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Avant-Garde Reflexes in Yugoslav Poetry between the Two World Wars

Olga Vojiĉić Komatina


This paper provides an interpretation of the poetic flows in the territory of the South Slavs in the period between the two World Wars, with special emphasis on the penetration of avant-garde codes into the Montenegrin poetry of that time. With regard to the development and persistence of epic modelling systems in the creation of poetry, it was necessary to present the essence of avant-garde coordinates, in the framework of which the potential for a different type of poetic expression was recognised in a society where tradition was highly respected. Cultivation of epic poetry as a literary genre representing the Montenegrin model of thinking and living, and then a romantic experience of the world, in addition to propositions imposed by the romantic method of creation, were not the ideal conditions for the penetration of innovative models into the realisation of poetic material. On the contrary, under such circumstances it was difficult to create an anti-traditional concept. A depersonalisation of the lyrical subject, an aesthetic revaluation of literature in which there is no tendency to like, resemantisation and desemantisation as methods of breaking the traditional canon, and finally a tendency towards oneirism, are all features of avant-garde isms that were known for not being fruitful in the Montenegrin interwar period, but anti-traditionalism still found its place through the actions of particular artists. Different verse organisation, the creation of stanzas, exclamative phrases, the introduction of rhyme into the minus process and an abandoning of punctuation marks are all expressionistic reflexes recorded in our country as well, and certain surrealist codes present, particularly in the work of Risto Ratkovic, provide evidence for the existence of certain avant-garde codes in Montenegrin poetry in the period between the two World Wars.

Keywords: avant-garde codes, epic modelling system, anti-traditionalism, depersonalisation of the lyrical subject, resemantisation, desemantisation, oneirism, expressionism, surrealism.

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