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Branislav Nusic and x-rays in the story "Roentgen's Photography"/ Branislav Nusic i x-zraci u prici "Rentgenova fotografija".


Branislav Nusic (October 20, 1864, Belgrade, the Principality of Serbia--January 19, 1938, Belgrade, Yugoslavia) (Figure 1) was a Serbian writer, playwright, comedian, journalist, photographer, politician, diplomat, member of the Serbian Royal Academy, President of the Association of Yugoslav Playwrights, manager of the theaters in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Skopje and Sarajevo, member of the Radical party, a military volunteer in the Serbian--Bulgarian war (1885) (Figure 2) and a convict sentenced to two years of prison in Pozarevac, because of using "filthy language" (1888) (Figure 3) [1-6].

In 2010, the Post of Serbia issued an edition of postage stamps "Giants of Serbian Literature" and in honor of Branislav Nusic a post stamp with his image. The Post of Yugoslavia has also issued a post stamp with the image of Branislav Nusic (Figure 4).

Also, in honor of the 150th birthday anniversary of the great Serbian writer Branislav Nusic, the National Library of Serbia digitized the greatest achievements of this distinguished playwright. Digital editions of twenty-five Nusic's books published by Geca Kon, are part of the Digital Library of the National Library of Serbia. Four titles have a searchable text, and audio recordings are being prepared, so that Nusic's books will be available to blind and visually impaired persons for the first time. Digital copies of Nusic are available at: [6].

The life and work of Branislav Nusic

Branislav Nusic was born in a Cincar family. His father Borde, who was a cereal merchant, and his mother Ljubica, named him Alkibijad Nusa (Alchiviadi Nu[section]a). When he was eighteen, he changed his name into Branislav Nusic. He spent his childhood in Smederevo, where his family moved after the bankruptcy of his father. He finished his elementary school and two grades of high school in Smederevo, and graduated in Belgrade. Nusic started his law studies in Graz, and continued in Belgrade, where he graduated from the Law School of the University of Belgrade in 1886 [1-3].

He wrote his first comedy "A Member of Parliament" at the age of nineteen.

Apart from writing under his real name, he also wrote under an alias--Ben Akiba.

After publishing his controversial poem "Two Slaves" (1887) in the Daily Gazette, King Milan ordered his arrest in 1888. Branislav Nusic was sentenced to two years of prison, but after spending one year in Pozarevac, at the request of his father, he was pardoned. After imprisonment, King Milan and the Minister of Foreign Affairs awarded him with a position in civil service, where he spent ten years as a clerk of Serbian consulates in Bitola, Skopje, Thessaloniki, Serres and Pristina, then part of the Ottoman Empire [1-3].

In 1900, Nusic was appointed as a Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Head of the Art Department of the Ministry of Education (1918), Head Dramaturge of the National Theatre in Belgrade (1902), Head of the Serbian National Theatre in Novi Sad (1904), Head of the Sarajevo National Theatre (1927). He was the founder of the Theatre in Skopje (1913), Children's Theatre in Novi Sad (1904) and "Stork Theatre" in Belgrade, today the theatre "Bosko Buha". He became a full member of the Serbian Royal Academy on February 10, 1933 [1-6].

Branislav Nusic made a great contribution to the beginnings and development of Serbian photography. His knowledge and work in photography was truly a work of a pioneer, cultural, theoretical, innovative and creative.

His major works are:

Comedies: A Member of the Parliament (1883), A Suspicious Person (1887), Favoritism (1889), An Ordinary Man (1899), The Publicity (1906), Travel Around the World (1910), The Cabinet Minister's Wife (1929), Mister Dollar (1932), SYEW--Society of Yugoslav Emancipated Women (1933), Bereaved Family (1935), PhD (1936), The Deceased (1938), Never Despair, Authority (unfinished), Dole Kermit (unfinished);

--Novels: County's Child (1902), The Outlaws (1933), The 1915th (1920), Autobiography (1924);

--Dramas: Offing (1901), It Had to Be This Way, Autumn Rain (1907), Behind God's Back (1910), Rental Fee, Ignoramus;

--Short stories: Political Rival, Eulogy, Class, The Corporal's Stories; Photography (1906), Roentgen's Photography (1906);

--Tragedies: Prince Ivo of Semberia , HodzaLoja, Foundling;

--Textbook: A Discourse on Rhetorics;

--Travelogue: Kosovo, Description of the Country and People [1-6];

--Poems: Two Slaves.

