A new monography RijekaLuka različitosti / Fiume Porto della diversità / Rijeka Port of Diversity that highlights the diversity of the city of Rijeka – European Capital of Culture 2020. A trilingual edition with Croatian text by Edi Jurković, my English translation and Italian translation by Ivo Vidotto, edited by Dragan Ogurlić, it has 232 pages with over 300 excellent photographs covering life, work, people, culture, sport, entertainment, science, innovation, health, history and much more in the city.
With its stunning photography by the city’s leading photographers and easy to read texts covering all aspects of Rijeka this is a superb edition to the European Capital of Culture 2020 celebration and I am proud to have been the English translator.
ISBN 978-953-8180-11-8 Available from Val Publishing here
FROM ENGLAND TO INDIA BY AUTOMOBILE An 8,527-mile Trip Through Ten Countries, from London to Quetta, Requires Five and a Half Months BY MAJOR F.A.C. FORBES-LEITH
extract: THE FIUME “LIONS” OF ITALY’S POET SOLDIER
Our next stop was at Fiume (Rijeka), the scene of the coup of Gabriele d’Annunzio, Italy’s poet patriot. It is also a fine port, but a mean city in comparison with Trieste. A narrow river separates it from Susak, the Yugoslavian frontier town.
An impressive sight in the city was the great number of apparently idle young men with shock heads of hair fluffed out like a lion’s mane. We thought this must be the latest thing in Fiume masculine styles until an English-speaking friend explained that this is the hall mark of d’Annunzio’s “lions,” who, with him, captured the city.
We were warned not to upset any of them, as they have the reputation of being excessively irascible and a law unto themselves.
After a night in Fiume, we crossed the frontier bridge to Yugoslavia. The incredible change made by those few yards is impossible to imagine – a jump from stagnation and slackness to hurry and bustle.
The only place into which the general energy had not penetrated was the customhouse. We had a letter of introduction to the chief revenue officer, who told us that, as a great favour, they would rush us through the formalities. The “rush” required six hours to deal with our small outfit!
The officials seemed to like our company. As soon as the papers were passed to a fresh clerk, he would come and have a friendly chat with us on European politics, our trip, and, in fact, anything but the business concerned. They were so cheery and genial that we could not take offense; so we smoked endless cigarettes and waited.
Overland from England to India in late 1924 by Major Forbes-Leith. Here seen in Baghdad on 20th August 1924.
EVERY VILLAGE CAFE IN YUGOSLAVIA HAS ITS ORCHESTRA
We were now in a new kingdom, a charming country of delightful, music-loving people. Every little village café has its orchestra of young men playing the guitar and mandolin, and accompanied by a trio or quartette of girl singers. The former stand and play; the latter sit in a row in front and sing national songs from dusk to midnight.
The Croats and Serbs are fine fellows of good physique, very hard workers, great patriots, and among the finest soldiers in the world. Serbia, before the World War, was spoken of as a little Balkan state; now she must be reckoned as a power in Europe.
English police uniforms used in Zagreb in the 1920s.
At Agram (Zagreb), the capital of Croatia, formerly part of the old Austrian Empire, we had a shock that made us rub our eyes. In front of us at the first crossroad, was the embodiment of an English policeman, with helmet, uniform, and baton complete. We heard afterward that the whole police force of the city was modeled and trained on British lines, even uniforms being supplied by outfitters in England.
In atmosphere, architecture, and general plan, Agram is a miniature Vienna. It has a fine opera house, and the architecture is for the most part typically Austrian.
Living is very cheap here for the man who carries either the pound sterling or the dollar.
The trip was made in 1924 and published by The National Geographic Magazine August 1925.
There was even a cameraman on the trip and there exists footage – called ‘Lure of the East’ of some of the trip available here on the British Pathe archives website. And on Vimeo – watch at 1:00 and you’ll see a Zagreb copper: https://vimeo.com/45439980
Kritika – književno umjetnička revija – January 1921 edition contains part one of this essay about Janko Polić Kamov’s poetry by his brother Nikola Polić.
LIRIKA JANKA POLIĆA – KAMOVA
„Ja sam plamen, ja sam mač“. (Heinrich Heine)
Još prije dvanaest i više godina — kao i danas — bili su stihovi Janka Polića – Kamova predmetom čudjenja i izrugivanja baš one štampe, najširoko-grudnije pa i prama najmladjima. Stihovi ovi, još uvijek neotkriveni, uranili su prije zore u crnom, ponornom i ponoćnom kliktaju vječno neumorne, vječno žedne i vječno nesretne duše. Sudbina svih iskrenih pjevača. Sivi, tmurni je albatros to poletio grozničavim platnom razderanog neba, ne pazeći na pravilni i matematski lijet aeroplana. Za to su mnogi kazali: Evo ptice, koja leti loše!
Daleko prije Krleže, njegovih simfonija i njegovih nasljedovatelja živio je kod nas jedan — nazovimo ga tako, akoprem netačno — intelektualni, individualni, pa makar i aristokratski boljševik, Spartakus par exellence, razlikujući se od današnjih time, što u ono vrijeme ne bijaše ultrarevolucionarnost u književnosti moda, šablona i reklama.
Tada se radjala — odvojena od nacionalizma — hrvatska, upravo zagrebačka moderna, pod protektoratom Velikog Meštra Augusta Drugog, koja je dala nepismenoj našoj javnosti nekoliko odličnih i gotovih književnih profila. Ta čisto lirska Plejada, zanešena i besprikorna, umjerena i tiha, nenasrtljiva i nereklamna, pjevala je starijim ritmom, ali uvijek novim emocijama i novim senzacijama, uvijek tradicionalno vezana uz ustaljene forme, da nastavi svojim vidicima i putovima — sama, zamišljena, daleka od savremenog neukusa, bez kompromisa ali i bez zaraze. Matoš, koji je — danas to mi svi pošteno priznajemo — znatno influisao na ovu plavu i mladu radost naših dana pasjih, nije djelovao nikako na unutarnji razvitak lirike Janka Polića-Kamova, akoprem je njihov put, kao i sudbina, bio gotovo kongruentan. Konkurencija, blagorodna gospodja Jalova bila je izmedju njih bespredmetna i nemoćna. Obojica proganjana od službene, doktorske i profesorske kritike, sastali se, vodjeni podzemnim putovima čitave Evrope u Zagrebu, kod „Frankopana” dabome, a zajedničko im je bilo samo grlo i mizerija našeg tričavog i tračavog ambienta.
Grupa oko Matoša pjevala je samo lijepo i o lijepome, osvojena rezignacijom i tišinama. U lirici Janka Polića – Kamova ne osjeća se ni najtanji trag svega toga. Moglo bi se općenito reći, da on ružno pjeva o ružnome. Anacionalan i prognanik, bez doma i bez pratnje, rabiatan i krvav do srži, on nije kanda pripadnik plemena S. H. S. Grabancijaš, ali ne onaj kafana i promenada, proputovao je do svoje osamnaeste godine pola Balkana, većinom pješke, po Gorkijevom uzoru, da nakon šest godina naiđe na svoj kobni i glupavi finale tamo negdje u španskoj Barceloni, što li je?
Taj tragični skitnik bez maske nosio je po cijelom svijetu, u srcu kao i u mozgu svirepu, viseću, veliku i crnu viziju, a njegovo ostentativno komadanje duše i nerava nije bio nikad sport, literatura i danguba.
