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Journal of Croatian Studies, XX, 1979, – Annual Review of the Croatian Academy of America, Inc. New York, N.Y., Electronic edition by Studia Croatica, by permission. All rights reserved by the Croatian Academy of America.

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Istria is separated from Italy by its location, customs, and speech—V. Pribojević[1]

Yugoslavia has obtained, by the peace treaty with Italy in 1947, all of Istria. It may be noted that she has not enlarged her borders with foreign territory, but rather has incorporated a province which has played an important role in Croatian cultural and literary history.

In the first part of this article I shall mention those national and cultural reformers who, during the past hundred years, have contributed the most toward Istria's awakening to national consciousness. In the second section the more prominent Istrian literary figures shall be discussed, while in the third the literary work of two Croatians, one from Croatian Zagorje, the other from Dalmatia, will be analyzed: both have artistically described this most western region of their homeland.


In spite of the fact that the Italians comprised a small minority, they dominated the whole province from the western Istrian cities and refused to recognize as equals the Croatian and Slovenian majority, which lived for the most part in the rural sections and along the eastern coast. The Italians prevented, in particular, the opening of Croatian and Slovenian schools. There is a clear-cut ethnic frontier between the Croatians and Slovenes in Istria. The Slovenes live in northwestern corner of Istria which is part of today's Republic of Slovenia; the remaining Istria is a part of the Republic of Croatia.

Through the persevering work of a whole Pleiades of Istrians, many of them Catholic clergymen, Istria gradually threw off the tight Italian embrace.

Some of these protagonists were educated in Rijeka (Fiume), where Fran Kurelac began, in 1849, to teach the Croatian language.

There he founded the so-called "School of Rijeka", and through it he strongly influenced the youth of Istria. The Croatian gymnasium in Rijeka and Kurelac's literary school were the bridge which, during this national renaissance, created a cultural bond between Istria and the rest of Croatia.

The new period for Istria really began just after the fall of Austrian absolutism (1860). At this time Istria became an autonomous province with a provincial Diet in Poreč.

The first leader in the national and cultural revival of the Istrian Croatians was Bishop Juraj Dobrila (1812-82). As Bishop of Poreč and Pula, in the Istrian Provincial Diet he rose to the defense of the equality of the Croatian and Italian language[2] He also aided in the founding of the first significant newspaper of the Istrian Croatians, Naša sloga (1870-1915), the organ which subsequently became the center of the national revival movement.

Bishop Dobrila compiled a popular prayer book, Father, Thy Will be Done (Trieste, 1854). This pious book was written in the Istrian dialect; it was published several times and, with Andrija Kačić´s Book of Poems, was to be found in every Istrian home.

Dinko Vitezić, from Vrbnik on the Island Krk, was one of the most important leaders in the Istrian revival. In Zadar he became acquainted with the well-known Croatian patriots, Miho Klaić and Miho Pavlinović. With them and others, he participated in the launching of the newspaper Il Nazionale (1862), which was the turning-point in the awakening of the Croatian intelligentsia in Dalmatia. Through his brother, Ivan Vitezić, the Bishop of Krk, he became associated with Dobrila, and thus with all those in Istria and Trieste who were working for Croatian national interests.

During the first elections for the Imperial Parliament (Reichsrat) in 1873, eastern Istria chose Vitezić as its first Croatian representative. He remained in the Imperial Parliament until 1891. During his incumbency Vitezić contributed a great deal to the national rebirth of Istria and the improvement of her economic interests. From the very founding of the "Society of Saints Cyril and Methodius" (1893), Vitezić was the head of this educational institution, whose main concern was the raising of money for establishing Croatian and Slovenian public schools.

Matko Laginja (1852-1930) was elected in 1891 from western Istria to the Imperial Parliament, where he was to remain until the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. As a member of the Istrian Provincial Diet, in 1893, he was the first to speak there in the Croatian language. He managed to utter only a few words when Italian representatives shouted him down. The way had been opened, however, and after this the Croatian and Slovenian representatives spoke in their own languages. Laginja's services to the national renaissance of Istria are innumerable.