Branislav Nusic was a holder of the Order of St. Sava--I grade (Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes), Order of Prince Danilo I--IV degree (Kingdom of Montenegro), Order of St. Sava--IV grade (Kingdom of Serbia), and the Order of the White Eagle--V class (Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) (Figure 5) [5].

"Roentgen's Photography" by Branislav Nusic

Shortly after the discovery of X-rays, their practical application in the clinical practice became the object of interest of many non-medical individuals. One of them was the famous Serbian writer Branislav Nusic. His article: "Roentgen's Photography", was published in the journal "Politics" (July 8, 1906, No 892, p. 3) under the alias Ben Akiba, in the Cyrillic script, in a column From Belgrade Life (Figure 6) [8].

Not much is known how Branislav Nusic wrote and published the story about X-ray radiation. His godfather, a photographer Milan Jovanovic, made a photo of Branislav Nusic. Branislav Nusic signed his name at the beginning and at the end of the story "Roentgen's Photography" and wrote his saying: "My humor provokes laughter and softens the hardships of life".

Branislav Nusic wrote this text in his own way, the only way he could and knew, vividly and wittily. He begins the story "Roentgen's Photography": "So now even we have installed a roentgen photography in Belgrade. This is the novelty that newspapers reported about a few days ago. It was about time we got an X-ray machine, because we took enough pictures of our looks, and it is time we began taking pictures of our inner selves" [8].

It was an excellent beginning for a story. A few sentences in the first paragraph reveal everything and he says:

--Belgrade got the first X-ray machine in July 1906;

--The news was published in all newspapers in the city, including "Politics";

--Roentgen's Photography is the name for a radiograph. Branislav Nusic was not far from the true name, because he was the one of the first Serbian photographers and a press photographer of that time;

--Capture--Branislav Nusic's word for radiography, the word "radio-paint" that we radiologists often use in jargon;

--Of course, Branislav Nusic would not be true to himself, if he did not use the power of this scientific discovery to ridicule the society--"it is time we began taking pictures of our inner selves".

We can see that he knew the power and strength of X-ray radiation well, and that this scientific discovery was a great novelty for Serbs from the following: "It will have endless practical consequences. Imagine this: ..." [8].

As the story develops, Nusic is describing several persons from the urban environment, trying to ridicule human weaknesses, greed, love, and to make things even funnier, he tries to visualize and show them on "roentgen photography".

Nusic begins with a description of love between Mr. Zivko and Ms. Stanka, arranged by the matchmaker Savka, which is confirmed, magnified, and visualized by a "roentgen photo". Thus, Ms. Stanka says to Ms. Savka--I would like to have the gentleman's roentgen images.. just to see if his heart is empty" [8].

The story continues: "Imagine now if X-rays were used during proposals and falling in love ... and lovers could take X-rays ... for example, Ms. Dana takes a heart X-ray and the roentgen photography shows the entire 25th Class of Military Academy, in her heart." And concludes: "If we now start "taking pictures", who knows what we will find in everyone of us under the roentgen rays" [8].

The text continues: "... if Mr. Jova Zdravkovic takes an X-ray, just his stomach will be visible. Everything else, the heart and the soul, will be transparent and will not appear on the image, and only the stomach will be seen, beautifully painted". Or, for example, Ms. Olga takes an X-ray, and the image does not show a single drop of blood, and then you can see why she never blushes when someone declares love to her" [8].

So, for transparency Nusic uses the word "transparent", of course, to describe a translucent and empty soul of Mr. Jovan Zdravkovic, who is probably obese and who thinks only of food and insensitivity of Ms Olga. At the same time, in this part of the story Nusic shows the importance of centering the object in radiography: "only the stomach will be seen, beautifully painted"; in this way Nusic enters the sphere of the "Fundamentals of roentgenography".

