The last male descendant of the renowned Mažuranić line took part in the fifth incarnation of the Croatica Abroad Collection series of round table discussions at the National & University Library in Zagreb. The discussion and lecture was accompanied by an exhibition of magazines in which his translations have been published and an exhibition of his selected artwork.
Prominent culture activist and translator Teodoro Darko Mažuranić appeared November 6th 2014 at the fifth incarnation of the Croatica Abroad Collection series of round table discussions at the National & University Library in Zagreb. The event is an attractive literary programme that aims to present creative figures to the Croatian public whose work in society and on the culture scene is related to the world of Croatian literature that is created outside the Republic of Croatia in the multilingual and multicultural milieus in which the Croatian emigrant communities work and live.
This literary programme, which takes place in the cult venue of the first floor of the modern palace of the National & University Library, home to the most valuable Croatian emigrant books, on this occasion offered answers to a number of questions pertaining to the Croatian Diaspora in South America – playing host to returnee from Argentina Teodoro Darko Mažuranić. On the other hand, this round table, through its content, enriched our public with a number of previously unknown facts from Darko’s family history. Darko is, namely, the great-great-grandson of Ban Ivan Mažuranic, whose 200th birth anniversary is being celebrating in the homeland. An exhibition is open at the National & University Library of the literary and graphic work of this great linguist, literary classic, lawyer and statesman under the title “The Treasures of Ivan Mažuranić”.
The Croatica Abroad Collection series of round table discussions was launched and is led by writer and translator Željka Lovrenčić DSc, who also serves as the head of this valuable collection of emigrant literature gathered from forty countries around the world.
The discussion with and lecture given by T. D. Mažuranić was accompanied by an exhibition of magazines in which his translations have been published and an exhibition of his selected artwork. The large audience on hand, including a dozen journalists, heard Teodoro D. Mažuranić’s stirring reminiscences of his great-great-grandfather Ban Ivan Mažuranić – the core figure of modern Croatian culture and political history. We learned more about Darko’s great-aunt, the famed writer Ivana Brlić Mažuranić, and of other famous members of the Mažuranić family. We learned about how his parents emigrated to Argentina in the mid-twentieth century, about life in that country in general, about our emigrants in Argentina and the return of the Mažuranić family to Croatia in the last decade of the past century.
Teodoro Darko Mažuranić was born in 1949 in Buenos Aires province in Argentina, where his emigrant parents settled in 1947. He was educated in the town of Banfield in Buenos Aires province and studied electrical engineering in Buenos Aires. He found employment in the well-known Argentinean firm EMA, where he worked as an electromechanical component designer before moving to Croatia. From his youth he was active as a member of Croatian emigrant organisations whose objective was to inform the Argentinean public of Croatian political aspirations and its culture and social trends in the past century. From 1966 to 1971 he taught children Croatian language and history in the frame of Croatian language and history courses at the Cardinal Stepinac Institute in Hurlingham.
He also founded and led the Bosna Tamburitza Ensemble at St Nikola Tavelić parish for decades and performed with them across all of Argentina. The ensemble continues to be active with new members. For twenty years he was a member of the Jadran Choir. During the Homeland War of independence he wrote articles for Argentinean dailies on the legitimate struggle of the Croatian people for an independent and sovereign Republic of Croatia. At the invitation of Croatian Government he joined reporters of the Argentinean national television broadcaster in touring combat areas, translating for interviews with the local population and refugees. In 1996 Croatian President Franjo Tuđman decorated Teodoro Darko Mažuranić with the Order of the Croatian Interlace for patriotism. That same year Mažuranić found permanent employment in Croatia, returning to live in the country with his parents. He speaks Croatian, Spanish, English, Russian and Italian. He works at the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. He works actively as a translator and painter. With his father and grandfather he has co-authored the, as yet unpublished, book Argentina – The Life of a New World Country. He served as the vice-president of the Croatian-Argentinean Culture Society of Zagreb. He is a long-time collaborator and translator for the HMI’s Croatian Emigrant Almanac.
From the memoirs of Teodoro Darko Mažuranić:
“Besides the celebrated Ivan, Antun, Matija, Vladimir, Fran and Ivana – there is an entire pleiad of Mažuranić’s that played a prominent role in Croatian cultural history and in other segments of its public life. I will mention a few of them: my grandfather Božidar, grandson of the plebeian Ban and brother of writer Ivana Brlić Mažuranić. He was born in Karlovac, served as a maritime officer, military pilot, diplomat and was an academy-trained painter. He died in Argentina in 1952. Many of his works of art are to be found in various museums and private collections in the homeland and abroad. His wife, my grandmother Irena, born to the aristocratic Türk family, was one of thirty Croatian aristocrat women painters and a great patron of the City of Karlovac. In their honour the City of Karlovac has this year installed a memorial plaque on the façade of their family home. They had three sons: Ivan Vladimir, Josip Franjo and Božidar Vatroslav. Ivan Vladimir was a polyglot, painter and five-time fencing champion in the former Yugoslavia. The Vladimir Mažuranić Memorial international fencing tournament is held in Zagreb every year in his honour. He illustrated the first edition of Ivana’s last novel Jaša Dalmatin. As a painter he also collaborated with the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb.
Josip Franjo was a maritime officer, polyglot, poet and entomologist. He published his first collection of poetry in Slavonski Brod in 1934. As an emigrant he continued to write prose and poetry. His novel Slučaj izgubljenog pisma (The Case of the Lost Letter), the action of which is set in Buenos Aires, was published in instalments in Canadian-based Hrvatski Glas (the Croatian Voice) in 1955. The lines of his poem They are to be found inscribed on many memorial monuments to fallen Homeland War defenders.
Božidar Vatroslav, my father, was also a maritime officer, polyglot, historian and painter. After coming to Argentina my father and uncle, respecting the constitutional order of their domicile country, immediately joined other Croatian patriots and got involved in political activities aimed at establishing a free and independent Croatia. They were tireless in promoting Croatian culture and teaching Croatian language and history to younger generations born in the emigrant communities. Their work to the benefit of Croatian culture and their efforts in the education of younger generations for the benefit of nurturing national awareness and faith in Croatia’s future will remain forever inscribed in the pages of the history of Croatian emigration communities. Finally, it is worth noting that the sculpture of St George now installed before the Stone Gate (Kamenita vrata), was donated to the City of Zagreb by Dr Želimir Mažuranić, grandson of Ban Mažuranić and brother of writer Ivana.”
Text by: Vesna Kukavica; Photos by: Snježana Radoš