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Belladonna

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  313 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Andreas Ban je pisac i psiholog, nadasve intelektualac prepun empatije, no njegov se svijet već godinama urušava, a kada odlazi u bijednu mirovinu i sazna da je bolestan iznova sagledava krhotine svoga života i života svojih prijatelja. U borbi s bolešću i starošću Andreas Ban je i ciničan i moćan, i dok prekapa po vlastitoj prošlosti susreće se s pričama obespravljenih, p ...more
320 pages
Published November 2012 by Fraktura
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  313 ratings  ·  68 reviews


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Amalia Gkavea
‘’And the wind brought people who had let their plows rust; solitary people tiling the sky, reaping the harvests of summer nights, the fat grain of early straws, leaving it all unwinnowed. Instead they sued swords; their plowing was of bodies, their furrow cut to the heart; they plucked out hearts like tree stumps, they burst gall bladders, with livers they fed the vultures on their shoulders. At the last they rolled away the skulls like stones for building, but for building there was never t ...more
Paul Fulcher
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Now the worthy winner of the 2018 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation.

Andreas Ban had read somewhere that wars are orgies of forgetfulness. The twentieth century as archived vast catacombs, subways of information in which researchers get lost and in the end abandon their research, catacombs which ever fewer people enter. Stored away - forgotten. The twentieth century, a century of great tidying that ends in cleansing; the twentieth century, a century of cleansing, a century of erasure.

Daša Dr
...more
Hugh
This was my third book by Drndić after Doppelgänger and Trieste, and the links between them are increasingly clear. This one is full of quotations from other writers, and like Trieste, much of it dwells on details of the holocaust, including pages of lists of victims' names.

This one follows an academic, Andreas Ban, born to Croatian parents in Belgrade, but now living in retirement in Croatia, a country he barely knows. He is diagnosed with breast cancer early in the book, and his medical histor
...more
Ian Scuffling
In my ignorance of Croatian literature, I'm going to make a claim that I'm completely unqualified making: Daša Drndić is one of their finest, most artful writers. This book is a timespanning journey and mediation on time, history, the human body and heredity.

History is heredity is culture. History repeats itself because it's a genetic inheritance that deteriorates us as we try to push back against it. The body rejects our history and writes new history carried forward. All humans are a physical
...more
Vesna
A magisterial work, supremely rich in ideas, fictional and real-life stories, and factual histories. I found it impossible to read it without pausing at certain points to process and reflect on many challenging themes and difficult moments in the life of an extraordinary figure, Andreas Ban. Characteristically for Drndić, the ‘novel’ blends several genres, from engagingly flowing literary narrative to essayistic prose, containing photographs, several kinds of lists, among which those of the Holo ...more
Proustitute (somewhat here, somewhat there)
The twentieth century, a century of great tidying that ends in cleansing; the twentieth century, a century of cleansing, a century of erasure. Language perhaps remains, but it too is crumbling. A great burden falls on twentieth-century man and he drags himself out from under it, damaged.
Drndić takes a razor-sharp scythe to the lost histories and the continued legacies of Nazism and fascism, and, by suggesting that our failure to comprehend or to speak or to remember only perpetuates the eras
...more
Katya Kazbek
I don't think any other book has affected me as much in recent history. Yes, it's a lot of work to read it, especially in the beginning, but once you accept Andreas Ban's invitation to navigate the narrow post-WWII post-Soviet post-Yugoslav war space that is Croatia, in all its decrepitude, ambiguity and hopelessness, it captivates completely. Maybe I found it easier to relate to it because I'm from Eastern Europe and in myself carry the duality of being both from Russia and Ukraine, and being J ...more
Marc
Hague Monument to Jewish Children by Sara Benhamou and Eric de Vries
“Then record your nothingness by writing down the fragment, because the description of annihilation is the right fragment, because it is itself an expression of the destroyed whole. The event of destruction exists even when it is no longer happening, because it returns and is ever repeated in memory, for through memory it is annihilated anew.”

