It’s been said that we all grew out of Gogol’s Overcoat … To me personally, his is one of the very few that always fit- regardless of times and the weather and regardless of everything else. That’s what great literature, classical literature is about – it is universal, it is timeless and you can see yourself wearing their shoes, or better to say – their overcoats – no matter where and when you jump into the written world of a genius writer.
Even Nabokov, a genius in his own right, albeit an infamously opinionated and big mouthed one – had the following to say on Gogol: “Steady Pushkin, matter-of-fact Tolstoy, restrained Chekhov have all had their moments of irrational insight which simultaneously blurred the sentence and disclosed a secret meaning worth the sudden focal shift. But with Gogol this shifting is the very basis of his art, so that whenever he tried to write in the round hand of literary tradition and to treat rational ideas in a logical way, he lost all trace of talent. When, as in the immortal The Overcoat, he really let himself go and pottered on the brink of his private abyss, he became the greatest artist that Russia has yet produced.”
Back in 2003, Montenegrin government saw the going getting tough and had decided, for the first time in history, to school its own diplomats. You see, Montenegro is one of the oldest countries in Europe – Principality Doclea, the great-grand mother of Montenegro, was formed in 9th century; it shall have a turbulent personal history, like many outstandingly beautiful and rebellious princesses did … In 1042 it shall run away from what once was considered her home – the mighty Byzantine empire, in 1421, it shall get kidnapped by a Serbian Despotate; princess by birthright would renounce its nobility by joining the working class family of Yugoslav people and shall remain quite happy in its new home, as long as her inborn sense of human dignity was not jeopardized and her honorable name brought down to dirt. That’s when the princess decided it was the high time she hit the road and became a sovereign queen.
But there laid the trap – see, every crowned Queen needs its court and ladies in waiting, yet those whose vocation it was – had seemingly forgotten what it means to serve the Queen.
Thus, in 2003., Diplomatic Academy Gavro Vukovic was formed and the very first class of diplomats was schooled on its own ground, on our own land, trained to fight for its interests and its honor. (To keep the peace at home and make my father happy, i must add that his side of family is related to Duke Gavro Vukovic, albeit – tiny nation that we are – most of us are related anyway. ;)) There are many reputable Diplomatic Academies in the world – and we used to school our diplomats there; the “output” we would get back would be cosmopolitan and classy, yet quite disconnected from its roots and even reluctant to acknowledge those.
Thus, in 2003, 48 of us sat in benches and listened to yet another re-telling of the Overcoat , this time by professor Dragan Vukcevic, PhD.
Dean Vukcevic told us his version of the story, where it was about the tailor who sewed his own overcoat… With time it got worn out, and became – a jacket. Years later, the material which could be used had become sufficient merely for a cap… Until one day, only a button of the original overcoat remained.
Dean Vukcevic had handed us this metaphorical button and had make us swear that we will recreate the original overcoat from it… that’s what we’ve been working on, ever since.
In 2006., Montenegro has regained its independence, we are working on restoring the little details nowadays – as the overcoat indeed has been sewed again, sleeves attached to it and even the fancy collar added.
Here are some pictures of the magical Queen, for you:
Photo Copyright ©Lena Ruth Stefanovic, 2012, All Rights Reserved