The Return of Philip Latinowicz

Miroslav Krleza

translated from the Serbo-Croatian by Zora Depolo
Northwestern University Press 1995 [1932]
A book review by Danny Yee © 2005
After twenty three years away, the modernist painter Philip Latinowicz returns to his native town, a Croatian provincial backwater. Seeking relief for his neurasthenia and hoping to revive his artistic inspiration, he settles down with his mother and her circle of friends.

Before a dramatic end, The Return of Philip Latinowicz is slow-moving. It is dense, heavy with detail and exploration of its characters, delving backwards into their earlier lives. Philip himself is haunted by memories of childhood and the contrast between past and present, and wonders about the identity of his father. His mother's chevalier Liepach pines for his glory days as councillor under the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The femme fatale Bobocka continues to exploit her devoted Balocanski, reduced by her from success to penury and dependent on her for support after release from prison. And the pretentiously world-weary Caucasian Greek Kyriales intimidates Philip with his philosophy.

Through these figures Krleza probes the rottenness at the heart of bourgeois life, its dishonesty and its poverty of spirit. At the same time, he explores the tensions pulling on an artist caught in two worlds and facing existentialist doubts.

Though it is not as bleak or heavy going as this may suggest, The Return of Philip Latinowicz is not a novel for everyone. It is, however, considerably shorter than In Search of Lost Time or The Brothers Karamazov.

The Return of Philip Latinowicz was originally published in 1932 as Povratak Filipa Latinovicza.

December 2005

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%T The Return of Philip Latinowicz
%A Krleza, Miroslav
%M Serbo-Croatian
%F Depolo, Zora
%I Northwestern University Press
%D 1995 [1932]
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0810112469
%P 231pp