The rise of realism in the latter part of the 19th cent. furthered the development of the novel by such writers as the Serbs Simo Matavulj (1852–1908) and Jakov Ignatović (1824–88), whose penetrating studies portrayed the varied social classes of his region. Also important were the Croatian Evgenij Kumičić (1850–1904); and the Slovenes Josip Stritar (1836–1925) and Josip Jurcić (1844–81), both of whom portrayed Slovene society.
Many novelists of the period also wrote poetry and drama. Outstanding for versatility and abundant production were the popular Croatian writer August Šenoa (1838–81), who revealed Croat social decay and criticized German influence, and the greatest of all Slovenian writers, Ivan Cankar (1876–1918). The late 19th cent. also saw a growing interest in the psychology of motives and morals—a trend chiefly inspired by the writings of the Russian novelists Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. The best known of the psychological novelists was the Croatian Ksaver Šandor Gjalski (1854–1935), who in a series of some 20 novels depicted the whole range of contemporary Croatian life.
In the drama, historical themes had predominated, as in the works of the Croatian Ivo Vojnović (1857–1929). In Croatia and in Slovenia dramatists broke with the cult of history and concerned themselves with psychology. Among these writers are the Croatians Milan Begović (1876–1948) and Josip Kosor and the Slovenian Anton Medved (1869–1911). Serbian drama, however, long remained primarily romantic in the manner of its founder Jovan Sterija-Popović (1806–56), although contemporary problems were treated in the comedies of Branislav Nusić (1864–1938), who was also a noted novelist, story writer, and essayist.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.