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The scarce first edition of poems by one of the greatest Croatian poets of the 20th century Ivan „Goran“ Kovačić.

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An uncommon pamphlet includes poetry by three young Croatian poets: Josip Hitrec (1912-1972), Vladimir Jurčić (1910 –1945), and an 18year old Ivan “Goran” Kovačić (1913 – 1943). The introduction was written by a Croatian publicist Mato Hanžeković (1884 – 1955), who was publishing under a nom de plume M. Gabrijel. In the introduction Hanžeković mentions this is the first separately published publication with the work of the three poets.

As the first two authors remain relatively unknown today, young Ivan “Goran” Kovačić, who is represented here with 19 poems, would become one of the greatest Croatian authors of the 20th century.

Ivan Kovačić, with a nickname Goran, was born in Lukovdol in Croatia, on the southern Slovenian border to a Croatian father Ivan Kovačić and a Jewish mother Ruža, neé Klein. After unfinished study of Slavistics in Zagreb, he became journalist, writer and a promising young poet.

In 1942, Kovačić joined the Partisans and participated in battles through the difficult terrain of Bosnia. In the months of seeing cruel battles and slaughtering of civilians, he wrote his most famous poem Jama (The Pit). This epic poem was inspired by a genocide made by the Croatian Nationalistic Army, Ustashe, upon the Serbian people. In first person, with cruel, yet beautiful verses, he describes torture, and eventual death as a part of mass killings. The poem is considered one of the most beautiful war poems ever made and one of the greatest poems of Croatian literature.

In 1943, Kovačić was killed at the age of 30 in the Case Black – a joint attack by the Axis, which aimed to destroy the main Yugoslav Partisan force in Bosnia, mostly known by its final phase final phase, the Battle of the Sutjeska. After the battle of Sutjeska, Kovačić was hiding in a farmhouse, weakened by a lung illness, listening the Serbian Nationalist Army Chetniks killing wounded Partisans. Eventually he was also tracked down by Chetniks, slaughtered and buried in an unmarked grave.

Kovačić’s death was accepted with great sadness.

After the publication of the book the three young poets went politically and ideologically in entirely different directions:  Josip Hitrec (1912-1972) moved to India the following year and, in 1946, from there to the US, where he worked as translator and author. He died in Buffalo, and Vladimir Jurčić (1910 –1945) stayed in Zagreb and continued writing poetry. During WWII he joined Ustashe, a Croatian Fascist army. He was killed on the streets of Zagreb by the Partisans at the end of WWII and became one of the forgotten Yugoslav poets after the war, marked as a traitor.

We could find four institutional copies of the book (Bavarian State Library, British Library, Ohio State University Libraries, National and State Library in Zagreb).

References: OCLC 163092615, 498967692.

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