Thursday, March 02, 2006

This really needs no explanation:

Thus early one evening the leading Višegrad Turks were sitting on the [bridge], cross-legged in a circle. In the centre was Osman Effendi, a tall thin pale man. Every muscle of his face was unnaturally set, his eyes were feverish and his cheeks marked all over with scars like an epileptic. Before him stood the hodja, reddish in face and small in stature, yet somehow impressive, asking more and more questions in his reedy voice. What forces had they? Where were they to go? With what means? How? What for? What will happen in case of failure? The cold and almost mischievous pedantry with which the hodja treated the matter only served to conceal his own anxiety and bitterness at the Christian superiority and the evident weakness and disorder of the Turks. But the hot-headed and sombre Osman Effendi was not the man to notice or understand such things. Of violent and uncontrolled temper, a fanatic with overstrung nerves, he quickly lost patience and control and attacked the hodja at every sign of doubt or wavering as if he were a Schwabe. This hodja irritated him and he replied to him only with generalities and big words. The main thing was not to allow the foe to enter the country without resistance, and whoever asked too many questions only hindered the good work and aided the enemy. In the end, completely beside himself, he replied with scarcely concealed disdain to every question of the hodja: "The time has come to die", "We will lay down our lives", "We shall all die to the last man". "But," broke in the hodja, "I understood that you wanted to drive the Schwabes out of Bosnia and that was the reason why you were collecting us. If it is only a question of dying, then we too know how to die, Effendi, even without your assistance. There is nothing easier than to die." "Ama, I can see that you will not be one of those who die," broke in Karamanli, harshly. "I can see that you will be one," answered the hodja sarcastically, "only I do not see why you ask for our company in this senseless attempt."
- Ivo Andric, The Bridge on the Drina


estavisti said...

Doesn't it?

Daniel said...

I was considering this excerpt mostly as a lesson for our times, given that so many people seem so eager to die for various causes. I'm sure more historical context could be offered, but as far as the point I was trying to make, I realized anything I could say would have been superfluous.

Anonymous said...


Yakima_Gulag said...

I haven't read Ivo Andric at all, not in translation not in the original.
The translation looks to have some serious purple prose.