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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 273

The Bridge on the Drina is a historical novel by Ivo Andric. As the title implies, it is the story of a bridge, ranging from its construction to its use to, finally, its demise. Andric uses this bridge as a metaphor for the relations between the people on either side of the bridge.

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The bridge is built by a man named Mehmed, who is taken from his home as a child and grows up in a culture that is not his own. When he is an adult, he has the bridge built at the site where he last saw his mother. The bridge connects his homeland to the rest of the Ottoman Empire, opening up an entirely new world to people on either side.

As the story progresses, the bridge is shown to unite people on either side. They meet in the middle of the bridge, and they learn to rely on it - and each other - in spite of the fact that each side of the bridge is home to a different culture.

The story then follows the bridge as it falls into disuse when Austria-Hungaria and the Serbians begin to divide. People no longer use the bridge to socialize, and people on either side grow to hate each other.

The bridge then unites the two worlds once more when it is used to transport items during World War I, but this eventually leads to its destruction. The story is about a bridge, but that bridge is representative of the author's home country as a whole. The bridge tells the story of how two separate cultures came together, then fell apart.

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 460

*Drina River

*Drina River (DREE-nah). Ancient river located entirely within Bosnia and Herzegovina that forms part of the boundary of the modern Yugoslavian republic of Serbia. It is significant in that its banks represent the division between East and West in this frequently war-torn region.


*Bridge. Unchanging heart of the novel. While everything else changes, the bridge remains constant. It was built between 1566 and 1571 by the Grand Vezir Mehmed Pasha Sokolli. He ordered a bridge to be built near Viegrad. He hoped to link the eastern and western parts of the empire and improve the region economically. These goals were accomplished during the life span of the bridge. The unusually beautiful edifice quickly became the focal point of the area, where the various local inhabitants—Serbian Orthodox, Bosnian Muslims, Roman Catholics, and Jews—would gather on the two small terraces in the middle of the bridge to discuss matters of mutual concern. The bridge was witness to everything that befell the town’s inhabitants: harmonious cohabitation, wars and struggles, floods and fires, attempts to blow up the bridge, and changes such as the building of a water duct and local railroad.

The bridge’s significance is dramatized by events that occur during and after its building. According to legend, a pair of Serbian twins had to be immured in the bridge to ensure the success of the project. The main builder, the Serb Rade the Mason, was impaled on a stake in order to frighten local saboteurs, who frequently destroyed overnight what had been built during the day because they feared the consequences of tampering with nature, especially by an occupying “evil” force. Several deaths took place on or near the bridge; there were also several attempts to destroy the bridge, the latest during World War I.

The bridge on the Drina is not merely a utilitarian structure, however. Throughout the novel Ivo Andri emphasizes three symbolic meanings of the bridge: its linking, permanence, and beauty. Despite the changes in the area surrounding it, the bridge has withstood the centuries. Andri concludes several chapters by emphasizing the durability of the bridge, while its beauty attests the artistic, creative spirit of human beings. These three qualities make the...

(The entire section contains 965 words.)

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Critical Essays