Joining Croatian Writers’ Association president Vidmarović to welcome everyone were CHF director Mijo Marić and foreign and European affairs minister Gordan Grlić Radman. On hand to promote the book were Croatian studies professor Sanja Vulić, and writer and editor Božica Brkan of publishing house Acumen.
The Đuro Vidmarović-compiled book Josip Gujaš-Đuretin – Beauty Has Left Me was promoted at the Croatian Heritage Foundation on 5 November. The introduction and intermezzos at the event featured the inspired interpretation of Gujaš-Đuretin’s poetry provided by stage actor Biserka Ipša. Joining Croatian Writers’ Association president Vidmarović to welcome everyone were CHF director Mijo Marić and foreign and European affairs minister Gordan Grlić Radman. On hand to promote the book were Croatian studies professor Sanja Vulić, and writer and editor Božica Brkan of publishing house Acumen. The event was moderated by Vesna Kukavica, the head of our publishing department and the long-time editor of the Croatian Emigrant Almanac.
Guests of honour at the event included Anita Györei, the deputy to Hungarian ambassador József Zoltán Magyar, János Dezső, an advisor at the Hungarian embassy, and Jozo Solga, the spokesperson for the Croatian ethnic community in Hungarian parliament. Neven Šimac of the Croatian Diplomatic Club was also on hand, as were the two grandchildren of the late Hungarian-Croatian writer Stipan Blažetin currently studying at the University of Zagreb. Also at the event were Morana Amulić, a senior expert advisor with the culture ministry’s book and publishing office attending the event on behalf of the culture minister, the National and University Library chief director Tatijana Petrić, Maja Petrić, an expert advisor for publishing activity in the municipal government of Zagreb at the event on behalf of the mayor of Zagreb, the CHF board of director’s chairman Milan Kovač, state secretary Zdravka Bušić, and, representing state secretary Zvonko Milas of the Central State Office for Croats Abroad at the event; Milan Bošnjak, advisor with special status on Croatian ethnic minorities abroad, and Dubravka Severinski, head of the sector for legal status, culture and education for Croats Abroad.
Đuro Vidmarović spent four decades studying the work of Josip Gujaš-Đuretin, a Hungarian-Croatian poet, historian, and secondary school teacher in Budapest, leading up to the publication of this comprehensive tome, titled after a line from Gujaš-Đuretin’s last poem. The book is divided into two sections. In the first Vidmarović analyses, at the literary theory level. Gujaš-Đuretin’s unappreciated poetic legacy and research interests associated with his own minority identity as presented in a doctoral dissertation. Noteworthy is the collaboration with writer Milivoj Slaviček and the archival and philological material provided to the compiler by Gujaš-Đuretin’s late wife Vera Grunčić. The second half of the tome presents original and transcribed poems, some previously published, some now printed for the first time. The book’s reviewer Sanja Vulić and promoter Božica Brkan noted that this book is certainly a contribution to the body of literary theory work dedicated to the leading ethnic Croatian poet in Hungary in the mid-twentieth century, the dissemination of our knowledge on the distribution and use of local dialects on both sides of the border at the time and the justified desire to affirm the legacy of Gujaš-Đuretin’s work in the body of Croatian literature.
Funding this year for the publication of the collected works of Josip Gujaš Đuretin (1936–1976) as compiled by Vidmarović was provided through the ministry of culture and the Croatian Heritage Foundation. In this manner the life’s work of this Croatian intellectual, born in Gornje Martince in 1936, has been preserved. In the local custom the surname Đuretin comes from the family “nickname” derived from the grandfather’s name Đuro (Đureta). Gujaš-Đuretin received his higher education in Segedin, Pécs and in Pest (before it was amalgamated with Buda to form Budapest), studying history, Croatian and southern Slav literature. He earned his degree in 1961 and at age 29 his doctorate at the university in Budapest with a dissertation on The Policy of Violent Assimilation in Europe and Hungary (Hungarisation in the Somogy and Zala-Međimurje Counties) and the National Defence of the Hungarians in Slavonia During the Dualism Period. It was published in two parts in Croatia: in Matrix Croatica’s Kolo journal no. 6 issue of 1967 and in the Historijski zbornik (“Historical Anthology” of 1970/71). He worked as a teacher at the Croatian-Serbian Gymnasium in Budapest but was taken ill in 1971 and took an early retirement as an invalid. He died in his fortieth year, wasted by the serious illness, impoverished and jobless.
The volume’s compiler Đuro Vidmarović is a poet, literary historian, critic and translator. He has published a number of his own collections of poetry. His interest in the literary history of the Croatian ethnic enclaves in European countries has produced hundreds of reviews, articles, and papers in Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria and Israel, and a number of particularly noteworthy books on this topic.
By his talent, poetic sensibility and, in particular, his literary erudition, Vidmarović notes, Gujaš-Đuretin stands apart from other ethnic poets. His creative work put him in the vanguard advocating that modern literary trends should be embraced and for the complete autonomy of literary work, for writing without fear or restriction. He was aware that ethnic poetry had entered a period of stagnation, encased in a shell of historicism, and that it was lagging far behind modern trends, both in Hungarian and Yugoslav poetry. In brief, literary theoreticians studying the literature of Hungarian-Croatians consider his work a high point in the period from 1918 to the present. In the U kolo anthology published in Hungary a half century ago he is represented with twenty-four poems, most of which were also published in his posthumous collection Povratak u Podravinu (1977), the first published book on Hungarian-Croatian literature. Also worth noting is that for writer Vidmarović this book is the crowning achievement of his dedicated work on incorporating the scattered European elements of our heritage into the body of Croatian literature. Vidmarović shared his great joy at seeing this book come to light with the diplomats, writers, politicians and friends gathered on this rainy late afternoon at the CHF headquarters in Zagreb and announced that the book would soon see its Hungarian release.
By: Diana Šimurina-Šoufek
Photography: Snježana Radoš & Hrvoje Salopek