Aleksa Šantić

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Aleksa Šantić
Aleksa Šantić, c. 1920
Aleksa Šantić, c. 1920
Native name
Алекса Шантић
Born(1868-05-27)May 27, 1868
Mostar, Bosnia Vilayet, Ottoman Empire
DiedFebruary 2, 1924(1924-02-02) (aged 55)
Mostar, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Resting placeMostar Old Cemetery

Aleksa Šantić (Serbian Cyrillic: Алекса Шантић, pronounced [ǎleksa ʃǎ:ntitɕ] (listen); 27 May 1868 – 2 February 1924) was a Serb poet and writer. Šantić wrote about the urban culture of Herzegovina, the growing national awareness of Herzegovinian Serbs, social injustice, nostalgic love, and the unity of the South Slavs. He was the editor-in-chief of the magazine Zora (1896–1901). Šantić was one of the leading persons of Serbian literary and national movement in Mostar.[1][2] In 1914 Šantić became a member of the Serbian Royal Academy.

Early life[edit]

Aleksa Šantić was born into a Herzegovinian Serb family in 1868 in Mostar in the Ottoman Empire.[3][4] His father, Risto, was a merchant; his mother, Mara, came from Mostar's well-off Aničić family.[5] He had two brothers, Jeftan and Jakov, and a sister, Radojka, known as Persa; another sister, Zorica, died in infancy. The family did not have much patience for Aleksa's lyrical talents.

Just as Šantić turned 10 years of age, Bosnia Vilayet (including Mostar) was occupied by Austria-Hungary as per decision made by European Great Powers at the Congress of Berlin during summer of 1878.

Aleksa's father Risto died, which is when his brother Miho known as Adža (Aleksa's uncle) got custody of Aleksa and his siblings. In 1880 and 1881, Šantić attended a Merchant school in Trieste in Italian language. While studying in Trieste, Šantić lived with his uncles Lazar and Todor Aničić who were merchants in Trieste.[6] In 1881, Šantić became a student of a merchant school in Ljubljana (Marova Akademija) where lectures were given in German.[7]

In 1883, he returned to Mostar with knowledge of Italian and German languages.[8]

Serb cultural movement[edit]

Together with Svetozar Ćorović and Jovan Dučić, Šantić was a follower of romanticism of Vojislav Ilić and among most important leaders of cultural and national movement of Herzegovina Serbs.[9]

Šantić and Ćorović intended to establish a journal for Serb children called Херцеговче (English: Little Herzegovinian), not only for Serb children from Herzegovina, but for all Serb children.[10]

Šantić in Serbian traditional costume from Old Herzegovina

Šantić was one of the notable members of the Serb cultural society Prosvjeta. The hymn of the society was authored by Šantić.[11]

Šantić presided over the Serbian Singing Society "Gusle" established in 1888.[12] In this society Šantić was not only its president but also a lead singer of its chorus, composer and lecturer.[13] The literature magazin Zora was published under patronage of "Gusle".[14] Šantić became the editor-in-chief of this magazine review Zora (English: Dawn; 1896–1901) published by Serbian Cultural Society in Mostar which was among the most important societies which struggled for preservation of Serb cultural autonomy and national rights.[15] Zora became one of the best Serbian literature magazines.[16] The journal Zora gathered members of the Serbian intelligentsia who strived to improve education of Serbian population necessary to reach economic and political progress.[17]

In 1903 Šantić was among the founders of the Serbian Gymnastics Society "Obilić".[18]

In this capacity he came into focus of the life of this region which, by its cultural and national consciousness, showed a stubborn opposition to the German Kulturträger. In the spring of 1909, because of the Bosnian Crisis caused by the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary, Šantić had to escape to Italy together with Nikola Kašiković and Ćorović.[19] In 1910, the Šantić family bought a country house in the village Borci, near Konjic from Austro-Hungarian baron Benko who built it in 1902.[20]

The product of his patriotic inspiration during the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 is the book Na starim ognjištima (English: On the Old Hearths; 1913). Šantić belonged to poets who wrote whole collections of songs glorifying victories of Army of Kingdom of Serbia during the Balkan Wars, including On the coast of Drač (Serbian: На обали Драча) which glorifies liberation of the ancient city that once was part of the Serbian Kingdom under King Milutin.[21][22] On 3 February 1914, Šantić became a member of the Serbial Royal Academy (precedent of the modern Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts).[23]

During World War I, he was taken by the Austrians as hostage, but he survived the war. Šantić moved from Mostar to Borci near Konjic in 1914 when suspicious urban Serb population of Mostar was evacuated from the town.[24] On 13 November 1914, Austrian governor in Sarajevo banned Šantić's collection of poems Pjesme published in 1911.[25]

Šantić was a prolific poet and writer. He wrote almost 800 poems, seven theatrical plays and some prose. Many of the writings were of high quality and aimed to criticize the Establishment or advocate diverse social and cultural issues. He was strongly influenced by Heinrich Heine, whose works he translated. His friends and peers in the field of culture were Svetozar Ćorović, Jovan Dučić and Milan Rakić. One of his sisters, Radojka (Persa) married Svetozar Ćorović.