Grupa oko Matoša, otmena i izrađena, nalazila je često svoju inspiraciju u neplaćenoj bijeloj kafi i to nije vic, zaboga! I Polić – Kamov imao je svoju Muzu, manje diskretnu, ali zato vrlo, vrlo ordinarnu i brutalnu, sastojeću se od četiri prapočela svih dekadenata: duhan, alkohol, žena i histerija. Njegov su moto ova četiri stiha:
„Ja ljubim bol i patnju i gorčinu
u živoj rani!
A zaborav ću ljepšu nać’ u vinu
Neg u nirvani!“
Alkohol je postao njegovom vitalnom potrebom, stvarajući od njega izraziti tip fiziološkog alkoličara. Svaka njegova pijača svršavaše ludim, konvulzivnim plačem, koji je ridanje, i svaka prolumpovana noć bila je jedan grč, jedna etapa, jedan fokus u ludom njegovom i bezglavom životu. Avaj, nije to rujno, rujansko, đulabijsko vino naših opjevanih Gorica! Nije to satirski, pudarski smijeh sa Vidrićevog Prekrižja i sa Haulikovog baroknog Maksimira. Nije to vino radosti, o kome pjeva Vilko Gabarić u svojem nasmijanom Vinogradu. Rakija, teška, olovna, vampirska rakija kitila je ognjenom aureolom ponorni pad njegovih ponoćnih strofa. To je lirika mȍre, što mori modra, muzička i mirna morâ. To su vizijski grčevi, okovani histeričkim plačem kao krvavi, razulareni bičevi:
„Nakvašeno, crno platno kožom
joj se zmijski svija
i kroz njega trzaj mesa u
ružičnom dahu sija.
To je žena trudnih sisâ
što sa neba sapu traži…
a morski je cjelov pljuska i grebeni nokat draži“.
Taj nas nenaravni, ali zdravi perverzitet malo zbunjuje, kad saznamo, da je to pisano u doba, kad se inače pjevaju soneti prvim naborima zaljubljenih hlača.
Samo jedna alkoholom povaljena strast kadra je rađati stihove guste i masne u embriu bolnog, bijesnog, bolesnog i bespomoćnog neutaženog užitka:
„Kroza zastor mast se cijedi ko sa smokve mast sladčine
pod raskošjem bujnog neba, po kome se priča lijeva, zalutala iz pjesama
ljiljana i cedrovine“.
Pijani, crveni, krvavi i crni su to stihovi, kao boje na nekoj ustalasanoj, nemirnoj, neurednoj, burnoj i grozničavoj paleti:
„Duša dršće; to je priča zašaptala sa nebesa
u bojama, što se mijese u Gomori, na istoči,
kad se miješa karmin krvi, crno kosâ, bijelo mesa.
Duša dršće ko da akord jedna tanka struna toči
navinuta, ištipana, strašću prsti izbijena:
Bješe riječ, što se proli, klikćuć’ u šir: žena, žena!
I ta pjesma (sonet) nazvana Poezija služi kao sentenca čitave te lirike, noseći u sebi sve jake karakteristike onog Polića – Kamova, koji još nije pošao na Zapad i na Jug, da svoj bujni, burni i bojovni duh smiri ironijskim rezignacijama i izigravanjem vlastitog srca. To je bila lirika bluda: čisto primarna i nejasno jasna, sa krikovima i trikovima duše što srlja, riga i pijucka.
Pjevači hrvatske mlade lirike (1908—1914) nisu nikad izravno pjevali ženi mesa, o fiziološkoj životinji i beštijici, shvatajući je tek kao kostur ili kao hostiju na oltaru svojih blijedih i bijelih vizija — i to ih je sačuvalo na pristojnoj visini, ne dajući im povoda, da se banališu i provulgare. Malo imade pjesama iz ove grupe, gdje bi fizis bio osjećaj, rima i ritam.
Drukčije je Polić-Kamov opjevao ženu, o kojoj najviše pjevaše, jer je ona meso njegovih rima i bȉlo njegovog ritma. Njegova žena ne udara nikad u pianino i ne voli da siše krv hrizantema; ne prelijeva se ona u zelenom otrovu što pada na noćno, usnulo i prigušeno svijetlo. Njegova je žena svačija i ničija, prostitutka iz najcrnjih dna života, što draži, svija, kida meso ispija mozak. To je persiflaža Turgenjevljevih Liza i Gjema, Dostojevskijevih Aglaja i Sonja; ona se približava Carmeni, crnom kriku seviljske svile i omamnom dimu Belladonna cigarete.
„Amo te ženo jeftinog mesa i skupog plača,
s haljinom trulom što vjetar snese ljudskog sred drača;
umor je zadro pospane crte na tvome oku,
a muški prsti modrice tupe po tvome boku’,
na tvome mesu svi smo mi pošli koracim’ grubim
i naše stope pričat će svijetu kako se ljubi.
„Dođi o trinaestljetna s valovljem nabrekle kože
ko koža napete svrži,
o živo takni me meso i s puti podatnom tvojom
i ovo savjesti sprži“.
U istom posvećenom hramu, u toj tišini tišina, sluša on krvavo golicanje bluda, grijeha i mesa:
„Orgulje bruji hramom,
a ženska grla raskvašena s poja
po njemu srču samom.
O nema stvora toga,
što ženskih struna ne bi lizno zvuka
u hramu istog Boga!“
U ovim se pjesmama ništa ne retušira. Ovo je sve snimljeno na licu mjesta, u punokrvom nekom transu. Suvišak potencije, koji izbija poput čira.
Ali on nije uvijek napeto griješan. U časovima dobre volje on će zapjevati i Radičevićevim žargonom:
„O tuda prođite noškom: čarapa obijest joj zakri i none u crno zavi;
Planut će eter, kad proljet izdane požudno sapu i suknje o tijelo savi.
Šuškat će daleka priča: košuljom ovita tankom kroz goru prošla je dijeva
i tud je prosulo nebo i suze i podsmjeh i ljubav
i po njoj rosulju lijeva!”
Samo onaj pjesnik, koji od iskona nosi povrh svih životinjskih ekscesa, u orgiji plamena, visoko gore, uvijek gore i gore jedan bludni, sveti i griješni vjeruju, kadar je da završi knjigu pjesama potresnim i ciničkim grčem poput Polića – Kamova, te svoju Golgotu krvi, požara, mesa, duše i nerava zaključuje đavoljim krstom Ridanjem jedne bludnice. Začepite uha, vi blijedi i eterni! Zakrilite oči vaše, mili i slađani! Okrenite se u grobu, vi, te u miru počivate! Pjesnik, pošto je slomio korbač na šiji glatkog i jeguljastog Snoba, pošto je pljunuo, formalno pljunuo na sve lijepe i nebeske vidokruge, te nakon što je prouzročio skandal, javnu sablazan, pada k nogama jedne jadne, ordinarne, glupe i zaražene bludnice. Ne iz prkosa, već zbog neke unutarnje, nesavladive i vizionarne ljubavi. On laže, kad se upoređuje sa Raskoljnikovom, ne iz proračunanosti, već iz samilosti prama sebi: on ljubi bludnicu, ženu na križ pribijenu, on ljubi sve ono vanzakonsko. Braća, čudna, čudna braća. Taj konačni rušeći povik nije kombinovan. Doživljeno je to, krvavo doživljeno. Crni taj liričar nije pjevao ženi obligatnim i mirisnim pervezitetom D’Annunzia iz brijačkih i modnih salona; njegovo ženstvo nije parfimisani žargon neumrlog Marcel Prevosta; nije ni pikantni sos za komije i sobarice Guy de Maupassanta. Taj gusti, masni i čemerni slador zalutao je tamo negdje sa biblijskih obala Salamunove pijane pjesme nad pjesmama. Vreli, uzavreli potok pobunjene krvi, što teče i nikad ne prestaje. Ta je dekandentska lirika — prepotentna i taj paradoks spada među aksiome, kad se citira ta neburžoaska i nesalonska lirika.
Histerija bauči i strahuje tu prekidanim i neuređenim ridanjem i izbitim, rastrganim smijehom, te siječe i reže njegove tanane, fine, ženske i razbludne usnice. Jedno nemirno sunce vise pred tim crnim Bosjakom, te poput Stanka Vraza ne poznavaše kompromisa između pjesme i života. Život je pjesma, pjesma je život. Dok i današnji književnici posjeduju spašenu životnu egzistenciju, Janko Polić – Kamov nije bio niti korektor. U pjesmi je živio, pjevajući kroz cijeli život nonšalansom La Fontaineovog cvrčka. Pitanje hrane, novca, odijela, stana i kuće bilo je tako daleko od njega, pa pošto je izdurao i najjadnije dane, plašila ga je samo pomisao na mir, dom i sitost.
Tom pjesniku, dalekom od svih koterija i škole, osporavahu pravo pjevanja, upućivajući ga na novinarstvo, na fejton, na bablju republiku. Po shvatanju kritičara, bilo je to njegovo „pravo polje rada”. Koliko kuriozne gluposti i stupidnog prenemaganja bogom nadahnute i na čast doktora promovirane kritike. Još i danas nekoji kritičari drže i Matoša lošim pjesnikom, držeći se valjda one „kritičar je gospodin koji se pokadšto miješa u ono, u što se ne razumije”. (S. Mallarmè.)
Polić-Kamov dao je svoje najpersonalnije, najkamovskije radove upravo u lirici, ne imajući preteča, počevši od sebe samoga. Ta elipsa bila je bez fokusa i jakost izraza njegovog stiha nije ni manja ni slabija ni providnija od najjačih verzova S. S. Kranjčevića, nadmašivši i autora Mramorne Venere svojim rapsodijama na prebitoj harfi (S gladi, Sunce, Dan gospodnji i t. d.)
U stvaranju silno nejednak, kao oluja što nosi na svome krilu tišinu i grom, on će nakon sadističkog buncanja zabugariti bukoličkom finesom razmaženog i suptilnog pjevača:
„Pod sunčanom krošnjom od zlatnijeg granja
Ko prašak im zlaćani list —
Poneso se smiješak što cjelove pruža,
a cjelov i draškav i čist.
I zadrhta atmos što pobud raznosi
i poljupce baca ko lud
i reko bi: negdje s plamtećega boštva
talasa se nečija grud.
Nije li to — čudno — kristalna slika vedrine i krajobraza:
„Cisto je nebo ko djetinja sanja
ko crno s ptičijih oči;
a sunce s dražesti mirisnu blagost
kroz oblak modrine toči“.
Ali tih svijetlih momenata ima malo kod njega.
Velika je griješka, upravo znak katastrofalnog i fatalnog neshvatanja, što gotovo svi nazrijevahu u njegovim stihovima ideju, tendensu i uvodni članak za anarhistična glasila. Pjesma ne pozna ideje, pa bila ta ideja i najbizarnija. Pjesma je samo izraz — kap sunca ili kap otrova. U pjesmi je Bog ili Ahasver. Metafizika ili rusvaj. Pjesma može biti plava, modra, crna, crvena, siva, ljubičasta, ali nikad komunistički — crvena, anarhistički — crna, nacionalno — trikolorna, naivno — plava i t. d. Takve pjesme uopće nema, a onaj, koji traži utilitarski ili revolucionarni monstrum u poeziji, neka traži i halbcilinder na olimpijskoj i prozirnoj glavi Monne Lise. Pjesma je tu radi pjesme, a žalosne su ambicije onih, čije stihovi imadu zadaću, da ruši sisteme. To su stvari Tolstoja, Lenjina, Radića, Bogumila i prvih kršćana.
Ispitana Hartija i tragični psaltir Psovka natrpani su abisnom bujnošću jedne crne, otrovane, beskućne i besnene lirike, koja nikad, vaj nikad ne zna za samotne i tihe senzacije uspavanih, muzičkih soba, kad pianino šuti i žuti se miris muti u miru zlaćanih mušica, u odsjevu slika i u bolovima strasnog jorgovana. Taj Ahasver sekundirao je moguće i besvijesno Cvijeću zla, samo što mu manjka linija, mjera i zlatni rez Bauderaireove strašne i tanane, muzičke ruke, koja će istim zamahom pogladiti zelenu kosu i savinuti gvozdenu šipku. Mi nemamo ni danas simpatičnih nasljedovatelja te poezije, koja je sakrivena u nas. Marjanović ga je jedini bez viclanja primio u ono vrijeme, prigovarajući mu ipak rimama, izrazu, stilu, dikciji („Suvremenik“ 1907.) ne znajući, da ovo nije knjiga za sladokusce, te da u tim stihovima nema spomenarske, secesionističke, donhuanske i zlatousne vibracije Xeres de la Maraja, monumentalne i dosadne širine Vl. Nazora i usiđeličkih suza Mihovila Nikolića i D.D. Domjanića.
Polić-Kamov nije kumovao mirnoj, modroj lirici, koja smatra svaki stih jednom cjelinom, jednom gotovom vizijom, jednim savršenim i svršenim unutarnjim titrajem, ukratko: jednom kombinaciom. Mirna je lirika našla svoj klimaks u pejzažima, harmoniziranim i jedinstvenim Wiesnerovim sonetima. To je život u košnici, deputacija k seoskim tornjevima, muzika sjenâ zastora i zvončići neba. Drukčija je arhitektura stihova Polića – Kamova. Njegova čitava knjiga, pa da je napisao i deset knjiga, sve bi to šumilo pritajenim orkanom, vrludavim strujama, razbješnjelim valovima jedne jedine pjesme, jednog jedinog stiha. Jedan njegov sonet nosi teret jedne jedine riječi i cijela je ta lirika ispravno okrštena štipajem. Da se jasnije izrazim: nije uzor-pjesnik, ne ulazi ni u koju antologiju, nije akademik i deklamator. Ovo nisu stihovi za recitaciono veče. Do smiješnosti katkad subjektivan, personalan do ekstrema uvijek, smatra knjigu vulgarnom i formalnom ispovijedaonicom, gdje je on, autor, i ispovijednik i griješnik, a čitaoci sveta inkvizicija. Ta je ispovijed zaglušni krik, od kojega će puknuti bubnjić u otmjenom uhu g. Popovića ili će pozliti ciklamskom Domjaniću.
