Ivo Andrić


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Yugoslav (Bosnian) short-story writer, novelist, and essayist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961.

Born near Travnik, Bosnia, of middle-class parents, Andrić was educated at Sarajevo and studied Slavic languages at the universities of Zagreb, Cracow, and Vienna. As a student he joined a revolutionary nationalistic group, Young Bosnia, and consequently was imprisoned by the Austrian authorities during World War I. After the war he completed his university studies at Graz and entered the Yugoslav diplomatic corps, eventually serving as ambassador to Berlin (1940). During World War II he remained in German-occupied Belgrade; after the war and the establishment of socialism, he devoted himself solely to his literary activities.

Andrić's earliest work was in verse. After a few poems that appeared in an anthology and translations of Walt Whitman and August Strindberg, he published two works of poetic prose, Ex Ponto (1918) and Nemiri (1920), before turning to the short story, a form of which he became one of the most distinguished contemporary practitioners. Put Alije Djerzeleza (1920) was followed by three story collections (1924, 1931, 1936) based on life in Turkish-ruled Bosnia. The uneasy coexistence of conflicting Christian (Orthodox and Catholic) and Muslim cultures provided a richly dramatic and often violent subject matter that Andrić rendered in faultless prose and with a sweeping historical vision. The stories assume a symbolic significance as instances of the tragic inevitability of historical change and death. Immediately after World War II Andrić published his most famous work, the novel Na Drini ćuprija (1945; translated as The Bridge on the Drina, 1959), which covers a vast stretch of time; the bridge of the title serves as a symbol connecting past and present as well as different cultures (east and west). Travnička hronika (1945; translated as Bosnian Chronicle, 1963) concerns the town of Travnik during the Napoleonic wars.

After the war Andrić continued to write stories as well as much nonfiction, including critical essays on Yugoslav writers, travel books, and memoirs. He also published two shorter novels: Gospodjica (1945; translated as The Woman from Sarajevo, 1966) and Prokleta avlija (1954; translated as Devil's Yard, 1962). His emphasis on the unresolved ethnic and religious tensions underlying the surface of Yugoslav society was not popular with the authorities in his lifetime but has been all too clearly vindicated by subsequent events.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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