Šantić among prominent writers

Šantić worked as merchant for his father and read a lot of books before he decided to write poetry and met another young merchant, Jovan Dučić from Trebinje who published his first poem in 1886 in the youth literature magazine Pidgeon (Serbian: Голуб) in Sombor (modern-day Serbia).[26] Following example of his friend Jovan Dučić, Šantić also published his first song in literature magazine Pidgeon, its 1887 New Year's Eve edition.[27]

The first poems Šantić published were inspired by older Serbian poets like Njegoš, Zmaj, Vojislav Ilić and Jakšić.[28] The first collection of Šantićs songs was published in Mostar in 1891. He awarded all income from its sales to erecting the monument of Sima Milutinović Sarajlija.[29] In 1901 Bogdan Popović wrote negative critics of Šantić's poetry. Popović's critics had positive and stimulative effect on young Šantić and the quality of his future works.[30]

The oeuvre of Aleksa Šantić, widely accessible yet acutely personal, is a blend of fine-tuned emotional sensibility and clear-eyed historical awareness, steeped in the specifics of local culture. He worked at the crossroads of two centuries and more than other poets of his generation, combined theoretical and poetic suffering nineteenth and twentieth centuries. At the same time, Šantić writes about his personal troubles – the loss of close and dear people (his mother, brothers Jeftan and Jakov, and brother-in-law Svetozar Ćorović), the health that was a lifetime problem and loneliness that accompanied him to the end. Drawing themes and imagery from his hometown Mostar, the atmospheric capital of Mediterranean Herzegovina, and its surroundings, his poetry is marked in equal part by the late-Ottoman urban culture in the region, its social distinctions, subdued passions and melancholy, as well as the South Slavic national awareness.[31][32]

Statue of Aleksa Šantić in Mostar[33]

He was influenced mostly by the poets Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, Vojislav Ilić and Heinrich Heine, whom he was translating. He is said to have reached his greatest poetic maturity between 1905 and 1910, when he wrote his best poems.[34] Šantić's poetry is full of emotion, sadness and pain of love and defiance of social and national disempowered people whom he himself belonged. His muse is at the crossroads of love and patriotism, beloved ideal, and suffering people. The topics and images of his poems ranged from strong emotions for social injustices of his time to nostalgic love. His poems about Mostar and the Neretva river are particularly praised. Šantić wrote a number of love songs in the style of the Bosnian love songs, sevdalinkas. His most well known poem-turned-sevdalinka is Emina, to which music was composed and it is often sung at restaurants (kafanas). The ambiance of his love poems include the neighborhood gardens, flowers, baths, fountains, and girls who appear in them are decorated with a necklace, the challenging but the hidden beauty. This is right about the song "Emina". The spirit of this song is so striking that it became the nation's favorite and sings as sevdalinka. In love songs the most common motive is the desire. The poet watches his beloved from afar and longing often turns into sadness because of unrequited love and the failure of life. His patriotic poetry is poetry about his motherland and her citizens ("My homeland"). In some of his most moving poems Šantić sings about the suffering of those who leave the country forever and go into an unknown and alien world ("Stay here", "Bread"). Šantić emphasizes suffering and martyrdom as the most important moments in the historical destiny of the people ("We know destiny").[35]

During his life he wrote six volumes of poetry (1891, 1895, 1900, 1908, 1911, 1913), as well as some dramatizations in verse, the best of which are Pod maglom (In the Fog; 1907) and Hasan-Aginica (1911). He also translated Heine's Lyrisches Intermezzo (1897–1898), prepared an anthology of translated German poets, Iz nemacke lirike (From German Lyrics; 1910), made Bosnian renderings of Schiller's Wilhelm Tell (1922) and translated Pjesme roba (Poems of a Slave; 1919) from the Czech writer Svatopluk Čech. He also translated successfully from German. Šantić was one of the founders of the cultural newspaper "Dawn" as the president of the Serbian Singing Society "Gusle".[12] There he met and socialized with famous poets of that era: Svetozar Ćorović, Jovan Dučić, Osman Đikić, Milan Rakić.

Šantić died on 2 February 1924 in his hometown of tuberculosis. He is interred at the Mostar Old Cemetery.


