The Bridge on the Drina The Bridge on the Drina discussion


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anti Turk/racism

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message 1: by Vivien (new) - added it

Vivien Van I see many people on Goodreads have rated this book highly. But I'm curious why they haven't commented on the crude depiction of anyone who is a Turk or Muslim. I've only read about 40 pages so far and already the Christians are portrayed as poor victims of the Arabs or Turks as barbaric, cruel etc. The book is written almost as a fairy tale story designed to make children terrified of the non Christian, so blatant it's almost a caricature on the wicked dark skinned Muslim. I'd love to know what those who have highly praised the book think of this for they surely couldn't have missed it.
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message 2: by Anja (new) - added it

Anja Weber Vivien wrote: "I see many people on Goodreads have rated this book highly. But I'm curious why they haven't commented on the crude depiction of anyone who is a Turk or Muslim. I've only read about 40 pages so far..."
Greetings Vivien,
Maybe you should have to know what has really happen on those times,About medieval history in Bosnia? What did Arabs and Turks have done to Christians, how they take it Christian male kids for the Turkish army, for ever> what is called:''Danak u krvi'/ something like Christian debt in blood. Actually Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic and his architect have been such children, abducted by Turks for ever from their Christian parents. Maybe you did not hear for first night right> When young man who is Christian is married, first night of marriage have Turkish nobelman, pasha, who is running this area for instance. Most of the Christians who are kept their religion have been just more than slaves vice/versus their brothers who are take Muslim religion. Ivo Andric, has been historian and philosopher, all novel is based on historical facts. He use it from different sources, Turkish, Croatians, Serbian, Austro Hungarian. By birth Ivo Andric is Croat, Catholic, man which have all life sense for real measure. The Bridge on the Drina is one of the best novel's which talks about this historical tragedy after Turkish occupation of Bosnia, but also about bridges between people. This bridge was on the end of his building result of togetherness of Christians and Muslims. But to be slave it is not gift it is hard.On those times was really hard to survive if you are not Muslim, because Otoman Empire was on most powerful country, so members of it as Muslims could make lot of pressure on Christian population ..it was like formal law..


Slobodan Even though the book is fictional, it is set in a historical setting. Bosnia was part of the Ottoman empire and Christians where second rate citizens. Horrible atrocities where committed by the conquerors and the Ottoman empire remained a feudal governing body until it's demise. The other European powers of the time called it "the sick old man" and eagerly awaited it's end to carve up it's territories with little regard to the people living in it who were striving for independence. The Turks had a blood tax, where they would take young healthy boys to be trained as 'Janissaries' - the elite troops of the empire. Any insubordination could lead to death by being impaled on a stake, usually in public places to deter similar behavior. There was also the wedding tax, where the local 'Pasha' - governor if you will, had the choice of sleeping with the newly weds bride before the husband. A large number of Serbs, Croats, Bulgarians and Macedonians converted to Islam. Some certainly because of their new found religious beliefs, but most converted so they could keep their lands and avoid the hardships the rest of the citizens endured. This led to the ethnic turmoil that latter engulfed the region. For when the Turks where finally driven out, the second hand Christian citizens became the ruling majority and held a grudge against the Moslem citizens whom they considered to be traitors.
To this day the non-moslem citizens of the Balkans hold a grudge for the centuries of oppression the Ottoman empire inflicted. In the Serbian town of 'Nis' stands the monument to time 'Chela Kula' - Tower of skulls. Built by the Turks from local Serbian men in retaliation for the battle for independence.
It may seem that Ivo Andric is portraying these characters as being sadistic, but that is how the people here remember them. The book is considered a great work because of the way he describes the lives of ordinary people, very diverse in religion, culture, and national identities.
I hope this helped somewhat.


message 4: by Vivien (new) - added it

Vivien Van Slobodan wrote: "Even though the book is fictional, it is set in a historical setting. Bosnia was part of the Ottoman empire and Christians where second rate citizens. Horrible atrocities where committed by the con..."

Thank you for this. You can't hold people today responsible for what happened in the Middle Ages! My family were West Indian - I don't want to harm white people for what their ancestors did!


Slobodan Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it, or so the saying goes. I totally agree that today's generations can't be held accountable for crimes their forefathers committed, but wounds run deep here in the Balkans. I just hope the historical context shed some light on why some characters are portrayed in the manner they are.


message 6: by Vivien (new) - added it

Vivien Van Slobodan wrote: "Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it, or so the saying goes. I totally agree that today's generations can't be held accountable for crimes their forefathers committed, but wounds ..."
Given that the book from the beginning presents all Christians good, attractive, honest etc and non Christians bad, cunning, cruel etc,it didn't shed much light. We know that Christianity history has its own share of cruelty as have all faiths and ethnic groups, but you wouldn't know it from the book.


message 7: by RK-ïsme (last edited Oct 08, 2012 08:51PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

RK-ïsme Vivien,

Of course Christianity is stained with a history of cruelty and horror, as I would suggest are all religions. It is in their "Us-Them" nature. Like most literature, The Bridge on the Drina was written from a specific point of view. It tells of a horror that was all to real for Christians under the Ottomans. We are not so naïve as to believe that the Christians there were all blameless saints. But Ottoman repression was, as suggested above, the power in place at the time.
It is interesting that the book was first published at the end of the Second World War, another time of cruelty and horror in which many Croats and Serbs partook. In many ways, the book may have been concieved of as a plea for peace. It did earned Andric a Nobel prize for literature.

