PARTS OF A LIFETIME by Milovan Djilas


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An extensive and rich anthology of Djilas' writings which includes portions of previously unpublished works along with material hitherto unavailable in English. The collection even draws on the fiction and poetry he largely abandoned to become a Communist revolutionary (""Land of my birth/ dark, evil, painful/we are still thirsting for hate and love"") and it is a revelation to behold Djilas, the passionate Montenegran, his early prose saturated with the pastoral romanticism of a Balkan nationalist. For the crucial World War II years when Djilas, with the Yugoslav partisans, helped make a revolution there are hardly any documents. But the infamous series of articles where he first developed his criticisms of ""bureaucratic dogmatism"" and the ""tendency toward building privileged positions in society"" for a new party elite are amply covered. These pieces, the eventual basis for The New Class, and the justification for Djilas' trial, expulsion from the party, and eventual imprisonment, twenty years later seem singularly mild and inoffensive--no more than an expression of his ardent, lifelong libertarianism. Also included from this period is a striking dramatic essay, Nordic Dream, about the aborted trip to Scandinavia Djilas was planning just prior to his disgrace and fall from power. Perhaps the most anguished document in the book, it reflects both the deep commitment to democratic humanism and the occasional sentimental excesses to which he is prone. Lengthy excerpts from the Jail Diary are most notable for Djilas' keen observations on the daily routine of prison life. In the works of later years he again turns to social criticism offering, among other things, a trenchant look at the New Left and some considerations on the chances for coexistence between the Communist world and the West. The editors very justly draw an analogy with the 19th century revolutionary Alexander Herzen in assessing Djilas' work in its generous totality.

Pub Date: May 5th, 1975
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich