Jovan Dučić Biography


(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Jovan Dučić was born into a prominent Serbian family in Trebinje, a picturesque little town in Herzegovina, at that time under Turkish occupation, in 1871. As a boy he moved to Mostar, a Herzegovinian cultural center, and later to Sarajevo. After he was graduated, he taught at schools in Bosnia and in Mostar, where he was frequently harassed by Austrian authorities for his nationalist activities. In Mostar, he participated in cultural activities, joined a literary circle, edited literary journals, and began to write poetry. Supported by the Serbian government, he studied liberal arts at the University of Geneva. During his study there and on frequent visits to Paris, he fell under the influence of French culture, particularly that represented by the décadent and Symbolist poets, which would have a decisive impact on his literary development. Upon his return to Serbia in 1907, he entered diplomatic service and served in that capacity for the rest of his life in various capitals of the world. At the same time, he published poetry and prose works and came to be recognized as one of the leading Serbian writers. He was in Lisbon during World War II and moved to the United States in 1941. Until his death less than two years later, Dučić actively supported the nationalist side of the guerrilla struggle against the Germans in his native country. His book Lirika (lyric poems) appeared the day he died. He is buried at the Serbian shrine in Libertyville, Illinois. At his request, his papers and library were sent to his native Trebinje.