Serbian folk tales

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Izbor od 22 srpske narodne bajke u prevodu na engleski jezik…

Izbor: Milica Ćurčin, prevod: Timoti Bajford.

Pogovor iz knjige:
The works of Vuk Ka­ra­džić (1787–1864), ex­ten­si­ve and ver­sa­ti­le, are es­sen­tial when de­fi­ning our na­ti­o­nal lan­gu­a­ge and the li­te­ra­tu­re writ­ten in our na­ti­o­nal lan­gu­a­ge. As an aut­hor, he de­scri­bed na­ti­o­nal li­fe, na­ti­o­nal cu­stoms and the hi­story of the Ser­bian pe­o­ple.

He was born in the vil­la­ge of Tr­šić ne­ar Lo­zni­ca in­to a fa­mily which, in the first half of the 18th cen­tury, had co­me from old Her­ze­go­vi­na, whe­re folk songs and ot­her oral con­cep­ti­ons had been fo­ste­red. Col­lec­ting to­get­her na­ti­o­nal bra­in­childs, he de­mon­stra­ted that true Ser­bian po­e­try is not that which had been cre­a­ted by le­ar­ned pe­o­ple for a li­mi­ted cir­cle of spe­ci­a­lists, but the po­e­try that had ap­pe­a­red and li­ved among the pe­o­ple and he held that in fu­tu­re all li­te­ra­tu­re sho­uld de­ve­lop on the­se fo­un­da­ti­ons.

In Ser­bia the­re we­re many op­po­nents to the­se ide­as, among them the most po­wer­ful pe­o­ple of his ti­me. Af­ter the sup­pres­sion of the First Ser­bian Upri­sing aga­inst the Turks (1804–1813) he went to Vi­en­na, whe­re he li­ved and pu­blis­hed his most im­por­tant works. Vuk’s col­lec­tion of folk po­ems, pu­blis­hed un­der the ti­tle of Ser­bian Folk Po­ems, con­sists of fo­ur bo­oks (1841, 1846, 1846, 1862). He pu­blis­hed a bo­ok of na­ti­o­nal pro­verbs in 1836 and a bo­ok of folk ta­les in 1821 and 1853. With the first edi­tion of the folk ta­les he al­so pu­blis­hed a small col­lec­tion of na­ti­o­nal rid­dles. Vuk was al­so the first Ser­bian le­xi­co­grap­her. His Ser­bian Dic­ti­o­nary (1852), ma­king use of Ger­man and La­tin words, con­ta­ins abo­ut 47,000 words col­lec­ted from a wi­de lan­gu­a­ge area, and re­pre­sents an encyclo­pa­e­dia of Ser­bian na­ti­o­nal li­fe. His tran­sla­tion of the New Te­sta­ment was pu­blis­hed in 1847.

Alt­ho­ugh he was chal­len­ged by his own pe­o­ple at ho­me, abroad Vuk Ka­ra­džić ac­hi­e­ved the re­cog­ni­tion and sup­port of the most emi­nent Eu­ro­pean intel­lec­tu­als. Among the­se we­re the gre­a­test Ger­man po­et Go­et­he and the brot­hers Ja­cob and Wil­helm Grimm, whom he vi­si­ted in the­ir ho­me in Ber­lin. Thus it hap­pe­ned, ac­cor­ding to Wil­helm Grimm, that on one oc­ca­sion Vuk, in the com­pany of a lady, “to everyone’s sa­tis­fac­tion told a be­a­u­ti­ful Ser­bian fa­iry ta­le.” His idea to wri­te a com­ple­te Ser­bian hi­story of mo­dern ti­mes did not co­me to fru­i­tion – in­stead he ga­ve his re­se­arch to the German hi­sto­rian Le­o­pold Ran­ke, who, on the ba­sis of this and his col­la­bo­ra­tion with Vuk, wro­te the fa­mo­us work The Ser­bian Re­vo­lution (1829), by me­ans of which Eu­ro­pe be­ca­me fa­mi­li­ar with the Serbian pe­o­ple and its hi­story.

Vuk un­der­stood folk ta­les to be tho­se folk cre­a­ti­ons in pro­se which ap­pe­a­red from no one knew whe­re or when, and which had been tho­ught up and told by unk­nown aut­hors, and then re­mem­be­red and pas­sed on by word of mo­uth. He suc­ce­e­ded in gi­ving them a la­sting writ­ten form, so that “the eru­di­te co­uld read them and the sim­ple li­sten to them”, as he him­self said. He sa­ved them from ob­li­vion and pre­ser­ved them as a va­lu­a­ble li­te­rary in­he­ri­tan­ce.

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