Customer comments on this Youngstown Ohio Book
A master's masterpiece
This is one of those rare perfect books. For my taste at least. I was amazed by the first page, and then by every other until the end. Fantastic! This is the only Yugoslav (that's Slovenian, Croatian, Serbian, Montenegran, and Macedonian) Nobel prize winner at his best. I think, I only read The Bridge on the Drina by him. And from this one I was expecting less, but got at least as much. In fact, if one of the two books is better than the other, then they both are. And they compare favourably to just about anything there is.
The scene is set in Travnik, Bosnia, in the early 19th century, a time when Napoleon was at his peak, Austria very strong, and Turkey still in control of much of the Balkans. Travnik was a vizier town at the time, which made it important enough for the French and Austrians to send their consuls there. Obviously, a lot of historical research preceded this book, but the blend of history and fiction is so perfect that we never know where history stops and fiction begins.
The story never leaves Travnik, although the tensions between France and Austria, the rebellion of Serbs, Napoleon's march to Moscow and his final defeat, are all reflected in the lives of people of Travnik, especially the two consuls and the vizier. But, there's no point in telling you the story, my mission here is to persuade you that this is literary genious at work on every page. Perfect in describing landscape, characters, events, a master of dialogues.
Another great book by Ivo Andric
"Travnicka hronika" (The Bosnian Story, The Time of the Consuls... etc.) is Andric's second best work. I don't like ranking books, but I will dare to do it now. His major work "The Bridge on the Drina" (Na Drini cuprija) is a work of such originality and power, unequalled in literature... This book, however, uses a more conservative method, it talks about a smaller period of time and has a significantly smaller gallery of characters, all of which are, of course, very believable and beautifully depicted.
After opening it for the first time, I couldn't stop reading. It was so captivating that I read it in twice in the same week. Not many books do this for me.
"Bosnian Story" follows Austro-Hungarian and French consuls in the Bosnian city of Travnik over the period of five-six years. Andric didn't do much research for his novels, all his major works were written in Belgrade, during WWII, and all that time he almost never left his apartment. It is amazing that one can posses such great knowledge of Travnik and Bosnia, and most impressive of all, his depiction of Turkish, French and Austro-Hungarian politics is so accurate and clear.
What attracts me the most in Andric's works is his clear and simple, yet beautifully sounding sentence.
I strongly recommend you read this one. Chances are, you won't be disappointed. Simpler and less ambitious in approach, this book should perhaps be read before his masterpiece "The Bridge on the Drina."
I read this book a few years ago, and still think about its stories and themes. This brilliant novel opens a window to the small Bosnian town of Travnik (Andric's hometown) where representatives of the great European empires have come to play out their epochal hostilities under the suspicious eyes of the local townfolk. While the novel takes place in the Napoleonic era, the story was written (as was "Bridge on the Drina") while Andric was under house arrest during World War II, and thus its story of great forces coming to shake up a small town can be read in light of more recent world changing events. I made a point to visit Travnik on a trip to Bosnia two years ago, and felt as if I already knew the town intimately: the remains of the Pasha's palace on the hill is still there just as Andric describes it, as is the town nestled in the rolling Bosnian hills replete with Turkish fountains and monuments. Sadly, the multiethnic character of the town is gone now, as Serbs such as Andric himself are hard to come by in this part of Bosnia, and Jews are even more difficult to find. By reading this book, however, one can briefly visit Travnik in its multiethnic heyday, and enjoy the depiction of comraderie and sparring between the different local ethnic groups before the age of nationalism truly took hold. Everyone I have met from the former Yugoslavia cites this novel as Andric's best work.
Incidentally, this book has been translated as Travnik Chronicles (the original title), Bosnian Chronicle, and Days of the Consuls (translated by Celia Hawkesworth). Also, a collection of Andric short stories, entitled "The Damned Yard" in the edition I have, also features several more stories set in Travnik around the same era.