First short paper due
Ivo Andrić (1892–1975), Yugoslavia
Ivo Andrić was born in Travnik, Bosnia, in a Croatian family (his first name “Ivo” is a diminutive form of “Ivan”), he spent
much of his childhood in Višegrad (on the river Drina) and went on to study literature and history in Zagreb, Vienna, Kraków and Graz.
Thus he began his intellectual life in the Austro-Hungarian sphere of influence. His first publications were also in Zagreb. After
the First World War he entered the Yugoslav diplomatic service and began to self-identify as a Serb. He was the Yugoslav ambassador in
Berlin when Nazi Germany attacked Yugoslavia. He spent the war in Belgrade, writing; the three novels he published in quick
succession after the war established his reputation as one of the foremost Yugoslav authors, and this status was cemented when
he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961.
The Bridge on the Drina (Na Drini ćuprija), written during World War II, was published in 1945. It was
the first of Andrić’s great novels and many still consider it his best. The English translation by Lovett Edwards was first published
Questions for reading:
- How much do you know about the region, history and culture that Andrić is describing? How much is reading this a learning experience
for you, as well as one of understanding? What communities or cultures in the novel could you identify with, and why? If you were reading
this book for sociological or historical information, what would you do to correct for any bias in the presentation of characters or
cultures? How persuasive is Andrić cin his interpretation of what he presents, as well as in his presentation?
- What role does ethnic/linguistic/religious belonging play in defining or placing each character in the book? How do religious figures
compare to others? What stereotypes do you recognize, and which are new to you?
- Where do you see traces of Andrić’s education as a historian, or his experience as a diplomat? What other disciplines (economics,
linguistics, psychology, comparative religion?) weave into the book’s preoccupations?
- How does the nature of the characters change over time, and how does/do their community/ies evolve?
- Which of Andrić’s questions about economic and cultural development resonate with other things you have read?
- What is the relationship of History to Story, or what may you conclude from Andrić’s discussions of history?
- How does the narrator handle the spoken word? where does he relate conversations exactly, where does he let you know that he’s
re-creating a conversation or incident, and when does he report it in the third person, in his words rather than those of the
- How does it change the shape of a novel to select a bridge as its main character, rather than a person, or a romantic relationship,
or other more common choices? What is the role of love in the novel? Does it evolve over time? Where and how does Andrić’s depiction of
love differ from what’s current in our own society or era?
- What is the role of belonging in the novel, and how do the characters' senses of who they are shape their views of others and of
- How much do you know about folklore? Would you agree with the way Andrić presents the folklore of Višegrad?
Other books by Andrić:
- Travnička hronika, 1945. The Chronicle of Travnik [Tripod title: The Bosnian Chronicle],
translated by Joseph Hitrec, 1963, in Tripod. There's a new translation as well: The Days of the Consuls,
translated by Celia Hawkesworth and Bogdan Rakić, 1992, in Tripod.
- Gospođica, 1945. Miss [Tripod title: The Woman from Sarajevo], translated by Joseph Hitrec,
1965, in Tripod.
- Prokleta avlija, 1954. The Cursed Yard [Tripod title: Devil’s Yard], translated by Kenneth
Johnstone, 1962, in Tripod.
- (a collection of stories), 1967. The Pasha’s Concubine, and Other Tales, translated by Joseph Hitrec,
1968, in Tripod.
- Entwicklung des geistigen Lebens in Bosnien unter der Einwirkung der türkischen Herrschaft (Andric’s doctoral dissertation),
1924. The Development of Spiritual Life in Bosnia Under the Influence of Turkish Rule, translated by Želimir B.
Jurišić and John F. Loud, 1990, in Tripod.
Works about Andrić:
- Zelimir B. Juricic. The Man And The Artist: Essays On Ivo Andric, in Tripod.
- Vanita Singh Mukerji. Ivo Andric: A Critical Biography, in Tripod.
- Wayne S. Vucinuch. Ivo Andric Revisited: The Bridge Still Stands, available in Tripod.
There are numerous sites about Andrić on the web: let me know if you fund anything
You might be interested in comparing The Bridge on the Drina to Meša Selimović's Death and the Dervish,
where the Muslim community is central, or to works by a more recent Serbian novelist, Borislav Pekić: The Time of Miracles
or The Houses of Belgrade. For a survey of stories by recent Serbian writers, see Radmila J. Gorup and Nadežda Obradović
The Prince of Fire: An Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Short Stories.