Svetomir Nikolajević, a Serbian writer and politician, the Nobel Prize candidate

Svetomir Nikolajević, a Serbian writer and politician, the Nobel Prize candidate

Svetomir Nikolajević, the man whose biography is indeed fascinating, who began his life journey from Raduša village near Ub

Svetomir Nikolajević (1844 – 1922) was a well-known Serbian writer and politician, he was a professor of the Grande École (suplent Grande École, the Department for the general history of literature with special emphasis on the literature of the Slavs and Serbs), the founder of the Serbian Royal Academy, the Prime Minister of Serbia, the Mayor of Belgrade and the Minister of Interior Affairs. He was also one of the founders of the Radical Party, the Society of St. Sava and the Masonic lodge “Pobratim”.

A Fascinating Biography

He was born on September 27th 1844 in Raduša near Ub. He finished elementary school in his hometown, then he went to high school in Šabac and Belgrade, where he graduated in 1863. He studied at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Grande École. From 1865 until 1871 the state sent him to study history and world literature in Zurich, Bern, Berlin, Paris and London. From autumn 1871 until the middle of 1873 he worked as a scribe in the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs.

He was elected a suplinate, and the following year a full professor at the newly established Department for general history of literature. He was the first professor qualified to explain Western European literature to his students.

He was a rector in 1888/89 school year until June 1889/90. He retired for the first time in 1890, but as of 1892 he started working as a professor again.

During 1887 he was the Mayor of one of the municipalities in Belgrade, in 1894 he became the Minister of Interior Affairs, and later that same year the Prime Minister. From October 1894 until July 1895 he taught at the Grande École.

He was a member of the State Council in 1893, of the Senate from 1901 until 1903, when he was sent to Athens as an attaché. He was the Serbian delegate when the Hague Convention was signed. He retired for the second time in 1903.

He was a member of the Serbian Scholarly Society as of 1874, a regular member of the Serbian Royal Academy since 1887, one of the founders of the Society of St. Sava (1886), and later its president and a member of the King Dečanski Society (1890). He was a member of the Main Education Council and Art and Literature Board of the National Theatre.

He wrote essays, studies, literary portraits, criticism of English, French, New Greek and Scandinavian literature. He collaborated with Anniversary of Nikola Čupić, Herald of the Serbian Scholarly Society, Otadžbina, Male novine, etc.

He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1915 by four members of the Serbian Parliament. He died in Belgrade on 18th April 1922.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Svetomir Nikolajević, life and work

Together with Ivo Andrić, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1961, Svetomir Nikolajević is the only man from around here who was nominated for this prestigious award by major European authorities. Unfortunately, Serbia did not support his nomination and the Nobel Peace Prize was not awarded that year.

“Svetomir Nikolajević was also well-known among many European intellectuals, politicians and Masons. As a great humanist he invested all his energy and knowledge into state, national and cultural prosperity of his country”, wrote the author of “Svetomir Nikolajević, life and work” Vojkan Stanić, PhD. The book was published by Akademska knjiga and it can help you find out more about the life and work of this important Serb.

Forgotten minds

“A country which treasures its history has no right to forget its great names. And Svetomir Nikolajević is one of the greatest. He led a noble life and believed in humanism and the prosperity of his homeland. Those were his fundamental characteristics and everything else he did is based on them – says Stanić, who is by the way a doctor by profession, and he took an interest in the life and work of Nikolajević while investigating his Masonic activities.

Nikolajević is not entirely deleted from our history and his bust attests to this – it is located in the building of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts as one of fifteen members of the Serbian Royal Academy which served as a foundation for the SASA.

There is also a street in Belgrade named after him and the Minister of Culture put up a memorial plate there last year. The elementary school in his village is also named after him, but unfortunately only four pupils attend it. You can read more about Nikolajević here:

A TV show dedicated to the life and work of Svetomir Nikolajević:

Rada Sević

Translation: Marija Đurđević

Photography: Wikimedia

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