Laginja published a very important collection, Croatian Folk Songs, Sung in Istria and on the Island of Kvarner (edited by Naša sloga, 1880). The majority of these folk songs were found in central Istria, in the neighborhood of Pula. "This Croatian folk literature of Istria is in no way less rich than the folk literature of other Croatian regions. Through it Istria, like other provinces, has made her contribution to Croatian national culture".[3] Laginja also wrote, among other things, Tit for Tat (Šilo za ognjilo, in the ča-dialect), a successful comedy about life in Kastav.[4]

In addition to the work of Dobrila, Vitezić, and Laginja, special attention should be given to the activity of two priests, Matko Mandić and Vjekoslav Spinčić. In contrast to the older generation of Istrian Croatians, who were steeped in the traditions of "Illyrism" and Pan-Slavism, this younger generation, under the influence of Ante Starčević's Party of Rights, strongly stressed Croatian nationalism. At the same time, however, they emphasized their ties with the Slovenes.

Matko Mandić (1845-1915) took over in 1883 the editorship of Naša sloga, and for years kept this newspaper at a high level. Naša sloga guided the national struggle of the Croatian and Slovenian inhabitaits in Istria. It ceased to appear with the death of Mandić in 1915.

Vjekoslav Spinčić (1848-1933), like Laginja, remained in the Imperial Parliament until the collapse of Austria and was elected President of the Croat-Slovenian Club in the Istrian Provincial Diet. In Yugoslavia (after 1918) he worked untiringly, aiding Istrian refugees and raising the spirits of the discouraged. With his publications he helps us to understand Istrian culture and the national revival in which he was an active and deserving participant.[5]

At the end of the last century, conditions in Istra had improved so much that the Croatians succeeded in opening their first gymnasium in Pazin (1899). Many Istrians who had graduated from that institution took over the national struggle before the First World War. Later, when Istria was given by the Allied Powers to Italy, they continued their work secretly in Istria or, as refugees, in Yugoslavia.

Although the Istrian Croatians, in the month of November 1918, mourned with the poet Rikard Katalinić-Jeretov: "My dear Istria, you the abandoned orphan, a dense, heavy fog has fallen upon you", they did not lose hope that some day justice would triumph. They did not despair even when they read proclamations in Istrian villages, warning that they should neither sing nor speak in their language because only Italian was permitted.[6]

The young Istrian patriot Vladimir Gortan was shot (October 17th, 1929) and his companions were sentenced to thirty years of forced labor. The following year there was another trial and four Slovene patriots were shot outside Bazovica. To the strong repercussions which this trial aroused abroad, Il Popolo d'Italia, the official fascist organ, answered with a long article which represented the Croatians and Slovenes under Italy as a tribe without culture, language, or nationality; they were an accidental unit of people without history, and could have no nationality, just as bugs infesting a house have none![7]

The more the Italians killed and defamed, the wider spread the murmur for liberation and this murmur brought hope to the wasteland.[8]

As in the past, so again this time the Catholic clergy and some intellectuals were the bastions of the underground resistance.[9]

The Italian minority, located mostly on the western coast of Istria and in Rijeka, enjoys now all cultural privileges; they have their own Italian schools, periodicals, and their writers are able to publish in their mother tongue.

For a useful historical and cultural background see Matko Rojni , Istrie-Aperçu historique, and Knjiga o Istri (A Book about Istria) by Tone Perulko and others, Zagreb 1968.


From the time of Matija Vlačić (Flacius Illyricus, 1520-75) and Stjepam Konzul (1521-68), participants in the Reformation, and Franjo Glavinić (1586-1650), who took part in the counter-Reformation, to the period of the rationalist Josip Voltić (1750-1825), Istria has always had sons who distinguished themselves in one literary field or another.

I shall not go into the ancient literary history of Istria; I shall discuss the importance of Istria in Croatian literature during the last hundred years, beginning with the fall of Austrian absolutism in 1859. Although situated on the periphery, Istria at that time became bound politically with other Croatian regions and actively participated in Croatian cultural life.

