Meša Selimović

First paper, final draft due.

Meša (Mehmed) Selimović (1910-1982), Yugoslavia.

Selimović was born in Tuzla, a city in what was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and is now in Bosnia and Hercegovina. The excellent introduction to this translation gives you all the information you could need for understanding; be sure to read it, if not before the novel then after it. For obvious reasons, the novel may be compared to Andrić's Bridge on the Drina. Instead of the broad historical sweep of Bridge, Selimović gives a rich picture over a limited period in what is probably Sarajevo, the most important city in Bosnia, and Selimović's place of residence for over two decades in the middle of his life. (And yet the past does begin to intervene in the narration!)

The original title is Drviš i smrt (1966) - and even if you don't know the language you can tell that the translation inverts the two elements of the title. One of the great mysteries: what sounds better.

The Dervish and Death was translated from the Serbian by Bogdan Rakić and Stephen M. Dickey.


Questions for reading:

Selimović wrote over a dozen boks, but the only other major translation into English is The Fortress (1999; original Trđava, 1970). Tripod holds (at Haverford) Mersad Berber's book Muhamed Karemehmedović, Meša Selimović, Ivo Andrić, for those who would like to learn more.

Selimović's Death and the Dervish might be compared to Kafka's The Trial, among other works.