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News 06 Oct 17

Bosnian Serb Encyclopedia Gets from A to B

The first volume of the Bosnian Serb encyclopedia is finally out – but at this rate, most people will be long dead before they finish volume five.

Danijel Kovacevic
BIRN
Banja Luka
Rajko Kuzmanovic, the president of ANURST, presents the first volume of the Bosnian Serb encyclopedia to Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik. Photo: RS Presidency

The Bosnian Serb Academy of Science and Arts, ANURS, has spent ten years and almost half a million euros working on the first volume of the Encyclopedia of the Republika Srpska.

However, the work done so covers only subjects that begin with the letters A and B – so there is a long way to go.

At this pace, analysts predict that they will not finish the job and process the remaining 28 letters of the alphabet for another 140 years, costing another around 8 million euros.

“I don't believe the current members of ANURS will live long enough to finish the letter D,” political analyst Srdjan Puhalo told BIRN.

In its defence, ANURS says it plans to speed up the process of issuing the remaining four volumes.

The first volume was presented on Wednesday at the ceremony in the ANURS headquarters to Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik.

Rajko Kuzmanovic, a former president of Bosnia’s mainly Serb entity and current president of ANURS and editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia, said about 1,500 determinants were being processed on 783 pages in relation to processes, events and personalities that were important for the RS’s history.

The first volume of the encyclopedia deals with two towns and five municipalities, containing 149 religious buildings, 124 of which were Orthodox, seven Catholic and 20 Muslim.

Puhalo questioned the grandiose nature of the project, given the small size of the Bosnian Serb entity.

“They needed 800 pages to process only two letters in this small RS? I expect that when all five volumes are published, ever single RS citizen will find their place in the encyclopedia,” Puhalo jested.

Responding to public objections that the publication of the tome was taking far too too long and had been announced seven times, Kuzmanovic cited the example of other European countries.

He noted that in Russia, Tsar Peter the Great “introduced a special tax for the creation of an encyclopedia", and that in France, scientists worked on their encyclopaedia for up to 100 years.

However, he did say that the RS Encyclopedia would not be translated into English because it would "be too expensive".

Only a few lucky people will be able to buy the first volume of the encyclopedia because, from a modest circulation of 2,000 copies, only 500 are intended for sale.

Prices have not been set, either. According to Kuzmanovic, it will probably cost 100 euros for RS institutions, and less for ordinary citizens, perhaps between 25 and 50 euros.

The academy, as the publisher, hopes to collect 30,000 euros from sales, which will be enough to finance the printing of the second volume.

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