Even today August Šenoa (1838-81) and Eugen Kumičić (1850-1904) are among the best known Croatian novelists. The former, a native of Zagreb, is considered to be the founder of the Croatian novel, while the latter, in many respects Šenoa's successor, was the most productive and popular Croatian novelist of the eighties and nineties of the last century. He was the first to succeed in acquainting the whole of Croatia with the beauties, condition, and future of his native Istria.

Three dates with three different influences are of great importance to an understanding of Kumičić's entire literary work:

1) He was born on the east coast of Istria, in the small town of Berseč, at the foot of Mt. Sisal (whence he derived his frequently used pseudonym: Jenio Sisolski). Here, in a happy family circle and under the watchful eye of his mother, he spent his childhood. It was then that he became sincerely attached to the Istrian peasants, fishermen, and sailors, and his eye caught the beauties of the sea. All of these are reflected in Kumičić's works. He used to return repeatedly to his native town, to his people and the sea coves, first as a gymnasium student at Rijeka, and later as a famous literary figure and well-known politician.

In the depths of his soul, often disillusioned by political strife in Zagreb, Kumičić always carried the bright memory of his early childhood. Hence, when he writes about his native region in beautiful colors. The author takes us from daily life into the realm of the idyll. It seems as if he adhered to the motto which Rousseau once valued: The farther one withdraws from town and civilization and the nearer one approaches nature, the closer one is to honesty and other natural virtues.

The weakest point of Kumičić s novels depicting Istria is the fact that, for the author, the Croatian inhabitants are regularly good people, while the Italians are presented as mischievous exploiters.[10] With the exception of the ruling class, the human beings, be they Italians or Croatians, in general are neither angels nor devils.

2)         After finishing his university studies in Vienna (history and geography, 1873) and after teaching for a year in Split, Kumičić went to Paris for further study and spent a little more than a year there (1875-77). Paris became for the young teacher the symbol of all that was beautiful, noble, famous, and progressive. He returned home under two significant influences: first, that of the French Parliament, manifested in the passionate love for eloquence which is present in all his works, and second, that of Zola and naturalism.[11]

As soon as he published his "naturalist" novels (Olga and Liner, 1881; Mrs. Sabina, 1884), Kumičić became the subject of bitter polemics. The majority of the literary critics of that time were opposed to Zola and naturalism, and favored moderation and realism.

3)         A very significant event in Kumičić life was his resignation from the teaching profession (1883), in the hope that he would be free to devote his time to political and literary activities. As one of the leading personalities in the Starčević's Party of Rights, whose program was the attainment of freedom and independence for Croatia, he was elected a representative to the Croatian Diet in Zagreb on several occasions. Kumičić placed all his energy at the disposal of his party, and even his novels were written to serve politics. From this period originate two of his best and most widely read novels, The Conspiracy of Zrinski and Frankopan, 1892; Queen Lepa, or The Last of the Croatian Kings, 1902. The former was directed against Vienna, and the latter against papal Rome. The main idea presented in these two historical novels is that political unions were not successful in the past and, because of this, Croatia must abstain from future unions; the best solution for her, according to Kumičić, was complete independence.

Kumičić's present fame and reputation among readers rest on his Istrian and historical novels. The farmer are impressive because of the warmth with which the author portrays the Istrians, particularly the tender characters of the girls. His descriptions of the sea are truly superlative. There has been no Croatian literary figure who has better or more picturesquely depicted the sea in all its daily and seasonal moods. It is said of Kumičić that without the sea he could not live, and that he always longed for it.[12]

Viktor Car-Emin (1870-1963) participated from his early youth in the national liberation movement of Istria, working primarily for the education of his people. For a full twenty-five years (1894-1919) he was the secretary of the "Society of Saints Cyril and Methodius". His "memoirs" concerning this society were published in Zagreb (1953). In his concluding words Car wrote: "The main goal of the Society was the spreading and deepening of national consciousness among the people. This goal was reached to an unexpected degree, and we must affirm that this consciousness is a defense against which all attempts at assimilation must fail, thus showing that our people are tenacious and not willing to be swallowed by any foreign power.[13]

