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THE WIDOW OF THE WRITER BORISLAV PEKIĆ: Per aspera ad astra with the biggest Serbian writer! (PHOTO) (VIDEO)

The wife of a great Serbian novelist talks about her uncle Milan Stojadinović, how she met Pekić, where did they go out, about their fight against decadency, and about his work she plans to publish

The architect Ljiljana Pekić, the widow of one of our greatest Serbian novelists Borislav Pekić thinks that it was a blessing to have the privilege to spend her life with a man Pekić was.

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With her he shared the suffering, his interests, philosophy, memories and his views on the world, and that she was not anything in life but his wife, she would think of her life as a successful one.

Quoting the saying by Gundulić: Happiness is a non-stopping circle: who is up, now is down, who is down, now goes up, she starts her story from the earliest memories of her family, her father Dušan Glišić, and her mother Nadežda, sister of Milan Stojadinović, the Prime minister and the leader of the financial department of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, with whom she lived a life like in a fairy-tale.

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

- We would celebrate Christmas and Easter at my uncle's house, slava also... We would have lunch in his big garden if the villa at Senjak, we would go swimming in the pool, play tennis... My mother was very much like him. Their character was the same, stubborn and dynamic.

But, the beginning of the World War II destroyed everything she knew.

- My uncle was internalized, and my other uncle was evicted. The police came to our house early in the morning, me and my brother were still in bed. My uncle got the help from the English, who helped him transfer to Argentina where he lived until he died. He will stay remembered as the economical adviser of Juan Peron and the founder of the magazine "El Economista".

Foto: Wikipedia / Arhiv Jugoslavije

Foto: Wikipedia / Arhiv Jugoslavije

Ljiljana and her family were facing a big trouble. She was only 12 years old when her father was executed.

- During the war, father was in Belgrade the whole time, while my mother and me went to the town of Aleksandrovac. Father was soon taken to jail. Mother did not know where he was, so she used to look for him through private houses. When she finally found out where he was held, it was too late. My father was shot along with another 105 men, whose names were published in the papers. They gave us just his wedding ring and his watch. We were soon evicted and allowed to take only a couple of family photos. That was it.

After ten years of fruitless search for a job, Ljiljana's mother, who spoke perfect French, found a job in a knitting workshop called "Mother and child".

To lonely Ljiljana who spent days in misery, luck turned upon her when she got into the Architecture faculty

- In the surrounding where our pre-war professors called us "mister" and "miss", I felt alive again - explains Ljiljana, adding the fact that in this period she started seeing Borislav more often even though she knew him from before.

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić / Mari -Luiz, Aleksandra i Ljiljana Pekić sa Dobricom Ćosićem

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić / Mari -Luiz, Aleksandra i Ljiljana Pekić sa Dobricom Ćosićem

- He lived in the Malajnička street, which now bears his name, and I lived in Knjeginje Zorke street. He went to the III Belgrade Grammar school, and I went to the VII. Back in the day, Borislav was a member of the illegal organization "Union of the democratic Youth of Yugoslavia". This organization lasted for a year and at their meetings they would usually discuss the programs and the schedule of future actions, also how to behave in the Grammar school. Pekić was two years older than me, tall and handsome, you could not go without noticing him. Back in the day, he was not wearing his characteristic beard and glasses - says Ljiljana, mildly smiling, adding that she used to see him walking in the Knez Mihailova street.

She learned more about him when he was arrested in 1948 and sentenced in 1949 on 15 years of imprisonment for his acts against the public.

They officially met when a mutual friend of them took her to one of their gatherings.

Pekić was playing cards. He was passionate about it until he started writing seriously.

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

- Our relationship started as hanging around. We used to go at "Trandafilović" where we are sitting right now. Or we would stroll down the Knez Mihailova street. He took me by storm with his intelligence, firm stand, and his ideas. He would read to me his philosophical tracts and talk about which new book he read. We got married in the Svetosavska church, and lived at his parents' house. We got our daughter Aleksandra in 1959 - says Ljiljana, giving us closer look at the life with this great writer.

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

- When we got married he already had a collection of 2000 books. He used to write when he would get up in the morning. His desk was not supposed to be turned towards the window because he did not want any distraction. He liked order, so before starting writing, he would take the dust off, lined all his pens and pencils, make his bed. When pausing, he would go out and do some work in the garden, or tape-record the various things he observed, and which helped him working

Pekić had a custom of giving Ljiljana to read the written texts. She was his "proof-reader" and she helped create some ideas.

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

- When he was writing "The pilgrimage Of Arsenije Njegovan", as an architect, I would gather some publications he needed and we together passed the whole pilgrim road from the Wreath of Kosančić up to the municipality of Novi Beograd. I would write down everything he was saying so that the book could be authentic - remembers Ljiljana, emphasizing the fact the best movie made on Borislav's book was the movie "Wonder times" by Goran Paskaljević.

Paskaljević was making this movie in accordance with Pekić and he truly felt it like his! Anyway, somewhat earlier, when “Lovćen film” published an open call for a synopsis, Borislav
sent them his manuscripts and got two prizes. Soon, he got a position as their playwright. He wrote the script for the movie "The 14th day" by Zdravko Velimirović, the movie which represented us on the Cannes film festival in 1961.
He went abroad then, for the first time in his life. in 1970 he got a NIN prize for the novel "The pilgrimage Of Arsenije Njegovan". However, on my behest, we soon left the country.

This idea came to Ljijana after the Russian troops entered the Czech republic.

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

- Because he signed all possible dissident petitions, I feared he would face consequences. I knew that they would continue harassing him. When I got the work permit in 1970 we were ready to go but just 2 weeks before, his passport was arrested with no explanation. We agreed that I should go alone, and wait for him. Our daughter Aleksandra joined me three months afterwards, but it took him more than a year to join us in London.

It was a sorrowful 1-year-period from which a book "Correspondency" was born.

Pekić sent her 105 letters, the dearest one obviously the first.

Ljiljana has only nice memories of the golden years in Britain.

- We spent 22 years there. Pekić was writing and enjoying the cowboy movies, and cartoons. He adored the works of Tarkovski, and the silent movie about Napoleon that lasted 8 full hours. His taste in music encompassed Mozart, Beethoven, Bach... He would play them really loud on the radio station. He was passionate about opera since he was in grammar school when he used to wait for several hours with his best friend to get the tickets. If they got to the third gallery, their happiness was endless. Many people visited them in London, for example Dobrica Ćosić, Goran Paskaljević, Miodrag Pavlović, Vida Ognjenović, Borislav Mihajlović-Mihiz, Danilo Kiš, Filip David, and Dragoslav Mihailović.

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

Only three years after he, along with 12 other intellectuals, started the Democratic party, Pekić died in his home in London on July 2, 1992 from lung cancer.

The urn with his ashes was taken from London to the Avenue of Honor in Belgrade.

He left many works, some of them being now a part of the reading list when studying literature (“Vreme čuda”, “Hodočašće Arsenija Njegovana”, “Kako upokojiti vampira”, “Uspenje i sunovrat Ikara Gubelkijana”, “Atlantida”,  “Zlatno runo”, “Besnilo”, “Godine koje su pojeli skakavci”, “1999”). The rest of his manuscripts are constantly gathered and published by his wife, daughter, and grand-daughter Mary-Louise.

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

- Borislav was working on a book called "The silver hand", a story about two Byzantine painters; one of them is ready to make a compromise and he succeeds in life, and the other one does not want to yield, and he loses one of his limbs. He wrote 250 pages of notes, and then doubted whether to publish that one or "Atlantida" and "1999". In the end he chose the latter, because he wanted to show what we should expect in the future. My idea is to publish his other novel, "The silver hand".

Whether he was angry at the people who were constantly harssing him, Ljiljana replied:

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

Foto: Privatna arhiva Ljiljane Pekić

- Borislav said that hatred poisons people and he never knew this feeling. Life has this way of drowning us, and when you think it is over, it gets you above to take some air, before drowning you again. In life you have to be an optimist. I like to laugh. Borislav was also laughing a lot. When I listen to his records, I imagine him and me on the phone and that he is telling me about his next project - Ljiljana concludes the story about her life with Borislav Pekić.

(Telegraf.co.uk)

Tags: belgrade borislav-pekic daily-news family famous-writer great-britain life ljiljana-pekic london milan-stojadinovic novelist serbia the-golden-fleece vreme-cuda writer yugoslavia