Aleksa Šantić bigraphy, stories - Bosnia and Herzegovina poet

Aleksa Šantić : biography

27 May 1868 - 02 February 1924

Aleksa Šantić () (27 May 1868 – 2 February 1924) was a Bosnian Serb poet.

Born to an ethnic Serb family in 1868 in Mostar, Bosnia Vilayet, Ottoman Empire, Šantić spent most of his life in his town of birth, except for short periods in Ljubljana and Trieste where he engaged in commerce as member of the Serbian Orthodox community.


File:Aleksa Santic Statue 1.jpg|Aleksa Santic Statue in the Old Town, Mostar


Raised by merchant father Risto and mother Mara alongside three siblings - brother Jeftan and Jakov and sister Radojka known as Persa, the family didn't demonstrate much understanding for Aleksa's lyrical talents. He also had another sister Zorica who died in infancy.

Just as young Aleksa turned 10 years of age, Bosnia Vilayet (including Mostar) got occupied by Austria-Hungary as per decision made by European Great Powers at the Congress of Berlin during summer of 1878. Though the occupied province remained a de jure part of the increasingly weakening Ottoman Empire, the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary reconfigured it as a condominium, which in theoretical terms of international law implied equal sharing of the territory, however, in reality Austria-Hungary ruled and administered it as part of its territory.

Aleksa's father Risto died, which is when his brother Miho known as Adža (Aleksa's uncle) got the custody of Aleksa and his siblings. After attending business schools in Trieste and Ljubljana, Aleksa came back to his native Mostar where he became the editor-in-chief of the review "Zora" (Dawn; 1896–1901). He also presided over the Serb music association called "Gusle". In this capacity he came into the focus of the life of this region which, by its cultural and national consciousness, showed a stubborn opposition to the German Kulturtrager. The product of his patriotic inspiration during the liberating Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 is the book "Na starim ognjištima" (On the Old Hearths; 1913). During the Great War he was taken by the Austrians as hostage, but he, unlike Svetozar Ćorović, his brother-in-law, survived the war and saw the realization of his dream—the union of the South Slavs. Šantić was a prolific poet and writer. He wrote almost 800 poems, seven theatrical plays and some prose. Many of the writings were of high quality and aimed to criticize the Establishment or advocate diverse social and cultural issues. He was strongly influenced by Heinrich Heine, whose works he translated. His friends and peers in the field of culture were Svetozar Ćorović, Jovan Dučić and Milan Rakić. One of his sisters, Radojka (Persa) married Svetozar Ćorović.


The oeuvre of Aleksa Šantić, widely accessible yet acutely personal, is a blend of fine-tuned emotional sensibility and clear-eyed historical awareness, steeped in the specifics of local culture. He worked at the crossroads of two centuries and more than other poets of his generation, combined theoretical and poetic suffering nineteenth and twentieth centuries. At the same time, Šantić writes about his personal troubles - the loss of close and dear people (his mother, brothers Jeftan and Jacob, and brother-in-law Svetozar Ćorović), the health that was a lifetime problem and loneliness that accompanied him to the end. Drawing themes and imagery from his hometown Mostar, the atmospheric capital of Mediterranean Herzegovina, and its surroundings, his poetry is marked in equal part by the late-Ottoman urban culture in the region, its social distinctions, subdued passions and melancholy, as well as the South-Slavic national awareness that was growing all over what was later destroyed by the Communists Yugoslavia and Tito's regime.

As a Serb who embraced the form and the sentiment of the traditional Bosnian love ballad sevdalinka, developed under a strong influence of Muslim love songs, he was a pioneer in attempting to bridge the national and cultural divides, and in his lamentation of the erosion of population through emigration, that was the result of Austrian occupation. Work on the translation of poems by Svatopluk Čech, tiring and exhausting, coincided with his first serious health problems, but the rebellious lyrics of this Czech poet, sung against the Austrian occupation, gave Šantić the strength to persevere: every verse of Svatopluk Čech, that he converted into a harmonious rhyme in our language, expressed his thoughts and his feelings. This combination of locally rooted, transcultural sensibility and a dedicated pan-Slavic vision has earned him a special place in the pantheon of South Slavic poetry.

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Living octopus

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