Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
"So people learned from the angels of God how to build bridges, and therefore, after fountains, the greatest blessing is to build a bridge and the greatest sin to interfere with one, for every bridge, from a tree trunk crossing a mountain stream to this great bridge of Mehmed Pasha, has its guardian angel who cares for it and maintains it as long as God has ordained that it should stand."
The Bridge On the Drina (original title: Na Drini Ćuprija) is a 1945 novel by the Yugoslav writer Ivo Andrić, which won him the 1961 Nobel Prize in Literature.In November 1516, an Ottoman expedition was passing through the backwater Bosnian town of Višegrad, collecting, to the horror of the local Serbian families, the feared Devshirme, or "Tribute in Blood". Exceptionally able and intelligent Christian prepubescent boys were taken away to Istanbul in order to be trained as Janissaries, the elite corps of the Ottoman army, dedicated to serve the Sultan until death. One of those boys, the ten year old Bajo, quickly managed to rise through the ranks of the Ottoman Empire, ultimately becoming the famed Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha Sokolović, the most powerful man in the Empire after the Sultan himself. Unlike most other Janissaries, the Training from Hell didn’t manage to erase the memories of his childhood home and, in order to repay his roots, he orders a bridge to be built over the wild river of Drina, connecting Bosnia to Serbia and the rest of Ottoman territories, that would be the envy of the whole empire.Thus begins this novel, considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of Balkan literature, written as a chronicle of the town of Višegrad, spanning across several centuries, from the beginning of the bridge’s construction in 1571, to the start of the First World War in 1914. It is notable for containing countless Story Arcs, written from the perspectives of its huge cast of vibrant characters, of different ethnicities, beliefs and personalities, with the bridge itself being what bridges all of the characters and subplots together.An implicit critic of Balkan nationalism, this novel is considered a must-read for anyone who wishes to truly understand the conflicts still going on in this troubled region.
Provides Examples Of:
All Jews Are Cheapskates: Subverted with Lotte the hotel manager. She is really stingy and careful with the money, but it is revealed that she actually uses it to help her relatives all around Europe.
Bad Boss: Abidaga, the overseer of the bridge construction, is extremely cruel and ruthless to the locals mobilized into slave labor, in order for the construction schedule to be fulfilled. The icing on the cake is that he embezzles the money Mehmed Pasha meant to be used for paying the laborers.
Downer Ending: The Austrian army, while retreating from Višegrad in front of the incoming Serbian army, shells the bridge. Alihodja, after seeing the bridge, which was the central point of every townsman's life and much more than that, broken and damaged, dies of heartstroke.
Fatal Flaw: Fata's is Pride. She is extremely beautiful and smart, which leads to men flocking around her, and she definitely knows it. This makes her much more independent and self-minded than was the norm for young Muslim girls of the time. It eventually leads to her demise, since she cannot reconcile her desire for independence with what society asks of her.
Fate Worse Than Death: The megalomaniacal Abidaga considers his exile to a backwater province in Asia Minor, after his embezzlement of the money meant for paying the bridge workers had been discovered, to be this.
Go-Karting with Bowser: Even though the ethnicities consisting the population of Višegrad are usually segregated and generally avoid each other, yearly floods bring them all together to cooperate. Surprisingly, they are really friendly with each other, though everything returns to the status quo once the floods are over.
Laughing Mad: Poor Plevljak, scared to death of Abidaga's threats of execution if he doesn't manage to catch whoever is sabotaging the construction, undergoes such a drastic Mood Whiplash after succeeding in his mission that he literally goes insane from the shock. This trope ensues.
Lolicon: Fedun, the young Galician soldier manning the post on the bridge, falls in love with what appears to be a prepubescent Muslim girl crossing the bridge with her grandmother every day. Subverted when it turns out that the grandmother and the girl are, respectively, a notorious bandit and his girlfriend helping him get supplies from the town dressed in burkas, both in their late twenties.
Never Recycle a Building: After its abandonment, The Stony Han is left decaying for centuries. Subverted, as the Austrians eventually tear it down and use the building material for building a barracks.
New Era Speech: The proclamation of the Austrian occupation of Bosnia functions as this.
No Antagonist: The closest thing the book has to a villain is Abidaga, which is there only in a few opening chapters.
Opposites Attract Revenge: Two young men studying at the Vienna university and coming back to Višegrad for summer vacation, although fierce opponents in political debates (one is a nationalist and the other a socialist), are still best friends. Soon, their complexes and the desire to prove each other wrong turn into petty vendetta, and one of them steals each other's girl. This leads them to passionately hate each other.
Punch Clock Villain: The executioner whose job is decapitating and staking the heads of Serbian rebels during the First Serbian Uprising is actually quite a pleasant and respected fellow, who views his job as a craft and tries to make the execution as painless as possible for his victims.
Rule of Symbolism: The book thrives on it, though the symbolism is much subtler than most other examples.
Small Name, Big Ego: A young and educated teacher of Islam, one of the most respected townspeople, is trying to write a chronicle of the town during his lifetime, but dismisses most events since he thinks that they are unworthy of him and his book. He dies of old age, with the chronicle being less than five pages long.