Die Brücke über die Drina : eine Wischegrader Chronik ; Roman

by Ivo Andrić

Other authorsErnst E. Jonas (Translator)
Paperback, 1993

Status

Available

Call number

KW 4424 B889

Collection

Publication

München: Dt. Taschenbuch-Verl.

Description

"A hardcover edition of Nobel Prize-winning author Ivo Andric's historical novel about the Balkans, first published in 1945, translated from the Serbo-Croatian by Lovett F. Edwards, with a new introduction by Misha Glenny, a bibliography, and a chronology of the author's life and times"--

User reviews

LibraryThing member deebee1
This is the tale of a bridge, and much more. It is the story of a small town on the Bosnian border; its life under the Ottomans and later, the Austrians; the joys, the hardships, the pains of the people of the town of Visegrad whose fates depended on the whims and decrees imposed by the far-off
Show More
capital city of whoever was the imperial ruler then; the reverberations of revolts and wars that were being fought across the border or further inland; and a bridge who was witness to it all.

Spanning a canvas of more than 300 years, Andrić brings to life in the most beautiful and vivid way, rural and town life in Visegrad which was first just a little sleepy border place along the river Drina made up of Turks, Jews, and Serbs who, though they harbored deep suspicion of each other, have learned how to live, and even like each other, albeit depended on each other for their mutual survival.

First, there was no bridge. Then sometime in the 16th century, the great Mehmet Pasha, whose origins were from that region, instructed the construction of a great bridge. And life started to revolve around that bridge. As well as death, for along the centuries, it became the symbol and the stage where the power, repression and aggression of the ruling power were displayed in the most savage form both as reminder and punishment.

Andrić writes a fictional but truthful history of the bridge at Visegrad. We meet a host of memorable characters and experience unforgettable events. There are the peasants, the townsmen, the merchants, the priests; then came the workers, the builders of the bridge; then the soldiers and new settlers from far-off lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, who administered the town's transformation in the “Western” way; then there were the intellectuals, the students, and the revolutionaries. Between these waves which took place over many generations, we feel as if the town is always at the edge of something that is not within them to control. Change came, most of the time not subtly and not from any internal source, and here we see how tensions developed, grew, and sometimes, exploded. And those who could not accept change simply faded away for there was no room for these misfits in the new social order. This is just a small part of a much bigger story, but we begin to have a glimpse of some of the historical sources of the volatility of a region located at the crossroads of East and West, and which served as a pawn by much greater powers in their games of political domination. Through all these waves and changes, there stood the bridge - the only constant, permanent thing in their lives. It was solid, it was immense, it was indestructible. But was it really?

This book is a truly a masterpiece. I was swept away by the writing from the very first page, and didn't want the tale to end. But it had to end, and it was not a very happy ending, even as we know that until now what is there is a fragile peace, and deep scarring from a bloody recent past.
Show Less
LibraryThing member GlebtheDancer
One of the best books I have read this year. Imagine if you left a TV camera pointed at a bridge for over half a millenium. Now imagine that the bridge is an almost permanent frontier between warring parties, be it Muslim and Christian, Ottoman and Serb, Serb and Austro-Hungarian. Andric's book
Show More
attempts (and succeeds) to tell 500 years of European history via the characters who inhabit one small town in Bosnia that teeters on the brink of two empires. The book follows the 'life' of the bridge, beginning with its construction by an Ottoman vezir and ending with its destruction during World War I . Although Andric's book is about 'big' history, his characters are the 'little' people, watching and being swept up by world events. The characters change as time passes, but are engaging, comic and believable, reminding me of Salman Rushdie's fluid prose and casts of grotesques. The story as a whole is not a million miles from being a sort of European 'Midnight's Children', except that the central character is not a person, or a nation, but a bridge. Perhaps a primer in Balkan history is handy to get the full import of all the events the befall the bridge, but, that aside, this is the very definition of accessible, engaging writing.
Show Less
LibraryThing member wandering_star
The Bridge On The Drina is about ordinary life in a small town, over several centuries. However, while the people of Višegrad are like those in any small town, Višegrad itself is not ordinary. It is on the border of the Bosnian and Serb territories, and its bridge - built in the sixteenth century
Show More
- is an important communications link for the Ottoman Empire.

