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review 2018-04-23 21:11
The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić
The Bridge on the Drina - Ivo Andrić,Lovett F. Edwards,William Hardy McNeill

This is a sort of fictionalized history, which the author referred to as a “chronicle” rather than a novel. It spans about 350 years in the history of Višegrad, Bosnia, telling the story of the town and its Ottoman-era bridge from the 16th century to World War I. The book dips into the lives of individual characters, usually for vignettes of a chapter or less, but focuses more on the general feeling or changes in the town and the reaction of townspeople in general to key events than on particular characters. There are some astute character sketches; Andrić seems to have a good understanding of human nature. But overall it is a sweeping history told much more in narrative summary than specific scenes, and the town and bridge themselves, rather than particular families or plot threads, provide continuity between chapters.

It is a well-written (or well-translated) book, though a dense and slow read that felt much longer than its 300 pages. There’s a melancholy atmosphere throughout, with time passing and empires marching on indifferent to the fates of individuals. Readers should know that in the first 60 pages there is a horrifically graphic impalement scene that I did not need in my head and that a few years from now may be all I remember about the book. I persevered only after learning that there are no other graphic torture scenes, though death is a frequent occurrence throughout.

It’s also worth pointing out that, although to English-speakers this may seem like timeless storytelling, Andrić – a Bosnian Serb who ultimately made his home in Belgrade – is a controversial figure in Bosnia, and some see the book as advancing an anti-Bosniak political agenda. To me, as an outside reader, he seems to treat the Muslim and Serb populations of Višegrad both with humanity and fairly evenhandedly, with the important caveat that the Muslim population is referred to as “Turks” and “Turkish” throughout. Based on a bit of online research, this is inaccurate: the Bosnians were Slavs who had their own Bosnian Kingdom prior to their conquest by the Ottoman Empire in 1463, after which most of the population converted to Islam. But a reader ignorant of the region’s history might take Andrić’s terminology to indicate that Bosnia’s Muslims were Turkish colonists or transplants and that the Serbs were the original population. It occurs to me now that the impalement might be another subtly political decision: no such detailed brutality is described from any rulers other than the Ottomans, and Andrić imbues this scene with the maximum body horror, at a time when graphic violence in media was likely much less common than it is now (the book was published in 1945). Surely he knew how much this would stick out in readers’ minds.

Overall, the book did teach me something of the history of the Balkans, and presents a plausible chronicle of how history was experienced by everyday people over the course of hundreds of years. While I struggled a bit to get through it, I wouldn’t discourage readers who enjoy this sort of thing.

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review 2015-04-07 16:05
Inspirational travel book
Samsara - Put na Istok - Hrvoje Ivančić

 

*napisano i objavljeno za i na portalu www.citajme.com


Hrvoje Ivančić poznati je hrvatski bloger, reporter, pisac i vječni putnik. Njegov prvi roman ‘Dunavski blues’ o dvojici prijatelja koji se upute na putovanje od Zagreba do Crnog mora gumenim čamcem, oduševio je javnost i zasluženo dobio književnu nagradu Rikard Jorgovanić. Nakon dugog putovanja kopnom do Indije i boravka u toj zemlji, izdao je svoj drugi roman ‘Samsara: Put na Istok’.

Samsara u hinduizmu označava ponovno rađanje u fizičkom tijelu, a u ovom putopisnom romanu ona označava transformaciju u sadašnjem životu, odustajanje od jednog sjedilačkog načina života i prihvaćanje nečeg novog. Ovaj putopisni roman nastao je pet godina nakon autorova putovanja i sadrži mnoge autobiografske elemente iako ono nije autobiografsko djelo. Sam autor je izjavio: „Glavni lik Slaven je personifikacija mojeg indijskog osjećaja koji je nastao na tom dugom putovanju. Zbog svega što mi je Indija dala nisam mogao ići samo na čistu putopisnu formu, htio sam izvrnuti svoju unutrašnjost i svoj osjećaj pretočiti na stranice.“

Priča počinje željom mladog profesora Slavena da otputuje na istok. Nakon završenog školovanja i zapošljavanja u školi, Slaven osjeća kako postoji još nešto u životu što mora učiniti kako bi se nakon toga mogao mirno skrasiti sa svojom djevojkom i postati zadovoljan malim stvarima u životu, običnom svakodnevicom koja ga sada guši. U početku ima podršku svoje obitelji i djevojke, iako ga oni nisu u mogućnosti potpuno razumjeti. Pronalazi način da otputuje i upusti se u avanturu života, putovanje kopnom od Hrvatske do Indije. Prvo putuje sa Srećkom, a nakon Sarajeva i Istanbula, put nastavlja sam.

Put je započeo kao posljednji čin nemirne duše koja žudi za avanturom i slavom, a završio kao duhovno putovanje samospoznaje u svetom gradu Indije, Varanasiju. Slaven je kroz tisuće kilometara počeo ljuštiti kožu staroga sebe simbolično putujući sa sve manje i manje prtljage da bi na kraju završio bez ičega, u prljavoj odjeći proseći hranu na prljavim ulicama grada Varanasija uz obalu rijeke Ganges.

Roman ‘Samsara: Put na Istok’ počinje kao putopisni roman, prerasta u roman ceste, a završava kao priča o samospoznaji. Preobražaj koji doživljava glavni junak događa se postepeno preko introspekcije samoga sebe na dugom usamljenom putovanju na kojem Slaven uviđa da je dio univerzuma i da mu ne treba mnogo kako bi bio zadovoljan. On uči da ako samo ispruži ruke, naći će se neka dobra duša koja će mu udijeliti porciju hrane i da svijet obiluje dobrim ljudima koji su spremni pomoći.

Isto tako, autor se osvrće na činjenicu da Indija pruža mogućnost duhovnog preobražaja, ali da se ono ne može dogoditi trenutno za određenu svotu novaca. Naime, mnogi stranci dolaze u Indiju na kratko vrijeme samo kako bi se kasnije mogli pohvaliti da su doživjeli neko nadnaravno ili duhovno iskustvo jer su platili kako bi par sati gledali u svijeću i time se osjećali ispunjenima.

Svako duhovno iskustvo dolazi isključivo nakon mnogo truda, osobne želje i detaljne introspekcije. U svakom slučaju, Slavko je prošao kroz sve faze od ostavljanja obitelji i djevojke, napuštanja svih svojih materijalnih dobara i želje za slavom do života na ulici i prošenja hrane od prolaznika. Njegovo posljednje opraštanje od staroga života i staroga sebe dogodit će se ispuštanjem kamenčića iz svog džepa, upravo u nepreglednu rijeku Ganges.


**ova mi je knjiga dodijeljena od strane autora u zamjenu za iskrenu i nepristranu recenziju

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review 2011-08-18 10:54
To End a War (Modern Library Paperbacks)
To End a War - Richard Holbrooke 4.5 Stars
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