Monday, September 19, 2011

The PEN is mightier..

I've just returned fom the 77th International PEN Congress in Belgrade. Very interesting and important in many ways, it involved long hours in an assembly of writers from 90 countries. However, I was also able to get out and walk around the city, which was where I came across this fellow, Dositej Obradovic (1742-1811).

He caught my eye for several reasons, not least his dynamic posture with hat and walking stick, his coat swirling, books in hand. He appears to stride out of the sky and autumnal foliage. A writer and a major figure of Serbia's Enlightenment, he is captured in the monument as 'hero of the pen, travelling the world in quest of knowledge'. Apparently he stated as his personal motto : 'I shall be writing for the mind, for the heart and for human natures, for my fellow Serbs of whatever faith and creed. '

I enjoyed encountering him in my wanders in the City as I mulled over the issues of freedom of speech, and solidarity with endangered writers, literature and languages around the world; the subject of our indoor debates. (There's more on the experience of the Congress in our Scottish PEN blog.)

A few blocks away, the buildings bombed by Nato twelve years ago still gape hollow wounds, now latticed with straggling saplings. A chilling reminder.

1 comment:

buy essay uk said...

Great post, I enjoyed ready reading it, Keep posting good stuff like this.