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“The Bridge on the Drina” a Book by Ivo Andrić Essay

Symbolism of the Bridge at Visegrad

In the history of Yugoslavian literature very few authors can claim to have drawn the attention of their audience precisely while they maintained their reluctance to take a certain stance on an issue, such as Ivo Andrić. The bridge on the Drina is a narrative of a beautiful stone bridge built during the Ottoman Empire in Visegrad, Bosnia, which survived numerous conflicts until when the First World War began.

Andrić was awarded a Nobel Prize in literature for his efforts in coming up with the novel The Bridge on the Drina. Andrić argued “these glorious buildings involved so much disorder and unrest, effort and expense” (Andrić, p. 22). The main protagonist in this book which is the bridge, 180 meters long does not speak. In this exciting tale covering almost 400 years of the history of Bosnia, the author places emphasis on regional, cultural, historical, and religious event based on the context of an enormous stone bridge built on the Drina River that links Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Legacy of the Ottoman Empire in Bosnia

The town of Visegrad develops among the few areas in which the waters of the Drina spreads to accommodate agriculture. A road from Sarajevo to Stambul passes through, but it requires a ferry service before the bridge is built. The bridge also served as a venue for cultural meetings due to its wide breath. In this novel, Andrić compares and contrasts the nature of human behaviour, which is constantly changing to the resilience of the marvels of architecture. The author argues that human beings are in time, between evil and good and that their destinies are to their traditions and surroundings. The author revives some of the past occurrences as a reminder that the lives of humans, as well as historical and social phenomena, can be partially explained through their origin.

He further argues that the past because of stereotyping patterns, is a unique prefiguration of what is to come in the future. In this novel by Andrić, there is no white or black, moral and ethical decisions are because there is no certain decision which could be unanimously satisfying. In the plot of this novel, most of the characters are between and are yearning for a neutral decision, which is a fact that only bridges can bring. While Andrić did not experience any illusions in relation to the human capacity to commit evil, he strongly argues that a mixed society could be the foundation for cooperation and conciliation if the individual’s political ambitions can be withheld.

Early Balkan Nationalism

Written after the conclusion of blood-letting within the Balkans region, the bridge on the Drina should be of interest to those individuals who would love to explore the background of the previous events in Bosnia. It particularly enumerates a better picture of the history between the correlation between the Muslims and Christians in the region in a better way than any other account of dates, conflict, and treaties could ever achieve. However, one does not require to have an interest in history to recognize the value of the novel, just like the bridge on the Drina is elegant, useful, and yet simple. This is an excellent work of literature which transforms lessons about European history into a breathing, living narrative of the individuals who experienced these events first-hand.

Legends near the Bridge

The tale was written during the proceedings of the Second World War, a stage in which the writer was placed under arrest in his house, in Belgrade, hence it can be insinuated that the writer wrote this fictional tale while he was home sick. This is particularly evident in the way he describes the town of Visegrad as an oriental small town, and makes reference to the hamlets located in the folds of hills, which are with pastures, meadows and plum orchards. The bridge on the Drina depicts to us silently without placing any judgement, how the unique human game referred to as war, is by monstrous and the heinous acts perpetration and how ordinary individuals are by the events. However, afterwards for those individuals who survive the events, their lives must continue.

The use of the bridge as a metaphor cannot be overlooked. The author is particularly clever with regard to this. Separately from the obvious (joining the future to the past, bridging conflicting cultures and disconnected cultures), the bridge acts as the core, a patriarch, a remedy, a grave, a point of helplessness, and source of authority, as well as an avenue and blockade. For the audience, the bridge acts as a source of peace and reverence, as a platform to look as the regimes and the years pass.

The Nature of Transition from Ottoman Pashaluk to Austrian Crownland

In this tale, a Hodja eventually notices that a part of the bridge was destroyed during the First World War when he came across debris at his feet of the bridge. The thoughts that come to his mind are that this could only happen in a dream. However, as he turns away from this unperceivable sight, he catches a glimpse of the great stone in his shop together with the scattered goods; surely if this was a dream then it must be everywhere. In this case, the author makes use of the constancy of the bridge to bright out a slap in the face awareness, which the act of war brings to individuals it touches.

This scene comes towards the end of the novel and carries most of the emphasis with it. After the author takes us through the various generations growing, engaging in conflict, and some losing their lives in proximity to this bridge, the audience views the bridge as more than just a centrepiece of the Drina. The bridge precisely becomes the central character in this novel. However, the character of the bridge has disintegrated to the level that it is virtually impossible to observe the developments it was able to withhold as the season caught up and surpassed it. Sincerely, and this might not be the right analogy, but the bridge illustrates a velveteen rabbit moment.

The Effects of Modernity on Traditional Societies

The bridge on the Drina is a tale about modernization, expenses, and pain that modernization can bring. It is about reverence and customs, and how the culture that gives birth to them is both in the present as much as it is in history. Most significantly, it depicts the fragility, impermanence, and fallibility of man. Surprisingly, all this is through the bridge which was constructed over a span of 5 years and many lives have been lost by its side. The bridge was able to withstand hundreds of years as generations after generations came and faded. However, in spite of the permanence that the bridge holds in relation to persons’ whose whole lives circumvent around and out on it, just like it was a section of the surrounding landscape, defenceless, maturing, and the bridge was built by man.

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IvyPanda. (2020, May 23). "The Bridge on the Drina" a Book by Ivo Andrić. Retrieved from

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""The Bridge on the Drina" a Book by Ivo Andrić." IvyPanda, 23 May 2020,

1. IvyPanda. ""The Bridge on the Drina" a Book by Ivo Andrić." May 23, 2020.


IvyPanda. ""The Bridge on the Drina" a Book by Ivo Andrić." May 23, 2020.


IvyPanda. 2020. ""The Bridge on the Drina" a Book by Ivo Andrić." May 23, 2020.


IvyPanda. (2020) '"The Bridge on the Drina" a Book by Ivo Andrić'. 23 May.

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