Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History

Explore the extraordinary past of Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through the pages of the book 'Novi Bečej and Vranjevo through History.' Uncover political events, economic development, and cultural heritage of these Banat towns through richly documented stories. Follow the evolution from the earliest days to the present, delving into the intricate threads of political intrigues, economic transformations, and cultural ascensions. Experience the past through the eyes of the author as the pages of the book unfold before you, providing a unique perspective on the life and legacy of these significant locales.

Publishing Activity, Libraries, and Reading Rooms

Publishing Activity, Libraries, and Reading Rooms

Novi Bečej had a very modest publishing activity, although it had people of high intellectual qualities quite early on. Such a situation may have contributed to them leaving Novi Bečej and creating in other larger cultural centers where they had more support and easier access to original materials.

The first newspaper mentioned as being published in Novi Bečej is Törökbecse, edited by Géza Rósa. It was published weekly on Sundays from 1906. In 1911, the newspaper changed its name to Törökbecse es Vidéke and continued to be published on Sundays. The editor was Lászlo Jenö, with Sándor Ernst as his main collaborator. The newspaper continued to be published until the end of the First World War.

After the war, around 1925/26, a weekly newspaper was published again, but in the Serbian language under the name Novobečejac, with Bogoljub Malešev from Vranjevo as the editor-in-chief. However, the newspaper had a short lifespan. Before the elections in 1935, two to three issues of Novobečejac were published, which predominantly had an agitation-political character, with Mirko Cvejin as the editor.

In addition to these newspapers, a small printing house owned by Giga Jovanović in Novi Bečej also published several smaller books, some of which older Bečej residents remember, and some copies still exist. For example, there is still A Küzdö Törökbecse 1850—1890, written by Endre Istvanfi, as well as Alexander the Great from 1910, translated from Old Church Slavonic to Serbian by Žarko Čiplić. The printing house also printed the first books of poetry by Bogdan Čiplić, Poljana in 1930, and others.

Although Giga Jovanović's printing house was modestly equipped technically, it was still very useful as it met a good portion of the printing needs. For more complex and voluminous editions, they went to Veliki Bečkerek, Kikinda, and even Novi Sad. A bookstore was opened in 1839.

Education spread not only through schools but also through books, which appeared in Novi Bečej, especially in Vranjevo, as early as the second half of the eighteenth century. According to tradition and records of the Vranjevo parish priest Miloš Vlaškalina, the captain of Vranjevo Lazar Popović bought four books of Prolog from the Vrdnik Monastery in 1752 and donated them to the church in Vranjevo, and hadnađ Dabić donated them to the church in Srbljak in 1760. Wealthier farmers and craftsmen looked up to these prominent residents of Vranjevo. Sava Rajković, a teacher in Novi Bečej, had his own library, and in 1780, he transcribed Emperor Uroš V's Tragedy by Emanuel Kozačinski. In the mid-nineteenth century, Mija Vlaškalin in Vranjevo had a library with about five hundred books. Books were borrowed for reading from these libraries of Rajković and Vlaškalina.

The books of Dositej Obradović were particularly popular: Blagi običaji and Sovjeti zdravog razuma. There is an anecdote that illustrates this popularity, recorded by Prota Vlaškalin in Vranjevo.

Dr. Milan Petrović, after completing the first year of gymnasium, came home, and his grandfather asked him:
—"What have you been studying, and have you read Dositej?" —When Milan replied that he hadn't, his grandfather said angrily:
—"Nice Serbian gymnasium it is when you haven't read Dositej."

Before starting the second year, Milan asked his grandfather for money to buy books, to which his grandfather replied:
—"Go to the attic, there are Blagi običaji and Sovjeti zdrava razuma; what other books do you need?"

The books of Milovan Vidaković were also read, although they were written in Serbian-Slavic language, and the works of Sterija Popović were especially popular.

In the desire to spread education among the people, so-called books for the people were printed. These books had popular prices, so in addition to bookstores and similar shops where they were sold, they were also sold at fairs and markets. This popularized books, and borrowing purchased books to friends and neighbors became more common. Novi Bečej also had its book vendor targeting the widest reader base. This was Živa Mirosavljević, a furrier by profession, who displayed and sold these books for the people at Novi Bečej markets every market day, from after the First World War until the economic crisis of 1930.

In cities in the early nineteenth century, casinos were established as meeting places for the wealthier classes, while in the second half of the nineteenth century, reading rooms emerged for the poorer classes and peasants.

Renowned researcher of Novi Bečej's history, retired professor Radoslav Stojšin, recorded that on December 16, 1938, the Serbian newspapers reported the opening and commencement of the casino in Novi Bečej where newspapers and books in three languages were read.

In Novi Bečej, on January 11, 1860, under the leadership of Mihajlo Šušić, a commissioner from Temišvar, LESEVEREIN (reading society) was founded. The board consisted of: Ignac Šejbold as president, Lajoš Šojnig, Andraš Mravić as first and second directors, Janoš Bizek as treasurer, Đerđ Mihalić as secretary, Jožef Kreckai as librarian, and fourteen other members. After a year, the positions of the outgoing board members were filled by co-opting Count Jožef Betlen and Ferenc Kiš-elder.

The Leseverein society, with its German name and language, did not correspond to the romantic mood of the Hungarians there, so on September 22, 1861, at the invitation of Ignac Šejbold and Jožef Cikapriciš, an appellate judge, the association changed its name and replaced the German language with Hungarian. The new association was called Olvasóegylet (reading association).

At the beginning of the twentieth century, cultural life in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo was very intense. In 1900, the strongest cultural pillar of Hungarians in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo was established, and activities continued between the two until the end of the Second World War. It was an institution with the richest library in Novi Bečej, and with its activity in the field of theater arts, it represented the cultural pillar of Hungarians in Novi Bečej and Vranjevo, especially between the two world wars.

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