Progonio ga je ovijek onaj krvavi, neboderni krik Marijev iz Tragedije mozgova: Probudite se živ u grobu! – kojim je zanosno i uhodrapateljno završio i Psovku. Ta grozna, strašna i crvljiva vizija, ta Poe-ova romantična i groteskna senzacija provlači se cijelom ovom lirikom, koja se nikad i nikad ne odmara u sjeni vrbinih pramenova i koja nikad ne ugleda kućnog praga obećane hemlje. Bez doma. Bez domovine. Bez ičesa. Bez korijena. Bez sidra. Ukleti Holandez. Jedna neugašena, žedna i bijedna želja, čežnja za eksploziom, za praskom, za gromom, za požarom, za provalom vulkana. Sve to bez futurističkih snobizama. To su pupoljci na majskoj, procvjetaloj svrži otrovanog, prokletog bilja, a prsnuvši, cijedi se iz njih paklena, crna i crvena smola. Odatle i indignacia ondašnje publike, te sitna, sita i žabarska psikaše nad ovim prvijencem čistog, nelicitarskog srca gospodina Bosjaka, koji ostade uvijek Gosparom. Ista nabikulenska i dembelska čeljad prošla je cinički, triumfatorski povrh umornog i viteškog srca Lazara Heine-a, te u smrtnom hropcu žali, što čovječanstvo nema jedne glave, pa da mu pljune u lice crnu, mrtvačku pjenu.
Prem nije poznavao Heine-a, nabasat ćemo često u Ištipanoj hartiji na čisto hajneovske šlagere, koji imadu katkad onu ženskiju od ženâ ciničku zlobu, ujed i frivolnost. Primjerice pjesma pod mističnim naslovom P. S. ima intonaciju, kao i ugođaj autora Buch der Lieder. I u Novoj proljeti kao i u „Mrtvoj Diani” viri ovaj umorni, žalosni i ružni žalac:
„Sjećaš li se? Nova proljet ponijela me k našoj klupi,
po kojoj su sjele sjene:
oličiše novom bojom i nasuše gustim pijeskom
sve što bješe uspomene.
A meni se nešto misli nasmijava crnim mozgom
ko kad jesen lišće mota
i pomišljam, bogzna tko će, da se tvoga hvata pasa
da te ‘nako opet smota!
O, ne drhti! Nije prezir! Negda bijah — znaš me dobro —
preko tebe težak i ja!
A sad možda kumpanija, da, i cijela regimenta
nije teška kad te svija!“
Svinjarija! Kaj ne? Praštajte, gospodo suci, moraliste, bašibozuci i eunusi! I Magdalena je griješna, a Polić-Kamov oprao je taj cinizam životom i jednom od svojih najumornijih, najljepših nostalgičnih pjesama Kitty. Ovi su nedelikatni, soldački stihovi skrojeni prokletstvom i nije nikad ružan onaj, koji diše previše iskreno. Taj cinik nije, nije cinik, jer je prošao kalvariju srca i pakao duše.
Ta drhtava, razderana i carmenska muzika ponoćne pohote ne zna za blage i tople nijanse pastela i akvarela, jer se ruši u nekom divljem i crnom prahu beskonačne disharmonije, koja je vrlo daleka od drakonskih zakona gospodina Bacha, Johana Sebastiana. Što bi bilo od njega, da ga poznavaše Skerlić, koji je onako po prstima lupio Pandurovića i jadnoga Disa, inače dvije blage i mirne dušice.
Kad danas, nakon deset i više godina listamo tu krajnju ljevičarsku i mladenačku liriku, posrtavamo svakim stihom u ovoj današnjoj blaženoj i učmaloj, selendarskoj monotoniji. Ovi krvavi trzaji, i one crne strofe tralaliču u pijanom i nakvašenom ritmu jedne ognjene konjice, poput đavolje fuge sa bezbroj temata u vječnoj, nezadovoljenoj stretti. Jedno more žeđi. Jedan bezdan prošnja. Flauta i fanfara. Prokletstvo i šumski mir. Tonika i povećana kvarta. Evo, kako zvoni tišina u ovom labirintu:
„A glava bukti i polijetava k’ zidu,
da tresnem njome! . . .
Svet, svet je prasak, a blagosloven Gospod
u miru svome!“
(U mrtvoj noći).
On ne zna za mistiku i u noći ne vidi modru boju violončela, oboe i šumskog roga. Ne sjeća se zelenih, dubokih tišina, a mliječni, vitorogi mjesec izaziva kod njega persiflažu simbolskih i samotnih Vrbanićevih jablanova:
„U toj tmini sovuljastoj ko da lažni privid gaca
i sa sjena bezdušnijeh religije usne krive —
i u gluhu atmosferu umišljene dogme baca,
jablanovi strše u vis ko mesnate duše žive“.
Jedna negacija cijele naše lirike. Tamo od Vidrića, Dučića, Rakića, pa preko Wiesnera, Ujevića do Krleže, Šimića, Vinavera i Crnjanskog.
Kad se pojavio, bilo je u troimenom narodu duhovitih danguba, koji udariše u beskonačne burgije, neshvativši, šta više, ne pročitavši tu osebujnu i nikad neepigonsku liriku. Svaka se, pa i najboija stvarca dade izvrći ruglu, a tadanje Zeuse fejtona zbunila je i preplašila ta kuštrava. neelegantna i neštucana prilika, koja je svakom zgodom istupila smjelo, bez rukavica i bez hrizanteme u zapučku.
Bujnost, organsku cjelinu svog pjesničkog izraza kvario je često hotice i znalice nesklapnim stilističkim šiljcima. Vikao je, urlao, zaglušno, nenaštimano pjevao, bančio i strahovao u nekom herostratizmu, koji nikad i nikad nije bio poza ili gesta. Jezik, stil, tradicija, dikcija, Kosovo, Petrova gora, Croacija i t. d. bijahu mu stafažom za nemoćnike, a glupost što urla od Triglava do Vardara, slušao je u Torinu, u Barceloni, u Zagrebu i u Rimu: jer svijet je jedan. Prsnuše okviri Hrvatske, puknut će i remenje Jugoslavije, jer svijet je i opet jedan. Duša, koja živi, ne mari naći Nirvanu u drevnoj Heladi ili na tavanu kakve kamene kućice u Puntu, na otoku Krku.
Ne priznavaše a priori čistoću, plemenštinu i sigurnost stiha. Sveta Jednostavnost je njemu kao i Janu Husu znak gluposti i zlobe. Porušivši arhitekturu stiha, gubi akademsku vedrinu čiče Emersona i poeziju zdravlja, nacije i pobjede. Za Vidovdanski hram ne mari. Klasična, zvučna linija postala je bog te pita što. Ta je plamena lirika daleko od svih dobroćudnih, poltronskih forma; pa ipak je Polić-Kamov uzajmio od Dante-a tercinu, a od ostalih sonet i oktavu, valjda za to, jer ga je privlačila diabolika Dantea, Rinascimenta, papâ i kršćanskih perverziteta.
Poput Ahasvera ne zna za mir i dobrotu i ljepotu i taj čovjek morade umrijeti mlad — kao kaplja — jer je ritam svojih nerva našao u burnom udaranju bȉla, te najnormalnije udaraše stoičetrdeset puta u minuti.
