Diary about Crnjanski

With a Taste of Final Migration
Although slandered, mostly by those who stole what belonged to his greatness, Crnjanski keeps shining over all the Serbias of this and the hirer world even today. His ”Sumatraism” is not sentimental, but ecstatic and erotic. Such eroticism is not (only) physical but a mystical experience of being. It is the plane of existence accessible only to the greatest poets and, of course, gods

Prepared by: Vesna Kapor

All the Loves of Miloš Crnjanski

Born in Vojvodina, an offspring of Vojvodina Serbs tired of fighting against changing of religions and extinction, descendent of border guards who longed for Serbia as a ”fever and painful hallucination”, already as a boy infected with love for the community, for his people. As a veteran of war in which he did not shoot his countrymen (but through his rifle he had to look at Russians whom he loved to the point of worship), he suffered the so called ”man’s sorrow”, and he turned away from the love for woman and her body to the love for nature. (Disappointed by your weary body, / I curiously caress the lewd and soft / big eyes of the plants.) He searched for happiness in this world, and this search led him high and far, to Sumatra and Hyperborea. The skies and forests gave him back his lightness and transparency, power to connect countries, nature and people. Enchanted with the skies of Italy, in the spring of 1921, he went to Tuscany, where the humanity had formerly restored itself in the Renaissance, to find recipe for joy. In order to return joy, the silver arc, to its people, but also to all of his dreary and miserable Slavs.
In Tuscany he also found his Srem, the homeland that, together with Karlovci and Fruška, he had chosen himself. Karlovci, as the quintessence of the spirit of Vojvodina Serbs, as well as the love suburb of Belgrade, are covered by the shadow of Branko –shadow of the first Serbian poet, romantic, who sang about the joys of life. He wanted happiness, but he was not able to be happy alone. And that Serbia that he longed for, the country for which he ”was tired to exhilarate”, would not always return that love. Grateful to Belgrade for giving him the ”most beautiful of its girls”, he sang a song of songs to it. Laza Kostić raised, up to the absolute, his Lenka, Miloš Crnjanski his Belgrade.  
He placed men-soldiers in the foreground on the stage of ancestors whose life lived again in novels dedicated to the key archetype of Serbian people, people who never knew their limits. In the shadow of migrations the world of women remained, women who are, in the eyes of Miloš Crnjanski, all beautiful, in words of one of the people who knows his works the best. Although, as a writer, he was also touched by their misery – abandoned destinies connected with home – and although in his role of a journalist, despite ridicules, he sincerely wanted to discover ”where the happiest woman of Yugoslavia lived”, the heroes of Crnjanski – who, like aged Casanova, ”burnt out and became cold as salamanders” – women are always distant and incomprehensible. And when queens and princesses are offered to them, falter only when they take pity, or fall in love into the shadow of the one who is deceased.
The wife Vidosava Ružić, with whom he experienced love in Tuscany – and whose last wish was to, together with her husband ”turn into ashes” – he loved her in the childless marriage with love that is combined with care and tenderness of a parent. She followed him on his journeys everywhere where the coincidence-comedian would take him. In constant migrations they left behind books and modest property. The fate of warn out and discarded armchairs from the old hotel, in which Mrs. Crnjanski saw the seed of her desired and dreamed home, was to stay in Rome. That is why in Venice, that Jakšić’s ”blue bride of the green sea”, scared with the shadow of new war disaster, Miloš and Vida looked into the future from the window of an old luxurious hotel ”Danieli”. That future brought them to a snowy English winter where, frozen by foreignness, they came to the verge of suicide. Did he, Crnjanski, then, in the ice-cold London mirage, hallucinate that mysterious Venice girl to whom Rilke dedicated one song? Pia di Valmarana... ”what a woman she was”... Where did that folder with the hidden secret disappear? Is that life or a dream? Life bigger than literature?
And friends? Friends, mostly from war, both those from the European fronts and those from avant-garde cohorts, warriors of the post-war battles against ”evil wizards”, were disappearing – crossing to other camps, declared him dead, left him defaced and lonely, turned in memories into a scream and sound of a monster from distorted mirrors of the past. Scolded and slandered by those who enjoyed positions, reputation and honors, in exile and at home – and who did it knowing that they were stealing from a man who was by all means above them – Miloš Crnjanski is today, despite all that, the most loved Serbian writer. That love is not expressed in triumphal processions and ceremonies – our care about our greatest national values still resembles a torn lace from a neglected grave in a small village of Banat. But he was a poet with power of a prophet and magician and he recognize us in the future, just like he sensed the condition in the country of his twenty five years old exile. He saw everybody who loved him as the greatest Serbian writer of the 20th century and, in this vision, we were that barefoot unknown child who approached him and gave him a hug.

Gorana Raičević

Seductive Crnjanski

Miloš Crnjanski has the role of a rebel in Serbian literature: he easily twisted the ladders of values, rushed across borders that were considered unbridgeable, underneath the emotional raggedness he was hiding an artistic world arranged down to the last detail and, to his reader, no matter how elastic a spirit he would have, he constantly moved the base of culture underneath his feet. Even today it is not clear how he managed to do all that.
Sumatraism, for which Crnjanski is most recognizable, at first glance is only a version of escapism: wounded and designated, his heroes turn to imaginary areas of happiness from which, like children, they expect consolation. But, while escapism is for the broken ones, this ”smad poetic theory” is bursting with energy that brings together immeasurable phenomena and encourages them to interpret one another. Discovering the order based on unconditional love and all-pervasive connections, Sumatraism brings the meaning back to the (hideous, destroyed) world. Poetic images in which it could only be understood were created in unimaginable connections of sensations and intertwined with hallucinations, and they do not imply harmony of a man with nature, but with infinity.
Although it is often understood on the lowest level of emotionality, Sumatraism is actually not sentimental, but ecstatic and erotic: with exciting moves of intonation, in tempo that is rising and falling in increased intervals, with senses of heroes to whom what is physically impossible to experience is available, and even those poetic images that look as if they are swinging and trembling, Crnjanski reaches that mindless, authentically creative level of existance; it cannot be utopian, because it was not created by human standards. Such eroticism is not (only) a physical, but also mystical experience of being voluntarily surrendered to (the unknown and disturbing, but comforting) infinity, which in turn gives him the border experience of complete freedom (from everything transient) and pre-taste of dying (as the final migration).
That plane of existence is accessible only to the greatest of poets. And gods, of course.

Vesna Trijić


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