Novi Heder 2021 001 1


I have been a writer for two hundred years now. Long ago, in 1766, a Pavic published a collection of poems in Budim and we have considered ourselves a family of writers ever since.

I was born in 1929 on the banks of one of the four rivers of Paradise, at 8:30 in the morning, under the sign of Libra (ascendant Scorpio), or, according to the Aztec horoscope, the Snake.

M. Pavic, autoportretThe first time bombs rained down on me I was twelve. The second time I was fifteen. In between those two bombings I fell in love for the first time and was made to learn German under the German occupation. I also learned English secretly from a gentleman who smoked fragrant pipe tobacco. At the same time I forgot French for the first time (I was later to forget it twice more).

Finally, in a kennel where I had sought shelter from the Anglo-American bombing, an emigre Russian imperial officer started teaching me Russian from books of poems by Fet and Tyutchev, the only Russian books he had. Today I think learning languages was a kind of transformation into different bewitching animals.

I have loved two Johns – John of Damascus and John Chrysostom (the Golden-Tongued).

I have been far more successful at love in my books than in my life. With one exception, which continues to this day. In my sleep night sweetly clasped both cheeks.

I was the most unread writer in my country until 1984, after which I became the most widely read.

I wrote one novel in the form of a dictionary, a second in the form of a crossword, a third in the form of a clepsydra and a fourth in the form of a tarot book. I tried to be as little trouble to these novels as possible. I believe the novel is a kind of cancer – it lives of it’s metastasis.

To my astonishment, my books have already been translated 73 times into different languages. In short, I have no biography. I have only a bibliography.

Critics in France and Spain have remarked that I am the first writer of the 21st century, but I lived in the 20th century when innocence not guilt had to be proven.

I knew I should not touch the living with the same hand that had touched the dead in my dreams.

The greatest disappointments in my life have come from my victories. Victory does not pay.

I have not killed anyone. But they have killed me. Long before my death. It would have been better for my books had their author been a Turk or a German. I was the best known writer of the most hated nation in the world – the Serbian nation.

XXI century started for me avant la date 1999. when NATO airforces bombed Belgrade and Serbia. Since that moment the river Danube on whose banks I was born is not navigable.

I think God graced me with infinite favor by granting me the joy of writing, and punished me in equal measure, precisely because of that joy perhaps.

Милорад Павић