Miroslav Krleža FLAGS

Flags, the last novel written by Miroslav Krleža (1893 − 1981) is the most complex and extensive novel of Croatian literature. At first it was written in sequels that were published in magazine Forum. In its final edition, it includes five volumes and just slightly under 2,000 pages in which it integrates a dense and malignant neuralgic point in history, just before and immediately after World War I.

Following the intimate growing up and political maturing of Kamilo Emerički in the period between 1913 and 1922, Flags is a testimony of a time period, of the people who were there, about their dreams and anxieties. The novel is a record of the 1910s and the 1920s, a dramatic beginning of some new world. The old world is dying, and the future is yet to come; it is outlined in ideas and discussions of one youth. These nine crucial years is Gramsci’s monster time, violence, war, death and emptiness that lingers on after everything.

In Kamilo Emerički, the paradox of life, absurdity of existence, but also the sorrow of unfulfilled desired clash. If we look at Flags as a novel of growing up or, according to Stanko Lasić a genetic novel, Kamilo’s turmoil, cognitions, defeats, and losses are at the same time a record of a genesis of a new political idea. His youth is a biography of an entire generation whose lives history has unfolded. Kamilo Emerički is not a part of history, he is entirely composed of it.

Flags is as much a historical and political novel as it is a romance novel and a novel of growing up. It encompasses everything that fits into a life squeezed into only nine years. It includes everything between objective reality and subjective experience, dream and reality, life and every death between the old and the new world. It is a novel of dialogue, relations, about the other one, about encounters and farewells, about love and friendship, about those who return and those who depart, often forever, to meet death, to meet history.

In Flags Miroslav Krleža rewrites one history and simultaneously rewrites our reality. As a quiet prophet, his Flags is a warning for us to seriously observe every symptom of death of the old world. The stage director of Flags will be Ivan Planinić.