Dr Dusan Petkovic
Dr Dušan Petković link database
At the beginning of 1983, from a foreign land, Boca del Riachuelo, into his native Bay of Kotor, returned Dr Dušan Petković. Are there words that can evoke nostalgia for the homeland, for the roots, the family hearth, or is it nostalgia felt in a glance, in the need to take a clod of earth or a piece of gray rock along, or, the desire, when one could not have lived in the homeland, at least to find an eternal peace there.
For many the return from abroad is a dream come true, but also a need to present to the regional „treasury“ at least a small contribution in the broadest sense or in the form of a donation. Dr Dušan Petković granted to his homeland both of those. In his poetry, the most poetically impressive is the homeland poetry, but also, very important is the LEGACY of 5,500 books in foreign languages. We must not forget a significant amount of money (US$ 5,000) of which already in 1990 the first computer was bought and thanks to this donation the City Library of Herceg Novi became the first public library in Montenegro that introduced automatic processing of library materials.
Only a strong motive could have started such a bibliophile passion which created the contents of the legacy. This motif is quite clear. It is the desire to provide something precious, rare, original to the homeland, more significant than all material goods, and this is the book, in the words of Gorky's „the most concerted and most important miracle the mankind created on its way to progress and happiness». Our impression, after a long bibliographic processing, was that the legator bought rarities, reference materials, works from various fields of science and knowledge, especially religion, art and history. However, Petković's personal interests gave its stamp to the legacy's contents.
According to the Universal Decimal Classification, the legacy's structure is the following: general group of 164 publications, philosophy 113, religion 167, social science 1067, natural science 40, applied science 170, art 212, literature, linguistics and philology 1367, geography, history biography 2112 publications. Represented monographs are written in more than 20 languages including German (73), Russian (103), English (333), Italian (674), French (1,992), and in Spanish (2,362) publication. The category of Old and Rare Books consists of holdings from before 1867, while legacy holds 619 units. The oldest book is a critical edition of Petrarch by Alessandro Velutella, printed in Venice in 1550. The following one is Udovico Granatense's “Silva locorum qui frequenter concinibus occurrere solent“, printed in 1586. From 1588, a contribution to the history by Pope Sixtus V „Delle glorie di Sisto Quinto“. French translation of “Don Cichoite” printed in 1681 is interesting as well, but also the work „De urbibus“ by Stefano Bizantino, printed 1694. Of 18th Century titles we would point to Paris edition of Tacitus's Annals in two volumes from 1786, then the collected works of the French philosopher, a member of Helvetius Encyclopedists circle, also printed in Paris in 1795. The only manuscript in the legacy is «Provincia de Madrid» in Spanish, from second half of 18th Century. There is also a Voltaire printed in Amsterdame in 1788. From 19th Century we point out to Paris editions of Montesquieu «Consideration sur le causes de la grande urdes Romains et de leurdecadence» (Causes of the Grandeur and Decline of the Romans) and Horatio's «Artpoetique» and «Opera» published in 1885 and 1823. As a doctor of historical sciences, Dr. Petković was interested in major historical topics and characters, primarily the history of France and Napoleon I Bonaparte (1769-1821). By just a routine search of the legacy's database we found 297 bibliographic units with the theme of Napoleon, which confirms the Legator's obsession with Napoleon.
Each book was skilfully and carefully selected, whereas the Legator did not save either money or effort.
The mere glance at the really impressive number of books, titles, years of publishing and the fact that there were mainly publications in Spanish, French, Italian, as well as in German and English, frightened us a little. The contents of Dr. Dušan Petković's legacy, which takes bibliophiles' breath away, present a particular professional challenge to a librarian. This is exactly how we approached this work. For professional works at bibliographic processing, the following librarians were engaged: Biljana Ivanović, Veselin Pestorić and Nevenka Mitrović. The Legacy was processed according to defined international standards, which implies application of ISBDM, UDC system and detailed subject indexing. In the first phase, we made classic card catalogues: by profession, by the author and by the subject with large number of referral and analytical cards, which implies production of over 20,000 catalogue cards. For these works Katarina Lazarević, library technician, was also engaged. Later, when we got a computer and appropriate software for automatic processing of library material, we started to digitize traditional catalogues.
