Many women went through Ivo Andrić’s life: from his mother Katarina Pejić, who gave birth to him, to Milica Babić, whom he married in 1957 and who died in 1968.
He had a calculated relationship with each of them, except for the mentioned two, which he seems to be the only one and sincerely loved. But also the two of them in their own way, especially the mother she often mentions in her various texts, whom she takes care of and helps financially, but all from afar and with the help of others.
Namely, Ivo Andrić very rarely saw and visited his mother, he rarely wrote to her, and he never visited her grave at the Koševo cemetery, which was a kilometer away by air from the Sarajevo hotel “Evropa”, where he stayed for decades in his most luxurious apartment number 167. It was a secret. even to those who knew him best, why he avoided visiting his mother’s grave.
Those researchers of the character and work of Ivo Andrić, who dealt with the inner side of his being, are of the opinion that he subconsciously resented his mother for bringing him to Visegrad in her arms when she was less than two years old and handing her over to her sister Ana and her husband. , to the Austro-Hungarian gendarme Ivan Matkovčik. “She brought it today and left the next day,” as Andrić himself wrote bitterly. With these two people, Andrić, since he neither remembered his father nor ever saw his picture, revived the warmth of his home and his parents’ love and mercy. In that house along the Drina, he experienced true parental love with his aunt and uncle, saw the world, went to primary school and observed the bridge on the Drina every day – the latter’s literary inspiration.
MOTHER Katarina, during all that time, either worked in the Carpet Weaving Mill in Sarajevo or was a housewife (maid) with the friar Fr. Alojzije Perčinlić, in Ovčarevo near Travnik. At that place, the story is sown that the mentioned friar is Andrić’s real father: with that torment and the weight of her pain, the young, pale and fragile Andrić spent his childhood and began to
“suffers the world and stories about itself.” Then, and here, the terrible word “fraternal bastard” entered his ear, with which he had to live for the next eight decades.
Researchers of the deepest areas of Andrić’s personality found and found the answer to Andrić’s reservations towards his mother, to the organizational, technical care for her through others, mostly his friends. When she died on December 15, 1925, he would erect a monument to her with his own money and “someone else’s hands”, write a dedication: “To his good mother Katarina Andrić, nee Pejić, her Ivan” and put an end to the relationship with her mother with that sentence. On the occasion of such a relationship with his mother, Andrić could perhaps be explained and somewhat justified by a sentence by Tin Ujević, written on another occasion, which says that “the fate of a great man is far more difficult than the fate of mediocrity.”
MILICA Babić Jovanović is a woman who took the postfestum and in advance the place of all other women in Ivo Andrić’s life, including his mother Katarina. She is both the greatest and most sincere love of his life and the greatest literary inspiration: she is (literally) Jelena a woman who does not exist, and really a woman who has been his absolute preoccupation for more than thirty years. For more than twenty years, he won and “stole” from his colleague from work and friend Nenad Jovanović, a Swiss student, polyglot and charmer. He carried out the final act of that operation by taking them both with him to Berlin in 1939, when he was appointed the king’s envoy to Germany.
INABILITY TO LOVE
ANDRIĆ often “described himself” in his works and projected himself into literary characters or personal reflections on life. Thus, in “Signs by the Road”, he will write these words: “… Considering himself from an early age incapable of truly loving anyone and fleeing from love as a too heavy obligation, he inadvertently did everything so that no one would permanently and he fell in love completely, and he managed to do it better and better … “
Nenad was appointed press attaché and his beautiful wife was declared the hostess at the receptions for high guests. His Excellency Andrić, still a young man and in his best years, doctor, academic and renowned writer, driver of a sports convertible of the latest type, then set out to finally conquer the beautiful Bosnian Milica, the first educated costume designer in Serbia.
FROM THEN until his marriage to her on September 27, 1958, after the war, after the collapse of the Kingdom he served, after the death of her husband Nenad, a smaller book for lovers could be written than his letters to Milica; from the time of his secret love for her, to the final act of winning her heart, a year and a half after the death of Nenad Jovanović. So such an ingenious Andrić knew how to send letters to his dear Milica to the address she was yet to come to – that the letters would wait for her and surprise her. Sometimes he would just send flowers and a note with just three words: “Hello, hello, hello!” And if he sent flower pots, then there would definitely be two – one for Milica and the other for her mother, grandmother Zorka, who was the owner of the apartment in the Proletarian Brigades.
Ivo, Nenad and Milica formed a film love triangle for two decades: nowhere is it written whether the beautiful, intelligent Nenad knew about the love of his wife and friends. After the war broke out, the three of them returned to occupied, destroyed Belgrade. Milica lived with Nenad in Misharska no. 10, Andrić was their daily guest. Nenad is soon arrested by the Germans and taken to a camp. Andrić remains at large, but comes to Misharska and continues to comfort Milica, her sister Danka with children and mother Zorka, who live together. They admire Andrić and his courage for coming to them and moving through occupied Belgrade. He is mostly silent and follows Milica’s every move and look. Often the two of them, disguised, with hats over their foreheads and raised collars of their coats, walk unrecognizably through the gloomy city.
AFTER the war, Nenad returns from captivity, ill and tired. The love triangle is completed again. Andrić is more careful but more passionate in outbursts of love in his letters. Everything accelerates after Nenad’s death in 1957. Andrić gives Milica new names in his letters: Ubavka, Lepa and finally Lepo (this nickname probably means my adjective!). Until August 2, 1958. he addressed her in letters with Vi and from then on he began to address her “on the perth.” He signs the letters as Mandarin, a nickname given to him by Milica. And finally, on August 9, 1958. for the first time he openly declares his love for her:
“Dear Nice, know that your Mandarin loves you very, very much.” A wedding soon followed, on September 7, 1958, their godparents were Aleksandar Vučo and his wife Julijana-Lula. In front of Andrić, and with Milica, with him, there were (short) nine happiest years of life.
In the third year of her marriage to Milica, now
“The deer woman he has,” Andrić received the Nobel Prize in 1961: of the many statements he made on that occasion in those years, one is special: “It was me (think of the ‘Nobel’) that my Milica brought happiness.”
But, Milica is rapidly getting sick, despite the top care and Iva’s great attention and love, the end is fast approaching. He died on March 24, 1968. Andrić, although desperate, keeps a kind of diary, where he talks to himself. Just four days after her death, he wrote:
“All my goodness burned down in one moment … now I see: while she lived next to me, I should have been no longer happy, because that was not possible, but more aware of my happiness. It could and must have been. “
TOMORROW: The manager of his life and work
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