Petar Grabovac-Ćućo is a legendary photo-journalist who worked in the industry from 1948 until his retirement in 1990. He worked for Rijeka’s ‘Novi List’ newspaper for 40 years and photographed every major event that happened in the city. He captured the visits of international statesmen such as Che Guevara, Nasser, Nehru, Khrushchev, Brezhnev as well as Yugoslavia’s President Tito.
Grabovac’s work has been published all over the world and he has been awarded numerous international prizes. His eye for detail and quality of his work is presented in this monography which features his studies of the city of Rijeka, which has changed over those four decades, and it has brought memories flooding back for its inhabitants.
I provided the English translations of the summary and the author’s biography.
This 320 page hardback book simply titled ‘Rijeka’ can be ordered direct from the publisher Adamić d.o.o. here.
– in Rijeka the trajectory of a gunshot was photographed for the first time in history.
– the postmark ‘V’ Fiume from 1755, is the oldest surviving postmark in the Republic of Croatia.
– a life jacket from the Titanic is located in the local museum. It was collected by the RMS Carpathia (the ship that saved the Titanic’s survivors) on route from New York-Rijeka.
– in Rijeka in 1786 the first midwifery school in Croatia was founded.
– the ‘Husar’ disco club in Rijeka was the first in this part of Europe.
– that ‘Quorum Colours’/’Fun Academy’ was the first and largest Croatian underground club.
– the first Croatian rock band, ‘Uragani’ came from Rijeka.
– the first punk group in Croatia ‘Paraf’ came from Rijeka.
– Croatian Hip-Hop began in Rijeka.
– in Rijeka the first speedway race was held in Italy and that the founder of Italian speedway was in fact from Rijeka.
– the first psychiatric hospital in Yugoslavia was built in Rijeka.
– the oldest lift in Croatia is in Rijeka.
– the first vehicle marked “Made in Croatia” was built in Rijeka.
– that under Rijeka there is a cave which has been declared a natural geomorphologic monument.
– that Rijeka had its very own Schindler who helped hundreds of Jews.
– in 1852 in Rijeka the first gas production plant began operation in South East Europe.
– Rijeka’s rope factory is the oldest industrial plant in the city’s history.
– the first sanatorium in Croatia was opened in the district of Pećine.
– the first radio transmission in the ex-Yugoslavia was made in Rijeka, back in 1920. It was a speech by D’Annunzio.
– the first Croatian steamship was built in Rijeka and with it a regular passenger route between Senj and Rijeka was established which is considered to be the start of passenger travel on the Croatian Adriatic.
– that French writer Henri BeyleStendhal spent some time in Rijeka.
– that member of the American Senate and Mayor of New York Fiorello Henry La Guardia stayed in Rijeka as the US consul and played in the Rijeka football club Atletico Fiumano.
– that Rijeka’s Pero Radaković scored the only goal in the quarter-final match against Germany, during the Football World Cup in Chile in 1962, ensuring Yugoslavia’s 4th place, which was to be its best ever result.
– Nikola Tesla had a sister who lived in Rijeka and that D’Annunzio’s legionnaires destroyed all her personal letters and other effects which should have been preserved for history.
– Georg Ludwig Ritter von Trapp, the most decorated submarine captain of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, attended the Naval Academy in Rijeka. At the shipyard in Kantrida, where the submarines were launched, he met and fell in love with Agathe, the granddaughter of Robert Whitehead (inventor of the torpedo in Rijeka), and they married on 10th January 1911 in Rijeka. In the 1960s one of the best musical films of all time ‘The Sound of Music’ was filmed about the von Trapp family.
– in 1937 Gino and Oscar Jankovits from Rijeka designed, constructed and tested the first car in Croatia. It was the Alfa Romeo Aerospider. It was the first vehicle in the world with fitted door handles and lights in the chassis, the first with the steering wheel in the centre, the first with the engine placed centrally at the rear, the first with a horizontally placed radiator and it could reach a speed of 230 km/h.
– in Rijeka on 9th June 1969 the first library bus in Yugoslavia began working. It visited the city’s surroundings which had no access to library facilities providing all the inhabitants with library services.
– in 1984 the first cash machine, ATM, in Yugoslavia was installed in Rijeka by Riječka Banka.
In 2020 Rijeka is the first Croatian city to hold the title of European Capital of Culture – the year-long programmes of events begins on 1st February – more info here:https://rijeka2020.eu/en/
(passing impressions, July 1919) by Antun Barac – translated for the first time by Martin Mayhew
Three beautiful, sunny, autumnal days. I don’t know what happened. In a single morning all the ties snapped, that were holding the voice in the throat, that loosened the links, that were chaining the feet, the heavy and rigid mask fell, that was hiding the face. A quiet whisper, which spoke curses and revealed a howl, scattered itself like a wild, holy cry of joy, whilst a hand, a pathetic hand, taught to give a servile and official greeting, extended for the first time in a bold gesture of belief and confidence in itself.
We went onto the streets, in processions, assemblies, groups and we sang and cheered. And everything was so sunny, bright and light. And everything was clear and cheerful and happy in the beautiful, clear autumnal day.
In the barracks there were soldiers, and they were cheering. In the hospitals there were wounded, and they were singing. The soldiers came out onto the streets and were firing their guns. After four blurry years it was the first time that the firing meant joy, after four sombre summers it was the first time that a bullet didn’t mean death, but life. And it was as though that shot, which was now rising into the air, was a symbol, as it rises and as it falls.
On the chests flowers and tricolours. In the windows flowers and tricolours. On the streetlamps, on the telephone poles, on the makeshift stands flowers and tricolours.
In a red, white, blue, green colour, in the grey colours of joy, ecstasy, hope and belief, on each flag, that flutters, of elation, love, sympathy and adoration, which the flag as a symbol means. In the red glow of love and brotherhood towards everything and everyone, in the whiteness of the cleanliness and sublimeness of ecstasy, hope in the new world, that was being created.
We went out onto the streets and sang. We welcomed the foreign troops and sang. We threw flowers and sang. We welcomed ships from foreign countries and sang. “Call out, just call out… Viva la France! Allons enfants de la Patrie!…” And the children of the homeland arrived, and laughed, and danced, and cheered.
“Here people just walk around and cheer and sing” – they say, wrote home one French sailor. “Viva la Yugoslavie!” His compatriots cheered – and in their scepticism and in their laughter for the sake of laughing and joy for the sake of joy we felt the first stab of disappointment and misunderstanding.
In an isolated corner an old hunched over woman was sobbing. “Woman, why are you crying?” – asked a voice – I don’t know whose, and I don’t know where from. “In every joy there is a note of pain, in every laugh a seed of sorrow”, as though replying to somebody’s voice – who knows whose, who knows where from?
Three beautiful, clear, sunny, autumnal days. Three days of song and clamour and ecstasy. And then – armoured cars, machine guns and horses on the cobblestones and pikes, stretching up high, rigidly, arrogantly. In the port heavy ships with cannons aimed at the city, on the street assault troops with helmets, rifles, knapsacks and ammunition belts.
Three beautiful, clear, sunny, days passed. And nothing to show for them. Only a difficult, long winter with clouds. Just a cold summer with raindrops, that with the ‘bura’ and rain even the tears froze. Just a gloomy spring without light or sun.
