The spirit of the Roman Catholic Counter – reformation, meaning the turn to the Christian spirituality, pessimism and awareness of transience, left a strong mark on Croatian literature in the 17th century. Christian piety profoundly informs both epic and lyrical works of the greatest Croatian baroque writer Ivan Gundulić, born in Dubrovnik in 1589.
That distinguished offspring of the old Ragusan aristocracy produced ten plays in his youth from which four have been preserved till today. They were based on the themes and motives from Greek mythology and literary tradition. However, in the foreword of his adaptations of king David’s psalms, Gundulić renounced his early theatrical works as “the birth of the darkness”.
Osman – the pinnacle of Croatian Baroque literature
His religious poem The tears of the Prodigal Son, based on the Biblical Parable of the Lost Son and pastoral melodrama Dubravka, which celebrates the freedom of the Republic of Ragusa in an exalted style, are considered to be the canonical works of Croatian literary art.
The apogee of his work and the most important contribution to Croatian literature is nevertheless his Christian – Virgilian epic Osman in which he narrated the tragic fate of the Turkish sultan after the defeat of his army in the battle against the Poles in 1621. near the city of Chocim. It was one of the first accounts of contemporary events in the guise of a traditional epic form.
Ivan Gundulić had become popular and influential as a writer during his lifetime, but not until The Croatian National Revival in the 19th century was he highlighted as a true classic of Croatian literature