Car entered into the field of literature with the story "Poor Devils" (which was printed in Trieste by Naša sloga, in 1888). He tried his hand at drama, and also wrote some poetry in his youth, but his most successful works are in the realm of the short story and the novel.[14]

Following the path of the famous Kumičić, Car strove primarily to further, by his literary works, the national aims of the Croatian people in Istria, and to express their desire for liberation. "It was painful to dive in Istria and see what I was obliged to see", he wrote in 1933, "and pass over everything as if it made no difference. I never regarded the Italians as a people worse than our own; I was only offended, because for centuries they regarded us as something inferior, obliged to serve them."[15]

Other subjects, dearer to his heart than politics, were social problems and economic crises. For instance, he describes the disappearance of sailing-vessels and the appearance of the steamboat, the stubbornness, rather than the incapacity, of the Istrians in adapting themselves to new conditions, the penetration of foreign capital, and the gradual acquisition of native soil by aliens. In his autobiography he states: "In my works I remained with sea-captains and sailors; I dealt with various crises which during my century befell our sea and country".[16]

The occupation of Istria and the Treaty of Rapallo (1920) marked tragic years in the life of Car-Emin. "During these terrible days, there was no man in Istria whose heart was not filled with despair, bitterness and dark pessimism" (D. Gervais). Car was obliged to witness the ruin of many things which he and his people had built during the course of decades: schools were closed, organizations were banned and all political rights were taken away. Forced to leave his home in beautiful Opatija, he established himself on the very border, in Sušak.

Car then wrote the drama The Dead Guard (presented in Zagreb, 1923), a bitter protest against the Italian invaders. In 1946 there appeared his interesting chronicle-fiction about the poet-politician Gabriele D' Annunzio (Danuncijada), whose troops ("arditi") entered Rijeka in 1919 and proclaimed its annexation to Italy. In his "diary" Fateful Days (1951) Car narrates his experiences during the years when the Italians behaved as aggressive colonizers.

The multiplicity of his works, the speed with which he wrote, the neglect of the stylistic features, the old fashion of his narrative, and the often pervading political aspect make Car an interesting witness for a historian or a sociologist, but not a good writer. Literary critics have drawn attention to the fact that Car's reflections in his works often contain too much sentimentality, that his dialogues lack local color and that at times there is insufficient motivation for the behavior of his main characters.[17]

At the beginning of this century, Rikard Katalinić-Jeretov (1860-1954) was the subject of lively controversy. After fifteen years of poetry writing, he published in 1901 a book of poems entitled My Last Poems. While Jovan Hranilović, a champion of the older generation, found originality in Katalinić's poems, A. G. Matoš proclaimed Katalinić a mediocre versifier and complimented him on the moral strength which he showed in his decision to abandon writing. When, after his "last poems", Katalinić continued to write poetry, Matoš, evaluating his new collection On the Adriatic (1908), somewhat changed his attitude and admitted the possibility that in addition to the European standards there could also exist a local, provincial standard for the evaluation of literary work: He who reads only Croatian, concedes Matoš, will find in Katalinić's book many beauties which to Croatians are a part of everyday life, but which would be of no interest to other Europeans.[18]

In the introduction to Selected Poems, which Matica Hrvatska published on the occasion of Katalinić's eighty-fifth birthday (1953), the well-known critic Milan Marjanović wrote about his fellow Istrian: "He is mild and modest, sentimentally inclined, never taking emphatic attitudes, rather unaffected and naive in his well-meaning impressionability and didacticism".[19]

Katalinić is better known as a poet, but some hold that his novelettes, written in the style of Fran Mažuranić's Leaves, have greater literary value. His first, Sketches from Istria, in which he brought to light the suffering of the Istrian Croats, were confiscated (1896). Much later, in 1911, his best known work On Our Sea and Throughout Our Land, was published in Osijek; in it he depicted the beauties of the sea and the hard life of the seamen, the charm of the coastal towns sand the economic difficulties of their inhabitants forced to emigrate.

