Janko Veselinović, writer


Janko Veselinović

“He gave so much with abundance and value that he can rightly be considered one of our best and most prolific writers, one of those who create a literature and give it a special character,” said the authoritative Jovan Skerlić for Janko Veselinović, who is hereby added in his words: “One of our writers compared Janko Veselinović with Vuk Karadžić, and that comparison is not without basis. Both of them knew the people’s life and the people’s soul like few others, both were inspired by the people’s spirit, and while one collected people’s ideas and customs, the other recounted folk tales, or described folk life and expressed the folk soul.” Janko’s ancestors on his father’s side moved to Mačva from Herzegovina in the 18th century. century, and settled in Agin Salaš, today Salaš Crnobarski.

Janko’s father, Miloš, was the first from this family to leave the difficult farming life and dedicate himself to the priestly vocation; mother Jelisaveta comes from the distinguished priestly family Popović from Badovina. Miloš and Jelisaveta had nine children, and their firstborn, Janko, was born on 1 May 1862 years.

Salaš Crnobarski did not have a church, so Pope Miloš moved to Glogovac, while Janko was still small. He settled next to the church and school, which were built on the estate of Sima Katić – Prekodrinc, duke of the First Serbian Uprising, later the hero of many of Janko’s stories. At the tender age of 18 and earning 42 dinars a month, Janko started his first teaching job in Svileuva, far from his native Glogovac and noisy Belgrade. There, thanks to grandmother Vida’s stories from folk life, he began his creative work. He wrote, crossed out, corresponded and started again. The words could not have flowed as smoothly, simply and spontaneously as Grandma Vida’s story. However, his persistence and perseverance paid off. It was crowned with results of unsuspected values. His political engagement also began in Svileuva. He approached the radicals and with them, and worked for them until the end of his life. After two months of working at the elementary school in Kamicka, Šabac, due to his “radicalization” he was transferred to Koceljevo, where he experienced political success and great inconvenience. In mid-November 1888, he was “put under criminal investigation and in custody” for attacking the county government during the election of trustees and in Šabac prison – where he did not let go of the pen until mid-December, when he was released. In prison, he wrote the stories The Orphan and The Oath.

He spent a large part of his free time in pubs, hanging out with people who loved a good song, drink, merriment and pranks. He hung out and clubbed “for the soul” with the famous Cicvarići in the tavern “Devet Direka” or at “Kula-Ana”. His penchant for song and his unusually warm and melodious voice made him a welcome sight in any company. “When the music plays a waltz, Janko puts her right hand over her thick mustache and sings the folk aria “Freedom is visited by the wings” in her beautiful baritone. The air breaks, the cars break apart, the world rushes into the small hall in the middle, where Janko, pushed and sprayed, sings and sings great military bleh music, which is tormented in front of the living thunders from Janko’s chest…” (Memories of DN Janković, Intermunicipal Historical Archive in Shapac).

According to the number of published works, Janko belongs to the category of the most prolific Serbian storytellers. According to Stevan Jelača, who edited all of Janko’s works, in twenty years of creativity, Janko published 127 short stories, two novels, two unfinished novels and two theater plays.

Veselinović’s prose is “tame, warm, innocent, soft-hearted, good-natured, harmless, full of idylls, narratively slow, written in imitation of oral, folk creativity, packed with ethnographic structure, dialogically stretched, pedagogically oriented, slavishly devoted to the moral values of the Serbian patriarchal cooperative, patriotic, clear in language.” In his stories, Janko painted his Mačva, where he was born and which he loved passionately, and Posavotamnava, whom he met as a teacher in Svileuva and Koceljeva. His stories are dedicated to peasants, whose life he wants to portray as authentically as possible, but also to idealize the harmony and harmony of the family cooperative.

Among his many works, we can highlight: the novel Hajduk Stanko (1896), the theater plays Potter and Djido, Pictures from Village Life in 1886, Polish Flowers, Tales, Paradise Souls, Old Acquaintances (collections of short stories).

Janko Veselinović died on June 14 (27), 1905, in his parents’ house in Glogovac. Many friends came to his funeral in Mačva, among them Simo Matavulj, Radoje Domanović, Milorad Mitrović, Milorad Pavić Krpa… The inevitable words of Antun Gustav Matoš were uttered on that occasion: “And for you, my dear uncle Janko, it was easy ancestral lump, between the green Cer and the green waters of the Drina and Sava! In this blue of the good sky, in that fertile land, in those bans, sculptures, villages, on the proud faces of your Samurović, Topuzović and Kurtović, in the melody of Cicvarić’s gypsy music – from everywhere I am warmed by your noble gaze, Janko Veselinović from Glogovac, the village of the tame! How must your sword hurt you when I, a lonely traveler, to whom you gave a piece of bread and a piece of soul, cannot pity you! Janko undoubtedly died like his good friends!” (Yearbook of the Šabac Intermunicipal Historical Archive, p. 305).