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The Escaped Mystery

The Poetry of Momcilo Nastasijevic


Publication Year: 2010

The Escaped Mystery is devoted to the poetry of Momčilo Nastasijević, whose poetic achievement is described by Edward Dennis Goy as “one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in the Serbian language of the twentieth century.” Although his output was small, Nastasijević was the supreme modernist Yugoslav poet of his time and is deeply respected by leading modern Serbian poets, such as Vasko Popa and Miodrag Pavlović. Emotions, sensory impressions, love, and fear make up the “mystery” behind Nastasijević’s poetry. In this book the mystery – the lyrical experience – is caught in its various aspects but never held too long or over-defined. Goy examines the language, music, and meaning of the poems in their original and through his own English translations.

Published by: Slavica Publishers


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. v-vii

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pp. viii

My gratitude goes to Mr. Dušan Puvačić and Mr. Stephen Meyer for their generous support and help with the manuscript. I am more than grateful to Mr. Patrick Miles who never hesitated to help not only with the manuscript, but also with proofreading and some ‘technical’ details. ...

Part I. Critical Essays

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Chapter 1. Momčilo Nastasijević

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pp. 3-10

During his lifetime Momčilo Nastasijević was less well known than some of his contemporaries, such as Miloš Crnjanski and Rastko Petrović. His literary output was not large, and it gained immediate appreciation only in a narrow circle of intimate friends. Although he regularly published poems in leading literary periodicals such as Misao (Thought) ...

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Chapter 2. The Poems Gluhote and Reči u kamenu

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pp. 11-44

Momčilo Nastasijević was the author of stories (Iz tamnog vilajeta), dramas, and librettos, of which perhaps the most famous is his Medjuluško blago, as well as some of the most original poetry written in Serbian between the two world wars. It is his poetry that has rightly remained important, both as an influence on modern Serbian poets and as poetry in its own right. ...

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Chapter 3. The cycle Jutarnje from the Pet lirskih krugova

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pp. 45-62

Jutarnje (Morning Poems) presents an interesting insight into the development of both theme and style in the poems of all of the cycles. I shall attempt to also show the fact that the unit of these nine poems is the cycle, as well as examine its structural and thematic nature. For the convenience of the reader, each of the poems will be quoted in full, ...

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Chapter 4. The cycle Večernje from the Pet lirskih krugova

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pp. 63-80

This second cycle of the poet’s Pet lirskih krugova (Five Lyrical Cycles) is linked to his previous one, Jutarnje, both formalistically and thematically. The title itself is suggestive; evening following morning. It also consists of nine poems, exactly balancing Jutarnje. The tone and imagery have, however, changed somewhat, as will be seen. ...

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Chapter 5. The Cycle Bdenja from Pet lirskih krugova

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pp. 81-102

With Bdenja the Five Lyrical Cycles enter a new phase, though still a variation of the two preceding cycles. Morning and evening poems are followed logically by Vigils, thoughts in the night. Thus, just as most of the poems in the preceding cycles are based on a concrete, immediate situation, those of Bdenja tend to be increasingly metaphoric and abstract, ...

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6. “Flute, why does my joyous breath…?”

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pp. 103-112

Previously, writing of Nastasijević’s Pet lirskih krugova, I have stated that to seek any exact “interpretation” would merely be to vitiate what one admires. Matija Bećković put this better in an interview when he stated: “It appears that commentaries have sense only if the riddles grow. Only then does art gain. What may be unriddled to the end ceases to exist.”1 ...

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Chapter 7. The Evolution of a Poem

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pp. 113-124

With the publication of the definitive edition of the poetry of Momčilo Nastasijević1 it becomes possible to trace the evolution of some of Nastasijević’s best known poems through their various versions. Of these the opening poem of the Pet lirskih krugova, “Frula,” appears in fourteen versions, the latest relating to 1922, ...

Part II. Poems in Translation


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pp. 127-130

Words in Stone

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pp. 131-136

From the Cycle Moments (Magnovenja)

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pp. 137-148


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pp. 149-150

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pp. 151-152

Momčilo Nastasijević and his poetry were E. D. Goy’s lifelong friends. Natasijević’s poetry intrigued and fascinated him for years. He kept returning to Nastasijević’s words and their sounds, to their rhythm and the meaning the verses conveyed, to the overall mystery never fully reached or resolved. ...

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Edward Dennis Goy

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pp. 153-154

Edward Dennis Goy, born 1926. University Lecturer in Slavonic Languages and Literatures at Cambridge University from 1954 to 1990. Author of about forty articles on Russian, Serbian, and Croatian literature published in the UK, USA, Italy, and former Yugoslavia. ...


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pp. 155

Wrap-Around Book Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780893578183
E-ISBN-10: 0893578185
Print-ISBN-13: 9780893573188
Print-ISBN-10: 0893573183

Page Count: 148
Publication Year: 2010