CDS/ISIS software system, application BIBLIO has been applied, with possibility of equal use of Cyrillic and Latin script, which is in our profession very important. This is UNESCO's standardized programme, harmonized with the methodology of the General Information Programme at the international level, applied in public libraries in more than 130 countries in different language versions. There are multiple advantages compared to other programmes. In the case of legacies’ processing, we point out to exceptional search tool possibilities and the possibility of publishing materials from the electronic database, because the programme involves automated distribution of the material as desired and needed, as well as creating all necessary registers.
In accordance with legacies' accommodation rules, this legacy has been accommodated in a separate depot. Accommodation of the materials on the shelves is according to Universal Decimal Classification, and we decided for this variant of accommodation in order to unify materials from certain fields.
We are very proud of the work we have done, because in the opinion of our colleagues that is an enterprise even for a more numerous team of specialist librarians.
And now I would like to draw your attention to the other side of the coin, which, unfortunately, is not that bright. Actually, a significant percentage of legacies are publications more than a hundred years old, for which we know that, even before their arrival to Herceg Novi, were inadequately stored, to which indicates the physical condition of the publications. In the opinion of the colleagues in Herceg Novi Regional Museum conservation workshop, it is necessary to take protective measures as soon as possible, partly conservation measures and in case of a significant number of books from the category of Old and Rare Book, professional binding interventions are necessary.
We have mentioned that the legacy is a challenge for librarians, but even more so for scientific workers and researchers. Unfortunately, it has not been promoted, therefore it has remained nearly hidden from the scientific public. We trust that this evening will contribute to its affirmation. However, the right way to make the legacy available to the scientific public, and thus allow its scientific valorisation, is publishing a catalogue of the legacy. Considering the scope (5500 bibliographic units) and very thorough professional analysis which includes registers (by author, by title, by publisher and by subject), it is required to foresee a two-volume or even three-volume publication. For implementation of this part of the work only the financial support is lacking, since scheduling, registering and preparation for printing can be done from the electronic database.
We are aware that this is our debt towards the deceased Dušan Petković, which we know will be fully repaid once that Petković's legacy is available on our site via Internet to someone in Argentina.
REMINISCENCE OF DR DUŠAN PETKOVIĆ
Dear admirers of good books, indeed with joy I respond to Herceg Novi Library's initiative not to forget the significant donor of the institution, Dr Dušan Petković, who enriched your holdings with thousands of selected books in various languages. Creating his personal good library in his own key was a great and enduring preoccupation and joy of his life, to which he dedicated a lot of time and money. Before his death he wanted to transfer to his homeland this immense respect for knowledge and wisdom of his, gathered in the library he had put so much dedication into, and to have his name linked permanently to the Library of Herceg Novi. I am very pleased that, after such an endeavour, it all came true and Herceg Novi will not forget his name.
For me personally, this reminiscence of Dušan is painful at the same time, because he had a very gifted and ambitious personality who promised a lot and at the same time was profoundly tragic, since, unfortunately, constantly followed by the relentless shadow of the disease, impeding and destroying, and not allowing the aforementioned skills properly and fully realized. And I was called to say tonight something about all this, since I was his friend, and as such, before his early death, by coincidence, found myself aside his sickbed, not only for humane reasons but incidentally, and in the role of a permanent custodian, and therefore one of the factors in the implementation of the said Dušan's book legacies.
For obituaries generally applies the principle that only the good things and virtues («Demortiusnihilnisibene») should be talked about, but for that reason for such words are usually washed and anaemic since they lack vitality. Here it should not be the case and I will do my best to outline at least the basics of some parts of Dušan's portrait, as otherwise, I would consider this conversation of ours tonight lost time. And we all know that in every mature personality, there are, inevitably, many good and bad qualities, with which one has to take a valiant battle to eventually build a spiritual physiognomy and strong positive character. But a special and difficult case is encountered when one has some innate tendencies, for which is not personally responsible, but cannot escape them. Early on I felt it with Dušan, and therefore approached him with particular care and attention. Besides, I knew of many prominent names in science, literature and philosophy, which were burdened by even severe illnesses and disabilities, but still left an immeasurable contribution.
