News/ 12 January 2016
THE AUTHOR WHOSE POEMS WE KNEW BY HEART
Branko Ćopić's birth anniversary
This year marks the 100th birth anniversary of one of the most read and beloved Yugoslav writers –Branko Ćopić. Ćopić, born on 1 January 1915 in a Bosnian village Hašani, an anti-fascist and partisan fighter in the National Liberation War, was a successful writer of numerous literary forms: from novels and short stories, poems, humorous tales, feuilletons, essays, journals and news reports to children's literature through which he has left an indelible mark on countless generations in Yugoslavia and on some children born in the subsequent decades.
These children grew up on the adventures of Nikoletina Bursać, Magareće godine (Donkey Years), the novel Orlovi rano lete (Eagles Fly Early) and other works but hardly any of it can match the success of his poem Ježeva kućica (Hedgehog's House), published in 1957 inSarajevo. This fable about a courageous hunter-hedgehog who, from all the luxuries in the world, prefers his humble abode, has been incarnated in almost all imaginable forms – from picture books, animated and puppet films, theatrical and music performances, to radio plays and recitals, and those who once heard it have never forgotten it.
The fate of its author was unfortunately somewhat different. Ćopić ended his life in the Orwellian year of 1984 by jumping off a Belgrade bridge named after the great Serbian romantic poet – Ćopić’s namesake – Branko Radičević. During and after the Yugoslav wars, due to his past in the partisans and his unyielding anti-fascist and supranational beliefs, he was excluded from school curriculums and official memory of most of the so-called successor states. Even the celebrated hedgehog’s poem was often reprinted without the name of its author stated on the cover.