Great historical forces lead to political upheavals, imperfectly understood in the town but with inevitable consequences.

Much of the book is focused on the bridge itself, including the terraced area midway across where the townspeople pass the time, and the caravansarai to one side. Serbian villagers try to disrupt the construction of the bridge and are made examples of. Refugees cross the bridge, driven out of their homes. After the shift from the Ottoman to the Austro-Hungarian empire, women start to take the air on the terrace, much to the disgust of the men who used to smoke their waterpipes there. Guards appear and question the people who are crossing.

As this shows, the book is interested in the way that the great political changes are experienced in daily life, and especially in the way that the town changed with each wave of new influence - whether that was in a new way of reckoning weights and measures at the market, or a different shape of horseshoe. And the influence goes both ways:

"Many of these officials, the fiery Magyar or the haughty Pole, crossed the bridge with reluctance and entered the town with disgust and, at first, were a world apart, like drops of oil in water. Yet a year or so later they could be found sitting for hours on the kapia [terrace], smoking through thick amber cigarette-holders and, as if they had been born in the town, watching the smoke expand and vanish under the clear sky in the motionless air of dusk; or they would sit and wait for supper with the local notables on some green hillock, with plum brandy and snacks and a little bouquet of basil before them, conversing leisurely about trivialities or drinking slowly and occasionally munching a snack as the townsmen knew how to do so well."

This extract also shows the poetry of description which is another feature of the book.

I don't think I've ever read anything which looked at the sweep of history in such a human way. Highly recommended.
Show Less
LibraryThing member GeoV
I could not begin to review a book of this quality. In lieu of a review, perhaps I could relate a brief story.

In the first few pages, Andrić speaks of the centre of the bridge, the kapia. He tells of a traveller, to whom the people of Višegrad had been most hospitable, who wrote "their kapia is
Show More
the heart of the bridge, which is the heart of the town, which must remain in everyone's heart." Since Andrić wrote his book, the River Drina has, again, flowed red. Višegrad - and the bridge itself - was the scene of some of the major atrocities of the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s.

One morning in Sarajevo, I met an acquaintance. She asked me where I was going that day so, knowing nothing of her background, I said "Višegrad." Her eyes lit up - I was going to visit her town, her bridge. Her face clouded a little as she told me she did not often go there now; it had changed. But, no matter, I was going to her town, her bridge. Only afterwards did someone else explain about her relatives and friends who had died there and what drove her out of her native town - a place she had ever reason to hate but did not. It is hard to imagine a clearer confirmation of what Andrić said.

The Drina now flows its normal rich green though not all the blood has been washed away; some of the wounds bleed elsewhere. The bridge remains.
Show Less
LibraryThing member pgmcc
It is claimed on the cover of Andric's (forgive me for not knowing how to put the appropriate accent over the "c")book that, "No better introduction to the study of Balkan and Ottoman history exists". It is not only an introduction to the Balkans, but its description of life in the village of
Show More
Visegrad (again apologies for the lack of accent on the "s")over a three hundred year span, presents a microcosm for the development of European nations, political thought, modernisation, and even the growth of the individual.

Andric traces the growth of Visegrad from the time of the bridge's building in the sixteenth century to the outbreak of World War I. It takes the reader through a series of anecdotes concerning the life of the people who came to live in Visegrad and describes how an ethnic mix built up over the years. The novel is very good at showing how people of different tradition lived side by side and co-operated in times of natural disaster, but how theis neighbours, who have everything in common with regards to where they live, are still divided deep down. These divisions come to the fore when times get tough and distant events impinge on local life.

I was sad to come to the end of this book, but unlike other novels I've lamented finishing, The Bridge Over the Drina did not leave me hankering for more. It was complete. It was the right length. Andric said what he wanted to say and said it well.

I was tearful as I finished the book that was partly due to the emotions generated by the book and partly by a personal incident. I think if the personal event had not happened I would still have been tearful at the end of the book. (I'm just a big sop!)

I can see why this book played a major factor in winning Andric the Nobel Prize for literature.

Translated from the Serbo-Croat by Lovett F. Edwards. He did a very good job.

