the identity construction and question the common essentialist and deterministic views of a certain national culture and its derived political nationalism, whether they are critical or apologetic of its contents.
Subject: Nationalism; National identity; Literature; Literary Canon; Romanticism; Liberalism; Anticlericalism; Yugoslav idea
WP withdrawn from online availability
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