Who was Blaže Koneski?
Blaze Koneski was a famous Macedonian poet, writer, literary translator, and linguistic scholar. He was the author of the fundamental works of the Macedonian language and defined its grammar, dictionary, as well as history. He was a keen learner since childhood and developed a special interest in literature from an early age. After studying medicine for a brief period, he realized that he wanted to become a literary artist and changed his major to Serbian language and literature. He wrote poetry and prose, and also became a distinguished translator of German, Russian, Slovenian, Serbian as well as Polish poetry. After the liberation of Macedonia, he rose to become one of the most prominent figures of the Macedonistics. He served as a university professor and institutionally organized comprehensive study of the Macedonian language, its history and its dialects and principles of standardization. He took part in many activities in the area of education and culture, as well as in the founding of the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje. He served as the first president of the ‘Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts’ and was also a member of several foreign academies. He is most remembered as a prominent member of the committee for standardization of the Macedonian literary language and its most outstanding representative
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on December 19, 1921, in Nebregovo, near Prilep, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, in a distinguished family with pro-Serbian sentiments.
When he was six years old, he joined his first primary school. After finishing the first grade, he moved to Prilep, where he completed his primary education till the eighth grade.
When the General Secondary School in Prilep was shut down, he commenced his studies at the Secondary school in Kragujevac and graduated in 1939. He developed a keen interest in literature and became the editor of the school magazine.
After much persuasion from family and friends, he joined the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Belgrade. But, after a semester at the faculty, he realized that he was not at all interested in studying medicine.
In the summer semester of 1940, he got himself transferred to the Faculty of Philosophy, choosing a rare combination of subjects--Yugoslav Literature with Russian Literature and Russian Language.
The beginning of World War II on the territory of Yugoslavia prevented him from studying further in Belgrade and forced him to continue studies in Bulgaria. In 1941, he got enrolled at the Law Faculty of Sofia University, but did not complete his graduation.
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He started his career by working as a lector in the Macedonian National Theater
In 1946, he joined the faculty at the Philosophy Department of the ‘Saints Cyril and Methodius University’ of Skopje. He worked at the university until his retirement.
He was one of the founders of the Writers’ Association of Macedonia (1947), the Institute for Macedonian Language (1953), and the Association (Union) for Macedonian Language and Literature (1954).
He was a Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy (Philology) in Skopje, and Chancellor of the Saints Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje (1958–1960). He also served as a member of the Academies of Science and Arts of Croatia (1962), Serbia (1963), Slovenia (1963), Boznia and Herzegovina (1969), as well as of Austria and Poland.
He became a member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1967, and was also elected its president in the same year; he served in this capacity until 1975.
He authored many important academic works including ‘Normative Guide with a Dictionary of Standard Macedonian with Krum Tošev’ (1950), ‘Grammar of Standard Macedonian’ (1952), ‘Standard Macedonian’ (1959), ‘Macedonian Dictionary’ (1961), ‘A History of Macedonian’ (1965), ‘The Language of the Macedonian Folk Poetry’ (1971), ‘Speeches and Essays’ (1972), ‘Macedonian Textbooks of 19th century: Linguistic, Literary and Historic Texts’ (1986), ‘Images and Themes’ (1987), and ‘Macedonian Locations and Topics’ (1991).
Some of his poetic collections are ‘Land and Love’ (1948), ‘Poems’ (1953), ‘The Embroideress’ (1955), ‘Sterna’ (1966), ‘Hand-shaking’ (1969), ‘Poems Old and New’ (1979), ‘The Fountains’ (1984), ‘The Epistle’ (1987), ‘Meeting in Heaven’ (1988),‘A Diary after Many Years’ (1988), ‘Church’ (1988), ‘Golden Peak’ (1989), ‘Seismograph’ (1989),‘The Heavenly River’ (1991), ‘The Black Ram’ (1993).
Some of his translated works are ‘The Mountan Laurel’ by Njegosh (1947), ‘Lyrical Intermezzo’ by H. Heine (1952), ‘Othello’ by Shakespeare (1953), ‘Savica’s Baptization’ by F. Preshern (1980), as well as poems by Aleskandar Blok, Adam Mickiewicz, Vladimir Mayakovski, and Desanka Maksimovic.
He is most remembered for his work on codifying the Macedonian standard language. Some of his related authored works are ‘Standard Macedonian’, ‘Grammar of Standard Macedonian’, ‘History of Macedonian’, and ‘Macedonian Dictionary’ (Three volumes).
Awards & Achievements
He received several literary prizes including the ‘AVNOJ prize’, ‘the Njegoš prize’, ‘the Award of the Writer’s Union of the USSR’ and ‘the Herder Prize’.
Personal Life & Legacy
He died on December 7, 1993, at the age of 61, in Skopje. He received a state funeral for his illustrious literary career and for his contribution to the codification of standard Macedonian language.
To honor Blaze Koneski, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje has named the Faculty of Philology after him