We Had a Classic: Notes for Situating Predrag Matvejević

Darko Suvin

Abstract


This article is a series of passages meditating on a lifetime of memories about the recently deceased Predrag Matvejević, as well as on some of his main writings and themes. Of the books discussed, the first, Prema novom kulturnom stvaralaštvu – written in 1977 as a plea for a “deviant” Left engagement in the wake of Krleža and Sartre, and for a cultural creativity in tandem with self-management – represents his polemical writing inside and for SFR Yugoslavia. The other titles are from his late phase: Breviario mediterraneo, Pane nostro and L’altra Venezia, with some mention also of Epistolario dell’altra Europa and Il mondo ex. Their examination leads to the conclusion that Matvejević was not only a privileged witness and judge of Yugoslavia and the succeeding 'yugosphere', but also of the 'exes' or 'has-beens' like him and me left stranded and nostalgic by the fall of 'real socialism' in the USSR and SFRY. If a classic is a creative force whose central works remain in the memory of generations to come, then we had in Matvejević a classic (Yugoslav, Croatian, Bosnian, Yugospheric, and cosmopolitan) whom we did not appreciate in time. But a future poetic justice looking back at his times shall see them largely through his eyes.

Keywords


Predrag Matvejević; Yugoslavia; the world of ex

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Studi_Slavis-23593



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