Fugue is a novel by Croatian writer Milutin Cihlar Nehajev, originally published as Bijeg in 1909. Regarded as a paramount example of Croatian literature from the Modernist era, it offers a captivating portrayal of the culture in pre-World War I Austro-Hungary. The story revolves around Đuro, a talented and aspiring writer who departs from his studies in Vienna to take up a teaching position in Senj, a small coastal town in Croatia. Đuro's aspirations include marrying a woman from Zagreb, but his plans are thwarted when her family objects due to the absence of the inheritance he had relied on from his deceased uncle. The central theme of the novel explores the struggles faced by a gifted and principled individual in an inhospitable environment that often fails to comprehend his endeavors to improve the world. The male and female characters are well-crafted and captivating, while the novel also boasts breathtaking descriptions of the natural splendor found along the Croatian coastline.
"Fugue" stands as a foundational work within Modernist Croatian literature. It chronicles the gradual decline of a misunderstood intellectual, weaving a tragic narrative with contemplative scenes and reflections on nature and Austro-Hungarian society. Through its pages, readers are granted glimpses into the social strata of Zagreb and life within a small Adriatic coastal town in the years leading up to 1910.