BTW I had not seen a picture of the bridge until tonight when I Googled one for this posting. The picture was exactly the same as I had pictured it from reading the book. Full marks to Andric's descriptions (and Edwards' translation).
Show Less
LibraryThing member thorold
Andrić takes us through the history of Bosnia from the early 16th century, when janissaries took a ten-year-old boy from his parents in a village near Višegrad. He would grow up to become the Ottoman statesman Mehmet Pasha and commission, as his pious legacy, the building of a stone bridge and a
Show More
han at the point where he had been carried over the Višegrad ferry. In a series of vignettes, some linked, some not, we are taken through to 1914, when young people of the author's own generation are facing the opportunities of modern education and communications, and the challenges of the new political situation in the Balkans.

Although Andrić tells us a lot about the big things that are going on in the region over those four hundred years, everything is shown through the eyes of the ordinary people — Moslems, Serbs, and Jews; later also Austrians, Hungarians and Galicians — who live in the small town of Višegrad and meet to gossip on the bridge. History is experienced as a series of more or less inexplicable external events that affect their lives, it never seems to be anything they can influence themselves. Gruesome descriptions of arbitrary executions and tragic tales of suicide are mixed up with comic tales of romance and commercial intrigue, or with the minor tragedies of ordinary people's lives. The dignified conservative we see questioning reckless innovation in one story reappears in later ones as the last eccentric stick-in-the-mud holding on to the old ways against all reason, and the bridge constantly reappears as the structure that gives the stories a common thread.

Fascinating, absorbing, and an unusual way of looking at history: despite the long span of years covered it never loses its very human, very local feel: Andrić manages to make all these diverse characters from different cultures and ages into people we feel we know, somehow.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ErinKennedy
This is one of my all-time favorite novels. Not only does it provide a poignant story of the cultural history of the Balkans, but it is beautifully written (this translation is exquisite).
LibraryThing member sometimeunderwater
One of the best stories I've ever read about a bridge.
LibraryThing member FemmeBibliophile37
Unbeknownst to my slavic university professor, this novel is so well-written and so historical in its content, that I lied about finishing it in order to savour the completion of reading it. Indeed, Mr. Andric deserved the Nobel Prize for Literature.
LibraryThing member Zohrab
A very graphic novel at parts. Sometimes a little hard to read. The story is of a bridge over 400 years of Turkish occupation.
LibraryThing member jcbrunner
Typical of the region, the novel takes a long, long time before the action starts. Only after 300 pages does the main narrative begin. The first 300 pages are filled with vignettes and preludes that only acquire meaning after the completion of the book. Everything is connected and just this
Show More
closeness of different attitudes, peoples and cultures results in an inordinate amount of brutality and suffering in an otherwise backward location. Progress, technology and war comes to Visegrad from far away countries whose representatives change, dig and smash, while life goes on for the population.

In its last 100 pages,a poignant anti-war novel emerges. a fitting companion to All Quiet on the Western Front where the war, destruction and turmoil is all about civilians caught in situations beyond their control and understanding.
Show Less
LibraryThing member clevinger
Visegrad, a town in Bosnia close to the Serbian frontier and the place of upbringing of the author, is the setting for this novel that spans 400 years of its history from 1516 at the height of the Ottoman empire to 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War and shortly before the
Show More
demise of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The novel deals with the trials and tribulations of the town's multicultural community of Jews, Orthodox Christian Serbians and Muslim Turks whose fortunes wax and wane with the controlling empires. The strength and durability of the eponymous bridge is the story's leitmotif, remaining ever constant in the face of the changing fortunes of man: "Life on the kapia always renews itself despite everything and the bridge does not change with the years or with the centuries or with the most painful turns in human affairs" [p.101].

For all its plaudits as a multi-generational epic however, the first third of the book covers almost 360 of those 400 years, up to the Austro-Hungarian invasion in 1878. This section is little more than a series of vignettes, with lightly sketched characters introduced only to meet a violent end a page or two later. In his rush to get through these years, the author makes some lazy assertions that do not stand up to closer scrutiny - during the celebrations of the completion of the bridge "One gipsy child died after eating too much hot halva" [p.66], and the bridge itself "remained as unchanged as the waters that flowed beneath it" [p.71].