When, after the Treaty of Rapallo, the Italians occupied his sunny land, it sometimes appeared to Katalinić "that he wandered without rhyme nor reason". He established himself in Zagreb and there participated in various organizations which strove to aid the Adriatic cost-land and Istria. In 1928, he left Zagreb and settled in Split, because he felt gloomy and homesick away from "his beloved blue sea, a sea some times angry, sometimes calm but always captivating".[20]

After the Italian occupation of Split, in the spring of 1941, Katalinić was placed in a concentration camp on the Island of Lipari. In his poem "Galley-slaves", which he wrote on Lipari, he recounts how his shackles clanked and yet he never shed a tear; he mentions two comrades who were chained with him and suffered equal misfortune and misery, but though "the chains rang out, yet never a heart despaired".[21]

Mate Balota (1898-1963) is the literary pseudonym of Mijo Mirković, who was born in south-eastern Istria, in Rakalj. When, in 1915, Italy entered the war, the whole region of Pula was evacuated and Balota found himself a refugee in Moravia. He graduated in Zagreb, and in 1922 received his doctorate in economics at Frankfurt on Main. He occupied himself with journalism and taught school, for the most part in the cities of Vojvodina. He was arrested by the Italians during the Second World War. After the war he was professor at the University of Zagreb, School of Economics. He was and remains popular in his native Istria.[22]

In addition to numerous scientific works, mostly in the field of agrarian economics, he published in 1938 a broad study of the well-known Istrian of the Reformation period, Matija Vlačić (Flacius Illyricus); it was enlarged and deepened in its subsequent editions (1957, 1960). Although Balota did not succeed with his novel The Narrow Land (1946), in which he describes his childhood in Rakalj, he wrote good memoirs about the old Pazin gymnasium (1950) and the fateful year 1918 when Pula fell into the Italian hands (1954). Balota vividly portrays the poet Ante Tresić-Pavičić, his megalomany and lack of political shrewdness. If there were better diplomats at that time, perhaps (contrary to the wishes of the Entente) the twenty-five years of the Italian occupation could have been avoided.

Matica Hrvatska edited in 1938 a collection of Balota's poems in the ča-dialect, under the title My Native Rocks. This collection enjoyed a second edition in 1947, third in 1959 and fourth in 1973.

Balota is considered among better poets of the ča-idiom. In him we find strong social feeling interwoven with deep love for his smother wad father his home, the old-fashioned way of life and all the inhabitants of his sea-side village. These people know terrible poverty, but they are big-hearted and hold equal love for their native rocks and for each other. The personal experiences and memories of his childhood give the entire book a certain gentleness and tenderness.[23]

Though his verse is hard and somewhat crude, nevertheless Balota's popular way of expression is so closely related to the content that there exists a thematic and esthetic unity.[24]

Drago Gervais (Žerve) was born in Opatija in 1904. He attended high school in Opatija and Sušak, completed his law studies in Zagreb and served as a lawyer in Bjelovar and Belgrade. Immediately after the war, he returned to newly liberated Istria, which he had been forced to leave during the harsh fascist dictatorship He was for a while the director of a theater at Rijeka until his sudden and tragic death in July of 1957.

In 1929, Gervais published in Crikvenica his Verses in čaka vian; they were since then republished at least five times (1935, 1949, 1955, 1964 and 1973). Gervais' verses call to mind a whole world in miniature. His characters, like sad comic marionettes, move through his verses, which are as short as mere sparrow-hops; they live in a world reduced to a picture reflected in a human eye clouded with tears. Gervais' material are his words "and these words are from the ča-speech, acquired in his native land. This was all before 1918, when Drago was still very young".[25] Gervais is most powerful when he remains a sketcher of the Istria of his childhood.

Although he wrote many comedies (among which Carolyn from Rijeka is considered his best)[26] and humorous stories,[27] Gervais's literary reputation stands above all on his čakavian verses.

Gervais collaborated in many journals, and miscellanies dealing chiefly with Istrian history. His portraits of Istrian literary figures, among whom Viktor Car Emin seems to be his favorite, make very pleasant reading.

