Gerasim Zelić

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Gerasim Zelić (1752–1838) was a Serbian Orthodox archimandrite, traveler, and writer (a contemporary and compatriot of Dositej Obradović). His chief work is Žitije (Lives), in three volumes. They are memoirs of his travels throughout western Europe, Russia and Asia Minor from the latter half of the 18th century to the first decade of the 19th century and the famous personalities (Napoleon, Prince Eugene, Viceroy of Naples, Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, Semyon Zorich, Catherine the Great, Alexander I of Russia, Stanisław August Poniatowski, Dositej Obradović) he met.

As much as Dositej Obradović is an emblematic figure of the 18th century Habsburg Serbian Enlightenment so is Gerasim Zelić. In may ways the East-West travel itineraries of the two men are similar, covering the Levant, the German lands, France and Russia, though Zelić went first to Russia (rather than to the Levant). While both lament their people's plight under Ottoman rule and promote similar solutions, their perspectives are different, Dositej's cosmopolitanism contrasting with Zelić's clericalism, though their intentions are the same: the emancipation of their people from tyrranical rule.

Gerasim Zelić travelled twice to Russia, first as a young man, then for a second time to collect alms for his monastery. Subsequently he went to Milan in 1808 and then Paris in 1809-1810, to Napoleon's court, as Vicar-General of the Orthodox Serbs in...
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