Maybe a time will come, when all the ecstasy and elation will seem ridiculous to us. Maybe a period will come, when every sense will be reduced to a mathematical or chemical formula. I only know, that even then, when I was in the height of national fervour, I felt no desire for revenge or hatred or malice – the days of the greatest joy were days of forgiveness for everything, to all who had oppressed us, days of national liberty, a time when love for everyone was the most lively, the most conscious. And in those days of intoxicated delight and love, that had boiled over, the clenched fists, clashes and attacks were the end of everything.
I don’t know what happened. In just one day with a wild roar they began to tear down the tricolours of red and white and blue, and in the windows, on the streetlamps, the houses, the buildings, the churches suddenly others appeared – red and white and green, with a star and a coat of arms. Everywhere the coat of arms and everywhere the star, and everywhere fanatic hatred in the faces and fury and poison in the looks. “Italia o morte! Fuori il straniero!” Whilst the straniero thoughtfully stops and thinks: “Who in fact is the stranger?”
In these sombre days of waiting and incertitude, desperation and zeal, it is so difficult to be alive and carry all the heavy burden of the present; however it is hardest to be human. So many times I have felt the pain and burden of life, but the worst thing was when I felt the aching shame, I didn’t feel fear for myself, but for those who persecuted us, the shame of man, that chaotic, disproportionate mixture of beast and god. The beast, wild, brutal, vicious, kicking and rearing up, and the god, sublime, the ashen sceptic levelling with it, taming or incensing it. And in the battle of animal with god like the battle of a bull with a toreador – the white, red, blue, green colours, that they have signifying a symbol, they stimulate it, intoxicate it, they extol it, bring it to an ecstasy of madness and rage. Fiume, the yellowish-grey, deceitful animal, from the eyes of which peer the envy and intoxication of excessive enthusiasm, throws itself, snapping, howling and moaning into exhaustion, until it falls bewildered, unconscious to the ground.
Therein the roar is so quiet! Therein the crowd is so uneasy and lonely. In this racket our steps reverberate so eerily. Oh, the whole of this city, whose number of inhabitants doubled in a few months, as it turned into a huge, grey, isolated monastery, where the shadows succumb to the wolf, hollow songs reverberate and the voices of muffled prayers drone. And thus it is miraculously quiet and in the murmur, so terribly calm in the constant throng.
Why call this city Rieka, when it is – Fiume. Reka, Rika, Rieka – that sounds so sweet, placid and childlike like the nostalgic “ca” and “ča” of the people of Drenova, Plase, Trsat, reminiscent of the sunny gleam of the stone walls and enclosures scattered with rocks and brambles, amongst which, in spring, blossom such beautiful and fragrant violas, a modest and shy flower. It is a city with a filthy physiognomy and with an inner self bland and murky, like the murky Fiumare canal, the dead water that cries for it. The Fiuman is a separate race, not belonging to any one nation. It is a mixture of everything that has come to this merchant city to trade – of everything, of many things. The Fiuman is both an Italian and a Yugoslav – an Italian, born of Yugoslavs and brought up as a Yugoslav, who cheers at the top of his voice: “O Italia o morte!”, the Yugoslav is a quiet and timid beast, hiding because of his interests of his national origin with a neutral, inexpressible, merchant’s sneer. Whilst the Riečanin, Recan, Ričanin – they are the masses – they are the nameless mass, who don’t ask, quantité négligeable, they are the inhabitants of the workers’ houses, basements and attics, the servants and labourers, small artisans and assistants, the masses, who have only one head, and who would, maybe, with just a single blow fall. And that is the characteristic, external image of the city – Fiume, Fiuman. And in this fatal exchange is the source of all the illusions, all the efforts and all the miserable disappointments.
Years and years of timid and quivering yearnings for the city of Kvarner and in that name I will stop with everything, that was the dearest and utmost in life – but then the bloody realisation, that it was all just a yearning for childhood, for the sea, for the days that had gone forever. Yet there is no city, there is no childhood and there is no sea. There is only Fiume and Gomila and Fiumara – a murky, stagnant mire, like a feeble residue of exacerbated human passions, without the strength that it vanishes, without the strength that it stirs up, rises, moves.
Corso. An evening stroll. In the looks a glow and depth, in the gestures a yearning and yielding to love. Yet the whole city seems to shiver from one single deep gaze, which rises from the bottom of the soul and seeps into the bottom of the soul, and the whole city seems to twinkle from love, that is only the soul, only the soul. Whilst down, in the depths, inside – ah, there is no soul and there is nothing, the base and desolation and emptiness. And the whole of this city and all these people who rousingly speak and shout and wave – the whole of this city has no soul, and everything, that moves it, is the basic animal life. And its voice is not the sublimeness of ecstasy nor the size of reproach – everything is just a roar, clamour and mania. And the moment will come and everything will boil over and everything will disappear, what froths up and what rises up – on the empty bottom will remain just Fiume, a city without a soul and without physiognomy and a notion without features.
Over five bloody years ten times in the memory of the sparseness and irritation of the nerves the city howled and ten times they changed the inscriptions and ten times in a fanatical irritation the masses passed over their old idols. Today on the ruins of everything, a fiery rage triumphs in the proud satisfaction, that with the greatest lie it refuted thousands of its little lies and that in the deafening cry it suppressed everything, that protests, that rebels. Because that cry is not a lie, because this fire of enthusiasm isn’t hypocrisy. It is Fiume and everything is Fiume. And to whomsoever this Città di San Vito belongs; whosoever flag will flutter next to the double-headed eagle with the yellow-blue symbol – will win, I’m afraid of Fiume, and with a shout of honest enthusiasm the malicious cry of a lazy and cunning animal will intervene. And that is my fear and it will be a drop of bitterness in that moment, which we will surely never live to see.
What can enthral a man in this city, in which culture and supremacy are denoted by the black marks on the walls and the holes in broken inscribed tiles? In our weakness for it there is a weakness towards one’s own past, which is contained in these pavements, street corners and quays, a weakness towards the whistle of departing steamships and the whiteness of unfurled sails, that awoke our childlike imagination and tied it to this place, that doesn’t love us. In our trepidation towards its destiny there is only the fear for those miserable, unknown, oppressed thousands, who just silently accept the blows and ridicule and the stamp of inferiority. We understand that the sinful must repent the sins and perform penance those, who have deserved it. However what did the little pale children commit that they must suppress their voices in their throats, the only one with which they are able to express the feeling of happiness in the joy and drive of wickedness in the game?
Our feeling of attachment with this city isn’t a feeling of love, but a feeling of pain, and fear, and hopelessness in the sense of a wounded animal and disgust and revulsion. Because it is just Fiume – and Fiume is not an organism, not a concept, not a soul, but something colourless and tepid and tensile, that with its odour tears at the nostrils and throat, and intoxicates and commits evil. And here nothing enthrals and here nothing is attractive. The love of this city – ah, it is an illusion, it isn’t love, but an escape from it, an escape to the blueness of the sea, the sigh of Trsat, the greenery of Opatija and Volosko and the serene vistas towards Kostrena, Omišalj, Cres and Ika. Everything that nature has warm and soothing and soft, is gathered around this city, to shield it, to protect it, to conceal it. And the reason why its poison didn’t act. In the moment when the heavy shackles fall from the chests and from the legs and from the hands and from the tongues, from all sides pale children will rush and shower it with flowers of love, forgiveness and it will forget all the insults, all the blows and all the threats.
