Juraj Habdelić

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Juraj Habdelić (17 April or 27 November 1609 in Staro Čiče – 27 November 1678 in Zagreb) was a Croatian Jesuit priest and writer.

His parents were Boldižar Habdelić and Margarita Kraljić. He went to gymnasium in Zagreb, studied philosophy in Graz and theology in Trnava. He worked as a teacher in Rijeka, Varaždin and Zagreb where he became the rector of Jesuit Collegium and manager of Seminary. During his rectorship gymnasium was attended by Pavao Ritter Vitezović who will, in his own way, continue the Habdelić's linguistic work, but on different foundations than those taught by the Jesuit gymnasium.

Cover of the book Pervi otca našega Adama greh from 1674

Although we could hardly describe Habdelić's prose work to what we consider under the term literature, his work is still full of strength and freshness, especially in richness of language he uses. His are the works of moral-didactic issues of which the first was Zrcalo Marijansko (Mirror of Saint Mary) published in Graz 1662.

Dictionar, first edition from 1670

Christian morals is the main theme of Habdelić's literary work, but because a man is prone in violating these strict Christian norms and easily gives himself to sin, this is the main motive of Habdelić's thoughts. His book intended for public uses Prvi otca našeg Adama greh (First sin of our father Adam) had 1200 pages and is a picture of man's fall and his tendency to sin, the book was published by Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. What is especially important is the ability of Habdelić to analyze through that main theme all parts of society: nobles, citizens, peasants, and he doesn't spare the priests either.

Writing about the actual events in Croatia at that time (Zrinski-Frankopan conspiracy or Croatian and Slovenian peasant revolt led by Matija Gubec) he reveals himself as an upholder of the existing order. He considers the peasant rebellion as inconsistency of common people and their tendency to chaotic behaviour, and the conspiracy as arrogance of grand nobility.

Habdelić wrote in kajkavian dialect and showed himself as an expert in the speech of commoners. At the same time he was opponent of common, profane things in which he also included folk songs, instructing his readers to discard shameful, ungodly and impure verses and songs.

With his work Dictionar ili reči slovenske (Dictionary or Slavic words) from 1670, he takes prominent, although layman, place in history of Croatian literature and linguistics. Namely, being without any special linguistic knowledge and writing for school papers he wrote Croatian-Latin dictionary. His total work is a mirror of Christian devotion with numerous examples from Jesuit and other religious literature but also a panoramic picture of Croatia in his time.

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