Prosper Mérimée: La Guzla, ou Choix de poésies illyriques, recueillies dans la Dalmatie, la Bosnie, La Croatie et l'Hertzégowine [The Guzla]

(728 words)
  • Peter Cogman (University of Southampton)

La Guzla (the title refers to the one-stringed fiddle of itinerant Serbian bards) purports to be a translation of popular ballads collected from the guzlar Hyacinthe Maglanovich by an anonymous Italian of part-Morlack parentage who had travelled widely between Trieste and Ragusa when young. In fact only one poem in the first edition (previously translated, notably by Goethe) was authentic. Mérimée's poems evoke an age before the rule of law, where blood ties and self-preservation lead to violence between hostile families, clans, and nations, in an accumulation of atrocities. As Mary Shelley noted, “the rustic and barbarous manners are not softened, nor the wild energy of the people tamed.” The poems celebrate energy, …

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Citation:
Cogman, Peter. "La Guzla, ou Choix de poésies illyriques, recueillies dans la Dalmatie, la Bosnie, La Croatie et l'Hertzégowine". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 November 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=9439, accessed 01 October 2014.]