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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Milorad Pavic famous Serbian author of experimental fiction dies at age 80

From Belgrade we have heard very sad news with the passing away of famous author Milorad Pavic 1929-2009. There are more details on his official website (English version HERE).

While he became very famous in the English speaking world with the translation of "Dictionary of the Khazars" his novel written as a dictionary in two versions (male and female kind which are identical except for a critical sentence), he was very popular in many parts of the world for many of his experimental novels which pushed the boundaries of fiction. Sometimes described as the first 21st century novelist, each of his main novels has a different structure. You can get a taste of his work with the free online novel Second Body - subtitled "A Pious Novel" which is a good example of both the author' style and themes. The author description below says it all more eloquently than I could.

"The author of this book is imaginary; the rest of the characters mostly existed. The Spring of the Virgin Mary mentioned in these pages can be found near the house of the Holy Virgin Mary in the town of Ephesus, now Turkey. The ring in the tale also exists. We saw it at a friend of ours’. It changes color depending on the state of its bearer’s body. The two authors talked of in this novel also lived – Gavril Stefanović Venclović (cca 1680-1749?) and Zaharija Orfelin (1726-1784). One lived in Sent Andrea, in Hungary, and the other for a while in Venice. Their works mentioned and quoted here can be read to this very day. In 1772 Venetian printer and publisher Teodosije published Orfelin’s voluminous biography of the Russian Tsar Peter the Great, one of the most finely illustrated books of the time, today read as an exciting novel. Alexander Pushkin had it in his library and studied it carefully. 18th century Venice also had a famous orphanage for the incurable (Conservatorio degli incurabili). All in all, many of the people in this book really did live in their day, for example the musician Zabetta, or Cristofolo Cristofoli, Venetian inquisitor of the 18th century, but their fates were lost in the darkness of time, and have been reformulated here. "

I read four of Mr. Pavic novels, Last Love in Constantinople (the chapters follow interlinked stories in jumps so you will get a different experience based on where you start the book and the order you will read the revelations and find out what's what), Unique Item (strange novel, almost in the new weird tradition with the twist of having many possible endings), Inner Side of the Wind (the novel can be read from either end following two characters that are related through time and space and their stories meet at the half-way point of the novel) and the above Second Body, and I plan to read the other two I own, the Khazars one and Landscape Painted with Tea (non-linear page writing). The novels I read range from excellent (Second Body and Inner Side) to absolutely superb, blow away your mind, in Last Love in Constantinople and Unique Item and I would love to do a more thorough overview/review of some or all in the future.


Mary Victoria said...

I loved this author! Sad to see him go.

Vorobiev said...

Pavic was one of the giants of Serbian literature.

His works were half literature, half puzzles.

ശ്രീകുമാര്‍ കരിയാട്‌ said...

i am a fanatic on Milorad Pavic.

Unknown said...

He is truly the first XXI-century author. I have read all his books that have a Western European language translation.
His experiments on formatting language surpass those of Puig in his first works.
It is regrettable that he wasn't ever awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature.

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