Dr. Zlatan Colakovic Homerist, Philologist and Researcher

Dr. Zlatan Colakovic, homerist, philologist, and researcher of south slavic epics. Author of Three Eagles of the Tragic World, Dead Head Utters Words, and Epics of Avdo Medjedovic.

A Dead Head Utters Words


Introduction: (Dr. Zlatan Colakovic)

This book represents traditional Bosniac epic in its derived form. The songs in it were sung by the most highly accomplished Bosnian singers we know. The texts of their songs was carefully trancribed and typed on field from recordings, as well as  the limited technological advances available at the time allowed and from our experience many years of experience with Bosnian epics. We are planning to publish digitalized video and audio recordings of these songs on CD and DVD, and on the internet to enable readers to compare transcriped text with the recordings.

Part I:

We dedicated the first eight chapters to presenting the epics of Murat Kuragic. The ninth chapter contains journal entries of collecting his songs in Rozaje in addition to observations on the essence of Bosniac epics. With songs and discussions with the singer we are publishing a list of his repertoir. We built our method of collecting following the greatest collectors: Krauss, Marjanovic, Parry, Vujnovic, Lord and Bynum, but at the same time, making and effort to avoid their errors.

Except for the first song, which Kurtagic decided to play for us, as collectors we decided on recording all the other songs. That is how, for example, we recorded "The Siege of Bagdad" and "Katal-Ferman on Derdelez Alija"  so that we would be able to explore the differences that arise in the content of the song after many years. Namely, those songs were recorded by Lord 39 years ago, or 27 years before Kurtagic.

During the preparation of the texts we followed Parry's principle that trancription must be literal. Other than, Mededovic's song "Harambas the Raven and Serdar Mujo" which Vujnovic dictated in 1935, all the other songs were sung and transcribed by audio recordings.

Part II:

The tenth and eleventh chapters are dedicated to the epics of Avdo Mededovic. The selection of these excellent songs of his in the book is not accidental. And two fully traditional stories of Mededovic represent version of the same individual song which were never before under the influence of written text, and has enabled readers  a fully new approach to Bosniac epics and a deeper understanding of this mythic formation art. It is only necessary to compare specific songs from Mededovic with Kurtagic's in the third and seventh chapters. Same as this, it deals with high-quality epic texts from Mededovic's poem "The Marriage of Smailagic meha."

In the twelf chapter with the comparison of Kurtagic's and Mededovic's formation of the same individual story arrises proof that the singer forms the mythic story that he places the individual story in a mythic structure, this proves that the mythologic approach in the understanding of epics is also as insufficient as the historical approach.

In the thirteenth chapter the genesis of the world famous collection of Milman Parry is described and to correct the injustice towards its true co-inventors Nikola Vujnovic and Nikolaijevic Goleniscev-Kutusov, whose roles were often subdued and diminished. A special attention is dedicated to Milman Parry's experiments, and to his fateful encounter with students Cor Huso and Avdo Mededovic at Bijelo Polje.

In the Fourteenth chapter is the interview with Zlatan Colakovic in which, in simple terms and for a large audience he speaks about the phenomen of Bosnian epics and its meaning in the history of world literature and theory of oral literature.

 Part III:

Chapters 15-17, written in English, are dedicated foremostly to English and other students of Bosnian  epics who do not have a strong enough rule of the Bosnian language. The fifteenth chapter contains Colakovic's formular adaptation of Kurtagic's epic song "Kostres Harambasa." The translation tries to nearen foreign readers to Bosnian epic in its derived form, because they are usually in a descriptive or beautified translation in verse nevertheless mistification, and in prose translation, although it gains in accuracy, in entirety it loses the song quality of the original.

The sixteenth chapter contains an overview of the history of collecting and publishing of Bosniac epics, and an index of Colakovic's transcriptions and an edition of the Lord-Bynum collection from Sandzak and Montenegro. On the basis of analysis and verification of the texts of large collections of Bosnian epics (Jukic-Martic i Sunjic, Krauss, Marjanovic, Hormann, Parry, Lord), it is proving not only the inaccuracy of changing tesks and even the subject matter of the songs from older collections, then the incorrectness and unreliablility of famous Harvard publications of texts.

The Seventeenth Chapter represents a free translation of the twelf chapter, which began on the basis of Colakovic's lecturing on Bosnian epics in California and Canada. The purpose of this text is to create a basis for an aesthetic approach of Bosnian epics.