Bread is Bread: A Serbian Translation of Dragutin Tadijanović’s “Na stolu kruh”

  • Michael Despotovic


Bread, a cultural symbol that needs no explanation to Serbians and Croatians alike, is the very item that stands between the national unity of the Southern Slavic people. Through their multiplicity of dialects, eventually leading to the standardization of two separate words for “bread;” “kruh” in Croatian, and “hleb” in Serbian, the distinction between the two national languages is what disintegrated the pan-Slavic ideal of the former Yugoslavia. Through his poem, “Na stolu kruh” (“Bread on the Table”), Croatian poet, Dragutin Tadijanović critiques the political discourse of unity and brotherhood while drawing upon the symbol of bread as a means of cultural expression. However, because the very symbol of bread that the original Southern Slavs build themselves upon is now dichotomized within the two main languages spoken, Tadijanović’s poem must undergo Roman Jackobsen’s “intralingual translation” in order for a Serbian readership to accept his criticism. By tracing the original symbol of bread through communist ideology as well as its use in David Damrosch’s review of Milorad Pavić’s The Dictionary of the Khazars, I can accurately construct what Arne Koch calls an “intercultural translation” of Tadijanović’s “Na stolu kruh” in order to discover what exactly the cultural symbol of bread means to the Southern Slavic people.