Vladan Desnica

(Zadar, September 17th 1905 – Zagreb, March 4th 1967)






Vladan Desnica was born in Zadar on September 17th, 1905. He came from a respected Serbian family which played a significant role in the cultural life of Dalmatia. The writer’s grandfather Vladimir was a deputy of the Imperial Council in Vienna, his grandmother Olga came from the family of the military commander Stojan Janković who was celebrated in epic poems, while his father Uroš was a lawyer with a Viennese title who distinguished himself in the struggle against the Zadar pro-Italian party and was chosen to be deputy leader and commissioner for justice in the newly-formed local Dalmatian government in 1918. His mother Fani came from the old Croatian Luković family from Prčanj on the Bay of Kotor. He was a relative of the distinguished historian Niko Luković. Well-known Zadar intellectuals and artists used to gather in the Desnica household: Josip Bersa, Jakša Čedomil (Jakov Čuka), Marko Car, Petar Kasandrić and others. Vladan Desnica attended high school in Zadar, Split and Šibenik (where he graduated in 1924) and while still at school he began to become involved in literature. He studied law in Zagreb and Paris, graduating in 1930 in Zagreb. For a while he worked as a trainee lawyer in his father’s office and then took a job at the state public attorney’s office in Split. While in Split, he spent much time with the painter Ignjat Job, composer Ivo Parać and poet and critic Vladimir Rismondo. At the beginning of the war, he worked in occupied Zadar as a translator and then in 1943 took refuge in Islam Grčki, and in 1944 crossed over to liberated territory. From 1945 to 1950 he was the head of the legal department in the ministry of finance in Zagreb and then worked as a professional writer until his death. He was erudite. He spoke five foreign languages and was well-versed in philosophy and art history. He also composed: he registered 14 short compositions with the Croatian Authors Agency, and he was also the author of the libretto for Parać’s opera Adelova pjesma on the motif of Botić’s epic Bijedna Mara (which premiered in 1951). He translated works by Croce (Eseji iz estetike, 1938; Književna kritika kao filosofija, 1969), Gide, Cavalcanti, Silone, Venturi, Foscolo, Tolstoy, Pushkin, Carducci, Aymé and others. He also wrote essays, theatre reviews, articles, humour, causeries and was also the author of a screenplay – Koncert (1954) (Concert) – written according to the synopsis of Branko Belan for the film of the same name. He died in Zagreb on March 4th 1967 and is buried in the family grave in Islam Grčki.


Translated by

Mima Simić



Selected bibliography



Zimsko ljetovanje (The Winter Summer Holiday), Zora, Zagreb, 1950

Olupine na suncu (Shipwrecks in the Sun), Matica hrvatska, Zagreb, 1952

Koncert (Concert), published by the author, Zagreb, 1954

Proljeće u Badrovcu (Spring in Badrovec), Prosveta, Belgrade, 1955

Slijepac na žalu (Blind Man on the Beach), Društvo hrvatskih književnika, Zagreb, 1956

Tu, odmah pored nas (Here, Right Next to Us), Matica srpska, Novi Sad, 1956

Proljeća Ivana Galeba (The Springtimes of Ivan Galeb), Svjetlost, Sarajevo, 1957

O pojmovima “tipa” i “tipičnog” i njihovoj neshodnosti na području estetike (On the Terms of “Type” and “Typical” and Their Unsuitability in the Area of Aesthetics), Univerzum, Zagreb, 1957

Fratar sa zelenom bradom (The Monk with the Green Beard), Mladost, Zagreb, 1959

Izabrana djela, Pet stoljeća hrvatske književnosti, knj. 117/1 (Selected Works, Five Centuries of Croatian Literature, Vol. 117/1), Zora-Matica hrvatska, Zagreb, 1968; 117/2, Zagreb 1977

Proljeća Ivana Galeba (The Springtimes of Ivan Galeb), Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 1975

