Milorad Popović Šapčanin

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Milorad Popović Šapčanin
Milorad P. Sapcanin.jpg
Born(1841-07-07)7 July 1841
Šabac, Principality of Serbia
Died28 February 1895(1895-02-28) (aged 53)
Belgrade, Kingdom of Serbia

Milorad Popović Šapčanin (Serbian: Милорад Поповић Шапчанин, 7 July 1841 — 28 February 1895) was a Serbian poet, writer, dramatist, pedagogue and educational reformer who exemplified Realism in his approach. He was also artistic director of the National Theatre in Belgrade (1877 and 1880-1893), a member of the Serbian Learned Society and Serbian Royal Academy.


Milorad Popović Šapčanin was born in Šabac, then part of the Principality of Serbia, on the 12 of July 1841 to Sava and Jelisaveta Popović. His father was a respected teacher, writer, and judge in the town of Sabac, and a loyal friend of the ruling Obrenović dynasty. In 1842, however, he lost his post suddenly when Mihailo Obrenović III, Prince of Serbia was deposed. Sava first went to Zemun and then to Irig, where his wife Jelisaveta and their four children (Paul, George, Milorad, and Katica) soon joined him. (Their fifth child, Danica, was not born yet). Sava managed to secure a job as a clerk in Irig. There his youngest son Milorad grew up and completed his elementary education. For his secondary education, Milorad attended the Gymnasium Jovan Jovanović Zmaj in Novi Sad and the Gymnasium of Karlovci before going to Belgrade's Grandes écoles. In Novi Sad Milorad Popović got the nickname "Šapčanin", in other words, the man from Šabac, which he would eventually adopt as his pen name, nom de plume.

It was the exposure to Novi Sad and Sremski Karlovci that he became acquainted with the ideas of Serbian patriotism and Slav reciprocity. Šapčanin was inspired by a burning enthusiasm for the greatness and welfare of Serbia (then divided by two empires) and worked in the same reformatory direction as all other contemporary intellectuals of his. He was also politically engaged, sympathizing with the ideas of the United Serbian Youth, among whom were Jovan Jovanović Zmaj, Đura Jakšić, Stojan Novaković, Jovan Đorđević, Čedomilj Mijatović, Laza Kostić, Ljubomir Nenadović, Laza Lazarević (his future brother-in-law), Milan Milićević, Milovan Glišić, and others. In the meantime, Šapčanin's family fortune had changed somewhat by then. In 1858 Miloš Obrenović I, Prince of Serbia was restored as prince for the last two years of his life. Miloš's son, Prince Mihailo Obrenović III, once again took over the throne, now vacated by the death of his father in 1860, and Sava Popović and his family were back in Šabac. Šapčanin's father (Sava) was named to the post of district judge by Prince Mihailo himself. Not long after, Sava died almost the same year that Šapčanin graduated from the School of Divinity of Belgrade's Grandes écoles. Upon graduation, he became a secretary of the Ecclesiastical Court in Šabac.

A poem was written by Milorad Popović Šapčanin which appeared in Stojan Novaković's literary magazine Vila came to the attention of the Serbian prince. Šapčanin was called to Belgrade in 1866 by Mihailo Obrenovic III, Prince of Serbia, to fill a clerical post in the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs, and became a prominent member of the brilliant circle which included Ljubomir Nenadović, writer and director of the Ministry of Culture, playwright Milovan Glišić, short story writer and physician Laza Lazarević, writer Janko Veselinović. In Belgrade, Šapčanin enjoyed the continued favor of the Obrenović court. There, in 1866, he married Milka Lazarević, Dr. Laza Lazarević's sister, with whom he had four children, however, two died in early childhood. He remained there for the rest of his life, except for the absence of one year when he went abroad to study the educational systems of other European countries. He became the intimate of Laza Lazarević, his brother-in-law, historian Stojan Novaković, Ljubomir Nenadović, and Milovan Glišić who convinced him to become the secretary of the newly founded National Theatre in Belgrade in 1868; from then on the artistic world became his chief occupation, and he produced many poems and articles as editor-in-chief of Domačica, with pronounced political tendencies, his object being to point out the evils of foreign interference and domination in Serbia and to reawaken national feeling. The last years of the 1870s were embittered by the war with Turkey (1876-1878), on which Serbia had felt compelled to embark in accordance with the terms of the treaty of alliance with Russia. At the time Šapčanin worked for the press department at the Army's General Headquarters.