We met and got to know each other in Padua, at a foreign university, still not knowing the foreign language properly, where we were supposed to continue the study begun in our home country, and, especially, not knowing the specialized terminology. Accordingly, the two of us, he with History, and I with Law, were indeed busy, finalizing the studies we, I in Belgrade and he in Subotica, had started, and got with them halfway. Therefore we could not socialize too often, but when we did, we had a truly large number of open issues and dilemmas, so we frequently, despite the difference in substances, were able to help each other. He would sometimes come to study in my room, since other colleagues from the Bay of Kotor tended to attract him to a fun or romantic student adventure, with an enormous expenditure of time and power. And he was certain that something alike will not happen with me. In the evenings, we sometimes attended classical music concerts. Some things, such as poetry writing since high school period, Dušan did not confide, and I found about them from the collection of poems he gave me before he died. In our conversations, naturally, we sometimes touched general philosophical, religious, historical and similar topics, and discovered we were in many ways different, but at the same time that we belong to the same old authentic and essential crucible of Boka, in which life, religious or national differences in perception not necessarily meant conflict and split up, but very often full mutual respect and continuation and strengthening of a friendship. He, for example, did not mind that I often attended the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua, especially since he told me that his mother, whom he respected much, even out of her confession, felt a special reverence towards the Catholic Saint. All of this is particularly mentioned, since during these sporadic encounters, despite all of this, Dušan, who, no doubt, already at the time, suffered from a mild form of paranoid dread of people, for reasons known only to him, did not form a sense of resentment but on the contrary, very deep trust in me. In Padua, we have, with some interruptions, spent less than two years, except that I, a little before the end of 1943, returned with diploma to the Bay immediately, while he graduated somewhat later and decided to leave, I think to his father, or a relative, for Buenos Aires.
I was not able to follow his ascent in the new environment, which was certainly not an easy one and lasted more than three decades (from March 1948 to November 1981), because he wrote rarely, having aroused to the university career, aside from which got intensely involved in lexicography in the Encyclopaedic Institute, constantly applying feverish effort of a passionate bibliophile while procuring rare and expensive books. He taught, in the rank of a Professor, at the International University of Buenos Aires. He collected some of his lectures, as well as a variety of popular articles published in newpapers from 1953 to 1960, and added as an appendix to his poetry collection «From Foreign Land», issued in 1961. Based on this, we see that he used the theme of the Bay to write about Herceg Novi, Đenovići, Savina Monastery and in general about Serbian monasteries, as well as about “Serbian Christmas celebration on the Bay of Kotor sailing ships”. Of broader themes, there are articles about St. Simeon and Sava, about significance of Serbian Orthodox Church, King Petar I and King Nikola, Njegoš, theocracy in Montenegro and the fall of Shkodër. Regarding poets, he summarized his views on Šantić, Rakić and Matavulj. In these works of his, he was not particularly ambitious nor did he have the opportunity to make new and more profound investigations. He merely wanted, as he expressed himself, to provide help with some general issues, in a popular manner, to the Serbian Diaspora, which had no publications or places to gather and prey. However, he had large, but unrealized, projects, to issue a „History of Russians, Serbs and Bulgarians“ and an Anthology of Serbian poetry, Old and New, of a smaller scale. As regarding the Encyclopaedic Institute PLAZA & JANES S.A. publishers of Argentina, Petković, in one-volume edition of 1971, and the second edition of 1974, elaborated certain historical topics, and particularly the presidents of Argentina. This thematic block was also published in a luxury edition titled „Gallery of Argentine Presidents from Rivadavia to Lanus (1826-1972)”, which, in a foreign land, by a foreigner, is not an easy job at all. Since the historical essays, published in the magazine „Gran Aldea“ 1971, evident is his interest in spectacular love affairs of famous historical figures, including Draga Mašin, as well as major female historical figures and assassinations of heads of states during the twentieth century.
