It was Thursday, October 26, 1961. At exactly 1 p.m., Ander Esterling, secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy, opened the creaking door in Stockholm’s Old Town and interrupted the roar of media representatives from all over the world, who had gathered for a ceremony held in previous decades to announce the writer’s name. who enters the immortals, who will be on the list of Nobel Prize winners.
It was short – Ivo Andrić, Yugoslavia, for a novel on “Drina Ćuprija”. Only an hour later in Belgrade, on the first floor of the building at 2a Proleterskih brigada Street (today’s Andrićev venac 8), in the laureate’s apartment, the charge d’affaires of the Swedish Embassy in Belgrade, Rene Balding, came and said in Serbian: “I have a special honor to On behalf of the Swedish Academy of Sciences, I announce that today you have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, in recognition of the epic power with which you presented the destinies and history of the people of your people.
IN HIS characteristic uncharacteristic but calm voice, the writer replied:
“I tell you honestly, I didn’t expect this. I’m very surprised, but of course very happy. I wanted to come to lunch, but I’m confused by this ceremony. Please don’t take this as a special statement. I just want to, Mr. Balding , let me tell you that I consider the awarding of the Nobel Prize for my literary work as an exceptional recognition for the entire literature of my country. “
FEELING A MEASURE OF UNCLEARNESS
EVEN before Andrić even returned from Stockholm, a story began circulating in the Belgrade Bazaar about how the crisis character, hardliner and greengrocer Rajka Radaković actually described his thrift in the novel “Miss”. The reason for this malice is that he moved from a luxury hotel in which he was accommodated by the Swedish Academy during the Nobel Prize days, with his wife, the famous costume designer of the National Theater in Belgrade Milica Babic, to a cheaper hotel. The Bazaar’s braggarts did not understand the feeling of the measure that Andrić carried within himself, which imposed non-bragging even when a very impressive amount of the Nobel Prize was received.
The small apartment was already full of domestic and foreign journalists. The phone did not stop ringing. Journalists from Vienna, Stockholm, Rome, Paris are calling and asking for interviews … When the news was announced, Andrić was on his daily walk around Kalemegdan. He had no idea that the Swedish Academy of Sciences had just announced that it had awarded him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961. He found out about the apartment on his way back, at the usual time before lunch. He was intercepted by “Politika” journalist and photo-reporter Blagoje Ilić and Stevan Kragujević and congratulated him.
A press conference at the Writers’ Association is scheduled soon.
THE WITNESS:[Interpretation]”I was on the street that day when the news broke that Andrić had won the Nobel Prize, and we all hurried to France 7. Writers, both domestic and foreign journalists, gathered there. The only one who was not excited was Ivo Andrić. We all understood that as a recognition to all of us, and Andrić, in his old coat and with an already worn-out bag, said that he would like everything to pass as soon as possible in order to return to his desk …
Maybe he was a little scared … He knew what envy the laurel that was put on his head would cause because the state favorites for that recognition were some other writers. Milovan Djilas was in prison at the time and he was afraid that foreign journalists would ask him about him.
Predrag Palavestra told me that Andrić asked him to jump in with another question in case that happened, so he would answer it and forget about the previous question. “
And the NEW WINNER Nobel laureate said about the conversation with the journalists: “All the questions they ask me today could be reduced to three main groups: what do I feel? What do I think? What do I intend?” Justifying himself with fatigue, he ended the conference with the words: “The doors of my house are wide open to anyone who wants information.”
The next day, all Yugoslav newspapers published a biography of the writer, a report from his apartment with the address, first reactions and a short interview on the front pages. The writer’s decency “that the door of his house is wide open” was literally understood by many. Known and unknown people besieged the apartment for days and brought their wife Milica Babić and her mother into an unenviable position.
For more informed connoisseurs of literary opportunities, the decision of the Swedish Academy was not a surprise, although the competition was fierce. In addition to the writer “On the Drina Bridge”, the candidates were the American John Steinbeck, the Italian Alberto Moravia and the Englishmen Graham Green and Lawrence Darrell. A month earlier, the Parisian “Le Figaro” wrote that out of the fifty nominated for the most prestigious world literary award, the most serious contender was Ivo Andrić.
THE reactions of the writers FOLLOWED. Gustav Krklec states that he bet with Andrić two years ago that he would become a Nobel laureate. Milan Bogdanović brags that he was the one who nominated him for the award, while Dobrica Ćosić says: “One Yugoslav was seen from so many distances, through many and all kinds of eclipses …” Oskar Davičo commented briefly: “I am very happy that one is a Yugoslav received an award that is considered to have world authority. For us, Andrić was and remains a great Yugoslav writer, regardless of that award and recognition. ” Vjekoslav Kaleb laments the fact “that it is a shame for someone who is only now discovering us”.
The only thing was that Miroslav Krleža did not make a statement – neither he nor in the following days.
Ivo Andrić will receive the Nobel Prize 45 days later, on December 10, in Stockholm, in the Concert Hall, a monumental building built in 1926, in the presence of the Swedish sovereign Gustav VI, his family, Prime Minister Erlander and other top Swedish officials and academics. Andrić found himself in the place where Henrik Sienkijević, Rabindranath Tagore, Anatole France, George Bernard Shaw, Andre Gide, Thomas Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus stood before him …
AFTER the award ceremony, a gala dinner began in the town hall, where Professor Geran Lilnestrand addressed our writer: “Dr. Andrić, as a chronicler and novelist, you told us about your fellow citizens, their lives and sufferings, their misfortunes and efforts in peace, as in the war.You personally fought for their freedom and right to live in their own way.Just as the bridge over the Drina connects East and West, so your work connects, combining the culture of your country with the cultures of other nations, with the taste of great a diplomat and also a great writer. “
In a toast to the hosts, our Nobel laureate said: “Everyone tells their story according to their inner need, according to their inherited or acquired inclinations and understandings and the strength of their expressive abilities. Everyone bears moral responsibility for what they tell, and everyone should be allowed to tell freely. But, I think, it is permissible, in the end, to wish that the story told by today’s narrator to the people of his time, regardless of its form and subject, be neither poisoned with hatred nor drowned out by the thunder of murderous weapons, but driven more by love and breadth. and the serenity of the free human spirit. “
TOMORROW: WHO IS OLDER, TITO OR ANDRIC
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