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The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić
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The Bridge on the Drina (1945)

by Ivo Andrić

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bosnian Trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,814456,407 (4.16)258
The Bridge on the Drina is a vivid depiction of the suffering history has imposed upon the people of Bosnia from the late 16th century to the beginning of World War I. As we seek to make sense of the current nightmare in this region, this remarkable, timely book serves as a reliable guide to its people and history. "No better introduction to the study of Balkan and Ottoman history exists, nor do I know of any work of fiction that more persuasively introduces the reader to a civilization other than our own. It is an intellectual and emotional adventure to encounter the Ottoman world through Andric's pages in its grandiose beginning and at its tottering finale. It is, in short, a marvelous work, a masterpiece, and very much sui generis. . . . Andric's sensitive portrait of social change in distant Bosnia has revelatory force."--William H. McNeill, from the introduction "The dreadful events occurring in Sarajevo over the past several months turn my mind to a remarkable historical novel from the land we used to call Yugoslavia, Ivo Andric's The Bridge on the Drina."--John M. Mohan, Des Moines Sunday Register Born in Bosnia, Ivo Andric (1892-1975) was a distinguished diplomat and novelist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961. His books include The Damned Yard: And Other Stories, and The Days of the Consuls.… (more)
  1. 00
    The Ghosts of Medak Pocket: the Story of Canada's Secret War by Carol Off (charlie68)
    charlie68: Both have a good history of the region.
  2. 00
    The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth (chwiggy)
  3. 00
    De brug over de Tara by Frank Westerman (marieke54)
  4. 00
    The Siege by Ismail Kadare (chrisharpe)
  5. 00
    How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišic (ivan.frade)
    ivan.frade: Both books share the same "balcan" mood and a special view over Yugoslavian history.
  6. 01
    The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Get a more full history of the conflict from this book.
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» See also 258 mentions

English (33)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  Bulgarian (1)  All languages (45)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
"A great stone bridge built three centuries ago in the heart of the Balkans by a Grand Vezir of the Ottoman Empire dominates the setting of Ivo Andric's novel. Spanning generations, nationalities, and creeds, the bridge stands witness to the countless lives played out upon it: to Radisav, the workman, who tries to hinder its construction and is impaled alive on its highest point; to the lovely Fata, who throws herself from its parapet to escape a loveless marriage; to Milan, the gambler, who risks everything in one last game on the bridge with the devil as his opponent; to Fedun, the young soldier, who pays for a moment's spring forgetfulness with his life. War finally destroys the span, and with it the last descendant of that family to which the Grand Vezir confided the care of his pious bequest- the bridge."
  PAFM | Dec 3, 2019 |
Images and myths purport to the mythic. Ivo Andric crafted a monument to those expectations in his novel of stories. He challenges the eternal with a construct, much as engineers spanned the natural with bridges. Once present, the innovations often appear eternal, timeless. It is a sincere hope that The Bridge on the Drina enjoys that privilege.

It remains unclear whether I have finished this novel before. Scenes like the impalement and the flood were rooted firmly in my memory. The instances and intrusions of ideology and modernity not so much.

