Predrag Matvejević giving an interview in 2010
7 October 1932|
Mostar, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
|Died||2 February 2017
|Alma mater||University of Zagreb
University of Paris
|Occupation||Writer and scholar|
Predrag Matvejević (7 October 1932 – 2 February 2017) was a Bosnian writer and scholar of ethnic Russian and ethnic Croat heritage. A literature scholar who taught at universities in Zagreb, Paris and Rome, he is best known for his 1987 non-fiction book Mediterranean: A Cultural Landscape, a seminal work of cultural history of the Mediterranean region which has been translated into more than 20 languages.
Matvejević was born in the Herzegovinian city of Mostar in 1932 (at the time part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia) into a family of mixed ethnicity, to an ethnic Russian father who had previously emigrated from Odessa and a native Croat mother. During World War II in Yugoslavia he briefly worked as a military messenger for the Partisans, and after the war he graduated from the Mostar Gymnasium and then went on to study French language and literature, first at the University of Sarajevo and then at the University of Zagreb, where he eventually graduated from. He then continued his studies in France, and in 1967 he earned a doctorate at the Sorbonne with a thesis on socially engaged poetry.
After returning to Yugoslavia he worked as a university professor at his alma mater in Zagreb, where he taught French literature at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences until 1991. Following the breaking out of the Croatian War of Independence, he moved abroad again and taught Slavic literature at the University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle from 1991 to 1994. In 1994 he moved on to the Sapienza University of Rome, where he taught Croatian and Serbian literatures and language until his retirement at the age of 75 in 2007.
In honour of his prolific writings on the history of literature and the social history of Yugoslavia and the Mediterranean, he was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Perpignan, the University of Genoa, the University of Trieste and the University of Mostar. He was also made an honorary vice-president of the worldwide association of writers PEN International, and was recipient of state decorations awarded by France, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy.
In November 2001, Matvejević published an essay-length article, "Our Talibans", in Jutarnji list. In that article he accused some writers of war mongering during the Yugoslav Wars, among them Mile Pešorda, who filed a defamation lawsuit; the trial started in March 2003. On 2 November 2005, Matvejević was found guilty on the charge of defamation. He was sentenced to five months' probation and ordered to publish the verdict at his own cost in Jutarnji list and to pay 5,000 kuna (circa $1000) in trial costs. Matvejević did not appeal. He stated that an appeal would be an acknowledgment of the verdict and the ones who issued it. On 20 December 2005, the verdict was upheld by an appeals court.
(Most of his books have appeared in Bosnian, Croatian, French, Italian, Serbian, and Yugoslav editions)
- Sartre (essay, 1965)
- Razgovori s Krležom (1969, with several reprints up to 1987)
- Prema novom kulturnom stvaralaštvu (1975)
- Književnost i njezina društvena funkcija (1977)
- Te vjetrenjače (1977)
- Jugoslavenstvo danas (Beograd, 1984)
- Otvorena pisma: moralne vjezbe (1985)
- Mediteranski brevijar (1987)
- Istočni epistolar (1995)
- Gospodari rata i mira (with V. Stevanović and Z. Dizdarević, 2000)
- Druga Venecija (2002)
- Le monde «ex» - Confessions (Paris, 1996)
- Poésie de circonstance (PhD Thesis 1967, Sorbonne)
- Pour une poétique de l'événement (Paris, 1979)
- La Méditerranée et l'Europe - Leçons au College de France (Paris, 1998)
- L'Ile-Méditerranée (Paris, 2000)
- Epistolario dell’altra Europa (Garzanti, Milan 1992)
- De la dissidence (essay, 1993)
- Sarajevo (Motta, Milan 1995)
- Ex Jugoslavia. Diario di una guerra (Magma, Milan 1995)
- Tra asilo ed esilio (Meltemi, Rome 1998)
- Il Mediterraneo e l’Europa (Garzanti, Milan 1998)
- I signori della guerra (Garazanti, Milan 1999)
- Un’Europa maledetta (Baldini e Castoldi, Milan 2005)
- Pleše, Mladen (20 February 2016). "Ugledni talijanski književnici predlažu Predraga Matvejevića za Nobelovu nagradu za književnost: Šezdesetak književnika potpisalo je i objavilo prijedlog". Telegram (in Serbo-Croatian). Zagreb. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
- Pleše, Mladen (20 February 2016). "Ugledni talijanski književnici predlažu Predraga Matvejevića za Nobelovu nagradu za književnost". Telegram.hr (in Croatian). Retrieved 2 February 2017.
- O Novom Plamenu, noviplamen.org; retrieved October 2008.
- Piše: utorak (20 December 2005). "Presuda Predragu Matvejeviću postala pravomoćnom". Index.hr. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- Written in Serbo-Croatian, this book has been reprinted many times and translated into more than twenty languages