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, tries 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, Muslims and Orthodox Christians unable to reconcile their disparate loyalties.
Ivo Andric (1892-1975), Nobel Prize laureate for literature in 1961, is undoubtedly the most popular of all contemporary Yugoslav writers. Over the span of fifty-two years some 267 of his works have been published in thirty-three languages. Andric’s doctoral dissertation, The Development of Spiritual Life in Bosnia under the Influence of Turkish Rule (1924), never before translated into English, sheds important light on the author’s literary writings and must be taken into account in any current critical analysis of his work. Over his long and distinguished career as a diplomat and man of letters Andric never again so directly or discursively addressed, as a social historian, the impact of Turkish hegemony on the Bosnian people (1463–1878), a theme he returns to again and again in his novels. Although Andric’s fiction was embedded in history, scholars know very little of his actual readings in history and have no other comparable treatment of it from his own pen. This dissertation abounds with topics that Andric incorporated into his early stories and later novels, including a focus on the moral stresses and compromises within Bosnia’s four religious confessions: Catholic, Orthodox, Jew, and Muslim. Z. B. Juricic provides an extensive introduction describing the circumstances under which this work was written and situating it in Andric’s oeuvre. John F. Loud’s original bibliography drawn from this dissertation stands as the only comprehensive inventory of historical sources known to have been closely familiar to the author at this early stage in his development.
A sweeping epic by Nobel Prize-winner Ivo Andrić about power, identity, and Islam set in 19th-century Ottoman Bosnia and Istanbul. Omer Pasha Latas is set in nineteenth-century Sarajevo, where Muslims and Christians live in uneasy proximity while entertaining a common resentment of faraway Ottoman rule. Omer is the seraskier, commander in chief of the Sultan’s armies, and as the book begins he arrives from Istanbul, dispatched to bring Sarajevo’s landowners to heel, a task that he accomplishes with his usual ferocity and efficiency. And yet the seraskier’s expedition to Bosnia is a time of reckoning for him as well: he was born in the Balkans, a Serb and a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a bright boy who escaped his father’s financial disgrace by running away and converting to Islam. Now, at the height of his power, he heads an army of misfits, adventurers, and outcasts from across Europe and Asia, and yet wherever he goes he remains a stranger. Ivo Andrić, who won the Nobel Prize in 1961, is a spellbinding storyteller and a magnificent stylist, and here, in his final novel, he surrounds his enigmatic central figure with many vivid and fascinating minor characters, lost souls and hopeless dreamers all, in a world that is slowly sliding towards disaster. Omer Pasha Latas combines the leisurely melancholy of Joseph Roth’s The Radetzky March with the stark fatalism of an old ballad.
This volume, meant specifically for those new to the field, brings together an ensemble of prominent scholars and illuminates the role religious myths have played in shaping those social boundaries that we call "races" and "ethnicities".
Wars come and go across the headlines and television screens, but for those who survive them, scarred and scattered, they never end. This is a book about post-conflict irresolution, about the lives of those who survived the gulag of concentration camps in north-western Bosnia and about seeking justice for Bosnia today. But justice is not Reckoning. The book finds that the survivors are lost not only geographically, but in history – betrayed in war, and also in peace.
"The Potato Bug" and Other Essays on Czech Culture
Author: Vladimír Macura
Publisher: Univ of Wisconsin Press
A keen observer of culture, Czech writer Vladimír Macura (1945–99) devoted a lifetime to illuminating the myths that defined his nation. The Mystifications of a Nation, the first book-length translation of Macura’s work in English, offers essays deftly analyzing a variety of cultural phenomena that originate, Macura argues, in the “big bang” of the nineteenth-century Czech National Revival, with its celebration of a uniquely Czech identity. In reflections on two centuries of Czech history, he ponders the symbolism in daily life. Bridges, for example—once a force of civilization connecting diverse peoples—became a sign of destruction in World War I. Turning to the Soviet and post-Soviet eras, Macura probes a range of richly symbolic practices, from the naming of the Prague metro system, to the mass gymnastic displays of the Communist period, to post–Velvet Revolution preoccupations with the national anthem. In “The Potato Bug,” he muses on one of the stranger moments in the Cold War—the claim that the United States was deliberately dropping insects from airplanes to wreak havoc on the crops of Czechoslovakia. While attending to the distinctively Czech elements of such phenomena, Macura reveals the larger patterns of Soviet-brand socialism. “We were its cocreators,” he declares, “and its analysis touches us as a scalpel turned on its own body.” Writing with erudition, irony, and wit, Macura turns the scalpel on the authoritarian state around him, demythologizing its mythology.