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Croatia: Themes, Authors, Books

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Croatia: Themes, Authors, Books

August 7 - October 31, 2006


Exhibit prepared by the Slavic & East European Collection
Sterling Memorial Library

With a coastline extending for 5835 km (4,058 of which represent more than 1,300 islands), a land area of 56,542 sq. km. and shaped like a boomerang swinging from the Adriatic Sea to Hungary and Serbia, Croatia served for centuries as a crossroads between North and South, East and West; between Central Europe and the Mediterranean world, Christianity and Islam, science and religion, enlightenment and obscurantism, modernity and tradition.

This rich and enduring intercultural dialogue is well documented by Croatia: Themes, Authors, Books, a new exhibition at Sterling Memorial Library. Selected and arranged by Tatjana Lorković, Curator of the Slavic and East European Collections and a native of Croatia, the exhibition spans five centuries (15th – 20th) and brings together a wealth of materials in a variety of formats (maps, manuscript and printed books, photographs) and disciplines (history and geography, linguistics and literature, religion, travel, astronomy, chemistry, medicine, neurophysiology, etc.), from a number of Yale repositories, including the Arts Library, The Beinecke Library of Rare Book and manuscript, the Maps Collection, the Medical Historical Library, and the Slavic and East European Collections.

Among the items on view are 16th century portolans (containing navigational charts and sailing directions); manuscript samples of Glagolitic, the oldest known Slavic alphabet, developed in the 9th century by brothers St. Cyril and St. Methodius; grammars and dictionaries documenting a national revival based on the Croatian language at a time (16th-18th centuries) when the country was simultaneously under the rule of Austrian (Habsburg), Turkish, and Venetian powers; literary and historical works by such authors as Marko Marulić (1450-1524), Vinko Pribojević (d. after 1532), Mavro Orbin (Mauro Orbini, d. 1611 ), Ivan Lučić (Giovanni Lucio, 1604–79), Tin Ujevic (1891-1955), Miroslav Krleža (1893-1981), and Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrić (1892-1975).

Croatian contributions to science and technology date from the 15th century and include works Beno Kotruljevic (Benedeto Cotrugli), by the inventor, linguist, and historian Faust Vrančić’s (lat. Fausto Veranzio, 1551-1617), whose Machinæ novæ describe various inventions including the parachute; Đuro (ital. Giorgio) Baglivi (1668-1707), a native of Dubrovnik who was appointed professor of anatomy and theoretical medicine at the Sapienza University in Rome when still in his twenties, and later became the Pope's physician; Ruđer Bošković (ital. Ruggero Boscovich, 1711-1787), also of Dubrovnik, whose researches and publications in astronomy, mathematics, physics and natural philosophy gained him professorships in various European universities and memberships in the Royal Society of London, the St.Petersburg Academy, the French Académie Royale des Sciences, and the Italian Accademia dell'Arcadia; Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), the Croatian-born, Serbian-American inventor whose discovery of the rotating magnetic field was the basis of most alternating-current machinery; and chemist Lavoslav Ružička (1887-1976), who was the first Croatian to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1939.

Travel literature is represented by works about Croatia as well as by Croatian authors. To the former category belongs Viaggio in Dalmazia (Venice, 1774), by the Paduan monk and philosophe Alberto Fortis, while Bošković’s Giornale di un viaggio da Costantinopoli in Polonia (Bassano, 1784), which documents an (aborted) astronomical mission to Constantinople and back, is an illustrious example of the latter.

The exhibition also features a selection of books on archeology, art, and architecture, including Robert Adam’s Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalato in Dalmatia (London 1764), and works by renowned miniaturist Julije Klović (Giulio Clovio) and sculptor Ivan Mestrović.

Croatia: Themes, Authors, Books is on view in the Sterling Cloister and Elevator lobby from August 7 to October 31, 2006.