Aleksa Šantić is a village in Serbia named after this poet. He is also pictured on 10 Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible marks bill.[35] In 1920 Sokol Union in Mostar was named after Šantić.[36] In 1969 the Assembly of the Mostar municipality established the Literature Award "Aleksa Šantić" in honor of centinel of his birth.[37]

A bust of Aleksa Šantić is erected in Kalemegdan Park in Belgrade, Serbia.[38]

In the 1980s a movie called Moj brat Aleksa (My Brother Aleksa) was produced in his memory.[39]


  • Pjesme, Mostar, 1891
  • Pjesme, Mostar, 1895
  • Pjesme, Mostar, 1901
  • Pod maglom, Belgrade, 1907
  • Pjesme, Mostar, 1908
  • Pjesme, Belgrade, 1911
  • Hasanaginica, 1911
  • Na starim ognjištima, Mostar, 1913
  • Pesme, Zagreb, 1918?
  • Pesme, Belgrade 1924
  • Lirski intermeco, Mostar, a translation of poems by Heinrich Heine, Mostar, 1897
  • Iz njemačke lirike, anthology of German poetry, Mostar, 1910
  • Pjesme roba, translation of poems by Svatopluk Čech, Sarajevo 1919
  • Vilijem Tel, a translation of William Tell by Friedrich Schiller, Belgrade, 1922
  • Iz Hajneove lirike, a translation of poems by Heinrich Heine, Mostar, 1923


