Maravillosa historia de un equilibrio improbable. En torno a la historia del puente medieval Andric nos cuenta la vida fronteriza de comunidades separadas por el origen y la religión, empeñadas en convivir, pero no siempre en paz. Las circunstancias políticas van modelando las relaciones entre los grupos que habitan una pequeña ciudad Bosnia. Nada explica la barbarie que tantas veces ha asolado la región y nos ha dejado en la memoria la más atroz y más reciente de las fratricidas masacres entre europeos, pero esta novela o crónica nos desvela las raíces de tanta crueldad desatada, y es que nos hace ver que los hilos que mantenían la paz eran tan finos, pero estaban tan laboriosamente trenzados, que una vez rotos no se podían volver a tejer.
Un libro maravilloso.
“Between the fear that something would happen and the hope that still it wouldn't, there is much more space than one thinks. On that narrow, hard, bare and dark space a lot of us spend our lives.”
― Ivo Andrić
Published in 1945 but written earlier, probably during the war years when Nobel Prize winner Andrić had given up his diplomatic work and was living as quietly as anyone could in Belgrade during those years of upheaval, The Bridge Over the Drina is the rather unusually told history of the town of Višegrad in the south east of Bosnia near the border with Serbia.
The period of time covered by the book is exactly the lifespan of the monumental bridge which was built at Višegrad around 1570 by the Ottomans and which survived undamaged until 1914. While the book focuses on the town and its inhabitants, the bridge itself is the main character, the hero, the unifying force and the rationale of this entire chronicle. The author succeeds in making his account as interesting and as full of suspense as any novel by weaving history, myth and story together in a very natural way which allows the narrative to move fluidly from the general to the particular and back again so that the reader is swept along in the torrent of words and happenings. There were violent times in the history of the bridge and I have to admit that I skimmed over the most harrowing episode which occurred near the beginning but fortunately, there were no more such scenes recounted.
The town of Višegrad, during the period of the narrative, was home to Muslims and Jews, Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics, Turks and Greeks, Bosnians-Croats and Serbs, Montenegrins and Italians, Galicians and Poles, Austrians and Hungarians, and according to Andrić, they all lived fairly peacefully together for the most part. He implies that the takeover by the Hapsburg Empire towards the end of the nineteenth century and the dragging of the town into the modern age, via the railway, sounded the death knell of that peaceful co-existence.