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The Bridge on the Drina (Phoenix Fiction) Paperback – August 15, 1977
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Text: English, Serbo-Croation (translation)
From the Back Cover
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. A vivid depiction of the suffering history has imposed upon the people of Bosnia from the late sixteenth century to the beginning of World War I, 'The Bridge on the Drina' earned Andric the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961.
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Top customer reviews
A full plate indeed. All this interplay is masterfully crafted through a variety of individual and community stories. I read it in two sessions having to pause to reflect and consider so many issues that are raised. I have already recommended this to four friends. I wonder what I miss in translation,
but I am glad to have read it. Double glad that read a book from apart of the world with which I was unfamiliar. Though from a time past I found many issues germane to our current time. Do yourself a favor and read it.
When Yugoslavia broke up after the fall of the Soviet Empire, many people thought that these cultural conflicts had been so effectively suppressed by Tito that they would never rise again. Those with some knowledge of the people and area knew that chaos and brutality were more likely. Although much had appeared to have changed, the hatreds had been retained, just like vestigial tails.
"The Bridge on the Drina" tells a fictionalized truth about how Turks, Serbs and Jews lived together, accomodating one another in a small, remote village for over four hundred years. But the story also includes the disruptions and changes in power structure that took place, lowering the prestige of one group at the expense of another. All of this is part the cultural memory carried even by young people today.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is endeavoring to understand not just the Balkans, but human nature in any place and at any time. Another good book to acompany this one would be "Land Without Justice" by Milovan Djilas.
I do not speak Serbian, but I do agree with those who critisized the translation. In places it is rough and difficult to understand. On the other hand, the thoughts being transmitted are subtle and any translator would have had difficulties properly conveying them without losing the emotions of the author.
All around, this was an enjoyable and enlightening read, and I highly recommend it.
People often speak of "the soul of a nation". This is exactly what Andrić conveys in "The Bridge on the Drina": he tells of countless lives, countless souls experiencing love and hate and laughter and heartbreak, which together form the great soul of his beloved country (to him, this was Yugoslavia). Somehow, his story is both as broad as a nation and as quiet and simple as that nation's most unassuming inhabitants. It is as luxuriously metaphoric as it is stark and realistic. Its flavor is uniquely Serbian; its words are universal. Reading this book is like living; there is no emotion, no experience which it does not contain.