Tin Ujević

Jul 5, 1891 - Nov 12, 1955(64)

Parisian nights

Crazy Parisian nights of a young poet.

Coming to Paris, young Ujević was fascinated by the City of Light. He spent his days in the national library, he listened to lectures at the Sorbonne, and at night he went to "Rotondo", a cafe frequented by many artists, poets, and journalists. Jean Cocteau, Ilija Erenburg, Modigliani, Picasso, Trotsky, D'Annunzio also used to go there... That cafe was a world-famous gathering place for bohemians. American tourists came there to see "artists in rags" who, in exchange for a drink, would write verses and paint.

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In the first months, Tin had no money because his so-called scholarship was overdue. Later, he wrote that the following was on the menu: All months – milk and bread, sometimes chocolate, and often air. He concluded that it is not a joy to live without means in Paris. He supported himself from the scholarship, but also by writing for the Dalmatian newspaper Sloboda. Some of the songs he dedicated, according to some interpretations, to famous actresses who, drunk on narcotics, kept the artists gathered in the Rotondo company.

After the episode with a short-term departure to the Foreign Legion, Ujević returns to Paris. A war is coming, which is welcomed by the hungry. He makes a living by digging ditches and selling newspapers, and at night he plays chess with Trotsky, arranging glasses of absinthe. Later, again for political purposes, he travels to London, and very little is known about his tasks there. Returning to Paris, he closely follows the development of the war. In the winter of 1916, driven by hunger and loneliness, he writes his most important work "Everyday Lament". Then, disappointed, he also leaves his political activities...

(Jasen Boko: Tin Ujević – biography: thirty years of travel, 2017)

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