Danilo Kiš Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Danilo Ki wrote prose, drama, poetry, and essays. His prose works include many uncollected short stories and several novels. He also wrote literary essays. His works have been translated into French, Hungarian, German, and other languages.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Danilo Ki won many awards, national and international, including the Nedeljne Informativne Novine prize for Novel of the Year (1972); the Ivan Goran Kovai Prize (1977); Grand Aigle de la Ville de Nice (1980); Skender Kulenovi Prize (1986); Premio di Tevere (1988); Preis des Literaturmagazins (1988), and the Bruno Schulz Prize (1989). He was also distinguished with titles: Munka Erdmerend Arany (1978) and Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (1986).

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to novels, Danilo Ki (keesh) published two books of short stories that are sometimes mistakenly labeled as novels: Rani jadi (1970; Early Sorrows: For Children and Sensitive Readers, 1998) and Enciklopedija mrtvih (1983; The Encyclopedia of the Dead, 1989). His short stories lose some of their significance in that Ki often wrote his novels as collections of related stories, thus blurring the line between the two genres. His attempts at television drama, No i magla (1968; night and fog), Papagaj (1969; parrot), and Drveni sanduk Tomasa Wulfa (1974; wooden trunk of Thomas Wolfe), have been less successful than his other works. Ki also was an essayist and polemicist, advocating new approaches to literature and expounding his own views on literary art. His Po-etika (1972; poetics), Po-etika, knjiga druga (1974; poetics, book two), and especially as anatomije (1978; a lesson in anatomy) are examples of a spirited and passionate defense of his own works against detractors. In addition, the essays trace for younger writers the path to a more modern approach to writing. Ki also skillfully translated the works of some major writers from the original French, Hungarian, and Russian.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Danilo Ki belongs to the generation of Serbian writers who burst upon the literary scene in the mid-1960’s with a fresh outlook on literature and with surprisingly mature works. As one of the most articulate and cosmopolitan among them, he was able to bring down the barriers of traditionalism and provincialism prevalent in Serbian prose up to that time. To be sure, that process had begun before Ki’s generation, but it reached its full potential with that generation, finally bringing Serbian prose into the mainstream of contemporary world literature. His second important contribution can be seen in his highly accomplished style. His seemingly simple yet rather sophisticated realism, broad erudition, and uncanny dexterity with words made him the undisputed leader among the Serbian writers in the second half of the twentieth century. With these qualities, Ki has appealed to readers beyond his homeland, resulting in translations of his works into many languages. Among other awards, he received the French Legion of Honor medal as a Knight of the Arts and Literature.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Birnbaum, Marianna D. “History and Human Relationships in the Fiction of Danilo Ki.” Cross Currents: A Yearbook of Central European Culture 8 (1989): 345-370. A critical analysis of Hourglass, Psalam 44, A Tomb for Boris Davidovich, and Encyclopedia of the Dead.

Birnbaum, Marianna D., and R. Trager-Verchovsky. History, Another Text: Essays on the Fiction of Kazimierz Brandys, Danilo Ki, György Konrád, and Christa Wolf. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988. A good critical study of these authors and their works.

Boym, Svetlana. “Conspiracy Theories and Literary Ethics: Umberto Eco, Danilo Ki, and the Protocols of Zion.” Comparative Literature 51, no. 2 (Spring, 1999): 97-122. Discusses Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum (1988) and Ki’s short story “The Book of Kings and Fools” as attempts to subvert anti-Semitic conspiracy theories by returning them to the realm of fiction.

Brodsky, Joseph. Introduction to A Tomb for Boris Davidovich, by Danilo Ki. New York: Penguin, 1980. A valuable source.

Czarny, Norbert. “Imaginary-Real Lives: On Danilo Ki.” Cross Currents: A Yearbook of Central European Culture 3 (1984): 279-294. Discusses Ki’s work in terms of artistic objectivism and irony.


(The entire section is 436 words.)