In addition to Balota and Gervais, who rightly belong among the better contemporary Croatian writers, there are many other less known Istrian writers. They all suffer from a deep loyalty to their Istria, for whom they endured many hardships during their early youth.

Two of them, however, should be mentioned: Ivan Bostjančić, born 1915 in Cleveland, published in 1940 in Zagreb together with Zvane Črnja a collection called The Istrian Land, and Zvane Črnja, born 1920 in Žminj, in the middle of Istria, who also wrote Raja Gives Heart (1947) and A Book from Žminj (1966).[28]

Črnja, together with Ivo Mihovilović, compiled a valuable anthology of čakavian poetry from the Middle Ages to the present (Rijeka, 1969). Among younger poets it seems that Ivica Pilat (1934) and Miroslav Sinčić stand above their contemporaries and rejuvenate somewhat the čakavian tradition.[29]

Although not born in Istria, but in the neighboring Croatian Littoral, Antun Barac, the famous Croatian critic, wrote many studies and articles about the literary achievements of the Istrians. Tone Peruško, Ante Rojnić, and Vinko Antić gave good and interesting appraisals of several better-known writers from Istria. Marin Franičević, the čakavian poet from Dalmatia (born 1911 on the Island Hvar), is considered one of the best connoisseurs of the čakavian phenomenon in general, from Istria down to Split and Hvar.[30]


Since converts usually show more enthusiasm than those who are born with a certain belief, so it happens with writers when they fall in love with a new land; this was certainly the case with Franjo Horvat-Kiš and Vladimir Nazor in regard to Istria.

Franjo Horvat-Kiš (1876-1924) traveled through Istria during his summer vacations in 1912 an 1914, that is, just when hope was highest that Istria would soon become free.

This was the first time that a literary figure from Croatian Zagorje had visited his Istrian brothers; there he became enchanted by the people who, for a thousand years, had stood on the western fringe of the Slavic world.

Horvat-Kiš described his memoirs and impressions of Istria, and published them under the title Istrian Journeys (1919). Because of the extremely confused situation in the new state of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, very few people paid attention to this work. During the Second World War Istrian Journeys were published in Zagreb (in 1943) but after the war became more esteemed.[31] Thus the poet Stanislav Šimić, describing his own travel in Istria, notices: "The short but excellent travelogue Istrian Journeys by Franjo Horvat-Kiš deserves to be mentioned as a very singular work in Croatian literature. He is natural and simple, naive in his portrayal of experiences, capricious and witty in his remarks, human, in his patriotic enchantments and sorrows. His language flows as in a folk-tale; it is as refreshing as ripe fruit from a garden and as light as the rustling of leafy orchards moved by the breeze".[32] Antun Barac devoted a special study to Horvat-Kiš, and in it he praised the writer of Istrian Journeys: "Horvat-Kiš has a soft, lyrical nature, approaching events and objects as if they were small, living creations, which were to be fondled and caressed".[33]

The beautiful countryside beneath Mount Učka awakened at the turn of the century, and a pilgrim from Croatian Zagorje listened and rejoiced as its healthy national blood flowed not only around its heart, Pazin, but in all parts of its wonderfully shaped body.

Near the end of the book, looking in the direction of Premantura, the most southern Istrian village and one which is completely Croatian, he solemnly proclaims: "The efforts of the Italians, in trying to take away what is ours, are comical and futile. They build palaces for their schools, but wherever we come they have to sell their houses lock, stock, and barrel, for practically nothing".[34]

Horvat's book is pleasant to read, probably because he had a kind heart, which flamed up for his distant brothers[35] who had long ago established themselves along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Venice.

Vladimir Nazor (1876-1949) has occupied a prominent place in the contemporary Croatian poetry since 1910, when he published his collection Lyrics.[36]

Nazor, though born on the Island of Brač (his family originated from Jesenice, Poijica), spent fifteen years in Istria (1903 to 1918). He was twenty-seven years old when he was transferred from parlor and appointed teacher at the Croatian gymnasium in Pazin; he also taught in Kopar and Kastav. He left Istria after the Italian occupation.

