During the first quarter of the 20th cent. the modernists sought to assimilate literary trends imported from France and Germany. Anton Aškerc (1856–1912) wrote historical poems of social revolt, while Vojislav Ilić (1862–94), Aleksa Santić (1868–1924), and Silvije Strahimir Kranjčević (1865–1908) were influenced by the Parnassians. The symbolists numbered not only the Serbs Jovan Dučić (1874–1943) and Milan Rakić (1876–1938), but also Oton Župančić (1878–1949), the greatest Slovene poet of this century, and Vladimir Nazor (1876–1949), Croatia's 20th-century literary giant. Outstanding critics were the Serbs Bogdan Popović (1863–1944) and Jovan Skerlić (1877–1914) and the Croatian Milan Marjanović (1879–1955).
During the 1930s socially conscious literature with local-color settings predominated. The Serbs Jovan Popović (1903–52) and Cedomir Minderović were among the more successful writers of this period. In Slovenia the epic novel flourished under such writers as Jus Kozak, Anton Ingolić, and Prezihov Voranc.
World War II produced a number of partisan poets, and war themes predominated in postwar writing. After 1944 when Macedonian was recognized as one of the official languages of Yugoslavia, writers sought to develop a literature based on Macedonia's rich folk heritage. Although the Communist regime imposed severe restrictions on writers, freedom from Soviet influence after 1949 and the cultural independence of several regions resulted in some innovation.
Among notable postwar writers have been Mladen Horvat; Marko Ristić; the Serbian poets Miloš Crnjanski and Rastko Petrović; the Macedonian poet Koca Racin; the Bosnian novelist and poet Ivo Andrić, who was awarded the 1961 Nobel Prize in Literature; the Croatian poet and dramatist Miroslav Krleža; the Slovenian prose writer France Bek; the fabulist Miodrag Bulatović; the political writer Milovan Djilas; and the Serbian novelist Borislav Pekic. With the breakup of the Yugoslav federation in the early 1990s and the collapse of the effort (begun in 1918) to form a unified South Slavic nation, the differences between the major South Slavic literatures are likely to widen. Indeed, nationalists now speak of Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian languages and have undertaken to "purify" them.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.