To bear witness. For me, this phrase sums up Drndić's book but falls far short in t
...more
JG
Monumental book that is still echoing loudly in my head after I have put it down. The Leopold Bloom like character of Andreas Ban is utterly intoxicating; he is surely one of the greatest personas of contemporary fiction. The mix between the decline of Andreas' body and mind, incorporated between the narrator-author's harrowing stewardship of Europe and Croatia's darkest historical periods makes for a savagely powerful and critical combination. The novel can be surprisingly tender and many of it ...more
Ronald Morton
On Saturday November 19, 2002, sixty people incarcerated in a camp for illegal immigrants sew their lips together. Sixty people with their lips sewn reel around the camp, gazing at the sky. Small muddy stray dogs scamper after them, yapping shrilly. The authorities keep postponing consideration of their applications for leave to remain.
That is a strong opening paragraph. Even stronger is to basically never come back to it at all.

So, this is the first Daša Drndić novel I’ve read.  Looking ov
...more
Richard
I appreciated the anti-fascist sentiments and Sebaldian textual affectations but it was all a bit heavy-handed and long-winded. Could easily have been about 100 pages shorter.
Elena Sala
BELLADONNA (2012) is a brutal and a shocking novel about the falling apart of Yugoslavia and the atrocities of World War II, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth

Andreas Ban, the protagonist, is a sixty-five-year old psychologist, writer, and academic, who has been forced into retirement, most likely, to silence him. He is a Croat, but he grew up in Belgrade, received his degree in Belgrade, was married in Belgrade, buried his mother and wife in Belgrade and spent most of his life in
...more
Yuri Sharon
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Several reviewers of this book have expressed reservations over the author’s predilection for historical detail, which they feel is included for little more than its own sake. There are certainly places where you can see the Wikipedia entry curling off the page, and I was also sometimes irritated by this, but I believe Drndic has earned the right to construct her novel as she sees fit. If she wants to underline the notion that all lives are contingent, then perhaps it would be best for us to jus ...more
Sam
Jun 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Drndić writes some very sobering prose about an aging man outliving his use and deteriorating in health, who faces intellectual and emotional crisis, while she incorporates his story into an encyclopedic picture of Eastern Europe's history of the Holocaust. ...more
Chris
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the afterword to his novel The Guiltless (Die Schuldlosen, 1950), Hermann Broch states that political indifference is closely linked to ethical depravity, that is, that politically innocent people are to a considerable degree ethically suspect, that they bear ethical blame, and stresses that the German populace did not feel responsible for Hitler’s coming to power because they considered themselves “apolitical”, in no way connected to what was happening around them. And what about the “apolit
...more
Lisa
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: EBDR Prize for Translation
Belladonna conceals its poison in beautiful mauve-black berries, and in its leaves and roots. The berries are full of dark inky juice, bitter-sweet, the size of cherries, and are as refreshing as a vitamin drink, so they tempt passers-by: pick me, pick me and fly away to the land of dreams. Those poisonous berries nestle comfortably in little green, five-pointed cups and sway in them quietly in the summer and autumn breeze. If eaten, just a few berries can kill a child, while an adult needs abou
...more
Michael
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can understand a reader saying “No thank you” to BELLADONNA. Not everyone is ready for a 375-page walk through darkness, a patchwork journey not unlike that guided by Virgil, through the abattoir that is the twentieth century. Through a Hell on earth.

Protagonist Andreas Ban is obsessed by the horrors of the past, haunted, he believes, by the spirits of the millions led to their deaths in the name of a million -isms – he has lost his way, consumed by remembrances, not always his own, of countle
...more
Terence
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This came after a recommendation from Jeff Vandermeer, he had posted something about it and it sounded interesting, plus the cover was really commanding. I am so glad I followed him on it. It's a bit in line with WG Sebald, who is one of my favorites, and contains a lot of images and video stills, kind of like a more wry "Austerlitz", there's a definite deadpan humor to some things that then transition right into lengthy discussions about the holocaust. Even listening all the jews who were on a ...more
Phil
Review of Belladonna by Dasa Drndic, translated by Celia Hawkesworth

The novel's protagonist Andreas Ban is recently retired from the univeristy where he lectured in psychology. Ban is unwell and living on the meagre Croatian state pension (and waiting for another stipend on it as art of his service working in Yugoslavia when it existed but Ban is not holding out for it).

