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Mehmed "Meša" Selimović (pronounced [mɛ̌xmɛd mɛ̌ːʃa sɛlǐːmɔʋitɕ]; Serbian Cyrillic: Мехмед Селимовић "Меша"; 26 April 1910 - 11 July 1982) was a Yugoslav writer. His novel Death and the Dervish is one of the most important literary works in post-WWII Yugoslavia. Some of the main themes in his works are the relations between individuality and authority, life and death, and other existential problems. Hisethnicity and nationality as well as how he considered himself in these terms is a matter of some dispute.
After the war, he briefly resided in Belgrade, and in 1947 he moved to Sarajevo, where he was the professor of High School of Pedagogy and Faculty of Philology, art director of Bosna Film, chief of the drama section of the National Theater, and chief editor of the publishing house Svjetlost. Exasperated by a latent conflict with several local politicians and intellectuals, in 1971 he moved to Belgrade, where he lived until his death in 1982. In his 1976 letter to the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts, Selimović argued that despite his muslim roots (he was a descendant of a notable bey family, he regarded himself as a Serb and a Serb writer.
Selimović was a member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
However, his novel Death and the Dervish (Derviš i smrt, 1966) was widely received as a masterpiece in the West. The plot of the novel took place in 18th-century Sarajevo under Ottoman rule, and reflected Selimović's own torment of the execution of his brother; the story speaks of the futility of one man's resistance against a repressive system, and the change that takes place within that man after he becomes a part of that very system. Some critics have likened this novel to Kafka's The Trial. It has been translated into numerous languages. Each chapter of the novel opens with a Qur'an citation, the first being: "In the name of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful."
The next novel, Tvrđava (The Fortress, 1970), placed still further in the past, is slightly more optimistic, and fulfilled with faith in love, unlike the lonely contemplations and fear in Death and the Dervish. The Fortress and Death and the Dervish are the only novels of Selimović that have thus far been translated into English. Subsequent novels Ostrvo (The Island, 1974) and posthumously published Krug (The Circle, 1983), have not been translated into English.
He also wrote a book about Vuk Karadžić's orthographic reforms, an elderly couple facing the aging and eventual death on a Dalmatian island, as well as his autobiography, Sjećanja(Сјећања).
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