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Dušan Vasiljev

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Dušan Vasiljev (Serbian: Душан Васиљев) (1900-1924) was a Serbian poet, novelist and playwright. He was one of the most significant Serbian expressionists.


He was born in Velika Kikinda ("Great Kikinda") in the Austro-Hungarian empire on 19th July 1900. His mother, Rakila, was from Perlez, and his father's name was Kosta. Dušan had two sisters, Aleksandra and Jelena, and a brother, Spasoje. His mother died in 1904 and his father re-married. This marriage produced another five children, three of which died at childbirth.

Dušan attended primary school in Kikinda, and secondary school in Temišvar, where his family moved in 1911.

The outbreak of World War I saw his father mobilised to the front, leaving Dušan to care for his siblings. He attended school and worked as a clerk, and in 1917 joined the army. He was mobilised in 1918 and sent to the front at Pjava. He returned home exhausted and suffering from symptoms of malaria and bronchitis. On his return to Temišvar he began working for the Serbian army as a clerk and interpreter.

He founded the literary group "Kolo Mladih Srba" ("The Circle of Young Serbs") and the journal "Sloga" ("Unity" or "Togetherness"). When the Serbian army left Temišvar, Dušan moved to Belgrade. He enrolled into the Faculty of Philosophy of Belgrade University and began contributing to various literary journals including "Sloga" and "Dan" ("Day"). Before he had to abandon his studies he completed a course in pedagogy and, in 1920, moved to Chinei (Romania, briefly part of Yugoslavia) to work as a teacher. In the same year he married Milijka Maletic.

He was called again to the army in 1921 to Kratovo, but was sent home the same year on grounds of poor health. He spent his time in Chenei reading and writing, but his condition worsened. He went to Zagreb to attempt treatment, but was advised to return the following Spring. He died on 27th March 1924 in Kikinda.


Dušan Vasiljev’s dark and paradoxical view of the world and his particular understanding of the human condition were influenced by many factors. These include his tragic experience of World War I and its aftermath; Kikinda and Temišvar, the towns where he grew up and was educated; and his social background, to name a few.

World War I pushed many contemporary artists to adopt extremist viewpoints. The apocalyptic and dramatic visions, the denial of reality, the loss of trust towards one's fellow man, in his historical responsibility, scepticism towards knowledge, towards the expansion of technology and industry, towards modern forms of society, the pursuit of new worlds and new values, all contributed to an ambivalent and complex new situation.

As a poet, Vasiljev came to prominence with his poem "A Man Sings After the War", published in the journal "Misao" ("Thought") in 1920 to critical acclaim. This work expressed the spiritual mood of the young people who, returning from a catastrophic war, had to reconcile their terrible experience with the need to integrate back into the mundane everyday life.

During his lifetime Dušan Vasiljev did not manage to publish a book of his poetry. He wrote around 300 poems, about 20 novels, and 4 plays. The majority of his oeuvre can be found in the National Library in Belgrade.



  • Selected songs (selection by Zivko Milicevic. Preface by Velimir Zivojinovic), Serbian Literary Association, Belgrade, 1932, p.. XIV + 94)
  • Songs (edited by Zivan Milisavac), Matica Serbian, Novi Sad, 1950, p.. 386th
  • A man sings after the war (selection and edited by Stevan Raičković. Preface, Dusan Vasiljev A Man, by Radomir Konstantinović), Prosveta, Belgrade, 1968, p.. (10) 92.
  • Selected songs (selection and preface, Complexity of Dusan Vasiljev's Poetry, by Ljubomir Simovic), Rad, Beograd, 1975, p.. (13) 98.
  • A man sings after the war (selection and preface, The Bitter Memories of Slaughter, by Jovan Delic), Veselin Maslesa, Sarajevo, 1982, p.. (43) 271.
  • Songs (selection and postscript by John Zivlak), Kairos, Sremski Karlovci, 2000, p. 130 (133-191)


  • On the Doorstep, short stories and plays (introduction and edited by Dr. Aleksandar Pejovic), Rad, Beograd, 1986, p.. (20) 325.

Cultures D’Europe Centrale; Hors série No 4 - 2007

Dušan Vasiljev (né en 1900 à Kikinda, dans le Banat serbe ; mort à Kikinda, en 1924) est un poète et prosateur serbe de facture expressionniste, avec de nombreuses contributions dans la presse littéraire moderne. C’est l’auteur de quelque trois cents poèmes, outre six récits et quatre textes dramatiques, et six récits. Son premier volume, Poèmes choisis, est publié de posthumement à Belgrade, en 1932. Homme Chantant Après La Guerre fait partie d’un recueil daté de 1923, mais publié après la mort de l’auteur.