The Fortress

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Northwestern University Press, 1999 - Fiction - 406 pages
3 Reviews
The Fortress is one of the most significant and fascinating novels to come out of the former Yugoslavia. Published as Tvrdava in Serbian, it is the tenth and among the best-known novels by Mesa Selimovic (1910-1982). In the novel, Ahmet Shabo returns home to seventeenth-century Sarajevo from the war in Russia, numbed by the death in battle or suicide of nearly his entire military unit. In time he overcomes the anguish of war, only to find that he has emerged a reflective and contemplative man in a society that does not value, and will not tolerate, the subversive implications of these qualities.

Set in Bosnia in the late 1700s, the novel sometimes functions as an artful metaphor for the communist Yugoslavia of Selimovic's day. At other times, the author explores the nuances of Ottoman rule in the Balkans. Muslim Ahmet's sustaining marriage to a young Christian woman provides a multicultural tension that strongly resonates with contemporary readers and sensibilities.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

paper 0-8101-1713-4 The Fortress ($59.95; paper $19.95; Sept.; 416 pp.; 0-8101-1712-6; paper 0-8101-1713-4). This long, thoughtful novel by the late Yugoslavian-born author (1910—82) of Death and the ... Read full review

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Just finished reading it and absolutely loved it. Characters are odd, unique, sometimes contradictory and very compelling. It was interesting to note many parallels with present day Bosnia where common people still deeply distrust authorities, fear their power and dream of leaving the country. However, it is also filled with patriotic love for one's city (Sarajevo), deeply rooted respect for justice and bravery. Great read but I am not sure about the translation. I read the original and I think that much of the book's beauty might be difficult to translate due to archaic language and many cultural/historical references. 


The Dniestr Marshes
Sadness and Laughter
Happiness Nonetheless
Enemy Country
Empty Space
A Strange Summer
The Dead Son
The Fear of Isolation
The Sorrow and the Fury
The Rescue
The Power of Love
Father and Son
The Epitaph
The Eternal Tracker
Death in Venice
The Fortress

A Tale of Childrens Flutes
A PureHearted Young Man
Ill Not Think of Ramiz
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About the author (1999)

Mesa Selimovic (1910-82) is one of the most significant writers to emerge from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Born in Sarajevo, of Muslim descent, he brought to the literature of Yugoslavia an unprecedented psychological subtlety and an existential concern for characters at crucial moments of their lives. His novel Death and the Dervish was published by Northwestern University Press in 1996.

E. D. Goy was a lecturer in Slavonic studies at Cambridge for thirty-five years until his retirement in 1990.

Jasna Levinger was a lecturer in English language and sociolinguistics at the Universities of Sarajevo and Novi Sad. She now lives in Cambridge.

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