Ivana Brlić Mažuranić
(1874-1938, famous Croatian writer from Slavonski Brod, one of the most important writers for children, nominated for Nobel Prize in Literature)
For the first time we will have the THEME OF THE GAMES
Theme can be used as inspiration for art works, to be exposed at the Games, and general theme for Children Project (2017)
Childhood and Early Years
Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić was born on April 18, 1874 in the historical Croatian town of Ogulin. She was born into a prominent family. Her father was a distinguished lawyer and the County Vice-Prefect, and later on the Vice-President of the High Court. Fran Mažuranić, Ivana’s cousin, was a famous writer and poet, and Ivana and Fran’s grandfather Ivan Mažuranić was a politician, the Vice-King, or Ban of Croatia, a writer and the poet who wrote the famous poem The Death of Smail-Aga Čengić, and the first one who brought fame to the family name of Mažuranić.
Although they all strongly contributed to her personal growth, yet the major impact on Ivana made her famous grandfather Ivan Mažuranić. The numerous members of the family Mažuranić used to hold daily gatherings around the table, which often turned into vivid discussions about poetry, literature or social events. Growing up in such an environment, Ivana developed a passionate interest in reading.
With the support of her famous and influential relatives, she acquired an excellent education. She was proficient in five languages, and she especially liked French. She learned it at home from her mother, who also came from a highly esteemed family.
Slavonski Brod – Sail into the Fairytale
At the age of eighteen Ivana married the lawyer Vatroslav Brlić and moved to live in Slavonski Brod, in those days called Brod na Savi, where she spent most of her life. Slavonski Brod continues to nourish the memory of our favorite writer. In April every year we celebrate the birthday of this world-famous and appreciated artist. The Mayor hands over the Key to the City to the children of Slavonski Brod, and during the event In the World of Fairytales of Ivana Brlić Mažuranić our town sails into the fairytale (link: http://www.usvijetubajki.org/).
Ivana Brlić Mažuranić largely influenced not only Croatian, but also the world literature, so that it is not surprising that we take pride in the fact that she spent her most prolific years in our town. In order to provide an opportunity for all our guests to get familiar with her life and works, we have initiated the renovation of the House of Family Brlić, where she lived and created her most important works. It is really a unique experience to walk through the rooms filled with her personal belongings, to catch a glimpse of the world in which she was a mother, a writer, a citizen of Slavonski Brod, but at the same time a citizen of the world. The house is situated in the very centre of Slavonski Brod, on the square named after Ivana Brlić- Mažuranić, and in the vicinity of the theatrical concert hall which also bears the name of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić.
In order to understand the importance of Ivana for our town, you must know that the visual identity and the slogan of Slavonski Brod “Sail into the Fairytale” are based on Ivana’s works. You can see some of the places in our town of importance for Ivana Brlić- Mažuranić by visiting the following link (http://www.usvijetubajki.org/ivana_brlic-mazuranic/ivanina_brodska_mjest... ). They also may inspire your creativity, although we believe that once you sail into the world of fairytales of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, you definitely won’t lack inspiration.
Ivana Brlić – Mažuranić in Croatia and Worldwide
We believe that there is hardly a child, nor a grown-up, who has not heard about Lapitch or about Stribor’s Forest. But only few are aware that the author of these popular children’s stories, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, was the first female member of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Art, and that she was nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature by the same Academy on two occasions: in 1931 and in 1938.
Starting from her early works, her writing was well-accepted by the public, by the writers and critics, as well as by the children. Although more than a hundred years have passed since the publishing of her first book, her works are highly appreciated by the youngest readers. According to the records kept by Croatian libraries, Ivana’s books have always been the favorite choice of young readers.
The first English translation of Ivana’s Priče iz davnine was published in 1924 in London as Croatian Tales of Long Ago. It was an important cultural event, and it was followed by numerous favorable reviews published by almost thirty distinguished English magazines and journals. Daily Dispatch referred to Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić as Croatian Andersen, and Church Times claimed that the tales expressed the ethical values of the Croatian people, with the power not only to enchant children, but also to provide a glimpse into the very soul of a fairly unknown people.
After being published in English, Croatian Tales of Long Ago and the novel about Apprentice Lapitch have been translated into Swedish, German, Czech, Slovakian, Danish, Russian, Ukrainian, and up to modern times the works of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić have been published in 40 different languages, including Chinese and Esperanto. This makes her the most translated Croatian author of all time.
As a matter of fact, we can say that nowadays Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić is more present than ever: along with numerous publications of her works, there are many adaptations made for the theatre, puppet theatre or cartoons, and in 1971 the prize for the best children’s book was established and named after our unique Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić.
Modern critics suggest another flattering comparison: they refer to her as Croatian Tolkien, because like the famous J.R.R. Tolkien she successfully used folk tales and revived long forgotten myths.
Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić made her appearance in the world of literature rather late. Although she was a mother of six, she did not confine herself to family life; she accompanied her husband in social life whenever her family obligations allowed it. However, in those days it was not considered socially acceptable for a woman to engage herself in authorship and it took her years to start writing and publishing. In her biography she writes: this battle between the strong desire for writing and (valid or invalid) sense of duty prevented me from writing and publishing until 15 years ago.
Instead of writing, she was in constant search for valuable reading for her children, suitable for their age and interesting enough to attract and hold their attention. Over time she developed the idea to write down the stories she made up during the long winter nights in order to entertain her children. The desire for writing, that had smoldered inside her for all those years, finally found a practical purpose. So she came up with her first little book The Good and the Mischievous – Tales and Poems for Boys. It was published in 1902 as a private edition intended for her family members and friends. Four years later her second book School and Holidays was published, also having a distinct educative tendency. Her book of poetry Pictures was published in 1912, and in the next year The Brave Adventures of Lapitch came to light, and Ivana once for all attracted attention as an author.
The Brave Adventures of Lapitch were written in a simple manner, suitable for children, containing elements of adventure; the plot arises somewhere between playful imagination and reality, full of sudden twists and unexpected events. The moral of the story is that goodness and love always eventually win. With her Croatian Tales of Long Ago she opened the gateway to a mysterious world, both ancient and familiar, a world of imagination as well as of reality. The main characters of Croatian Tales of Long Ago are on a quest for long lost chastity, for invigorating love and goodness, for truth and meaning of life. They realize that gullibility could cost them their lives, that loyalty always pays off, that fortune favors the brave… Fairy Curlylocks, Giant Reygoch, house ghost and protectors, Fisherman Plunk, Quest, the Sea King, the Bee Queen, Dawn-Maiden, God Svarozic… ancient deities and characters from long lost Slavic mythology were revived in genuine plots with mild humor in Croatian Tales of Long Ago. Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić placed them in their natural form: mythological tale or fairytale, attractive to children and educationally justified.
Topics and plots are timeless and generally human, so that these fairytales have a strong connection with the reality. As the time goes by, it seems than Ivana’s works become even more appreciated, establishing her as a genuine great artist.