A writer, French scholar, and expert in French culture and literature, obtained his Ph.D., post-doctoral qualification and ordinary professorship at the Sorbonne in Paris. He lectured in French literature in Zagreb (1951–1991) and subsequently emigrated to France and later to Italy. From 1994 until 2008 he was an ordinary professor in the Slavonic Studies department of La Sapienza University in Rome. He has had visiting lectureships to New York University (1982), Ecole des langues orientales (1991), Collège de France (1997) and Université catholique de Louvain (2000). He is a doctor honoris causa of the universities in Genoa, Trieste and Mostar, and the author of over a dozen books, including interviews with Miroslav Krleža. His other publications, which have been translated into many different languages, including Polish, are Mediterranean breviary and The other Venice. In the Yugoslavia period, in spite of his openly declared socialist views, he defended writers and activists charged by the communist regime with nationalism.