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Croatia, Culture

Croatian folk music, Miroslav Krleza, Marin Drzic, regional identity, Dalmatian coast

The regions that comprise Croatia were not unified historically, so the country’s arts show a mix of foreign and native influences. The Dalmatian coast was long connected with Italy, and architectural marvels from Roman times can still be found in Dalmatia. Split, for example, contains the remains of the Roman emperor Diocletian’s palace, while the ruins of a Roman amphitheater lie in Pula. Medieval walls and fortifications distinguish the city of Dubrovnik in southern Croatia, which was an independent city-state until the early 19th century. Continental Croatia, as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, had its own regional identity but much of its art and literature followed the empire’s styles. Croatian folk music remained linked to its locale, with styles differing greatly between Dalmatia and other regions.

Influenced by the Italian Renaissance, Croatian literature blossomed in Dubrovnik in the 16th and 17th centuries, with poems by Ivan Gundulic and Marko Marulic, and plays by Marin Drzic. By the 19th century Croatian literature, like that of most other central European peoples, was dominated by themes of national liberation. Some of these took the form of promoting the Yugoslav idea, that of a common state for the South Slavic peoples, originally a Croatian idea. Other writers stressed the need for a sovereign, independent Croatian state. The tension between these two nationalist ideas continued from the second half of the 19th century until 1991, when the Yugoslav idea lost completely with the establishment of independent Croatia.

Prior to 1991 Miroslav Krleza was generally regarded as the greatest Croatian writer of the 20th century. However, Krleza was closely associated with Yugoslavism, and after Yugoslavia broke apart his works lost popularity in Croatia. Since 1991, Dubravka Ugresic and Slavenka Drakulic have established themselves as major writers, but they have been criticized by the regime for being antinational and have spent most of their time outside of Croatia.

The sculptor Ivan Mestrovic developed a worldwide reputation, and in the early 1900s promoted the establishment of a Yugoslav state. He emigrated from Croatia to the United States after World War II (1939-1945). Museums dedicated to his work are in Split and Zagreb.



Article key phrases:

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