He dreamt, he told me, that a voice explained to him that he was not paying enough attention to Serbian writers.

He knew that was true, he said, and determined to rectify the situation. He would list them all for the world to see (without diacritical marks, which are especially difficult in dreams):

Ivo Andric, Aleksandar Tisma, Milorad Pavic, Borislav Pekic, Danilo Kis

Zarko Radakovic, David Albahari, Dragan Velikic, Svetislav Basara, Dragan Aleksic

so far so good, he dreamt, but what of the others?

Shouldn’t Miljenko Jergovic and Muharem Bazdulj also be included, although they have become Bosnian and clearly aren’t Serbs although they write in the language that once fostered “unity and brotherhood”?

And if they are included, then also the now Croatian Miroslav Kreleza, Ranko Marinkovic, Slavenka Drakulic, and Dubravka Ugresic?

Yes, he concluded, in a dream he can still dream of Yugoslavia.

And perhaps, then, although they write in English, also Charles Simic, Josip Novakovich, Tea Obreht, and Aleksandar Hemon?

There, he thought, I have paid enough attention.

No, he told me later, I must have read them all to make that claim, and I should read them in what I must now distinguish as Bosnian, Serbian, or Croatian.

And, he said finally, who knows whose work I have missed entirely. I’ll never sleep easy again.

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at http://works.bepress.com/scott_abbott/
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