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 »  Home  »  In Memoriam  »  Radovan Grgec, outstanding Croatian intellectual and humanist, passed away
Radovan Grgec, outstanding Croatian intellectual and humanist, passed away
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic | Published  12/2/2007 | In Memoriam | Unrated
My memories about professor Radovan Grgec

Professor Radovan Grgec in the middle, with Pope John Paul II in 1979.

I learned about existence of the Marulić bimonthly in 1992, when I was trying to find a publisher for my book about the history of Croatian Glagolitic script, entitled Be Literate, Be Yourself - Biti pismen, biti svoj. The title has been proposed to me by  Mr. Želimir Kantura, a well known judge in Zagreb and mountaineer, and a good friend of mine. One of the founders of Marulić and its editor in chief was professor Radovan Grgec, and the journal was a real revelation for me. It covered a wealth of themes which opened my views to many areas of history, culture, literature, and daily life.

Radovan Grgec, Marko Orešković, and the author in November 1994, during promotion of my book Be Literate, Be Yourself - Biti pismen, biti svoj, dealing with the history of Croatian Glagolitic Script

Upon my request for a meeting, I was very warmly received by professor Radovan Grgec in his office, Tomislavov trg 21, Zagreb, within the Croatian Literary Society of St. Jerome - Hrvatsko književno društvo Sv. Jeronima. The book was published by Sv. Jeronim Society in the summer of 1994. At that time the society was still called Society of St. Cyril and Methodius, a name imposed by communists immediately after the WWII. The name of St. Jerome was forbidden. 

Meanwhile, in 1992, I published my first article in Marulić. It had eight pages, four of them printed in the Latin Script, and another four in the Glagolitic. And the Glagolitic part started in the middle of a sentence. Of course, it was an obvious and intentional exaggeration from my part, but professor Grgec understood and tolerated it. And something extraordinary happened: letters and messages began to arrive to Sv. Jeronim enthusiasted with the Glagolitic Script.

Of course, a favorble reception was an impetus for me. Of course, there were critical remarks that I found extremely usueful. It was also a revelation for me that the Croatian Glagolitic script was still alive in hearts of many people.  It was a challenge for me to endure a lots of problems in preparing the book. Namely, I prepared it in all details, from cover to cover, as a camera ready book. This included also preparing special fonts for TeX and METAFONT, containing about 400 characters. In 1992 I published an article "The Exotic Croatian Glagolitic Script" in TUGboat, a journal for computer typography issued by the American Mathematical Society. Since then I became firmly convinced in the possibilities of the Glagolitic Script for international promotion of Croatian culture in general. Messages and enquieries about the article and the script began to arrive via e-mail from various sides of the world.

The book was accepted surprisingly well, and the whole edition of 1000 copies was sold in less than four months. Of course, this was largly due to a very good network of bookshops attached to the Society of St. Jerome. It is amusing that the book was promoted in November 1994, when the whole edition was already completely sold out. I had a great honour that the promoter of the book was professor Marko Orešković, a former director of the City Library in Zagreb during several decades, and a former director of the National and University Library from 1943 to 1945.

With Marija Bukovac, Croatian writer, and professor Radovan Grgec, during promotion of the second edition of my book Croatian Glagolitic Script - Hrvatska Glagoljica, in European House in Zagreb, 1996.

The second corrected and enlarged edition of the book appeared in spring 1996, this time under the different title, Croatian Glagolitic Script - Hrvatska glagoljica. One of the promotions of the book took place in the European House in Zagreb, in the presence of professor Radovan Grgec, accompanied with singing of the Bašćina - Heritage, a choir of the Society of Lovers of the Glagolitic Script - Društvo prijatelja glagoljice. This society, which I mention here only in passing,  has been founded in 1993.

Since for the second edition of my book I prepared many new characters in METAFONT, I decided to offer a new article for TUGboat entitled Croatian Fonts. It has been published in 1996. The importance of this is to the fact that the set of all fonts, mainly Glagolitic, have been included in huge CTAN virtual library in the subdirectory /croatian, mirrored in more than fifty countries.

Radovan Grgec and the author during the lecture Croatia - its History, Culture and Science on Internet, 2005

In 1995 I already started to work on my web pages Croatia - its History, Culture and Science. In 1997 or so I came into contact with a webmaster of Studia Croatica, a Croatian journal in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I informed the webmaster about a few incorrect links, writing him in English. The next day came the answer, in broken Croatian but fully understandable: "The mistakes are corrected. By the way, I am just reading your book Croatian Glagolitic Script!" The answer was signed by Joza Vrljičak. I immediately imagined him to be a young boy in short trousers.

But a few years later I lerned that it was not so. I met him in Zagreb in 1999 together with The King of Dolls - Ljeposlav Perinić. Joza Vrljičak was the director of Studia Croatica. We went to the funeral of Krešimir Mikolčić, who at the time, before his premature death, was the secretary general of Matrix Croatica - Matica hrvatska in Zagreb. Krešo was ever since a great stimulus for my interests in various aspects of Croatian culture, especially since he was a passionate mountaineer.

The King of Dolls, Madam Brajnović, Radovan Grgec, and Luka Brajnović

The first encounter with The King of Dolls also came as a result of my book. In September 1999 he arrived as usual from Buenos Aires to Zagreb, to visit his friends and colleagues, among them also professor Radovan Grgec. One day he phoned to me introducing himself as an Argentinean Croat, and told me that he has a gift for me that he brought from Buenos Aires. We met at the Jelačić Square in Zagreb, and he showed me one of the latest issues of Studia Croatica journal. I was very pleased by the fact that the front page had a nice decoration based on the famous Baška Tablet. When we sat down for a drink at Cvjetni trg - The Square of Flowers, I learned about his amazing passion for dolls, and we immediately aggreed that a web page about the King should be prepared.

One of my guest appearances at St. Jerome Society in Zagreb was in 2005, with the theme of  Croatian History Culture and Science on the web, where I described my work on promotion of Croatia via Internet. I also desribed the collaboration with Nenad Bach, which has just started around that time.

I write these lines in order to express my deep gratitude to unforgettable and shining figure of professor Radovan Grgec. His understanding and generosity, hard work and persistence, were a great inspiration for me.

Darko Žubrinić, Zagreb

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
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