His life was mainly that of a thinker and a writer. He was a strenuous advocate of reform, especially in the teaching of sciences and the arts; and supported the claims of modern languages to a place in the curriculum. Šapčanin labored to raise the standard of instruction in grade school and high schools in Serbia. With Milan Milićević and Stevan Popović (the father of Dušan Popović (1877-1958)) he became involved in reforming the educational system in Serbia. He left Belgrade in 1870 and went abroad to study other countries' teaching practices and improve on them as well. He spent a year in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. In Germany, he visited Berlin, Leipzig, Gotha, and Weimar. In Weimar, he befriended Joca Simić, a famous Serbian actor living and working there. Savić was a protegee of Heinrich Laube and Adolf von Sonnenthal. (The paths of the two would meet again when Šapčanin became the artistic director of the National Theatre for the second time.)

At the time the Serbian legislature, effecting in 1870 the passage of a bill, framed and introduced by distinguished Serbian educators, which provided for "the better supervision of the common schools" in Serbia. Of this board he was secretary, and during this worked indefatigably to reorganize and reform the common school system of the principality (which was working towards its independence), thus earning a national reputation as an educational reformer. He was a commissioner (nadzornik) of public schools in Serbia, and his administration was marked by a decided step in educational progress.

He died in Belgrade on the 14th of February 1895.


He believed that literature and the arts and music should have a social and national purpose and that it should be written and performed for the people with an original script, artistic backdrop, choreography, music, and dance. He was the artistic director of the National Theatre in Belgrade in 1877 and in 1880-1893. As a poet, short story writer, educational reformer, he exerted a major influence on his era.

In Belgrade, Šapčanin made acquaintance with Milovan Glišić, who is reported to have encouraged his dramatic ambitions and to have given him the benefit of his own experience as a playwright. While at the National Theatre in Belgrade in 1877 he made a translation in blank verse of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" but forestalled by other activities, it was published only five years later (1882).

Some 29 new Serbian plays and 152 foreign, translated works were produced and performed during Milorad Popović Šapčanin's tenure, according to his own report on the 10-year work of the National Theatre in Belgrade, from 1880 to 1890. He was a mentor to many young Serbian playwrights, namely Branislav Nušić (1864-1938), Dragutin Ilić (1858-1926), Miloš Cvetić (1845-1905), and others.

Individuals like Laza Kostić, Janko Veselinović together with Milorad Popović Šapćanin constituted the intellectual and literary core of the National Theatre in Belgrade. That management was entrusted collectively with the task of upgrading theatrical programs along with the Western European model.

Milorad P. Šapćanin, who led the National Theatre for almost 15 years, tried to encourage Serbian writers to produce new plays with both singing and dance (musicals). Early on, however, Šapćanin produced national folk songs, written for the romantic and heroic plays by established Serbian authors such as Markova sablja (Marko's Sabre) by Jovan Đorđević; Seoba Srbalja (The Migration of The Serbs) by Đura Jakšić; Dušan silni (Dushan the Mighty) by Milorad Šapćanin; and others.

Besides Dušan silni, he wrote and produced Miloš u Latinima, in one-act; Bogomili, a drama in four acts; Trnova kruna, a drama in five acts; and Gospođica kao seljanka (A Madam Like a Peasant Woman), a comedy in four acts, based on Pushkin's work.


His political activism for a Serbian national revival dealt through his participation in many publications, most notably Vila, Danica, Javor, Otadžbina, Strazilo, Domačica, and other publications.

He came into politics with the Progressive Party, led by Milutin Garašanin, son of Ilija Garašanin, and Vladan Đorđević. The Progressive Party sprang from a group of young conservatives, imbued with Western liberalism. Their better known regional leaders were Milan Piroćanac, Milan Milićević, Čedomilj Mijatović, historian and magazine publisher Stojan Novaković, poet Milan Kujundžić Aberdar, and poet Milorad Popović Šapčanin. He retired from active politics but resumed his involvement after the renewal of the constitutional order.

Short stories and novels[edit]

The most important of which are: Hasanaga, Deda, Monah Denađija, Dvadeset sest, Poremećen plan, Surgun, chronicles of the times he lived; they give a general account of scenes and events, most of which he had witnessed and experienced.