Nazor, who became attached to Istria as if he were its native son, belongs to those patriots who worked assiduously on the Istrian soil and whose beneficial seed is still visible and appreciated.

Even more valuable and more lasting than his educational and patriotic works are Nazor's literary productions from Istria. His best achievement is Istrian Tales (1913), in which the monumental figure of "Big Joe" stands out (1908). Because Joe and other farmers were not yet aware of their strength and value, they were slaves to the foreign bourgeois class living comfortably in the city of Motovun. Joe was encouraged by a galley-slave, Ilias, to revolt; the peasants had a successful rebellion and their masters became helpless, but the working class, due to their discord and drunkenness, were easily convinced to return to slave status. Joe realizes his guilt and awaits a propitious moment to lead his brothers once again in revolt against all exploiters. In another story, called "Boskarina", the author narrates how the national wealth was wasted by the Italians, who ridicule and at times hate those without whom they could not subsist.

These and other similar stories exercised a tremendous influence during the national uprising in Istria and subsequent political liberation in 1945.

Nazor begins his "Response to the Istrians" (1943) with this beautiful metaphor: "Iron flutes resound in the mountains of the Istrian islands, and iron horns roar in the fields of rocky Čičarija. Istria is awakening... "[37]

Nazor was obviously happy when in 1947, as president of the Croatian Sabor, he was able to greet the representatives from Istria and Rijeka. Then he pronounced the words which are still more a dream than a reality: "In Istria and Rijeka, the Croatian does not stand any longer before and against the Italian, but they stand one beside the other: the difference in language has ceased to be a cause of distrust and disagreement between peoples. Other things are more important today... "[38]

The fact that all these writers were so profoundly concerned with political problems, may appear strange, especially to the Western reader.

But in this respect Istria is not an exception among the South Slavs and other East and Central European countries. When the homeland is not free, the public expects its writers to portray national sufferings and aspirations: "The eagle weaves his nest atop the cliff because there is no freedom on the plain". (I. Mažuranić).

In spite of these political preoccupations, Istria did give to Croatian literature a few men who remain among the representative figures of her cultural achievements.


[1] "Cum situ ac moribus et sermone Histria ab Italis distinguatur" (V. Priboevius. De origin successibusque Slavorum, Venice 1532; 2nd ed. Zagreb 1951, p. 65).

[2] Cf. Hrvatska Enciklopedija (Croatian Encyclopedia), vol. V. Zagreb 1945, 133.

[3] Istra i Slovensko Primorje (Istria and Slovenian Littoral), Beograd 1952, p. 198.

[4] Matko Laginja. Istranom—književna ostavltina (To the Istrians—Literary Heritage), ed. Ive Jelenović, Rijeka 1970.

[5] Slavensko Bogoslužje (Slavic Liturgy), Pula 1913; Narodni Prelorod u Lori (National Revival in Istria), Zagreb 1924; Crtice iz hrvatske književne kulture Istre (Sketches from the Croatian Cultural History of Istria), Zagreb 1926.

[6] "Si proibisce nel modo piů assoluto che si canti o si parli in lingua slaves Anche nei negozi di qualsiasi genere deve essere una buona volta adoptata solo la lingua italiana" (Cf. Istra i Slovensko Primorje, p. 152).

[7] Istra i Slovensko Primorje, p. 178.

[8] Cf. Lavo Čermelj, Life-and-Death Struggle of National Minority (The Yugolavs in Italy), 2nd ed., Ljubljana 1945; idem, Slovenci pod Italijom (The Slovenes under Italy), Beograd 1953; Matko Rojnić, Istrie-Aperçu historique, Sulak 1945; P. D. Ostović. The Truth about Yugoslavia, New York 1952. pp. 98-101.

