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The bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić

The bridge on the Drina (original 1945; edition 1977)

by Ivo Andrić, Lovett F. Edwards (Translator), William H. McNeill (Introduction)

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Title:The bridge on the Drina
Authors:Ivo Andrić
Other authors:Lovett F. Edwards (Translator), William H. McNeill (Introduction)
Info:Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977.
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:fiction, male author, serbian, bosnia, historical fiction, university of chicago press, bookshelf43

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The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić (1945)

Recently added byprivate library, georgechalikis, sandrikoti, erathostenes, Mallc, simplynewton, Avencejo, kthxy, biblioaug
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English (23)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
This is a masterful portrayal of Balkan history which, for anyone not familiar with it or, like me, familiar but confused, is a great way to gain more understanding.

The bridge is built 500 years ago by the ruler of the Ottomans in memory of the homeland he was stolen from. Andrić chronicles the history of the town of Visegrad chapter by chapter from before the bridge until the start of WW1 with the bridge playing a central role in each chapter either as a character in its own right or as the backdrop for a fascinating series of historical individuals.

Certain chapters stand out markedly from others: the punishment inflicted on the leader of a rebellious group drafted to build the bridge; a suicide; a drunken walk; and ultimately the fate of the bridge itself.

The genius of the writing lies in the way Andrić weaves historical people and events into the narrative so that you get an overview of 500 years
of history by just focussing on what is in effect the result of a civil engineering achievement. You meet all sorts of characters from all sorts of backgrounds and, through this, are able to piece together the various factions that have created the fractured Balkan landscape we have today.

The writing’s not easy. This isn’t historical fiction as we know it today, thankfully. It’s deep, ponderous and finely crafted. Take your time with it. He didn’t win the Nobel Prize for nothing.

Even so, I found it a bit hard going at times when nothing much seemed to be happening and, as the novel nears its end and wider political events make their presence felt locally, Andrić seems to run out of central figures to portray the history with. Instead, he relies on local youth who aren’t as strongly drawn as his earlier characters. I thought this a shame, particularly when the earlier writing is so very, very strong. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jan 2, 2016 |
Ivo Andric's "The Bridge on the Drina" is a good example of the reasons why I like reading titles from the list of 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die. I never would have stumbled onto this one on my own, but I liked reading it a lot.

The novel tells the story of Balkan history by telling stories about what happens on the deck of a bridge over a frothy, green river. The bridge unites Bosnians and Serbs, Turks and Christians and also stands between them. The novel is basically a series of vignettes, jumping from story to story as times change.

The book was an interesting way to tell the story of a people that have long been involved in regional strife. I felt the beginning was a bit stronger than the ending, but the book mostly maintained my interest throughout its pages. ( )
  amerynth | Dec 23, 2015 |
One of the best stories I've ever read about a bridge. ( )
  sometimeunderwater | Aug 10, 2015 |
Excellent. A great evocation of place, the Balkans in this case. If you can imagine a bridge as lead character in a book, well, probably you can't. The parade of centuries of life over and around the bridge is the book's structure. Puts you on the bridge with its tragedies and joys. The persistence of the life of a people formed long before Yugoslavian communism, formed really by Orthodox Christianity or Islam and the two in dialogue is the theme here. Boom! at the end. ( )
  ted_newell | Jun 20, 2015 |
After reading reviews of this book, I note many reviewers believe this to be a principal work on the Balkan mentality, as did Stefan.(who recommended it to us...our guide on the Eastern Europe river cruise) I noted that the book is used as instruction to students as there are several study guides available for a fee. I found one dissenting view to this work, and perhaps I’ll read that later. Right now, I am eager to read the book to glean from it what I can. I hope, too, that we three can make some sense of it!
The Introduction afforded most of the comments I made on this paper, while the first three chapters of the book left me with a vague sense that I am missing something important, like symbolism or something. Or does the mentality that I hope to understand begin here? Certainly Ivo’s early life experiences provided him with a unique understanding of the mentalilty of folks in the region thus an ability to be honest in his portrayal of the fictional characters.
It is no wonder that I am, as many people are, confused by the complexity of the region because on page 8 in the introduction, we are told how society is structured, both by religion and languages. So we have the Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and the Moslems plus all of the dialects that were used. It would be difficult to say which group one or another belonged to.
I didn’t know that Yugoslavia had been called the “Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenia” in 1918. Animosity among the three was always there and is no better now. Andric probed for the roots of the social conflict in the past. He had grown up in a world where “rival and mutually incompatible world views found themselves in acute conflict.” (p 12) We Americans did not grow up in a culture with such conflict, although as a married woman I experienced a small conflict between Ukrainian American traditions and Italian American ones. Moslems in the US are asking for changes in our religious celebrations, may be terrorist sponsors, may deny women the roles we ourselves have, etc. We need to understand their mentality before we can work to assimilate them into our national cultu
Andric’s portraits of Visegrad folks demonstrate “truth, insight and sympathy.”
As I began to read the novel, I realized I needed to look online for pictures of the bridge. It is located between today’s Bosnia and Serbia. Andric portrays the Christians and the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. Chapter One begins with several myths. They must be significant to the mentality of the peoples, I think, but how? (infant twins sacrificed, black Arab in the pier loophole, hoofprints of the supernatural-sized horse or winged character). None of the three I mentioned could be explained by the people back in the 16thC, so people created the myths. But is that not common among any illiterate peoples? I wonder if I am missing a connection to the mentality. Poor ill-fated Radisav even has a myth about his grave, albeit the Serbs and Turks each have their own.
There are some clues to character of Visegrads…melancholic serenity, easy-going, prone to pleasure, spendthrifts.
Even the Vezir who had stabbing heart pains believed a fairy tale, that if he built a bridge on the Drina, his pain would stop.
How about that Abigada! So cruel! Turns out he didn’t want to fall into disgrace. His enemies would laugh at him. (Actually, I would not like that either, but would not go to such lengths as he, to get people to do their jobs. Could this same fear be the root of behavior of many mean bosses?)
Stambul is mentioned. It is the old part of Istanbul.
Dalmation masons came from Dalmatia in Croatia.
I found it amusing how the editors of the novel hyphenate English at the end of lines: thou-ghts, blin-king.
The detailed description of Radisav’s impalement is horrid! His curse…”Turks on the bridge, may you die like dogs.”

A bit difficult to read due to outdated language and translation issues, I never did finish it.
  bereanna | Jan 10, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Andrić, Ivoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Edwards, Lovett F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McNeill, William H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meriggi, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinervo, AiraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinervo, ElviTranslatorsecondary 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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226020452, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:32 -0400)

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