Sanjalo, a novel, with the main character being Grgur the Serbian poet, and through him, the writer speaks just as eloquently as though he's reciting poetry.

S Drine na Nišavu is a travel book that reads more like a novel since the writer focuses on what the travelers have to say.


He is best known for epic poems he wrote, particularly Kraljevo Zvono, Zadužbina cara Lazara, Nevjesti ljuti, Monaha, etc., interesting as a picture of his personal experiences and of contemporary morality.

His success as a poet was coeval with his earliest publication of a poem called Pesma (The Poem). On leaving academia with but slender means of support, he devoted himself to letters, and in 1863 published his first volume of verse Pesma in Belgrade, which was followed by Zubori i Vihori in 1866. Šapčanin's life was steadily devoted to literary production. He printed other volumes of verse, among which the epic poem Nevestu Ljutice Bogdana (1886) received unstinted praise from his peers. Later, several of his historical plays in verse were produced at the National Theatre in Belgrade and on other stages; and from 1879 onwards a stream of prose followed from his pen, including studies of village, town and city life, sketches of well-known persons, and a series of tales, most of which were republished in his collected works. He also wrote travel books—S Drine na Nišavu—being the most popular. Throughout a life spent mainly in Belgrade, Šapčanin's genial character and cultivated mind won him the friendship of the chief men of letters of his time. He was also intimate with playwright Glišić, Joca Savić, and other famous actors. In 1868 he was made a member of the Serbian Learned Society and became an honorary member of the Serbian Royal Academy in 1892.

The best of his lyrical work, excelled for finish and intense sincerity, is his Kraljevo zvono, and had he chosen to dedicate himself to lyric poetry only, he might possibly have ranked with the best of Serbia's modern poets; as it is, he is a very considerable poet who affects the dramatic form.

In his later writings Šapćanin deals with modern society, its vices, ideals, and perils; yet in many essentials, he is a manifest disciple of German writers of his era. His reputation with his contemporaries was high, both personally and as a writer, though he had no ambition to be known as the latter. As an author, his writings are trenchant and clear, and interesting, especially if one reads the social and political allusions between the lines.

After 1890 he concentrated on publishing collection of his articles on aesthetics, politics, lectures, and poetry, and also worked to complete his bibliography. Šapčanin was a leading personality in the Serbian national movement for more than thirty years.

He wrote more than 20 books, among which were Pesme (1863), Pripovetke in three tomes (1877/1879), Ljudi starog kova, and Zadužbina (1893). Among his works there is a drama about Petar Dojčin.[1]

Literary critic Jovan Skerlić said Šapčanin's opus will at least ensure for him an honorable place in the history of modern Serbian literature.

Selected works[edit]

  • Pesme, Štamparija Nikole Stefanovića, Belgrade, 1863.
  • Pesme, Državna štamparija, Belgrade, 1866.
  • Pripovetke, Štamparija braće Jovanovića, Pančevo, 1877.
  • Hasan-aga, Izdanje knjižare Velimira Valožića, Belgrade, 1879.
  • Pripovetke, Pančevo, 1879.
  • S Drine na Nišavu, Državna štamparija, Belgrade, 1879.
  • Nevesta Ljutice Bogdana, Belgrade, 1880.
  • Žubori i vihori, Kraljevsko-srpska državna štamparija, Belgrade, 1883.
  • Miloš u Latinima, slika u jednom činu, izdanje Srpske knjižare i Štamparije braće M. Popovića, Novi Sad, 1886.
  • Monah, Srpska štamparijadr Svetozara Miletića, Novi Sad, 1887.
  • Pripovetke, Štamparija Srpske knjižare braće M. Popovića, Novi Sad, 1887.
  • Sanjalo, Izdanje Srpske knjižare i štamparije braće M. Popovića, Novi Sad, 1888.
  • Zadužbina, Izdanje i štampa A. Pajevića, Novi Sad, 1893.
  • Poslednje pripovetke, Štamparsko-umetnički zavod Pehera i Kisića, Mostar, 1902.
  • Celokupna dela Milorada P. Šapčanina I-V, Narodna prosveta, Belgrade, 1932.


  1. ^ Stražilovo. Srpska Štamparija Dra Svetozara Miletića. 1892. p. 93. Retrieved 16 February 2013.


  • Jovan Skerlić: Istorija nove srpske književnosti (Belgrade, 1921), pages 334-338

External links[edit]