[9] Božo Milanovič with his two volumes about the Croatian national revival in Istria (Hrvatski narodni preporod u Istri, Pazin 1967 and 1973) and with his Memoirs (Uspomene, Pazin 1977) gives a first-rate background starting from 1797 when the republic of Venice was conquered by Napoleon and Istria was incorporated into the Austrian realm, until 1947; then the Italians, who ruled over this province from 1918 to 1943, ceded this contested territory to Yugoslavia .Cf. B. Novak, in Slavic Review, December 1978, 708-09.

[10] Antun Barac, Introduction to Kumičić's Works (Djela), vol. I, Zagreb 1950, 7-26.

[11] Miloch Savkovitch. L'Influence du Realisme Francais dans le Roman Serbo-Croate, Paris 1935, p. 287.

[12] A. Barac, Kumičić's Djela, I. 26.

[13] V. Car Emin, Moje Uspomene na Družbu Sv. Ćirila Metoda za Istru, Zagreb 1953, p. 109.

[14] The best bibliography of his works was compiled by Vice Zaninović, Hrvatsko kolo, 1950, 749-63.

[15] Cf. Vice Zaninović, in Hrvatsko kolo, 1950, 576.

[16] Cf. Hrvatska Enciklopedija, vol. III, Zagreb 1942, 607.

[17] A. Barac, Književnost Istre i Hrvatskog Primorja (Literature of Istria and Croatian Littoral), ed. Vinko Antić. Zagreb-Rijeka 1968, pp. 506-11.

[18] A. Barac. Hrvatska Književna kritika (Croatian Literary Criticism), Zagreb 1938, pp. 137, 279.

[19] R. Katalindć-Jeretov. Odabrane pjesme, Zagreb 1953, p. V.

[20] Ibid., p. 91.

[21] Ibid., p. 122.

[22] After his death many studies were written about Balota, particularly in the periodicals Riječka Revija, Istarski mozaik, and Dometi; to him are also devoted special symposia entitled Meetings on the Native Rock (Susreti na dragom kamenu), held at various sites in Istria.

[23] Ante Ciliga, Nova Evropa, 1938, no. 9, pp. 285-92.

[24] Maria Franičević's study on Balota's poetry was published, with slight variations, four times: Republika, 1960, nos. 11-12; Književne interpretacije (Literary Interpretations), Zagreb 1964; Susreti na dragom kamenu, vol. 3, Pula 1971, and as an introduction to Balota's Selected Works, in Pet stoljeća hrvatske književnosti (Five Centuries of Croatian Literature), vol. 105, Zagreb 1973.

[25] Vladimir Nazor, Eseji, članci, polemike (Essays, Articles and Polemics), Zagreb 1950, p. 145.

[26] It was for the first time published in Pet stolječa hrvatske književnosti, vol .105, Zagreb 1973.

[27] They were published as Kozerije i Humoreske (Conversations and Humoresques), Rijeka 1957

[28] Their best poems can be found in Nova Čakavska lirika, Zagreb 1961.

[29] Zvane Črnja, in Knjiga o Istri, p. 158.

[30] Književne interpretacije, Zagreb 1964; Čakavski pjesnici renesanse (Čakavian Renaissance Poets), Zagreb 1969; Pjesnici i stoljeća (Poets and Their Era), Zagreb 1974.

[31] Ante Rojnić, in the epilogue to Istarski puti, Zagreb 1950, p. 213.

[32] Stanislav Šimić, "Iskre ik Istre" ("Sparks from Istria"), Hrvatsko Kolo, 1946, pp. 88-89.

[33] A. Barac, Veličina malenih (Greatnes of Lesser Writers), Zagreb 1947, pp. 241-72.

[34] Istarski puti, Zagreb 1950, p. 184.

[35] Horvat-Kiš wrote in 1916 to Julije Benešić that his travelogue was permeated with a national spirit ("narodnim duhom"). This letter is reproduced in Istarski puti, 1950, facing page 161.

[36] Ante Kadić, "Vladimir Nazor," Journal of Croatian Studies, vol XVII (1976), 64-72.

[37] "Odaziv Istranima", in Govori i članci (Talks and Articles), Zagreb 1946, p. 21.

[38] V. Nazor, Partizanska knjiga (A Book about the Partisans), Zagreb 1949, p. 471.