The foreign reader approaches this accomplishment at a certain disadvantage. The primacy of certain concepts and events will be obscure to many outside of the Balkans. The legacy of the janissaries is hardly worth a footnote to many a history textbook in, say, Canada or Norway; it is an open and ongoing discussion from Sofia to Pristina. The obligations of the best man or Kum is largely without a counterpart in the UK or US. I was certainly unfamiliar with these traditions and legacies when I first approached The Bridge on the Drina. My experiences in the last 12 years have certainly enhanced my appreciation for this masterpiece.
( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
The bridge on the Drina stands as a silent character in Bridge on the Drina and acts as a symbol for life. As civilization is buckling, the bridge stands solid, spying on and witness to all humanity. . It is an integral part of the community. If you were Christian and lived on the left bank you had to cross the bridge to be christened on the right side. It was a sources of food as people fished from it or hunted doves from under it. It had historical significance as families shared legends about it. Andric takes us through the sixteenth century and the laborious construction of the bridge to four hundred years later and the modernized twentieth century and how the bridge became a symbol across generations. It all started with the tortured memory of the grand Vizier. How, as a young boy, he was forcibly removed from his mother during the Ottoman crusades. The river Drina is where he lost sight of her. Hence, the bridge. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Oct 25, 2018 |
This was a difficult book to access properly. It clearly has much literary weight. Yet, at other times -- much of the time -- its approach to presenting its subject starts to wear the reader down for its reserve and its redundancy. To be more specific, the early part of the narrative felt much like an elaborate fairy tale, with the many new situations just begging for "once upon the time" introductions. The book is more like a series of stories connected by a common location. Nevertheless, this is the best part of the book, though the reader soon notes the narrative going into the setting and then flying out, like a deity looking down on its subjects, over and over again. We never quite feel what the characters are feeling. It's more like people-watching where one merely speculates what the people are feeling by their actions. The connection to key characters is weakened in the process. As the story of the people around this significant bridge in the Balkans progresses, there is a strange lapse of excessive philosophizing, and then the narrative goes back again to key characters, in and out, but with a very wearing sameness. Perhaps the author intends to show futility, but the futility doesn't appear to come from some obvious enduring conflicts, but from a malaise and depression from life never quite being what people want it to be. ( )
  larryerick | Apr 26, 2018 |
Covering many centuries, this is the story of a bridge over the Drina River which separates Serbia and Bosnia. Beginning during the Ottoman Empire, the first chapters tell of the people living together - both Christian and Muslim and the barge that ferries people across the Drina. Eventually, a young Christian man is captured by the Turks and becomes a Vezir with the inspiration to build a bridge that will cross the river and allow the people to trade and mingle more freely. One of the early chapters is extremely violent as a builder is impaled due to lying. Each chapter moves up in time telling how the bridge and especially the kapia (the wide space in the middle of the bridge with seating) has become a centralized meeting place. The stories are about ordinary people who have both good times and sad times on the bridge.

The final chapters are set during pre World War I times and the Bosnia Serbian conflicts. As different rulers come in power, life in the town and on the bridge changes. The Austrians during the Austrian-Hapsburg time bring a totally new life to the area. Conflicts arise especially from the Serbs who want freedom from Austria. Small conflicts lead to more and more changes; the bridge is secretly mined.

The book is often difficult to read due to my lack of understanding of the history of the area; yet, there are memorable characters and events. Characters have names I can't begin to pronounce and there are references I do not understand. However, this is a beautifully written and interesting book. Hardships and violence make the bridge possible, but the bridge brings peace and security; the bridge is a central character in the story. The writing is beautiful. For example, the final chapter takes place during one of the Bosnian Serbian wars that lead up to WWI. Alihodja is a Muslim who owns a shop near the bridge; the Austrians and Serbs (both considered infidels) are shooting at each other and bombings take place destroying the shops around. Aihodja finds his retreat in a small dank room where he used to sit to avoid family squabbles and irritating customers. "The narrow room quickly filled with the warmth of this body and the hodja felt that sweetness of solitude, peace and forgetfulness which made of that close, dark, dusty room a place of endless paradisiacal gardens with green banks between which murmured invisible waters... These few planks..were enough to shelter and save a true believer. Silence is for prayer; it is itself like a prayer." In moments, the shop and the bridge are bombed. As the bridge is destroyed, the hodja asks himself, "Surely there are still peaceful countries and men of good sense who know of God's love?...Anything might happen but one thing could not happen; it could not be that great and wise men of exalted soul who would raise lasting buildings for the love of God, so that the world should be more beautiful and man live in it better and more easily, should everywhere and for all time vanish from this earth."

Although the book is about a culture, time, and place totally foreign to me, the story is about ordinary people trying their best to go about their lives; however, the decisions and actions of those far from them alter those ordinary lives in ways of which they have no control. The theme is timely. ( )
  maryreinert | Apr 17, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andrić, IvoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edwards, Lovett F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McNeill, William H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meriggi, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Munari, BrunoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sangster-Warnaars, C.W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinervo, AiraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinervo, ElviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vermeulen-Dijamant, K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For the greater part of its course the river Drina flows through narrow gorges between steep mountains or through deep ravines with precipitous banks.
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In the small Bosnian town of Visegrad the stone bridge of the novel's title, built in the sixteenth century on the instruction of a grand vezir, bears witness to three centuries of conflict. Visegrad has long been a bone of contention between the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires, but the bridge survives unscathed until 1914, when the collision of forces in the Balkans triggers the outbreak of World War I.

The bridge spans generations, nationalities and creeds, silent testament to the lives played out on it. Radisav, a workman, tried to hinder its construction and is impaled alive on its highest point; beautiful Fata leaps from its parapet to escape an arranged marriage; Milan, inveterate gamble, risks all in one last game on it. With humour and compassion, Andric chronicles the lives of Catholics, Moselms and Orthodox Christians unable to reconcile their disparate loyalties. [Amazon.co.uk]
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