I have praised this book highly as an excellent representation of man's inhumanity to man. I do not see it as anti-Turk. Indeed, when I read the book in the 1990s, the Croats and the Serbs were once again involved in horrible atrocities against each other and their neighbours. I read the book against a background without any Turks, only hatred of Christian against Christian, along with some atrocities by both against their neighbours who happened to be Muslim.

The Nobel committee read the book as a plea for human life without persecution on the basis of religion. The world has unfortunately not changed. Don't get hung up on the cruelty of the Ottomans being highlighted. See the book as a condemnation of all human cruelty. See the bridge as a link between people, a centre of a culture that did not survive the stupidity of the human race in the name of all religions.

I would like to recommend "The Last of the Departed"by Bagrat Shinkuba. It deals wilth the crushing forces of nationalism and imperialism which cruelly crush out smaller more integral cultures in the name of power. It raises a lot of the same issues as Bridge on the Drina but without really making out clear good guys and bad guys. Individuals are simply pushed aside by large forces which grip humanity and create untold misery in the world. I'm not sure how available it is. I bought my English language translation in East Berlin in the early 10980s before the wall fell in 1989.


message 8: by Vivien (new) - added it

Vivien Van RK-ique wrote: "Vivien,

Of course Christianity is stained with a history of cruelty and horror, as I would suggest are all religions. It is in their "Us-Them" nature. Like most literature, The Bridge on the Dri..."

Thank you for your interesting comments, I can understand what you are saying and I do intend to finish the book and yes, not to get hung up on individual comments but look at it in its entirety. I appreciate being able to discuss it and getting such full replies.


Rikki Chadwick So much talk about racism, but do not see how Christians are offended ... If you had not stopped after a couple of pages you would know what was going on in the book ... maybe you can study a little history ... No one talks about religion ... In the book it mentions only the Turks ... no other Muslim nation is not mentioned .... the only thing that is, is that they are forcing the Serbs, Montenegrins and Bosnians to accept the their faith ... that's not nice, is not it? Everyone has a right to their faith


Rikki Chadwick Balkan nations was just looking for peace and freedom.


message 11: by Milan (new) - added it

Milan Perišić Vivien, if you have read the book to the end you would have known Andric perceived the problems of turkish/serbian/bosnian community not as a racist, but as a moral man. Even though this book is fictional, events described and similar did happen on Balkans in that time, and many many years before. Turks were the tyrants, but serbs and turks gradually got to a symbiosis in bad times (as you can see from Andric's novel), since both turks and serbs are human beings, and from that aspect you should also look to the book, Andric did.


Rikki Chadwick Milan wrote: "Vivien, if you have read the book to the end you would have known Andric perceived the problems of turkish/serbian/bosnian community not as a racist, but as a moral man. Even though this book is fi..."

Yes. It's not rasism. It's something else.


message 13: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Longhurst I am really struggling to read this book and I can't figure out the answer to these questions. Specifically, I want to know where I can them in the book.
How does Andric characterize the effects of modernization and nationalism in Visegrad in the Ottoman and Austrian eras? What did the bridge symbolize, what troubles could it attest to, and why was it destroyed?


message 14: by Maria (new)

Maria Slobodan wrote: "Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it, or so the saying goes. I totally agree that today's generations can't be held accountable for crimes their forefathers committed, but wounds ..."

I absolutely agree! People should forgive, but not forget!! I hope Serbs and Bosnians have forgiven Turks, but still they remember those hundreds of years of being under Ottoman Empire. And it is right!! Those who forget their history will have no future! Those Christians living under Ottoman Empire and who didn't change their religion in spite of oppression, humiliation, forcing, defiliation male kids from their mothers, they all are heroes for me!


message 15: by Cemre (new)

Cemre In Turkey, this book is known as one of the fairest depiction of the Turks in a European novel. I haven't read the book, ı was just looking at the reviews, but to be fair ı'm surprised.


Jovan Autonomašević Vivien wrote: "I see many people on Goodreads have rated this book highly. But I'm curious why they haven't commented on the crude depiction of anyone who is a Turk or Muslim. I've only read about 40 pages so far..."
I don't agree with you at all. Perhaps you didn't read the whole book? You should also distinguish between the references to Turks as the colonial masters, and to Bosnian Muslims. Later on in the book, when Bosnia becomes a Habsburg protectorate, the Turkish officials are banished, while the former privileged class suddenly find themselves disadvantaged. If anything the book explains why Yugoslavia was riven by dissent from the very beginning - under the Ottomans, religion had become an apartheid label, and when a single state was created in 1919, each of the religious groups had different aspirations, and different fears. Brotherhood and Unity later buried those aspirations and fears, but they were resurrected by unscrupulous politicians in the 1980s.


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