Ivo Andri (AHN-dreech) was born on October 10, 1892, in Dolac, a small town near Travnik in central Bosnia, at that time a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Both of his parents were Catholics, which led to a long-standing controversy about whether he was a Serbian or a Croatian writer. After his father’s death, his mother moved with Ivo to Viegrad, a town on the Drina River with its famous bridge built in the sixteenth century. Andri attended elementary school in Viegrad, high school in Sarajevo, and universities in Zagreb, Vienna, and Krakow. As a student, he developed strong nationalistic feelings and joined Young Bosnia, a revolutionary movement the opposed the Austrian occupation of Bosnia. His political activism resulted in his being sentenced to a three-year term in prison, but he was released in 1917 because of poor health.
While in prison, he started his literary career by writing a book of prose poems, Ex Ponto (1918). Two years later, he published another book of prose poems, Nemiri (unrest). After World War I, Andri entered the diplomatic service of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In 1923 he was a vice consul in Graz, but his position was endangered because he had not finished his graduate work at the University of Sarajevo. He enrolled at the University of Graz and received his doctorate after writing his dissertation in German, Die Entwicklung des geistigen Lebens in Bosnien unter der Einwirkung der türkischen...
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