Serbian Writer Miloš Crnjanski: Global Citizen who believed we are all connected

Miloš Crnjanski (in Serbian Cyrillic: Милош Црњански) (1893 – 1977) was a poet and a novelist, born in the Hungarian town of Csongrád, to Serbian parents. Together with the Nobel Laureate Ivo Andric, he is considered as one of the founding fathers of Yugoslav literary Modernism. The life of Crnjanski is, in many ways, one of a Global Citizen, a Danubian who lived in London.

Born during the rule of the Hapsburg Empire, he grew up in Romanian Temesvár, completed primary education in Serbian Pančevo, attended the Academy in Croatian Rijeka, following which he finished off his education in Vienna, by that time almost at the ruins of the Habsburg Empire. His experiences as a soldier in World War I influenced his anti-war poetry. During the inter-war years he became a cultural attaché to several countries. He emigrated to London in 1945 where he lived until 1965. This makes Crnjanski a citizen of our imaginary Borough, Danube on Thames.

During his time in London he wrote a novel called: A Novel about London. The novel is about what it means to be in exile, and it reflects his own experience and the experiences of others like him.

roman o londonu

His life trajectories are not the only reason why we can think of this writer as a Global Citizen. His philosophical outlook transcends national boundaries aiming towards a common humanity. Crnjanski’s poetry and especially his personal style contributed towards the creation of a new literary direction known as sumatrizam. Sumatrizam stands for cosmic harmony. He believed that everything in this world is connected. His manifesto of sumatrizm is described in his poem Sumatra.

Ivo Andric said of him: “from us all, only Crnjanski was born a writer” / “Od svih nas, jedini je Crnjanski rođeni pisac.”

andric selimovic
Three famous Yugoslav writers: Ivo Andric, Mesa Selimovic and Milos Crnjanski

Sumatra
Now we are carefree, light and tender.
We just think: how quiet are the snowy
peaks of the Urals.
If a pale figure makes us sad,
the one we lost to an evening,
we also know that somewhere, instead of it a rivulet
flows and is all red.
Each love, each morning in a foreign land
envelops our soul closer by its hand
in an endless tranquillity of blue seas,
in which red corals glitter
like the cherries of my homeland.
We wake at night and sweetly smile
at the Moon with its bent bow
and we caress those distant hills
and the icy mountains with our tender hand.

Excerpt in Serbian Cyrillic

Суматра
Сад смо безбрижни, лаки и нежни…

Растужи ли нас какав бледи лик,
што га изгубисмо једно вече,

знамо, да, негде, неки поточић,
место њега, румено тече…

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