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Croatian literature is a definition given to the compilation of novels, short stories, poems and other various work of written kind entirely attributed to the medieval and modern culture of the Croats and the Croatian language.



The medieval prose was written in two languages; the Old Church Slavonic, which later evolved into Croatian language, and Latin. It used three alphabets; the Latin alphabet, the Glagolitic alphabet and the Bosančica (Bosnian Cyrillic).

The oldest examples date as far as back to the 9th and 11th century and are concluded as the early backbones of the Croatian literature. Baška tablet (Glagolithic letters), oftenly regarded as a birth certificate of the Croatian language, shows post-pointed recension of the old Slavic dialect and is also the first mention of the Croats in the Croatian Language. The inscribed stone slab records King Zvonimir's donation of a piece of land to a Benedictine abbey in the time of abbot Drzhiha. It provides the only example of transition from Glagolitic of the rounded Macedonian type to the angular Croatian alphabet.

Povalj tablet (Croatian: Povaljska listina) is the earliest monument written in the Cyrillic script, dates from the 12th century and traces its origin from Bračmarker., featuring the standard "archaic" Chakavian dialect.

Vrbnik Statute, Vinodol statute and Kastav Statute; all of the pictoral law documents of regulative meaning, embraced the littoral cities as administrative centers.

Renaissance and Baroque

The new poetical norms were mostly accepted during the 15th and 16th century. The Croatian renaissance, strongly influenced by Italian and western European literature, was thoroughly developed on the coastal parts of Croatiamarker. The beginning of the Croatian 16th century literal activity was marked by a Dalmatian humanist Marko Marulić and his epic book Judita , which has been written by incorporating peculiar motives and events from the classical Bible, and adapting them to the contemporary literature in Europe.

The latter most imortant Croatian renaissance artistic figure during the early stages of the Croatian renaissance was Petar Hektorović, a song collector and a poet from the island Hvarmarker, most notable for his poem Fishing and Fishermen’s Talk. Hanibal Lucić played the role along him, being also from Hvarmarker.

The movement later ascended with regard to the prose writers and playwriters from Republic of Ragusa, being such as Dinko Zlatarić, Mavro Vetranović and Marin Držić. The first Croatian novel, Planine written by Petar Zoranić and published 1569. in Zadarmarker, included the author as an adventurer, portraying his passionate love towards a native girl. It was uniquely stylized, provided a detail inscription describing the surrounding land and the consciousness of the invading Turks.

Printed in 1483, Missale Romanum Glagolitice (Croatian: Misal po zakonu rimskoga drvora) distinguished itself as the first overall non-Latin printed missal in Europe. Also dubbed as the first printed book among the South Slavic idiom.

A prevailing cultural formation, Baroque emerged in Croatiamarker later during the 17th century, when Dubrovnik became the literary center of the Croatian language. Many readings were translated from the foreign Latin and Italian to the vernacular language and furthermore, used by the lower-class peasentry of the city.

Age of Enlightenment, Humanism, Romanticism and the Croatian National Revival

In the 18th century (socially interpreted as the Age of Enlightenment), the relation between the European literature and the human stance towards it drastically impacted on the Croatian lands. Withdrawn into the midst of the desiring principles of a human, along the lines of other European entities enduring social reforms.

The most prominent Croatian author of the Enlightenment era, Pavao Ritter Vitezović, was notable for the conception and the foundation of the "newer" Pan-slavic ideology. His ideas (as well as from others) were fundamental in the Illyrian Movement (also "Croatian National Revival") and also used as a basis for their comitting act in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. History and patriotism were subjected to most literary work at that time.

A common orthographic book, written to set the new grammatical standard of the language, has been conceived by a linguist Ljudevit Gaj and is called "Kratka osnova horvatsko-slavenskog pravopisanja" (or simply reffered to as "Gaj's Latin alphabet"). Gaj's Latin alphabet was also one of the two official scripts used to write Serbo-Croatian until the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

Other notable literary contributions were made by Antun Mihanović (notably Horvatska Domovina which later became Our Beautiful Homeland), Stanko Vraz (satiric lyrics), Ljudevit Vukotinović (romantic lyrics), Dimitrija Demeter (prose, notably Grobničko polje, and drama), Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski (prose), Antun Nemčić (prose and itineraries). There was also the first notable itinerary Pogled u Bosnu by Matija Mažuranić.


More important 20th century writers are Vjenceslav Novak, Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, Ante Kovačić, Ivan Kozarac, Ivo Andrić and Ksaver Šandor Gjalski. It spans both World War I and World War II, and stretches to this day.

Curiously, the advancement of science and philosophy perpetuated Realism and handed an extensive view on the world as a social phenomenon. Most ideas stood for grammatical integrity among all people and is initially considered deep within the posibilities of human kind.

Nobel Prize for Literature

List of Croatian writers & early work

Medieval period

  • (ca. 800(?)) Višeslavs baptismal font
  • (ca.11th cent) Kartular of Supetar
  • (ca. 11th) Valun tablet
  • (ca. 11th) Plomin tablet
  • (ca. 1100) Baška Tablet
  • (ca. 12th cent) Apostol of Mihanović
  • (ca. 12th cent) Grškovićs fragment
  • (1197) Povalj Tablet
  • (1275) Istrian land survey
  • (ca. 13th cent) Vrbnik Statute
  • (ca. 13th cent) Rok fragment
  • (1288) Law codex of Vinodol
  • (1345) Law and Order (first Croatian writing in the Latin script, by the Dominicans of Zadar)
  • (ca. 14th cent) Lectionar of Korčula
  • (1380-1400) Vatican Croatian Prayer Book



Classicism and Enlightenment





20th century literature



  1. Branko Fučić (September 1971). "Najstariji hrvatski glagoljski natpisi"
  2. Rački, F. 1881. Najstarija hrvatska cirilicom pisana listina. Starine 13, JAZU, Zagreb, 197-210.
  3. - Judita
  4. Dunja Fališevac, Krešimir Nemec, Darko Novaković (2000). Leksikon hrvatskih pisaca. Zagreb: Školska knjiga d.d. ISBN 953-0-61107-2.
  5. Hercigonja, Eduard (September 1984)). "Historical, social and cultural-environmental conditions of the origin and development of croatian glagolitic printing (on the occaison of the 500th anniversary of the editio princeps of the 1483 Missal)" (in Croatian). Slovo (Old Church Slavonic Institute) 34.
  6. Stephen R. Graubard (1998). A New Europe for the Old?, Transaction Publishers, ISBN 0-7658-0465-4
  7. Antoni Cetnarowicz: National revival in Dalmatia, Central Europe, Zagreb, 2006., ISBN 953-6979-21-7

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