Norwegian author's book on Istria, Kvarner launched
<Izvor:Hina – The Croatian News Agency
ZAGREB, May 29 (Hina) - A Croatian-English book by prominent Norwegian Slavist Svein Monnesland, entitled "Istra i Kvarner ocima stranaca – Istria and Kvarner Through Foreign Eyes", was launched at Zagreb's Mimara Museum on Tuesday.
The 386-page book contains travelogues, old illustrations, pictures and maps, bringing impressions by foreign travel writers and artists of Istria, the Kvarner islands and Croatian Littoral from the 15th century to World War I.
The author, an emeritus professor of Slavic studies at Oslo University, said he had always been interested in the region on the border between the Roman and Slavic worlds, between empires, divided by numerous differences in geography, culture, history, politics, language and ethnicity, and quite unknown.
He said European architects and artists discovered the antique monuments in Pula in the 16th century, illustrating the amphitheatre, the temples and the triumphal arch, while Michelangelo studied the Roman monuments there to develop the Renaissance architecture. Since the mid-18th century, many major European architects saw Pula as an important place for studying classical arts and architecture, he added.
It's as though some artists and architects competed to see who would show their findings to the European public first, he said, adding that he was not sure how much the people here were aware of Pula's importance for European architecture and art or the fact that many 19th century artists created in this region, notably in Opatija.
Monnesland, a member of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences, has already written books on Dalmatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as on the Croatian, Bosnian and Serb languages.
He hopes the latest book will be interesting to the locals, that they will find in it the rich cultural history of their land from a foreigner's perspective, and that it will encourage foreign readers to explore Istria, Kvarner and the Croatian Littoral.
Norwegian Ambassador Astrid Versto thanked the author for his big contribution to the strengthening of Norwegian-Croatian friendship.
Svein Monnesland is the greatest Norwegian Slavist but, above all, he is also a true friend of Croatia, the author of many books, including mandatory reading for all Norwegian diplomats serving in the Balkans, she said.
She recalled that in the 1990s he initiated many humanitarian drives for war-hit areas and that she met with him when she was a journalist on Norwegian TV and radio, where he commented on the events in the former Yugoslavia.
The launch was organised by the Norwegian Embassy and the Norwegian publisher Sypress.