A Relighted Star
He has always been ahead of his time and contemporaries, walking along the unexplored paths, paying the price that has to be paid for it. Always too high, sometimes terrible. He wrote the first Serbian science-fiction novel. He was among the first in Serbia, looking up to Arthur Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins, to write detective novels. As an editor, he had a large contribution in the modernization of the Serbian press and the first to introduce a true scientific column. Before the hundredth anniversary of his death, it is high time for this unique author to receive a place in Serbian culture he objectively deserves

By: Marko Tanasković

The late XIX and early XX century were a specifically dramatic period for the Serbian state and culture. While the young Serbian state was confronting numerous challenges, from the outside as well as from the inside, and the Serbian society was rapidly moving towards the European civil standards, the Serbian culture went through one of its ”golden periods”: a huge creative energy was liberated in all artistic disciplines, the literary scene was especially flourishing, great pieces were written and some of the greatest writers and poets of contemporary Serbian literature matured.
Among them, a special place belongs to Lazar Komarčić – writer, journalist and editor, craftsman, teacher and inn-owner, one of the versatile, promethean figures who would make much richer and larger cultures than ours proud. Undeservedly denied and underrated in his time, Komarčić is practically completely forgotten in Serbia today, and his work erased from history and literary textbooks. It seems that finally, almost a century after his death, came the moment to revaluate his complete literary opus and recognize the place he deserves in the history of Serbian culture.
Lazar Komarčić has always been ahead of his time, tramping new creative paths. That is why he often paid the price of misunderstanding, reserved for true innovators and pioneers. He was among the first ones in Serbia to write detective novels looking up to Conan Doyle and Wilkie Collins, and entered history as the author of An Extinct Star, the first Serbian science-fiction novel. Besides, as an editor in Videlo and many other magazines, he had a large contribution in the modernization of the Serbian press: he employed foreign correspondents and professional associates, promoted investigative journalism and, especially, scientific-popular articles and studies.
As in the case of many great artists and numerous compatriots, Komarčić’s life path wasn’t spread with roses. He was born on January 9, 1839, in the village of Glog, in the Priboj municipality, which was then still under Turkish rule. Due to circumstances, he was forced to flee with his family to Serbia, to Valjevo, where he learned the tailor’s craft. Afterwards he moved to Belgrade, where he worked as a craftsmen, while attending the gymnasium in his spare time. Young Komarčić’s passion for education and knowledge was so strong, that he often starved when he didn’t have a job, only to continue his education.
Unfortunately, during the Turkish bombing of Belgrade in 1862, he was wounded and left without fingers on his right hand (except for the thumb and little finger), so he was forced to leave his craft. He managed to learn to write with his left hand and passed the teacher’s exam, after which he worked in education for a while.
His wish for a more dynamic life and his sister’s request brought him to Šabac, where he took over managing the city cafe. The cafe, the sacred place where Serbian politics and literature have been tailored for decades, became his inspiration for writing and creating, since it exposed him to the richness of different human characters and fates. He later called the experience ”his university”, since it allowed him to directly view ”everything ill and healthy in the life of a nation”. Although an invalid, he was a volunteer in both wars between Serbian and Turkey in 1876-1877.


He later entered journalism and worked in several magazines before he became the editor-in-chief of Videlo (1882-1896), the magazine of the then governing party, and one of the most significant magazines of the time. Although he supported socialist and liberal ideas in his youth, after becoming editor-in-chief, Komarčić made a big turn and joined the progressionists of Milutin Garašanin (he dedicated the novel One Extinct Star to his father Ilija).
In his articles, he continuously advocated national unity and asked for the voice of an ordinary man to be heard – peasants, craftsmen, headworkers, provincials. For this reason, he was much liked in the town, while he used the opportunity of being part of the educated and political circles for continuous learning and education (he learned Russian and French so he could read the great novels of that time). Furthermore, he was the first to introduce a scientific column into Serbian press, From Science, which he wrote himself, explaining the latest scientific achievements in an accessible and understandable way.
He entered literature with his crime novel The Precious Necklace, written looking up to foreign detective stories which were published in the so-called ”books for one coin”, already as a formed and mature author (he was 41 when he wrote this book). Although set in France, this voluminous novel was obviously inspired by the scandal accompanying the annulment of the great donor Ilija Kolarac’s will. In this and other crime novels – Two Behests (1883), Suitors (1905) – one can notice the ability of the author to go beyond the limits of the genre, mainly with his skillful writing and composition, but also the social subject, philosophical thoughts and scientific data.
Furthermore, even then it was possible to conclude that one of the main Komarčić’s aims was to entertain the reader – something which the Serbian academic and literary elite always considered a cardinal sin. The second aim of Komarčić’s prose was to turn attention to the problems of social justice, an attempt to improve the social classification, to point out and describe the troubles of the peasants and the hypocrisy of the rich. It is best seen in Komarčić’s second novel The Soulless Ones, which was ambitiously imagined as the Serbian match of Hugo’s Les Miserables, but has never been completed.
Komarčić achieved his greatest success with his novel The Destroyed Mind (1893) for which he even received an award from the Serbian academy, and which later entered the list of the 100 best Serbian novels in history. This most ambitious and most complex Komarčić’s work speaks of Vanja, a philosophy student, passionate learner of Kant, who dreams of something which also represents Komarčić’s passion – the universe. Running away from the troubles of love, he thinks about the origins of the universe, but those two things, ”the girl and the universe, disturb his soul and, little by little, blur his mind”. Here one can already see the outline of ideas and actions which were completely developed in An Extinct Star.


