Andrić, Ivo "The Bridge on the Drina" (Serbo-Croat: На Дрини Ћуприја or Na Drini Ćuprija) - 1945
This is the story of a bridge. From the day it was built in the 16th century up until a couple of hundred years later in the 20th.
It is amazing what such a building or the river below it goes through during the centuries. We people only live a very short time compared to anything around us. In the long run, the life of one person is nothing compared to history.
The author manages to describe this very well. The river runs smoothly, or sometimes not so smoothly, and so does the history of man. Leaders come and go, war rages, natural catastrophes, the bridge still stands and watches over the lives of the people who cross the river.
Reading this makes you almost feel like being the bridge seeing the river flow below you.
But it also shows you a lot of the history of the Balkans that was always in the middle of the Western and Eastern Empires, the Occident and the Orient. As with most Eastern literature, there is quite a bit of poetry in the book, as well. You might want to concentrate on one part at the time. The book certainly brings you to a different part of this world.
Once you read it, you will understand why he was awarded the Nobel Prize for just writing one piece of fiction. It is a masterpiece.
From the back cover:
"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, Moslem's and Orthodox Christians unable to reconcile their disparate loyalties."
Ivo Andrić received received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961 "for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country".
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