The First Man among the Ruins. On A Novel of London by Miloš Crnjanski

Massimo Rizzante


. Born under the Habsburg Empire in 1893, Miloš Crnjanski entered diplomacy after fighting in World War I on the Galician-Russian and Italian fronts. In 1940, having obtained various posts in Portugal, Germany, and Italy, he decided to prolong his exile in England. He returned to Belgrade, despite his aversion to communism, in 1965. Then, from 1972 to 30 November 1977, the day he died a slow and voluntary death, he would write no more. Almost all of Crnjanski’s mature work was conceived and written as an expatriate in a foreign country, on the fringes of the Yugoslavian political and literary debate, on the fringes of English literary society, and even on the fringes of the Serbian community in London itself. Probably because of this, his posthumous glory never reached that of his great compatriot Ivo Andrić, who won the Nobel Prize in 1961. For Crnjanski and his wife Vida, the years in England were lightless. His last novel, A Novel of London (2020 [1971]), recounts this absence of light. 

Abstract. Nato sotto l’Impero asburgico nel 1893, Miloš Crnjanski entrò in diplomazia dopo aver combattuto nella Prima guerra mondiale sul fronte galiziano-russo e italiano. Nel 1940, dopo aver ottenuto vari incarichi in Portogallo, Germania e Italia, decise di prolungare il suo esilio in Inghilterra. Tornò a Belgrado, nonostante la sua avversione al comunismo, nel 1965. Poi, dal 1972 al 30 novembre 1977, giorno della sua morte lenta e volontaria, non scriverà più. Quasi tutta l’opera matura di Crnjanski è stata concepita e scritta da espatriato in un Paese straniero, ai margini del dibattito politico e letterario jugoslavo, ai margini della società letteraria inglese e persino ai margini della stessa comunità serba di Londra. Probabilmente per questo motivo, la sua gloria postuma non ha mai raggiunto quella del suo grande connazionale Ivo Andrić, che vinse il Premio Nobel nel 1961. Per Crnjanski e sua moglie Vida, gli anni in Inghilterra furono senza luce. Il suo ultimo romanzo, Romanzo di Londra (2020 [1971]), racconta questa assenza di luce. 


England, Habsburg Empire, World War I, Communism, Serbia. Inghilterra, Impero asburgico, Prima guerra mondiale, Comunismo, Serbia.

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