Certainly, these serious intellectual efforts were very exhausting, and besides, he suffered mentally, while the worm of sickness kept undermining him. If this was not notable from the correspondence, which had faded, it was obvious from fragments of published poetry, which he successfully polished on basis of selected models by Dis, Rakić and Šantić. Here are some examples which with Dušan are not a poetic stereotypes but an honest state of mind. In the poem „Midnight in the middle of nowhere“ we read about the suffering in front of flurry of memories.
Yet, had e found a woman, who could understand his mental state, and for the sake of love sacrificed herself to save him from the utmost despair, Dušan could have lived and create. Such a woman he did not find. Therefore even in love, that he needed so badly, that Dušan really needed to live, existentially, unfortunately deeply disappointed, finally calls it delusion.
According to some letters from the 80s, I saw he was preparing to come back. In my replies I never supported him in this, since he, at the same time, confided that he was in conflict with his sister, therefore the basic issues of accommodation and living expenses were questioned, while his illness was ever more obvious. He referred to help of my family, but I had many children, a working wife and a sea of professional and social responsibilities. However, the imperative inner need to return rejected all rational calculations and drama could not be avoided. When he visited me in Dobrota early 1983 he had already renewed a heavy conflict with his sister and relatives, who, at the beginning, had welcomed him. After an aggressive incident, he was accommodated in the Psychiatric Hospital in Dobrota with diagnosis of „reactive paranoid mental status and arteriosclerotic Parkinson's syndrome“. He phoned me urgently from the hospital and after extended conversations with him and judicial authorities, I accepted to be nominated as his legal custodian. In the beginning I insisted that it be, naturally, some of the relatives, but Dušan remained unrelenting and sought only me.
He was sick a little over 3 years and died in mid-July 1986. In the meanwhile many things happened. Primarily on a personal level. After the big world, passionate bibliographic work, lexicographical practice and a short university carrier, to find oneself locked in a Psychiatric hospital is, indeed, a rare and touching human drama. My friend, an intellectual, of above-average intelligence and memory, a passionate reader, but of very troubled and sick mind, had numerous human, scientific and spiritual needs. He sought, first and foremost, humanity and warm communication and comfort, and that meant visits, often and long discussions, occasional bringing food he desired, or items, like newspapers, books etc. And above all, entertainment, refreshment and consolation. I would visit him once or twice a week, sitting on his bed, with another seven patients in the room. In such an environment, suspicious and cautious, he insisted that we spoke in a foreign language. I often tried to joke and play with paradoxes, to make him laugh, and change that feverish and sharp glance of constant spasm and tension for a short moment. Especially to let go of the fear that I might leave him, when he repeated: “Please, just don't leave me. I will kill myself if you do.“
I will not linger over quite intensive business side, which was administered by me and the Court. It took to contact lawyers and friends in Buenos Aires, rescue personal property and housing, that he possessed, implement a sales contract for land in Đenovići, and especially to organize activities of the embassies and steamship companies to transport from various locations all the books Dušan had around different places. I must admit that at first I did not believe when Dušan told me about all these valuable items and books. I believed it was his illusions and exaggerations, and that his assets were none, or very poor, so I did him financial favours as well. But when it turned out the opposite and when the money started coming as well as bankbooks, there was a diary of expenses to keep, which was to be submitted to the Court. And his expenses were not negligible, since Dušan as immobile paid other patients to get better treatment. Besides, he would wish for a particular or additional food. Finally, there was a quite frequent correspondence with lawyers and friends in Argentina. Concerning expenditure, I must tell one characteristic detail when he asked me to, for his doctor's birthday, order as many carnations as years she had. I accepted that without a doubt. The doctor, however, gently scolded me in private, for what I did. I was astonished and responded that I simply cannot believe a psychiatrist can think in such a manner. I thought this gesture was a wonderful confirmation that our patient was still alive as a human and that, besides his dreadful reality, he was yet capable to feel and express affection for a beautiful woman. I understand the meaning of the principle written in the medical code on avoiding sentimental contacts with patients, but in this case I understood his gesture as the most successful of hers, and my dealing with Dušan.
