ARS – First Series Collection
Cetinje Bulevar Crnogorskih Junaka, Montenegro
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Name of collection
- ARS - First Series
Provenance and cultural activities
The ARS – First Series collection consists of issues of ARS – Review of Culture, Art and Science, released by the Literary Municipality of Cetinje publishing house in Montenegro from 1986 to 1989. Eight issues were published irregularly during this period.
The main creative force behind ARS included the writer Milorad Popović, poet and art critic Mladen Lompar, and politician Slavko Perović. They were motivated to launch ARS for two reasons. Firstly, the trio was passionate about literature and poetry, interested in new aesthetics, attracted by alternative ideas to the predominant communist ideology such as the issue of national politics and freedom of expression. Secondly, they were disappointed with the cultural environment (primarily with the situation of literary journal production in Montenegro) and with the direction Yugoslav politics was moving (with the perception of the growing dominance of Serbia and its communist oligarchy). Guided by a desire for change, they aspired to bring artistic, cultural, and political innovations to the provincial milieu of Cetinje and Montenegro. Thus, they founded the Literary Municipality of Cetinje in 1985. It was legally organized as a civic organization, but it was practically focused on cultural topics. Alongside its publishing activity, the Literary Municipality of Cetinje also organized literary events and roundtables on cultural issues. Soon after its foundation, the circle associated with ARS and the activities of the Literary Municipality of Cetinje created a small network of Yugoslav intellectuals who considered themselves as seekers of new avantgarde tendencies, new poetics, and new liberal perceptions, which provoked the perceived provincial mentality and core principles of the communist regime in Yugoslavia such as “brotherhood and unity”, the cult of Tito, and the policy of self-management.
Although the first series (1986–89) contained several texts on issues of Montenegrin identity, history, and cultural heritage, the content of ARS itself was not regarded as provocative in “nationalist” terms. ARS was first and foremost a literary journal. Soon after its foundation, ARS became the only journal in Montenegro, even in the broadest context of the former Yugoslavia, regarded as a serious literary publication. However, what really disturbed the communist regime was the sympathy of ARS’s founders for a minority group of authors and dissident figures in Yugoslavia considered to be separatist or anti-Serbian, as demonstrated by their collaboration with dissenting circles of intellectuals and writers from other Yugoslav centres (Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Skopje) whose texts and poems were published by ARS. They went as far as publishing poems by the banned author Vlado Gotovac. Gotovac had been banned from being published as he was deemed to be a Croatian separatist and nationalist due to his participation in the Croatian Spring of the early 1970s. This movement aimed to increase the Socialist Republic of Croatia’s autonomy within Yugoslavia. Other famous Yugoslav dissidents whose literary works and poems were published in the first series of ARS include Serbian/Montenegrin Borislav Pekić, Macedonian Bogomil Djuzel, and Slovenians Aleš Debeljak and Tomaž Šalamun.
Nevertheless, what was considered the most serious offence committed by the ARS group was the publication of the book Etnogenezofobija [The Fear of Ethnogenesis] by Savo Brković, a prominent Communist official, who was inter alia the head of the Department for People’s Protection [Odjeljenje za zaštitu naroda, OZNA] (the Yugoslav security agency of 1944–46) for Montenegro in 1945 and the first Minister of Internal Affairs of socialist Montenegro in 1946. In the mid-1970s, Brković partially distanced himself from the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, though he still strongly considered himself a communist. The main reason for his dissociation was the publication of his book O postanku i razvoju crnogorske nacije [On the Rise and Development of the Montenegrin Nation] in 1974, after which he was suspected of being a nationalist. Etnogenezofobija, which was published in 1988 by the Literary Municipality of Cetinje, again launched a similar controversy regarding the Montenegrin national question and also criticized Greater Serbian nationalism. After this book’s publication, he was expelled from the League of Communists of Yugoslavia and publicly denounced for Montenegrin nationalism, while the Literary Municipality of Cetinje was closed down. These developments also affected ARS, as its editorial board was replaced by more regime-sympathetic staff. After the publication of three more issues (which then differed in content and design) in 1989, ARS was eventually suspended by the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Montenegro.
Those who conceived of ARS were of a different creative sensibility and held political views that were considered to be too liberal and thus contradicting the official communist politics of the regime. Thus, they soon became conspicuous in the cramped cultural, political, and geographical space of Montenegro. Their activities were to some extent provocative, yet not too radical. Their actions probably would not have been noticed if they were active in larger Yugoslavian centres such as Belgrade or Zagreb. Due to Montenegro’s peripheral position in both the cultural and political spheres compared to other parts of Yugoslavia, the activities of the ARS group were a thorn in the side of the local communist regime.
The real significance of the ARS group’s emergence did not, however, lie in the short-lived stirring up of the stagnant Montenegrin political and cultural scene, but in their transformation into a substantial political opposition later in the 1990s. This small cultural and political avantgarde contributed to the creation of the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, a liberal political party formed in 1990 in Cetinje with the goals of supporting Montenegrin independence and the anti-war movement which opposed Montenegrin involvement in the Yugoslav Wars.
In 1999, together with a younger generation of authors, Popović and Lompar re-founded ARS with a slightly changed name - ARS - Review of Literature, Culture and Social Issues. Issues published since 1999 have been also named “New Series”. The journal has kept its old format and design, but it now exclusively focuses on creative and aesthetic topics: literature and literary critique, fine arts, theatre, but has also broadened thematically to other genres such as music and film. In addition to the critical presentation of contemporary Montenegrin and foreign literature, ARS attempts to once again foster collaboration among authors, literary journals, and publishers from throughout former Yugoslavia.
Description of content
The ARS – First Series collection contains eight issues published over 1986–89 by the Literary Municipality of Cetinje in Montenegro. The journal was issued irregularly. Literary Municipality of Cetinje published three issues in 1986, two issues in 1987, one issue in 1988 and two issues in 1989.
The publications were printed in Serbian (also referred to as Serbo-Croatian) using the Latin script in the ijekavica dialect which prevails in Montenegro.
The journal primarily covered topics related to literature and literary criticism. However, along with a critical presentation of contemporary Yugoslav literature and poetry and the translation of foreign literature, the journal aspired towards a more “modern” sensibility and what was seen as greater openness in the relations between alternative and dissident cultural and political concepts. Thus, in its pages one finds works of then controversial and dissenting authors from all over Yugoslavia, as well as articles dealing with issues of Montenegrin identity, medieval history of Montenegro, and Montenegrin cultural heritage considered controversial by the communist regime and especially by its local representatives.
The publications can only be found in printed format. The complete collection, with all eight issues, is stored at the National Library of Montenegro. The collection is freely accessible, but issues cannot be taken out of the library’s reading rooms.
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 10-99
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Krstić Draško, Marija
Popović, Milorad, interview by Krstić Draško, Marija, October 27, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection