Between Cry and Hope. World War I in Croatian Literary Avant-Garde

Ivica Matičević


This paper is an informative and analytical description of the thematization/presence of the topic of World War I in the Croatian avant-garde creation (1917-1925). The theme of World War I plays such and important role in the poetry, prose and drama of literary Expressionism that without it, the corpus of artistic texts of Croatian expressionism and Croatian literary avant-garde would be significantly impoverished. The course of elaboration of war themes and of the very end of war in literary works went from a higher towards a lower degree of war reality denotation: the feeling of desperation due to helplessness, the underlining of the absurdity of war destructions, the ironic reflex over one more triumph of human stupidity, the creation of dark images of despair and decay, the fatalistic historical going around in circles, melancholy, nihilism, indifference due to the inability to change the state of war, memento mori... All these are the basic characteristics of the works written by Krleža, Strozzi, Donadini, Kosor and Cesarec. This paper also draws attention to the presence of the theme of the Great War, and to the echoes of war events in the manifestation texts of that period. Namely, it underlines the invocation and expectations of the arrival of art of the new times and new sensitivity, with the New Man as the symbol of salvation, renewal, and hope.


World War I and Croatian Literature; Croatian Literary Avant-Garde; Croatian Literary Expressionism; Nihilism; Irony; Grotesque.

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