While dealing with his own decline, Ban was also a witness to the grotesqueness that entrapped Europe in the 20th century with
...more
LindaJ^
Andreas Ban's body is betraying him -- breast cancer, a broken arm/hand, a knee that doesn't want to work, a broken leg, eye surgery, a querulous stomach, and more. He had to retire from his professorship -- it was required in Croatia at age 65. He lives alone now. His son Leo grew up, left home, and became a doctor. They are not estranged, just apart.

Andreas is haunted by WWII and how it seems to be being forgotten and how it resembles the Serbia/Croatian conflict in the Balkans, where he lives
...more
Harris
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Huge.

Drndíc manages to discuss so much in these 375 pages.
Matthew Mansell
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite
A novel that moves with power, a reminder that the act of remembering is so quotidian that we actually forgot the activeness of this process (it is not so much 'active' as reading is, but instead a passive ability that is often overlooked). This is an integration of the self within one's own direct and indirect ancestry, a compassion not just for state but for the history of the self and notations of the abuse that the self is put through. Andreas Ban may not be crawling naked on his belly up th ...more
Sarah
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
A powerful book that imparts unpleasant history and makes a statement concerning mind-body duality.
Tom Buchanan
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The jacket compares this book to W.G. Sebald in TWO different places, I think that's just a thing that happens whenever you include grainy little black and white photos in your book. But really this reminded me more of Danilo Kis' starkness and Thomas Bernhard (or Laszlo Krasznahorkadork) in its willingness to sit in a state of sustained revulsion for the better part of 300 pages. I don't always have the energy or willingness to go for these types of books all about frustrated academics and the ...more
Emrys
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Loved the stitched-together elements of this book, and loved learning so much about Croatian history. Because the entire novel is overshadowed by the protagonist's fear of death, it was at times emotionally difficult to read much of in one sitting; on the other hand, the weight of mortality lends this book a weight that Sebald's Austerlitz (to which it seems to be often compared) lacks. Prepare for a maximalist romp through European history, literature, and art, as told by an aging former profes ...more
Barbara Klein
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
I often had the sensation while reading this book that my mental health was being seriously compromised. Thank God for Drndic's dark, caustic humor which serves as a balance to the fury and pain of remembrance. The story telling meanders and folds in on itself. The author is testing our capacity to absorb various, mindless acts of wartime brutality and the residual and long lasting implications it has on survivors. This is a book best read in the winter, when the darkness of this novel coincides ...more
carissa
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Join Andreas Ban as he remembers his life (and the brutal history of the Balakan states) and looks at the world around him in dejected rejection.

Chöd in book form.

In Andreas' own words: "Forget it, forget me."

As we all learn, that is impossible.

Each of us are "le belle donne, blinded fools."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSoUc...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN1uu...
...more
Sandra
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'All my images are engraved inside me. That which is absent is present like a wound, like a wound that does not heal, present like the presence of pain. Look after your fragments. A fragment can be a remnant, something out of which and with which the always risky reconstruction of the lost whole begins. ' ...more
Mark
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
nationalism and the brushing under the proverbial carpet of holocaust guilt is a sour subject and this book handles it sourly. i liked all the parts, i think, but the narrative needed a hammer and chisel to make any progress so the book took me forever, that probably cost it a star.
Kobe Bryant
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good effort but you can only feel bad for so long
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Daša Drndić (1946-2018) was a distinguished Croatian novelist, playwright and literary critic, author of radio plays and documentaries. She was born in Zagreb, and studied English language and literature at the University of Belgrade. Drndić worked as an editor, a professor of English, and as a TV programme editor in Belgrade. She obtained her doctorate at the University of Rijeka in Croatia, wher ...more

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“Memories die as soon as they are plucked from their surroundings, they burst, lose color, lose suppleness, stiffen like corpses. All that remains are shells with translucent edges. Half-erased brain platelets are a slippery terrain, deceptive. One’s mental archive is locked, it languishes in the dark. The past is riddled with holes, souvenirs can’t help here. Everything must be thrown away. Everything. And perhaps everyone as well.” 4 likes
“...the intellectual is a person who nurtures, preserves and propagates independent judgment, a person loyal exclusively to truth, a courageous and wrathful individual for whom no force of this world is too great or too frightening not to be subjected to scrutiny and called to account.

... A true intellectual, a genuine one, is always an outsider, …he is a person who lives in self-imposed exile on the margins of society.”
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