Chiara Elena Romero
Eastern European Literature
27 September 2019
What makes The Bridge on the Drina a novel?
The Bridge on the Drina is a unique book; a book that spans four centuries worth of history in regard to the bridge and its effect on the area and people. There is a confluence of urban and rural within Turkey, Hungary, Austria and within the Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Balkan communities. Some critics describe The Bridge on the Drina as a work of history. Some call it a cultural survey. Others deem it a work of philosophy. With these factors in effect — some argue that these factors do not constitute a novel; I say otherwise. Novels have central themes and The Bridge on the Drina is a novel because it encompasses central themes — a work of history, cultural survey/ integration, and a work of philosophy.
A novel is constituted by a driving force, something that keeps the novel moving forward. According to Robert P. Ashley, one of the factors that keep a novel moving forward and engaging is plot or in other words event after event. The work of history is the first factor that makes The Bridge on the Drina a novel, as events occur each time. From his perspective, “a second expectation of the plot is that the events grow out of each other, have a logical connection.” ( “What Makes a Good Novel?” 597) Andric’s work of history covers over four centuries of history, beginning with the construction of the Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge, built by the Grand Vezir, himself, and ending before The Great War. Boys literally got snatched from their mothers by the Ottomans. This is definitely a significant event, as one of those boys who got kidnapped happened to rise to power and build this bridge. That boy happened to be built by Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic, himself. He was a Christian boy among the thousands snatched. He was converted to Islam and because he was severely haunted by the memory of his kidnapping, he ordered construction of the Sokolovic bridge. He had construction begun in 1566 and finished in 1570. The building of the bridge and the events that occurred was a work of history. The Serbs built the bridge and staged strikes and sabotage during construction in protest against the poor working conditions. “Brother, we have had enough of this. We must defend ourselves. You can see for yourself that this building work will be the death of all of us; it will eat us all up… something must be done.” (35, The Bridge on the Drina) The Austrian reconquest of Hungary and Croatia was another work of history. During these 35 years, the Austrians gained control of Hungary, Croatia, and Dalmatia and kept control until 1918. The stone han lost its endowment and the great flood in the later 18th century came. In chapter 16, the repair of the bridge took place as well as the completion of the railroad (which was completed in 1904). “Only now, when the railway had been completed and was working could it be seen what it meant for ...