Tanasije Mladenović was a Serbian poet and essayist. He was born in 1913 in Smederevo, Serbia, and in 1937 graduated from the Law Faculty in Belgrade. During the Second World War, he fought on the side of the partisans and held various military and political positions. He was a member of the editorial staff of ‘Književne novine’ from its foundation and headed the journal as chief editor from 1954 to 1968 when he was ousted from the editorial board after several months of pressure by the party for having published nationalist texts. He spoke out as a critic of ‘detrimental aspects’ of socialist society: ‘I believe (…) that different opinions about certain things should exist on the platform of socialist democracy. Otherwise, we will go to hell as a society, as the League of Communists’ (R. Vučetić, 2016, p. 169).
In 1977, he was accused in the media of nationalism for his poem, ‘Triptych’, published in the April 1 issue of ‘Književne novine’. In this poem, he expressed fear that Serbia might cease to exist (Književne novine, 1 April, 1977, nr. 6). In a semi-allegorical play on landslides in the south of Serbia, he posed the question of whether Serbia would:
‘Vanish among mountains and nations, and, in the last storm,
Blown to pieces by an apocalyptic force, sink into itself, to the bottom?’
He called for radical changes, and for Serbia to recall, ‘the cry of ancient times and to vigorously resist the spectres’. ‘Arise! On the crust of every step imprint your name; that oblivion and calamity do not overwhelm you. Remember the deaths of many, but let life triumph!’ In the press, the poem was portrayed as a nationalistic pamphlet.
Mladenović published 14 anthologies of poetry. He was elected as a delegate to the Federal Assembly of the SFRY and to the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Serbia several times. He was the recipient of numerous literary awards.
Tanasije Mladenović died on 12 January 2003 in Belgrade.
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