  1. ^ (Ersoy, Górny & Kechriotis 2010, p. 96): "Aleksa Šantić was one of the leaders of Serbian literary and national movement in Mostar at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century."
  2. ^ (Đorđević 1993, p. 305): " .... which helped to maintain the national awareness of the Serbs and stimulated their education under foreign occupation. The work of the leaders of the movement – Aleksa Santic, Jovan ..."
  3. ^ Ahmet Ersoy; Maciej Górny; Vangelis Kechriotis (January 2010). Modernism: The Creation of Nation-States: Discourses of Collective Identity ... Central European University Press. p. 94. ISBN 9789637326615.
  4. ^ Neven Andjelic (2003). Bosnia-Herzegovina: The End of a Legacy. Psychology Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780714654850.
  5. ^ Letopis Matice srpske. У Српској народној задружној штампарији. 1959. p. 70. ... мајка Алексе Шантића, Мара, била осећајна, душевно отмена и даровита жена из веома угледне и такође обдарене мостар- ске куће Аничића,...
  6. ^ (Grubačić & Čulić 1965, p. 56)
  7. ^ (Lešić 1990, p. 59): "U Ljubljani .... Inače, Marova akademija u Ljubljani, osnovana 1867. godine kao pansionat za sinove imućnih građana, po nastavnom programu je bila slična trgovačkoj akademiji, naravno u skraćenom obimu. Ovaj privatni i komercijalni vaspitni zavod, u kome su učenici živjeli pod stalnim i strogim nadzorom pedagoga, imao ..."
  8. ^ (Holton & Mihailovich 1988, p. 194): "Santic was educated abroad, in Trieste and in Ljubljana, but he was not happy in the "West," and by 1883 he had returned to the town of his birth, albeit with a knowledge of German and Italian and a .."
  9. ^ (Palavestra 1986, p. 215): "Из песничке школе Војислава Илића поникао је и Алекса Шантић (1868–1924), који је, заједно са Јова- ном Дучићем и Светозаром Ћоровићем, био међу глав- ним носиоцима културног и националног покрета хер- цеговачких Срба, ...."
  10. ^ (Besarović 1987, p. 120): "У заплнјеи.еном тексту изричито пише да се лист "Херцеговче" неће везати "ни за који становити српски крај: "он ће се штампати и удешавати за сву српску децу из свијех српскијех крајева и покрајина""
  11. ^ (Samardžić 1983, p. 579): "Химну друштва спевао је Алекса Шантић..."
  12. ^ a b (Lešić 1990, p. 127): "Santić je sada predsjednik Srpskog pjevačkog društva "Gusle"."
  13. ^ (Stojković 1979, p. 561): "Aleksa Šantić je bio svestrano aktivan u društvu "Gusle": kao predsednik, horovođa, pevač, daroviti kompozitor, predavač i predstavljač, mnogo cenjen i voljen."
  14. ^ Преглед. 1972. p. 1046. U Mostaru, na rijeci Neretvi, osnovano je još 1888. godine Srpsko kulturno društvo "Gusle", pod čijim pokroviteljstvom izlazi godine 1896. časopis "Zora" i u kome sarađuju Aleksa Šantić, Svetozar Ćorović i Jovan Dučić
  15. ^ (Bataković 1996, p. 71): " in 1902, their first important cultural- national society Prosvjeta (Education), of greater significance in preserving the national identity. It was to merge with another Serbian cultural society called Zora (Dawn) in Mostar, the chief agency in the struggle for the cultural autonomy and national rights."
  16. ^ (Ћоровић 1970, p. 7): "Захваљујући упорности тро- јице младића и њихових помагача (Атанасија Шоле, Јована Протића, Стевана Жакуле, Милана Ћуковића), Зора је постала један од најбољих српских књижев- них листова. "
  17. ^ (Biagini & Motta 2014, p. 236): "...and the Serbian intelligentsia gathered around the journal Zora were striving to improve education among the Serb population in order to achieve economic and political progress.
  18. ^ Зборник Матице српске за друштвене науке. Матица. 2007. p. 176. у Соколску жупу Мостар "Алекса Шантић" основану 1920. године. Жупа је добила име по песнику и оснивачу Српског гимнастичког друштва Обилић 1903. године у Мостару.
  19. ^ Književnost i jezik. 1975. p. 385.
  20. ^ Maglajlija, Vedrana (30 January 2015). "Nestaje kuća pjesnika i bogumila" [The house of poet and bogumila disappears]. (in Croatian). Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  21. ^ (Skoko 1968, p. 112): "Алекса Шантић и други објавили су читаве збирке стихова у славу српских победа. ..."
  22. ^ (Đurić 1969, p. 239)
  23. ^ "Алекса ШАНТИЋ". sanu. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2018. СКА: дописник (Академије уметности) од 3. II 1914.
  24. ^ Srpski književni glasnik. 1940. p. 266. Међу овим последњим био је и Алекса Шантић. Наче- та здравља, исцрпен телесним и душевним патњама, осе- тљиви мостарски песник прешао је из Мостара у Коњиц и на Борачко Језеро у време када је из Мостара било евакуисано грађанско становништво, у првом реду сумњиво српско. ...
  25. ^ Srpski književni glasnik. 1940. p. 266. "Пјесме" Алексе Шантића, издање Српске књижевне за- друге од године 1911, биле су забрањене наредбом сарајевске земаљске владе од 13 новембра 1914 године
  26. ^ Misao. 1925. p. 201. Шантић се повлачи у очеву радњу. Највише чита, из доколице проба перо ... Кад је доцније стега попустила, Шантић помишља на активнији рад и долази у додир са једним младим трговцем – Требињанином, Јованом Дучићем,
  27. ^ Letopis Matice srpske. U Srpskoj narodnoj zadružnoj štampariji. 1998. p. 493. Прву песму је објавио у сомборском омладинском листу Голуб 1887. године.
  28. ^ (Mihailovich & Mikasinovich 2007): "His first poems were imitative of the older Serbian poets: Njegos, Zmaj, JakSic, and Ilic."
  29. ^ Savremenik. Književne novine. 1958. p. 176. Прва збирка Алексе Шантића "Пјесме" издата је у Мостару 1891 године, а чист приход од издања те збирке намењен је подизању споменика књижевнику и песнику Сими Милутиновићу Сарајлији.
  30. ^ Летопис Матице српске. У Српској народној задружној штампарији. 1998. p. 496. Сви ће се сетити По- повићеве критике из 1901. године, коју је објавио у Српском књижевном гласнику.12 И готово сви ће говорити о "позитив- ном" утицају Поповићеве критике. ..
  31. ^ Mostar – Cjelokupna Djela Archived 14 August 2004 at the Wayback Machine. Aleksa Santic (24 June 2001); retrieved 29 July 2014.
  32. ^ Šantić, Aleksa (1914). Jovan Skerlić (ed.). "Анкета о јужном или источном наречју у српско-хрватској књижевности – II". Srpski književni glasnik (in Serbian). 32 (2). Belgrade: Bogdan Popović: 115.[permanent dead link]
  33. ^ 43°20′09.3″N 17°48′59.5″E / 43.335917°N 17.816528°E / 43.335917; 17.816528
  34. ^ A bilingual edition of the best verses of Aleksa Santic Archived 6 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine. (28 October 2011); retrieved 29 July 2014.
  35. ^ a b Aleksa Šantić – poznati bosanski pjesnik.; retrieved 29 July 2014.
  36. ^ Зборник Матице српске за друштвене науке. Матица. 2007. p. 176. ... у Соколску жупу Мостар "Алекса Шантић" основану 1920. године. Жупа је добила име по песнику и оснивачу Српског гимнастичког друштва Обилић 1903. године у Мостару.
  37. ^ Odjek. Kulturno-prosvjetna zajednica Bosne i Hercegovine. 1988. p. 26. Žiri književne nagrade "Aleksa šantić", koju je Skupština opštine Mostar ustanovila 1969. godine, povodom obi1ježavanja stogodišnjice pjesnikovog rodenja,
  38. ^ (Dučić 1969, p. 9): Јер, Шантић је знао боље но ико шта је Дучић значио и за онај град на Неретви и за онај на Сави, на чијем Калемегдану Алексина биста стоји сада усправно, али усамљено, уозбиљено.
  39. ^ "Publika duboko ganuta filmom 'Moj brat Aleksa'". Retrieved 12 April 2020.



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