He died, in my presence, quite unexpectedly but calmly, on 12th July 1986. As he was a true believer, I was very pleased that, before his death, he accepted my suggestion to relieve some internal conflicts and feeling of sin in front of a priest, and perform certain rituals. He wrote a will, which was not unknown to me since we talked about it repeatedly. He wanted to repay me for the friendly assistance and leave me everything, but I told him I cannot accept it since I approached him on human and ethical reasons and not for expectations of any possible reward. And when he, still, wrote the will in my favour, I eventually could not accept that, but intended those funds for donation of books and therewith contributed to better effectuation of Dušan Petković's life's greatest desire. And that genuinely makes me happy as the greatest reward.
Dr Miloš Milošević
REMINISCENCE OF DR DUŠAN PETKOVIĆ
It has been almost two decades as Dušan Petković's legacy has been under this building's roof. Perhaps the presentation of the legacy is just as late, perhaps slightly less. I immediately recognize my personal part of guilt that it did not happen. But this time distance certainly allowed perceiving happenings related to the legacy and its transfer from Argentina to Herceg Novi with a little less emotion. But, let us first say a few things about that time and circumstances in the Library. These were the eighties, the most favourable years for operation and growth of our institution. A few favourable requirements were met. We got a new building, our staff was strengthened so that we could secure access to the foreseen Regional collection project. At that time, thanks to favourable financial circumstances, we doubled the number of books. It is also the time when we purchased Veljko Radojević's library, a significant fund that enriched us with 19th century titles of periodicals and particularly with titles of Boka literature.
At that time appeared an appeal of Mr Petković „Save my library“, published by Vasko Kostić in „Pobjeda“ at the beginning of 1985. I thought that we from the Library were called to respond to this appeal. And without much hesitation, the decision was made – to give it a try. Fortunately, at the beginning we knew nothing about the difficulties that lay ahead, and almost nothing about the benefactor.
My first visit to Mr Petković was more than discouraging. As soon as I crossed the threshold of the Specialist Psychiatric Hospital in Dobrota, I almost gave up the desire to answer the call. However, though the atmosphere was more than bleak, I decided to go on and meet Mr Petković.
His room was at the end of a long semi-dark hall and resembled more a disorderly warehouse than a hospital room. But for this type of medical institution, better conditions – more humane, were not to be expected. A nun brought me to his bed, introduced me and said the reason of the visit. Such moments are remembered for the whole life. He smiled slightly and asked me to repeat my last name, I guess he had not heard it, offered me to sit on the bed next to his, and ordered fellow patients to leave the room. To my amazement, everybody obeyed and we were left alone. The same thing repeated regularly in the same manner at my subsequent visits. When the patients got used to my frequent visits, they would leave the rooms without the warning. At first I could not know how he managed to be obeyed without a complaint, but that is the secret why the ambience of the nursing home for elderly in Risan was replaced by the psychiatric hospital in Dobrota. With him in the room there were middle-aged and strong people who helped him, being immobile, bedridden, in his everyday needs that the staff at the nursing home could not meet. He, at his personal request, became a patient of the mental hospital in Dobrota. The real story is certainly known to Mr Miloš Milošević. I did not read all that was written in his patient's record, but I know it was Parkinson's disease in its last stage, of which he was fully aware. „Mr Pestorić,“ - he told me later on, when he decided to donate his library to us – „work quickly, my illness is progressing so rapidly that I will not wait to get my books across the ocean.“ He was almost right. Since the day of my first visit to him, until the arrival of the library, eight months passed, and he lived another seven.
However, as much as he urged me to work as quickly as possible, and he knew it did not depend on my good will, but on the entire set of circumstances, he still spent the most of the time on my interrogation. He was too much emotionally attached to his books to hand them over lightly. Many of my visits were spent on questioning about my family, myself, my education and work, the institution where I work. And so on into the details.