The tendency towards pulp genres, such as a crime novel, the high academic circles could forgive him, however, they were in no way ready to go over what came afterwards. The appearance of the science-fiction illustrated novel An Extinct Star (1902), which Komarčić wrote in his older age, was experienced as a first class incident and inadmissible eccentricity. At that time in the world, his contemporaries Jules Verne and Herbert George Wales were creating what will later be recognized as science-fiction, while our local literature was still ruled by romantic realism. However, it must be said that Komarčić was not completely lonely – Dragutin Ilić, brother of the Serbian poet Vojislav Ilić, wrote the science-fiction drama After a Million Years, as early as 1889.
Komarčić, as many other intellectuals, anticipated the arrival of the new age. Today it seems to us naïve and distant, but one of the main subjects of conversations in the educated circles in the late XIX century was Darwin’s evolution theory. If everything changes and improves – does the same apply for the universe?
The main protagonist of An Extinct Star is a Belgrade astronomy lover, who will go to sleep under the impression of a popular lecture in this scientific discipline, held in the Civil Casina. By the way, he is painfully aware of the ignorance and superficiality of most listeners he saw there – merchants, clerks, people turned to their own little problems. Suddenly, the ghost of the famous scientist Laplace comes into his dream, and takes his astral body to a true cosmic odyssey, revealing and explaining him along the way the great astronomical secrets and wonders.
This pioneer literary work, written under the strong influence of the French astronomer Camille Flammarion, mainly had an educational and enlightenment task, bringing closer almost all the latest cosmological theories and information to an average reader, and then, for the purpose of entertainment, upgrading them into a fantastic story. The novel has plenty of exact data – distances, sizes and volumes of planets, suns and constellations, durations of days and years, descriptions of the periods of evolution, chemical and physical processes, accompanied by graphics of astronomical objects, prehistoric flora and fauna. Although the author didn’t manage to completely ”revive” the scientific facts and join them into a flowing and exciting story, therefore the novel could be a little difficult and boring to the contemporary reader, this extraordinarily bold piece ”remains a monument to thoughts and dreams of a soul which, tormented on Earth, searched for consolation among the stars”.
During the time of writing An Extinct Star and immediately afterwards, Komarčić lived at the verge of existence. The cancellation of the magazine Videlo pushed him into poverty and indigence, while the shift of dynasties contributed even more to his isolation, since the public signified him as the supporter of the Obrenović family.
Even before that, Komarčić experienced great tragedies; he became an orphan very young, and also buried his two children. Destroyed by hard work and constant poverty, he died on January 9, 1909, exactly on his seventieth birthday. Serbian science-fiction died together with him, and resurrected only in the late seventies of the previous century.
In 1981, a group of SF fans established a Science Fiction Fans Association in Belgrade and named it after Lazar Komarčić. All this happened after authors such as Arthur Clark, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov had made science-fiction a popular and recognized literary genre. Komarčić’s attempts to open new horizons to his fellow countrymen haven’t provoked a response, however they, consciously or not, connected us to the international tendencies for eternity. Because of the achieved continuity, but also for other great accomplishments in literature and journalism, before the hundredth anniversary of his death, this original and unpretentious author deserves to be returned to the honorable place he deserves

From now on you
can buy National Review at Trafika sales outlets

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 82 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 81 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 80 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 79 - руски

Србија - национална ревија - број 78 - руски

Serbia - National Review - Tourism 2020

Србија - национална ревија - Број 77

Србија - национална ревија - Број 76

Србија - национална ревија - Број 75
Србија - национална ревија - ФранкфуртСрбија - национална ревија - МоскваСрбија - национална ревија - Москва
Србија - национална ревија - ПекингСрбија - национална ревија - број 74
Србија - национална ревија - број 73

Србија - национална ревија - број 72Туризам 2019.
Србија - национална ревија - број 71
Србија - национална ревија - број 70Србија - национална ревија - број 69Србија - национална ревија - број 68Србија - национална ревија - број 67Tourism 2018
Србија - национална ревија - број 66
Serbia - National Review - No 65
Serbia - National Review - No 64Србија - национална ревија - број 63
Србија - национална ревија - број 62
Србија - национална ревија - број 61

Србија - национална ревија - број 60
Србија - национална ревија - број 59
Serbia - National Review - No 59
Serbia - National Review - No 58

Serbia - National Review - No 56
Serbia - National Review - No 55
Serbia - National Review - No 54
Tourism 2016
Српска - национална ревија - број 53
Српска - национална ревија - број 12-13
Srpska - National Review - No 12-13
Serbia - National Review - No 51

Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 49
Serbia - National Review - No 48
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46
Serbia - National Review - No 46Serbia - National Review - No 46, russianSerbia - National Review - No 45Srpska - No 6
SRPSKA - National Review - No 5Tourism 2014SRPSKA - No 2
Tourism 2013
SRPSKA - National Review - Special Edition

Battle above Centuries
Legends of Belgrade
History of the Heart


Чувар светих хумки
Србија од злата јабука - друго издање
Orthodox Reminder for 2013
Пирот - Капија Истока и Запада
Беочин - У загрљају Дунава и Фрушке Горе
Србија, друмовима, пругама, рекама
Србија од злата јабука
Туристичка библија Србије

Коридор X - Европски путеви културе
Београд у џепу
Тло Србије, Завичај римских царева
Добродошли у Србију