DRINA BRIDGE




The Bridge on the Drina
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.
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. Spanning generations, nationalities, and creeds, the bridge stands witness to the countless lives played out upon it: Radisav, the workman, who tries to hinder its construction and is impaled on its highest point; to the lovely Fata, who throws herself from its parapet to escape a loveless marriage; to Milan, the gambler, who risks everything in one last game on the bridge with the devil his opponent; to Fedun, the young soldier, who pays for a moment of spring forgetfulness with his life. War finally destroys the span, and with it the last descendant of that family to which the Grand Vezir confided the care of his pious bequest -- the bridge. (Book Jacket)In the year 379 Theodosius divided the Roman Empire into two halves, the Eastern and the Western; the river Drina in Bosnia was the line of division and it remained a cultural border between Orient and Occident for centuries. In the Middle Ages the mountainous Bosnia developed its own identity, breaking away from Serbia in 960, and for a time officially embracing Albigensianism, thus becoming heretic in the eyes of both Orthodox and Latin Christians. The Turkish armies conquered Bosnia between 1386 and 1463. The landowning classes (as well as the adherents of Albigensianism) converted rapidly to Islam; the peasantry remained Orthodox. The Ottoman empire extracted a blood tribute -- at irregular intervals, the Sultan's agents rounded up young boys from Christian peasant villages and carried them off to Stamboul halfway across the world to serve as slaves in the royal household or as conscripts in the Janissary corps. The brightest, however, received appropriate training and emerged as military commanders and administrators in the service of the Empire. Here and there over the centuries, one or two rose to positions of supreme power. In the year 1516, one such boy was snatched from his mother near the oriental town of Visegrad on the Drina.
On that November day in one of those countless panniers a dark skinned boy of about ten years old from the mountain village of Sokolovici sat silent and looked about him with dry eyes. In a chilled and reddened hand he held a small curved knife with which he absent-mindedly whittled at the edges of the pannier, but at the same time looked about him. He was to remember that stony bank overgrown with spars, bare and dull grey willows, the surly ferry-man and the dry water-mill full of draughts and spiders' webs where they had to spend the night before it was possible to transport all of them across the troubled waters of the Drina over which the ravens were croaking. Somewhere within himself he felt a sharp stabbing pain which from time to time seemed suddenly to cut his chest into two and hurt terribly, which was always associated with the place where the road broke off, where desolation and despair were extinguished and remained on the stony banks of the river, across which the passage was so difficult, so expensive, and so unsafe. It was here, at this particularly painful spot in that hilly and poverty-stricken district, in which misfortune was open and evident, that man was halted by powers stronger than he and, ashamed of his powerlessness, was forced to recognize clearly his own misery and that of others, his own backwardness and that of others.What this boy in the pannier was later to become has been told in all histories in all languages and is better known in the world outside than it is amongst us. In time he became a young and brave officer at the Sultan's court, then the Great Admiral of the Fleet, then the Sultan's son-in-law, a general and statesman of world renown, Mehmed Pasha Sokollu, who waged wars that were for the most part victorious on three continents and extended the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire, making it safe abroad and by good administration consolidated it from within. For these sixty odd years he served three Sultans, experienced both good and evil as only rare and chosen persons may experience them, and raised himself to heights of power and authority unknown to us, which few men reach and few men keep. This new man that he had become in a foreign world where we could not follow even in our thoughts, must have forgotten all that he had left behind in the country whence they had once brought him. He surely forgot too the crossing of the Drina at Visegrad, the bare banks on which travelers shivered with cold and uncertainty, the slow and worm-eaten ferry, the strange ferryman, and the hungry ravens above the troubled waters. But that feeling of discomfort which had remained in him never completely disappeared. On the other hand, with years and age it appeared more and more often; always the same black pain which cut into his breast with that special well-known childhood pang which was clearly distinguishable from all the ills and pains that life later brought to him. With closed eyes, the Vezir would wait until that black knife-like pang passed and the pain diminished. In one of those moments he thought he might be able to free himself from the discomfort if he could do away with that ferry on the distant Drina, around which so much misery and inconvenience gathered and increased incessantly, and bridge the steep banks and the evil water between them, join the two ends of the road which was broken by the Drina and thus link safely and for ever Bosnia and the East, the place of his origin and the places of his life. Thus it was he who first, in a single moment behind closed eyelids, saw the firm graceful silhouette of the great stone bridge which was to be built there ...
Ivo Andric was born a Bosnian Serb in 1892, and grew up first in Sarajevo, where his father was a silversmith, and then, after his father died, in Visegrad, where his mother's father worked as a carpenter. He grew up playing on the bridge he describes, hearing its many fables and stories, observing first-hand town and village around it, seeing it bridge the lives of Christian, Muslim and Jew. In his youth, during the Austrian annexation of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Andric attended the great Hapsburg centers of learning -- Vienna, Zagreb, Graz and Cracow -- but during WWI his nationalist political activity caused him to be arrested by the Austrians and put in an internment camp for three years. On his release, he took up contributing in a literary review advocating political union of all the Southern Slav peoples. He got a Ph.D. in the history of Ottoman Bosnia from Graz in 1924 -- the detail in The Bridge on the Drina shows his great command over original sources and accounts of the period -- and joined the diplomatic service, rising to be his government's ambassador to Berlin: shades of a village boy raised to become Mehmed Pasha in an imperial capital, carrying his Visegrad on the Drina in his heart. The Bosnian government collapsed in 1941; Andric returned to Belgrade, where he stayed as a private citizen watching Tito's resistance emerge victorious from the ruin of war. The Bridge on the Drina was written in 1945. By this time, Andric had moved away from the linguistic nationalism he championed in his youth towards pan-slavic sympathies: he seems to point to a coming cultural transformation that would transcend Bosnia's sectarian and ethnic divisions. He was too old to embrace fully Tito's communist Yugoslav utopia (the regime did attempt to win him over, showering him with honors), though he preferred it to the narrow schisms of Serb, Croat, Slovene and Bosnian, of Orthodox, Catholic, and Muslim. History has shown us Andric's hoped-for transformation did not survive Tito, and in the nineties the Balkans slid back again, with terrible consequences, into the production of 'more history than they could locally consume.' Bosnia, in particular, showed medieval horrors reminiscent of the Turkish times -- one of the alleged rape camps of the Bosnian Serbs was close to Visegrad -- and for those surprised by the suddenness of the disintegration of Yugoslavia this is an important book to read. The book was translated into English in 1959, and with it spread Andric's European reputation. Ivo Andric died in 1975.A strange work. It goes into the mind of the Bosnian Muslim farther than others I have read, but I got the feeling that the Bosnian Serb in Andric somehow cannot go all the way to embrace the beys or hodjas or gypsies he describes so well. The prose sings with the lyric of genuine sentiment, but a more ambitious canvas would have served Andric better -- against the epic backdrop of a And Quiet Flows the Don (of which I was reminded frequently reading this), The Bridge On the Drina comes across as a set of short stories. But read it to people the history of Bosnia, to meet the obstinately cynical Alihodja ridiculing the Austrians' railway; Corkan the one-eyed gypsy, unlucky in love, dancing drunk on the parapet; or Lotte, the bustling Galician Jewess, ruling over drunkards in her hotel with a heave in her bosom and a glint in her eye.What does your sorrow do while you're sleeping? It is awaken and waiting. And, when it loses patience, it wakes me up.

1 yorum:

dibo mehmet chamdere

15 Ekim 2007 23:43

its so nice picture i like it :))