It is once the Austrians arrive in town that the novel really comes into its own. The clash of cultures is starker than anything the townspeople have had to endure thus far, particularly the Germanic work ethic which "to all of them it seemed that the foreigners were doing this work, as they did all other work, only because they must work at something. Work for them was a necessity and they could not do otherwise" [p.205]. Thus the new occupiers engage in a never ending process of demolishing and rebuilding, taking surveys and censuses, and introducing new regulations for which the townspeople can see no immediate purpose and actively resist where possible.

Indeed one of the recurring themes in the history of the town that particularly struck me was the constant resistance of the simple townsfolk to any change whatsoever that is imposed upon them from outside. There is antipathy to the construction of the bridge itself, for the people suffer under the enforced slave labour and can see no good that will come of it. When entreated to join insurrections or offer armed resistance they decline as "the people of Visegrad had never had the reputation of being enthusiastic fighters ... they preferred to live foolishly rather than to die foolishly" [p.113]. The older generation stubbornly refuse to change their national dress, to answer the censuses or to change any of their customs or practices no matter how outdated or inefficient. Jews continue to extend credit "for even despite the fact that banks, mortgage banks and other credit facilities had long existed in the town, the peasants, especially the older ones, liked to commit themselves in the old-fashioned way with the merchants from whom they bought their goods and with whom their fathers before them had contracted obligations" [p.267].

At first glance this resistance to change appears to be the worst kind of myopic parochialism that can be seen in small towns the world over. The new generation that goes off to be educated in Vienna, Budapest and Prague return full of ideas totally alien to their elders. "Modern nationalism will triumph over religious diversities and outmoded prejudice, will liberate our people from foreign influence and exploitation. Then will the national state be born" [p.245] they declare. Pavle Rankovic, an established figure in the community after lifelong hard work finds his own sons talk "baffling and incomprehensible...as if they thought that to live and die in present conditions was no better than to spend their lives like brigands in the mountains" [p.259]. Lotte the hotelier, who had previously been in such command of her business and family, recalls the time when "everyone was moving in the same direction as she was; work and family. Everyone was in his right place and there was a place for everyone" but now laments that "the present generation attached more importance to its views on life than to life itself" [p.258].

However as events unfold we begin to see some justification to their forebodings. The outbreak of war between Austria and Serbia brings "the first blows of a great terror, with arrests and killings without order or justice" [p.295] and for the first time war comes to Visegrad. Suddenly "the people were divided into the persecuted and those who persecuted them ... As has so often happened in the history of man, permission was tacitly granted for acts of violence and plunder, even for murder, if they were carried out in the name of higher interests, according to established rules, and against a limited number of men of a particular type and belief" [p.282]. The effect on the town is catastrophic "In a few minutes the business quarter, based on centuries of tradition, was wiped out" [p.283]. Now the nostalgia for simpler times where everyone knew their place no longer seems irrational or self-serving, but an astute acknowledgement that it is the only way a community of different religions and ethnicity could possibly live together: "there had always been concealed enmities and jealousies and religious intolerance, coarseness and cruelty, but there had also been courage and fellowship and a feeling for measure and order which restrained all these instincts ... and submitted them to the general interest of life in common" [p.283]. Poor Pavle Rankovic, a leading Serb figure hitherto respected in the community, is imprisoned like a common criminal and is forced to consider the bitter irony that "everyone teaches you and urges you to work and to save, the Church, the authorities and your own common sense. You listen and live prudently, in fact you do not live at all, but work and save and are burdened with cares; and so your whole life passes. Then all of a sudden the whole thing turns upside down" [p.305] and he loses everything.

The Bridge Over The Drina is thus an excellent study in the perils of multiculturalism as experienced by the inhabitants of the Balkan region. The quote on the front cover of my edition declares "no better introduction to the study of Balkan and Ottoman history exists" and this novel was the major contributing factor to the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to the author. However non-Balkan readers should exercise caution in proclaiming themselves experts on the Balkan experience on the strength of one novel. For an interesting antidote to this hubris, seek out the short essay "Living in the Shadow of the Bridge" by Marina Antic.