From Školjić to Kantrida – one and the same street and one and the same image: houses without expression, without style, stores, shop windows, markets. In the place where there is only trade, all the houses are built on clear commercial principles: with the least expenses – the highest rents. Houses without physiognomy, without souls. In the city, where everything is measured purely in monetary measures, the friars had also taken advantage of the few metres of free space around the church and built umpteen little rooms for shops. Trade is not permitted in the temple, however it is better in front of and around the temple. The city of fifty thousand inhabitants did not give up one single man, whose name would be recorded in the history of culture and art, and wishing to somehow christen their streets, the fathers of the city were having to reach back for names from the mother countries: of Hungary and Italy. In a city of fifty thousand souls there is not one monument, and the only highpoints on the streets are advertising posts and lavatories – as unintentional symbols of it, as if it is the only purpose in this place. I love and appreciate trade as a means, but as soon as it becomes the meaning of life, it becomes both the negation and profanation of all higher values. And that which people would have to make them happy, to lead them ever upwards, throws them ever lower. And Fiume is deep, so deep.
Amongst its great evidence for being Italian the supremacy of Italian culture is prominent in Rijeka, the culture of the Italian is greater than that of the Yugoslav. Whilst the first glance at this city shows that it has, in general, no culture, not only of its own, but no culture of any kind, and that, which in the moment could deceive the eyes, is just glued on, that is easily washed-off by the rain or over night, when the city’s new generation is over-patriotically disposed.
The fun fairs, public houses, buffet bars, cafés, cinemas. All dirty, all abandoned, all in disarray. The dirt of the port as though it passes into the city itself, into every corner, every alleyway. This relatively large city is not capable of supporting a permanent theatre, whilst the companies, which are hosted here for a month, twice a year, can only be supported by the subscriptions of Yugoslav misers. In the place, where all the sights are just negative assets, such are the values and the two most important characteristics: Rijeka’s Gomila and Rijeka’s street gangs. The heart, the centre of the city, consisting of ancient ruins, disgusting mansions with narrow and winding streets, where the sun never reaches and where streams of undignified liquids flow freely; dangerous, dark corners, smelly inns, and women, and beggars, and drunks. While Rijeka’s street gangs they are a mighty gutter army, an abandoned mob that attacks the schiavi, that fights selflessly and fervidly for the lofty goals of the city’s fathers and less selflessly, for the needs of life. And that is – Fiume.
In the days of liberty, in the days of the universal love of forgiveness, a grey monster howled, that calls itself Fiume, with a howl of hatred and revenge. In the days, when kisses and expressions of brotherhood should have rained down, it prepared itself for secretive bites, punches and stabs. And why wasn’t the punch stronger, that is just the deceitful cunningness and feeling of weakness alongside all the abundance of gesticulation.
Is this city ours? Ours are those thousands and thousands of silent beings, who resignedly just wait, eternally waiting, thousands unarmed and unlawful, who upon the punch and the bite correspond with a speechless look, who upon an energetic nod from their masters sign up dutifully and without opposition, not asking: “Where to?” – It doesn’t matter, what they’re called. In the ascertainment of their anguish there was the justification of a love for them, from their speechless mouths comes a call for resistance, for rebellion, for liberation. And that is why, as their national consciousness is not strong, as the term of Yugoslavism has not developed in them yet, their pain is even stronger: it is the consciousness, that despises them, that brands them without reason, without cause, that they oppress the concept of man in them. Yet theirs is the main feeling, the feeling of shame, that they belong to a common creed unlawful, powerless, weak – and with the sense of the joy of life is mixed some dreary feeling of their own inferiority, a state of neglect before the mighty.
Whatever happened, whatever the fate of this city, I will not complain and I will not pity those, to whom the street corners, the banks, the ships and the warehouses belong. Alongside all of their Yugoslav tricolours, were also the Fiumani, and in their pre-war silence and chivalrousness were hidden the subterfuge and calculating attitude of the merchant, who goes just for the money. I won’t grieve for them nor for the legion of those, who over three lovely autumnal days cheered, sang and carried banners. I will only grieve for the pale little people, as their half-spoken “ča” chokes in the instinctive fear before the sharp glance of contempt and superiority…
Long, difficult months of waiting. Events, attacks, parades. Soldiers, soldiers, soldiers. Italians, French, Americans, English, Indo-Chinese. Ships, automobiles, aeroplanes. Carabinieri, bersaglieri, granatieri. Infantry, sailors, lancers, gunners. Crowded and mixed and multi-coloured. Smugglers, detainees, fugitives. And the inns and basements reverberate and glass shatters and girls scream, and blood, wine and champagne flow. Fiume goes crazy and howls and rages.
Yet that’s what it wanted and so sullenly and so sombrely. Like the shadows we loiter only around the corners and we disappear in the corners. Whilst the sun stings and the truth stings. However, the shame against man stings the most of all, for man, as he oppresses his own brother. Of all these people of various colours and uniforms the most likeable are the Annamese (Vietnamese from the French peacekeeping forces), yellow, silent, mysterious, calm creatures with a sick nostalgia for the East and a blunt lack of understanding for all of this colourful, noisiness and craziness. Why are they here and for what use is the secret, eternal pain for the motherland? The same feeling in them, that they protect us, and in us, that they protect. A feeling of pain, shame, submissiveness, disgrace.
Mornings and afternoons and evenings pass. And nights fall, long nights without sleep, when below the windows the hooves of horses clatter as they pass by, heavy cannons boom, the steps of soldiers reverberate. And the city stays silent and the river stays silent, and the sea, in a troubled uncertainty. Just above the houses glimmer the large, light letters: Viva Fiume italiana! And the shining sign and the shining star, so that the brothers can see on the other bank. And they in despair and hopeless expectancy hide their heads amongst the pillows, so they see nothing, so they hear nothing, so they feel nothing. And everything is dead, rigid, uneasy. And everything is sleepless yet in a dream, without a break, without rest, without peace, without joy.
It just sleeps like a fatigued beast, dreaming maliciously and in that sleep of new bites and stabs, the grey formless masses, Fiume sleeps, a city without soul and without physiognomy.
Sva prava pridržana / All rights reserved.
Antun Barac (1894 Kamenjak near Crikvenica – Zagreb 1955) was an important literary historian and writer, who was an advocate for the publication of Janko Polić Kamov’s works. In 1917 he established the influential publishing institute ‘Jug’ in Zagreb with other writers. Amongst the books they planned to published was Kamov’s only novel Isušena Kaljuža written from 1906-1909, but this never happened.
Barac spent the unsettled period after the First World War from 1918-1924 in Sušak (the eastern part of today’s Rijeka) working as a professor at the secondary school. During this period he wrote this short, stark, even poetic essay Fiume, in which he describes the unpleasant events and experiences in the city of Rijeka at the time of the arrival of foreign peace-keeping troops whilst the city’s fate was being decided in post-war negotiations, and just upon the eve of the arrival of D’Annunzio and his soldiers. It is interesting to note that Barac was most likely reading the still as yet unpublished manuscript of Kamov’s Isušena Kaljuža during this period and that it may have influenced his writing of Fiume. This text was first published in the journal Njiva in 1919.
Barac was also the originator of the idea to publish a collection of the complete works of Janko Polić Kamov, which finally saw the light of day from 1956-1958, amongst which the novel Isušena Kaljuža was printed for the first time almost 50 years after Kamov wrote it.