Sabrana Djela I-IV (Collected Works I-IV), Prosvjeta, Zagreb, 1974-1975

Ljestve Jakovljeve (Jacob’s Ladder), Prosvjetni sabor Hrvatske, Zagreb, 1977

Progutane polemike (Swallowed Polemics), Stubovi društva, Belgrade, 2001

Hotimično iskustvo – diskurzivna proza Vladana Desnice (Intentional Experience – the Discursive Prose of Vladan Desnica I-II), VBZ-SKD Prosvjeta, Zagreb, 2005-2006

Igre proljeća i smrti, Biseri hrvatske književnosti, sv. 37 (Games of Spring and Death, Gems of Croatian Literature, Vol. 37), Mozaik knjiga, Zagreb, 2008



M. Franičević, “’Zimsko ljetovanje’ Vladana Desnice”, Republika, 1950, 7; Ž. Jeličić, Lica i autori, Zagreb, 1953; Č. Prica, “Desnica kao pripovjedač”, Krugovi, 1957, 5; M. I. Bandić, Vreme romana 1950-1955, Belgrade, 1958; N. Kolumbić, “Igre proljeća i smrti”, Zadarska revija, 1959, 1; V. Pavletić, Analiza bez koje se ne može, Zagreb, 1961; G. Peleš, Poetika suvremenog jugoslavenskog Romana (1945-1961), Zagreb, 1966; N. Ivanišin, “O Desničinom romanu Zimsko ljetovanje”, Zadarska revija, 1968, 1; V. Pavletić, foreword to Pet stoljeća hrvatske književnosti, Vol. 117/1, Zagreb, 1968; D. Jelčić, Teme i mete, Zagreb, 1969; J. Milović, “Razgovor s Vladinom Desnicom o umjetničkom stvaranju”, Letopis Matice srpske, 1969, 5; N. Disopra, “Nacrt za književni portret Vladana Desnice”, Mogućnosti, 1971, 3; V. Pavletić, Djelo u zbilji, Zagreb, 1971; S. Korać, Svijet, ljudi i realizam Vladana Desnice, Belgrade, 1972; V. Rismondo, Oblici i slova, Split, 1979; R. Mikić, Proljeća Ivana Galeba Vladana Desnice, Belgrade, 1985; F. Dijan, “U kratkim provedrinama svijesti”, Zadarska revija, 1985, 4-5; K. Nemec, “Novelistika Vladana Desnice”, Forum, 1986, 3-4; K. Nemec, “Poetika romana “Proljeća Ivana Galeba” Vladana Desnice”, Umjetnost riječi, 1986, 3-4; K. Nemec, Vladan Desnica, Zagreb, 1988; D. Rapo, Novele i romani Vladana Desnice, Zagreb, 1989; S. Roić, “Vladan Desnica i taljanska kultura”, Umjetnost riječi, 1998, 3-4; V. Žmegač, “Svagdašnji Hamlet”, in the book: I. Frangeš-V. Žmegač, Hrvatska novella, Zagreb, 1998; K. Nemec, Povijest hrvatskog romana od 1945. do 2000. godine, Zagreb, 2003; Zbornik radova o Vladanu Desnici, Zagreb, 2004; H. Peričić, “Izdaja/krivnja/ideologija u Desničinoj drami Ljestve Jakovljeve”, in the book: Tekst, izvedba, odjek, Zagreb, 2008; T. Maroević, “Osunčane strane, sjenovite strune”, Foreword to the book Igre proljeća i smrti V. Desnice, Zagreb, 2008.



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Vladan Desnica (1905-1967), born in Zadar, wrote poems, short stories and novels, usually dealing with life in the cities and villages of Northern Dalmatia. His best work is the novel Proljeća Ivana Galeba (Springs of Ivan Galeb), published in 1957, in which he gives a first-person account of an intellectual lying in a hospital bed and meditating about illness and mortality. He lived in Zagreb until his death.


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