Nusic further wrote: "Or, for example, master Pera, who complains of some stomach cramps since his youth, takes an X-ray. The image of master Pera is transparent, but in one corner of his stomach a coin can be seen ... since 1875, everything becomes clear. While he was an apprentice of master Sava ... he took it and put into his mouth as in a cashbox ... saving like that three of four dinars per month" [8].

Nusic continues the story: "... Let's say, Ms. Nata, a young girl who has just turned seventeen, has stomach ache. She is cured in different ways.. and someone counsels her to take an X-ray. An Xray is taken.... she is all transparent like every little girl at sixteen should be ... There is nothing to be seen in the image, just one little love letter:
   My dearest,

   I received your letter
   Receive my heart
   I love you immensely
   I love you strongly, faithfully

      Yours, Mita.

The thing becomes immediately clear ... her father came in ... and she swallowed it. As an experienced doctor for the soul, Nusic concludes: "She always knew the cause for her stomach cramps, and now it is clear to her father, clear that the child is not only suffering from stomach ache, but also from heart ache" [8].

The last paragraph of the article particularly stands out, and is the final word of Branislav Nusic: "It is a good thing, the X-ray photography, but I would rather not take a photo. What I am, and what I had to swallow during my life, and what I carried in my heart all my life; well, thank you very much, but I'd rather not show it all in one picture" [8].

We will add to this Nusic's article the great accomplishments of our doctors and scientists:

--Nikola Tesla published ten papers on X-radiation from March 11, 1896 to August 11, 1897, and laid the basic principles of radiology and first proved the harmfulness of X-radiation on human body [7, 9];

--Mihajlo Pupin began his research on X-rays right after their discovery; he studied X-fluoroscopy and shortening the exposure to X-rays in February 1896 [7, 10].

--In 1899, at the initiative of the engineer Borde Stojanovic, the first X-rays were applied in the High School in Belgrade.

--In 1900, Dr. Avram Vinaver installed the first X-ray machine in Sabac, at the time when many developed countries of the world did not have X-ray machines, and wrote the first papers on the application of X-rays [7, 11];

--Dr. Nikola Krstic (1905) made the first roentgenogram; it was the roentgenogram of the king Petar I Karadordevic's hand [12].

These are the works, assembled and blended like puzzles into the first Serbian X-ray image, which is the first and real foundation of radiology in Serbia.


In this paper, the authors showed the life and work of Branislav Nusic, as well as his short story entailed "Roentgen's Photography", published in the journal "Politics" (July 8, 1906, No 892, p. 3), under the alias Ben Akiba. The story is written in the Cyrillic script. At that time, such a story could not have been written by any other playwright and writer of the world than Branislav Nusic himself.

The story "Roentgen's Photography" reveals Branislav Nusic to our and world public as a great promoter of world scientific discovery of roentgen radiation. Branislav Nusic, alongside Nikola Tesla, Mihajlo Pupin Idvorski, Dr. Abraham Vinaver, and all past and present Serbian radiologists, has become an essential and memorable link in the chain of the history of the Serbian of radiology.

We brought the story "Roentgen's Photography" from oblivion to the light; we were also the first to include Branislav Nusic into the Serbian history of radiology.


[1.] Vikipedija slobodna enciklopedija [homepage on the Internet]. [cited 2016 Oct 3]. Branislav Nusic. Available from:

[2.] [home page on the Internet]. Beograd: SANU; [C]2015 [cited 2016 Oct 3]; [about 1 screen]. Branislav Nusic. Available from: aspx?arg=387.

[3.] Branislav Nusic In: Misic M, editor. Enciklopedija Britanika M-P. Knjiga 6. Beograd: Narodna knjiga; 2005. p. 87.

[4.] Nusic B. Kosovo. Opis zemlje i naroda. Novi Sad: Matica srpska; 1902.