Finally the author attempts a denouement to his narrative with the partial destruction of the bridge by the Austrians at the beginning of World War I. But this left me with a feeling of incompleteness not merely because the bridge was in fact easily repaired but because so much more has happened in the town since then - four more years of the Great War, thirty three years of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and four years of Nazi occupation before the book was even published in 1945. Post-war there was a generation of socialism under Tito and the Bosnian War of the 90's.

All this means that the novel's strongest element is its depiction of life in the Austro-Hungarian empire around the turn of the 20th century, which is exactly when the author was living in Visegrad. But that does not detract from its worth as a fine novel that undoubtedly broadens the horizons of the reader.
Show Less
LibraryThing member DireWeevil
Dry. Not Really a "page turner".
LibraryThing member HadriantheBlind
Terse, yet vivid exploration of the history of the long-suffering Balkans.
LibraryThing member bereanna
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
Show More
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.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ted_newell
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
Show More
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.
Show Less
LibraryThing member larryerick
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
Show More
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.
Show Less
LibraryThing member BayardUS
The titular bridge is the main character of this most famous work by Ivo Andric. The choice to make the bridge the most central element of the work has both strengths and weaknesses: the focus allows Andric to explore the history of the town of Višegrad over a period far longer than a human life,
Show More
weaving vignettes together to cover hundreds of years of Bosnian history. By the time you complete the work you are left feeling like you have a sense of not just the town, but the history of the region and its peoples. Note, however, that this feeling is likely misleading, as this is a work of fiction and to take it as a source for actual history is a mistake. There are textbooks and academic articles out there that provide a better overview on Bosnian history than this book. Nevertheless, it's an impressive thing for a book to make you feel like you've learned about something on such a scale in little over 300 pages.

The weaknesses of focusing on the bridge is that it eliminates the possibility of there being a cast of human characters that last to the end of the narrative. Instead characters are introduced and disappear as the book skips ahead in time, sometimes revealing the fate of a character but more often forgetting about him or her. As I mentioned above, the narrative is essentially a series of vignettes or short stories using the same setting over a long period of time. Some of these vignettes are interesting, some aren't. There was no character that appears in enough vignettes for me to truly care about him or her, instead because they were sure to be discarded in a few chapters the characters inspired little emotion. I found that this caused the novel to have a rather detached feeling to it, further magnifying the feeling that this book was more a fictionalized historical overview than it was a literary work.

Ivo Andric clearly wasn't trying to focus on an individual or family in this book, instead he aimed to depict an entire town, and a historically complex one at that. In this ambition he succeeded, so long as questionable historical accuracy is ignored. However, the success of Ivo's goal came at the expense of my investment in the story. I'm sure this book is some people's favorite, but I found it to be only okay.
Show Less
LibraryThing member charlie68
More a series of stories than a novel, but still worth the trip. An adequate introduction to this area of the world. Noticed by its absence is the lack of acrimony and political division that has plagued the region lately.
LibraryThing member maryreinert
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
Show More
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.
Show Less
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
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
Show More
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.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jonfaith
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
Show More
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.
Show Less
LibraryThing member colligan
The Bridge on the Drina makes for an excellent read. The author effectively captures both the historical facts of the period as well as the feel of the times. He does so without missing the personal struggles of those involved. He conveys the ethnic and religious tensions with sympathy and
Show More
tolerance for all sides.
Show Less
LibraryThing member yarb
More a series of stories connected only by the bridge than a novel. The first 100 pages are so take place around the time of the bridge's construction by the Ottomans (actually by unwilling local labour) in 1570-something; I slightly preferred these to the last 200 which are devoted to the
Show More
Austro-Hungarian era from the mid-19th century to the beginning of WWI. I love Andrić's style, unhurried yet precise, always willing to step back and add background or introduce supporting characters as needed. Turks, Serbs, Moslems, Christians, Spanish and Galician Jews, Germans, Hungarians, Montenegrins, Poles... this is a fascinating depiction of a complex corner of Europe. Its somewhat pessimistic conclusion doesn't seem unreasonable in hindsight.
Show Less
LibraryThing member amerynth
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
Show More
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.
Show Less

Language

Original publication date

1945 (original Serbo-Croatian)

ISBN

3423107650 / 9783423107655
Page: 0.6366 seconds