Only white maple wood grown and matured unexposed to the sun in the Bosnian mountains could serve the masters from Cremona to build instruments whose sound was comparable to the imaginary chant of the gods. Of this wood, of nights in Sarajevo and of five years of living in Sarajevo – from June 1914 to the late autumn of 1919 – the forester and a member of the Young Bosnia mouvement Josip Gubernik writes about in his monumental work, Diaries of Nights in Sarajevo. Very little is known of Gubernik after he left Sarajevo, except the fact that he came to Argentina in 1920 and that his Diaries were one of the first books published after World War II. Its second edition vanished amidst the wartime atrocities in the 1990s.
In his novel Night Drums, bearing the same title as the still undiscovered manuscript of the novel by Tin Ujević (the best Croatian poet of the 20th century), Miljenko Jergović creates a personality that suddenly, just like the famed Diaries, becomes real because it is recorded in a book. Night Drums is a novel and a study of a time and a man, but even more of a lost era. In Night Drums, not without a reason, Sarajevo reflects in a magnificent metaphor like a drum on whose tight skin the entire 20th century pulsates. Josip Gubernik, this little scrawny Austro-Hungarian forester and clerk, becomes the only possible writer because he sees and records the events around him through the eyes of others, and his writings become a document that overshadows not only him, but also entire generations.
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