A new exhibition describing the shipping industry in the city of Rijeka in the 20th century has opened at PPMHP Pomorski i povijesni muzej Hrvatskog primorja Rijeka (the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral in Rijeka). I translated the exhibition’s content, website and promotional material into English.
“It all began with the Hrvat. A little steamship built for Senjsko Brodarsko Društvo (the Senj Shipping Society), which linked Rijeka and Senj, and a revolution in the thoughts of Rijeka’s ship owners and the attitude towards the steamship industry began…..”
…. are the opening words by the exhibition’s author, senior curator, Nikša Mendeš which lead the visitor through the story of Rijeka’s shipping industry over 100+ years of the highs and lows of its existence. Through the varying governing powers and through two world wars. The port was once a leading mover in European ship transportation stretching around the world with its shipping companies such as Jadranska Plovidba, Jugoslavenska Oceanska Plovidba Sušak and later Jugolinija and Croatia Line.
The Jugolinija company’s ship ‘Kornat’ in Venice. One of the many vessels detailed in the exhibition.
The exhibition features models of the ships, ships’ logs, diaries of sailors, large format photographs, drawings, paintings and all manner of documents and equipment associated with Rijeka’s shipping industry.
All kinds of drawings, models and photographs enhance the exhibition.
Also interesting is the fact that the museum’s holding of memorabilia, documents, photography etc. has now been digitalised meaning that you can also virtually visit this exhibition via the museum’s website here.
The exhibition is on show in the museum in the Governor’s Palace in Rijeka until December 2014. More info on the museum’s website here.
Interested in diving the wrecks of the Adriatic Sea?Click here.
Everybody loves to sit in the sun, sip a great cup of coffee and watch the world go by, no more so than in the city of Rijeka – European Capital of Culture 2020, and the history of this habit stretches back to the beginning of the 18th century.
In Europe cafés first appeared in the south of the continent. By 1570 Venetian merchants brought coffee to Venice along with tobacco. In the second half of the 17th century the first cafés were opened, and soon Milan, Turin, Genoa and other Italian cities followed the trend. Around 1760 there existed more than 200 cafés in Venice alone. Vienna is probably the best known European city for its cafés, and the opening of the first Viennese café, called “Hof zur Blauen Flasche” (“House under the Blue Bottle“) was related to the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683. Cafés became the places which captivated with their smell, comfort, warmth and all the activities which go along with drinking coffee such as reading the newspapers, playing cards or billiards, pleasant conversation and intellectual debates. Cafés became centres of social life.
Coffee most probably arrived in Rijeka following the examples of Venice and Vienna cafés, because as early as 1719 the Habsburg Emperor Charles VI declared Rijeka and Trieste as free ports, which at the same time also meant that the delivery of colonial goods could be made without Venetian intervention.
Records show that the first café was opened in 1715 in Rijeka by Tommaso Bianchi and Florio Maruloni, who were settlers from the Swiss province of Grigioni (Graubünden, Grischun, Grisons). It was located in the house named Domus Aurea, near the old council building in today’s Koblerov Trg.
The Ana Minak – a typical clipper boat used for the transport of coffee and tea.
Most imports of coffee to the Rijeka region were connected with the establishment of the Trieste-Fiume Company (1750) and its successor the Privileged Company of Trieste and Fiume (1775-1804), whose branch in Rijeka imported, amongst other things, great amounts of coffee and tea from Amsterdam, Nantes and Bordeaux. At the beginning of the 19th century the Rijeka entrepreneur Andrija Ljudevit Adamić participated in trade with overseas countries, importing tobacco, coffee and cocoa as well as other goods. These were goods imported from Central and Southern America.
Not much is known about the cafés, café service or interiors of those times today, although there is more information about the public houses, hotels, guesthouses and inns. Dominik Teleki von Szek states that in Rijeka in 1794 there were seven cafés and that they were the centre of social life.
The local shipyards of Rijeka, Istria and the Croatian littoral were involved in the construction of fast sailing ships, so-called barque-clippers, which were used for the transport of perishable goods, tea and coffee. At the end of the 19th century the main traffic in coffee to the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire came through Rijeka’s ports.
Caffe Al Risorgimento
The entrepreneurial spirit of Rijeka’s people in this period can be seen in the opening of coffee roasting establishments in the city, because coffee was transported here as raw beans from Asia and South America as well.
In Sušak several private companies operated which were involved in the import of colonial goods, which were imported directly, without intervention from the countries of origin. Josip Smerdel had a company, established in 1886, which also had a coffee roasting house. His shop sold the roasted and unroasted coffee brands of: Minas, Santos, Salvador, San Domingo, Perla Portorico, Liberia, Guatemala and Cuba Speciale, which clearly pointed to the diversity of the origins of the coffee. This was very similar to the selection of coffees which the Haramija-Mikuličić company also offered.
The interior of Josip Smerdel’s shop in Sušak.
Ljudevita Jelušića coffee shop, Kastav
After the division of Rijeka and Sušak at the beginning of the 1920s, a group of wholesalers was organised in Sušak and it founded the First Sušak Joint Stock Trading Society, which brought together a range of entrepreneurs involved in import-export. It was here that coffee found its place. Along with the usual flow of imported coffee from overseas, the society adapted its business operations to the emerging situations and connected itself with the Franck factory in Zagreb and with Kolinska in Ljubljana selling its coffee. Besides selling coffee it also sold coffee substitutes such as Rosil from figs, Kneipp from barley and Seka from chicory. The Haramija-Mikuličić roasting house sold coffee blends under the names of Mercantilna, Domaća, Stolna Melange, Imperial Melange and Haramika.
In the second half of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century there were numerous known cafés: Caffé Europa, Caffé Maritimo Mercantile, Caffé Centrale, Caffé Schenk (later Caffé Degli Specchi), Caffé Orient, Caffé Grande, Liburnia, De la Ville, Fiumara, Panachoff, Adria, Quarnero, Grande, Patriottico, Commercio, Panny, Specchi, Fiume Risorgimento, Apolo, Secession, Europa, Marittimo and Venezia.
In 1920 in Sušak a cooperative was founded of innkeepers, barkeepers and café owners in order to represent their rights in the town and district of Sušak. The cooperative consisted of around 100 members which in 1933 paid 10 dinars each for their membership. Amongst the first cafés in Sušak were the Caffé Europa and the Narodna Kavana.
The Cafe Bristol
The same building in 2014
During the 1960s the new Yugoslav society, thanks to the specifics of the political regime, there developed a special consumerism concerning coffee and its drinking in special places. Work meetings without coffee were unimaginable, and one of the main skills of business secretaries was the art of making the morning coffee. The whole atmosphere was complemented with a shopping trip to Trieste, if for nothing else than just to drink a cup of coffee.
The crisis or the so-called economic stabilisation of the 1980s was marked with a shortage of coffee, which gave additional reasons for a trip over the border and the “smuggling” of coffee.
The traditions of those first cafés were upheld by popular cafés of the second half of the 20th century: Učka, Triglav, Narodna Kavana, Kontinental, Union, Istra, Neboder, Gradska Kavana, Rječina, Slavica, Sport, Korzo, Zora, Žabica and their names still evoke pleasant memories and rich nostalgia.