However, I must admit that I tried to get to know him as well, mostly for the safety of the initiative that I took. Because, as much as he feared for his books, I feared that all the things written in the appeal and repeated through his story, might turn out not real, or very little so. Many times, after the visits to Dobrota, I repeated to myself – whether all this effort will be worth it. Whereat I did not employ only myself, since I did the smaller part of the work. I engaged other people who made me confident and gave me wings to persist. When we first met, Mr Petković referred me to his custodian – legal representative, Mr M. Milošević. But he was much more than that to him. At the situation when the serious disease tied him to bed, when his next of kin failed to receive him, he was the only one who, not only fulfilled his legal obligation towards him, but much, much more than that. How many visits, how many offers, how much time spent with him, how much patience and tact in dealing with him? Sometimes even the next of kin cannot do it, and Mr Milošević fulfilled it, out of humanity and Christianity, like the merciful Samaritan from the Gospel, to the last moment, to the very day of Mr Petković's death. He was present in that final moment as well. Besides, several days before the death, he provided him a priest for confession and communion, and thus allowed him to be prepared for death. He was buried according to his will in the tomb of his uncle, protosyncellos Jerotej Petković, the popular „priest Jovo“, between the large and little church of Savina Monastery. The example of Mr Milošević made such a strong impression on me and gave me hope, especially in moments of doubt whether we would make it to the end.
Mr Petković offered his library to Mr. Milošević, but he refused generously, stating that this was an endowment act and should belong, not to an individual but to the immediate home land. One must not forget the moment in Risan hospital when, in a fit of nervous breakdown, in the presence of the Court, D. Petković almost denied his promise. That was a critical moment, when everything previously done could have fallen down. Mr. Milošević, with a lot of tact, managed to persuade him to provide judicial authorization for activities that were ongoing and those to come.
Apart from Mr. Milošević, who indeed is the most deserving for Mr. Petković's legacy being here today, I had two other admirable assistants – Mr Sveto Seferović, who was the president of the Board of the Municipal Assembly of Herceg Novi at the time, and Mr Radulović, the official of the Secretariat for Foreign Relations at the time. I avoided spreading the story about Mr Petković's appeal, partly out of fear that it might end up as a failure, and partly in order not to have repeated the words of a friend: «Oh, poor man, your Mr Petković is in Dobrota, you know that?». However, Mr Seferović encouraged me from the first day. Indeed, I had a support one can only wish for. I didn't have to think about the expenses, and when it came to our desire to ease the difficult situation of Mr Petković and we transferred him to Risan hospital for a while and offered spa treatment in Igalo, I got the green light everywhere thanks to him. Nothing less we are indebted to Mr. Radulović. He took over the cooperation with our diplomatic and customs authorities, and successfully brought everything to an end.
At Michaelmas of 1985 a truck from Rijeka brought Mr. Petković's library to PKB warehouse in Meljine. Huge boxes full of books. And then, doubt again. Hopefully in such a multitude will be the part for which it was worth trying. And we were not mistaken, but Ms Nevenka Mitrović, the Head of the Library will speak about that.
From the warehouse the books were transferred into the new building, still under construction. Those were the first books admitted in it. The today's depot 2 was filled with packages of books to the ceiling. Our joy was immense.
And then the obligations towards Mr. Petković. My visits were more frequent than before. He actually wished, as he was not able to see all his books due to his illness which was increasingly advancing, (he asked) the most valuable and dearest books to him to be brought to Dobrota. And finally, as a token of gratitude for his wish come true, he singled out the two-volume DICCIONARIO PLAZA JANES where he worked and wrote specifications in the political and cultural history of Balkan countries and beyond, and gave it to me as a present. Indeed a precious memory.
In the end I cannot finish the story of Mr. Petković’s legacy without mentioning the dedication shown by our colleagues Ms Bronzić and in particular Ms Lazarević. (there were three of us employees at the time). For months, performing our regular duties at the same time we started physical cleaning of the books, package by package. Neither wearing masks due to fear of infection, neither the unbearable reek, nor all those unnecessary objects found among the books, prevented us to bring the task to the end and prepare the legacy for professional processing. When those books cleaned and ready for processing were arranged on the shelves, we asked a photographer to take photographs which we took then to Mr. Petković.
The above speeches were delivered on 19.10.2002 in the City Library and Reading Room Herceg Novi on the occasion of the commemoration of Dr Dušan Petković, the benefactor of our Library.