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28 March 1824
Slavonski Brod, Croatia
|Died||1 July 1853 (aged 29)|
Aleksije "Branko" Radičević (Serbian Cyrillic: Бранко Радичевић, Serbian pronunciation: [brǎːŋko radǐːtʃeʋitɕ]; 28 March 1824 – 1 July 1853) was an influential Serbian poet and the founder of modern Serbian lyric poetry.
Branko Radičević was born in Slavonski Brod on 15 March 1824. Aleksije was his baptismal name before he changed it to Branko, a more common Serbian name. He finished high school in Sremski Karlovci, the setting of his best poems. He studied in Vienna. In 1847 Radičević's first book of poetry appeared, announcing a new era in Serbian poetry. He went to Serbia but soon returned to Vienna to study medicine, where he was surrounded by Serb intellectuals, either living in the city or passing through, including his lifelong friend Bogoboj Atanacković, Vuk Karadžić, Đuro Daničić, Milica Stojadinović-Srpkinja, Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, and others. Radičević's second collection of poetry was a bit weaker than the first. He wrote after this, but never recovered his early raptures, except among the very latest of all his poems, the enchanting welcome to death, in this twenty-ninth year, entitled Kad mlidijah umreti (As I Thought of Dying).
Radičević gave expression to simple emotion such as joy on a sunny morning or in a fishing boat, pleasure derived from flowers, the exuberance of school youth, patriotic fervor, and love's joys and sorrows. His youthful zeal is also expressed in unabashed eroticism and in the exultation of wine, women and song, according to critic Jovan Skerlić, perhaps the best authority on Branko Radičević. More importantly, he was the first to write poetry in the simple language of the common folk. He attempted to recreate rhythm of the folk song, thus supporting the belief of Vuk Karadžić that even poetry can be written in the language of peasants and shepherds." Radičević proved to be very important to Vuk Karadžić's victory because he gathered his generation of young writers and poets around the cause of language reform. His work was described as the first dew of Serbian poetry in the folk language of Vuk Karadžić.
Skerlić writes in his History of New Serbian Literature that Branko Radičević had a significant influence on Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, Bogoboj Atanacković, Kosta Ruvarac, Jovan Grčić Milenko, and other Serbian poets and writers of the period.
He died of tuberculosis in Vienna 1853 and in 1883 his remains were buried in Stražilovo. Radičević's early death was a great loss to Serbian letters; for he was by far the most promising of the younger lyric poets of his time.
Djački rastanak (The Parting of Schoolfriends) is the best and most popular of his works. Nothing is lovelier in this remarkable poem than those passages in which he pictures the life of college students. For a time he gives himself up to the fleeting impressions of the moment. He greets the gently rolling hills and coolness of the forest and delights in the view of the Danube valley below with its widening rivers and vistas. In Put (A Journey), a magnanimous allegory, Branko has shown unusual skill in satirical nomenclature by stigmatizing Vuk Stefanović Karadžić's adversaries who disapproved the reforms of language and orthography. His lyrics display extreme tenderness, beauty, originality and delicacy of fancy. Some of his shorter pieces are adapted to national melodies and are sung by young people all over the country. His poetry may be small in bulk and slight in body, but it endures, and will endure, in Serbian literature, because it is the embodiment of the spirit of immortal youth. It has been said that Branko is the poet of spring, and those who have not read him before the meridian of their lives may abandon all hope of penetrating him when the snows of time are on their heads.
Interestingly enough, Radičević left some unfinished work. He left at least one text meriting close attention in any inquiry into Slavic Romantic irony, the ambitious unfinished poem of 1477 lines, composed in 1849, and featuring two titles: Ludi Branko (Branko the Fool) and Bezimena (Unnamed). Seventy-four years later, literary critics Pavle Popović and his brother Bogdan Popović found that in this poetic fragment "there is no poetry whatsoever" and that it "merits no compliment of any kind." Comparisons with European phenomena lead Serbian intellectuals and publicists such as Tihomir Ostojić, Ilija M. Petrović, Božidar Kovačević and Vladeta Vuković to reduce it to an imitation or at best thorough influence of Byron. Only after the centenary of Radičević's death, began the re-evaluation of Bezimena in essays by Salko Nezečić, Ljubiša Rajković and others. Milan Dedinac and Miodrag Popović, in his 1969 treatise, which is the first true scholarly study of the fragment since Ostojić's monograph of 1918, both move Bezimena away from Byron and Romanticism and toward Pushkin's Eugene Onegin and Vissarion Belinsky's essay of 1843 about Pushkin and Realism.
Between 1845 and 1852, at the very climax of the personal activity of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, several poets were born, who were destined to enrich the Serbian language with its first group of lyrical blossoms. Of these eldest, Peter II Petrovich Njegoš and Branko Radičević, were men of extraordinary gifts, and destined to fascinate the attention of posterity, not only by the brilliance of their work, but by the suffering and brevity of their lives. Njegoš was not only the greatest Serbian poet of the 19th century, but he had few rivals in Europe, if not the world. Radičević, meanwhile, excited great hopes in his contemporaries, but left less that is immortal behind him.
Branko Radičević, therefore, was more important to Vuk's victory in the battle for language reform, but it was Njegoš whose use of the popular language was the most profound.
He is included in The 100 most prominent Serbs.
- Kad mlidijah umreti (As I Thought of Dying)
- Tuga i opomena (Sadness and Warning)
- Đački rastanak (The Parting of Schoolfriends)
- Put (A Journey)
- Bezimena (Unnamed)
- Večernje novosti: Sve adrese Branka Radičevića (All Addresses of Branko Radičević), 26 Mar 2011 (Serbian)
- Brankovo Kolo: РAДИЧEВИЋ, БРAНКO (Radičević, Branko) (Serbian)
- Jovan Skerlić, Istorija Nove Srpske Književnosti / A History of New Serbian Literature (Belgrade, 1914 and 1921), pages 279–288
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