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Tomislav Ladan (25 June 1932 – 12 September 2008, Zagrebmarker, Croatiamarker) was a Croatianmarker essayist, critic and novelist.

Ladan was born in Ivanjicamarker, Serbiamarker , and spent the formative years in his native Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker (Travnikmarker, Bugojnomarker), where he graduated at Philosophical Faculty in Sarajevomarker. Since he couldn't get a permanent employment in the then Serbs-dominated Bosnian cultural life, because of his sometimes ostentatious Croatian identity, Ladan worked intermittently as a private tutor, translator and journalist — until the Croatian doyen of belles letters, Miroslav Krleža, found him a job at the Yugoslav Lexicographical Institute in Zagrebmarker. Ladan was the director of the same institute and the editor-in-chief of an eight-language parallel dictionary.

Ladan wrote several books of essays that cover diverse fields such as cursing in Croatian language, voluminous polygraphy playing with etymological meanings of the words that define human culture, from God to globalization (Riječi, "Words"), and nuances of medieval spiritual culture (Parva medievalia)

Ladan's only novel, Bosanski grb ("Bosnian coat of arms") (1975) is a postmodernist fiction written as a combination of Rabelaisian linguistic feast and a treatise on the historical destiny of Croats in central Bosnia. Consciously ignoring realist, even modernist narrative conventions, Ladan's novel stands as both the most hermetic and the most linguistically inventive text in modern Croatian literature.

As a critic over more than four decades, Ladan surveyed virtually all works written in Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian — not infrequently to the consternation of the "objects" of his criticism. Follower of T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Frank Kermode, Ladan didn't pay much attention to the deconstructionists (Derrida) or Foucault, both of whom he found arid and sterile. His best critical essays also evaluate such writers as William Faulkner or Robert Musil.

Ladan was also a noted translator from eight languages, including German, English, Swedish, Greek and Latin.


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