[5.] Arhiv Jugoslavije [homepage on the Internet]. Beograd: Arhiv Jugoslavije; [C]2008 [cited 2016 Dec 3]. Diplome i odlikovanja. Available from: srlatin/home/glavna_navigacija/izlozbe/internet_izlozbe/i_ ovo_j e_arhivska_gradj a/diplome_i_odlikovanj a.html.

[6.] Digitalizovana Nusiceva dela [Internet]. [cited 2016 Oct 3]. Available from: II_4042.

[7.] Babic R, Stankovic-Babic G, Babic S, Babic N. 120 years after the discovery of X-rays. Med Pregl. 2016;69(9-10):323-33.

[8.] Nusic B. Rendgenova fotografija. Politika. 1906 8 jul.

[9.] Babic RR. Tesla o X-zracima. Vojnosanit Pregl. 2006; 63(11):979-82.

[10.] Babic RR. Povodom 155. godina od rodenja Mihajla Idvorskog Pupina. Vojnosanit Pregl. 2009;66(5):407-10.

[11.] Babic R, Stankovic-Babic G. Dr Avram Josif Vinaver (18621915) --pionir srpske radiologije. Med Pregl. 2015;68(5-6):204-10.

[12.] Cikaric S. Radioterapija u Srbiji. Naucnoistrazivacka studija. Beograd: Drustvo Srbije za borbu protiv raka; 2005.

Rad je primljen 27. II 2017.

Recenziran 15. III 2017.

Prihvacen za stampu 20. III 2017.


Rade R. BABIC (1), Ankica JELENKOVIC (2), Gordana STANKOVIC BABIC (3,4), Strahinja R. BABIC (3) and Nevena R. BABIC (3)

Clinical Center of Nis, Center for Radiology

University of Beograde, Institute for Biological Research "Sinisa Stankovic" (2)

University of Nis, Faculty of Medicine (3)

Clinical Center of Nis, Clinic for Eye Diseases (4)

Corresponding Author: Dr Rade R. Babic, Klinicki centar Nis, Centar za radiologiju, 18000 Nis, Zorana Bindica 48, E-mail:

Caption: Figure 1. Branislav Nusic, alias Alchiviadi Nuca, alias Ben Akiba Slika 1. Branislav Nusic, alias AlkibijadNusa (Alchiviadi Nusa), alias Ben Akiba

Caption: Figure 2. Corporal Branilsav Nusic in the Serbian-Bulgarian War Slika 2. Desetar Branilsav Nusic u Srpsko-bugarskom ratu

Caption: Figure 3. Branislav Nusic serving a prison sentence in Pozarevac Slika 3. Branislav Nusic na odsluzenju zatvorske kazne u Pozarevcu

Caption: Figure 4. Branislav Nusic on a postage stamp of the Post Office of Yugoslavia Slika 4. Branislav Nusic na postanskoj marki koju je izdala Posta Jugoslavije

Caption: Figure 5. Branislav Nusic is a holder of the Order of St. Sava--I grade (Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes), Order of Prince Danilo I--IV degree (Kingdom of Montenegro), Order of St. Sava--IV grade (Kingdom of Serbia) and the Order of the White Eagle--V class (Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) Slika 5. Branislav Nusic je nosilac Ordena Svetog Save -1 reda (Kraljevine Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca), Ordena Kneza Danila I--IV stepena (Kraljevine Crne Gore), Ordena Svetog Save--IVreda (Kraljevina Srbija) i Ordena belog orla--V klase (Kraljevina Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca)

Caption: Figure 6. "Roentgen's Photography" by Ben Akiba. The beginning and the end of the story published in the Journal Politics, No. 892, page 3 Slika 6. "Rentgenova fotografija", pisac: Ben Akiba. Pocetak i kraj price objavljene u dnevnom listu "Politika", broj 892, str. 3.
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Author:Babic, Rade R.; Jelenkovic, Ankica; Babic, Gordana Stankovic; Babic, Strahinja R.; Babic, Nevena R.
Publication:Medicinski Pregled
Date:May 1, 2017
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