5 June 1891|
Vrgorac, Austro-Hungarian Empire
|Died||12 November 1955
|Notable work(s)||Lelek sebra
Auto na korzu
Žedan kamen na studencu
Ujević was born in Vrgorac, a small town in the Dalmatian hinterland, and grew up in what were then the provincial towns of Imotski and Makarska, and briefly Zagreb, where he was influenced by the circle of Antun Gustav Matoš. He completed classical gymnasium in Split, spent some time in France during WWI and studied in Belgrade, where he lived for 10 of his most fruitful years. He was a political activist of Yugoslav nationalism (1912–1916), leaving politics for a life of a quintessential bohemian wanderer, residing and blasphemously rioting in Belgrade, Sarajevo, Mostar, Split and finally Zagreb. Meanwhile he has also been a member of French Foreign Legion.
Ujević distinguished himself in three fields: as a translator, essayist and feuilletonist and poet. He translated numerous works of poetry, novels and short stories into Serbian and Croatian (Walt Whitman, Marcel Proust, Joseph Conrad, Benvenuto Cellini, George Meredith, ...). He wrote more than ten books of essays, poetry in prose and meditations — but his enduring strength lies chiefly in his monumental poetic opus.
Having absorbed virtually all of the Western poetic tradition (from Dante and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to Charles Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Whitman and Ezra Pound) and all the Croatian greats, including (Marko Marulić and Ivan Gundulić), Ujević created a protean poetic oeuvre of inimitable flavor and inescapable grandeur. His chief theme can be termed as — everything under the sun and beyond. From pantheist mysticism to humble Christian spirituality, from celebration of corporeality and ecstatic unity of human, non-human and the divine to meditative repose, from the ironic verse making burlesque of modern technology-driven civilization to the tender verbal music hallowing ancient Dalmatian hamlets, from the powerful expression of erotic yearning to the resignation to the fates of human condition — Ujević's poetry is a polymorphous vision of life, blend of often conflicting traditions ranging from the Mediterranean ideal of harmonious beauty and modern existentialist sensibility expressed in the verses of unmatched virtuosity and profundity.
Ujević held a post in the Independent State of Croatia in which he worked as a translator, and continued to publish some material. Because of this, the communist regime in Yugoslavia prevented him from continuing with his literary career for several years. Ujević died on 12 November 1955 and is buried at Mirogoj Cemetery in Zagreb.
- Lelek sebra/Cry of a slave, 1920, Belgrade (in cyrilic, ekavian)
- Kolajna/Necklace, 1926, Belgrade (in cyrilic, ekavian)
- Skalpel kaosa/Scalpel of chaos 1938, Zagreb
- Žedan kamen na studencu/Thirsty stone at the wellspring, 1954, Zagreb
- Auto na korzu/Car on the street
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