Omer Pasha Latas

Review

a Omerpasa Latas VelikaImmediately after his death in 1975, Andrić’s literary executors published, as his fourth novel, a chronicle of Sarajevo called “Omer pasha Latas”, which was seemingly intended by the author to complete his chronicles of Travnik and Višegrad and to render to all three of his childhood cities the homage he felt was their due.

This posthumously published Andrić’s work is the biography of a historical personality, Omer pasha Latas, Christian Serbe, who deserted from the Austrian army to the Ottoman Empire, converted to Islam and became a celebrated Ottoman warrior and statesman in the nineteenth century. The reformist Sulatan Abdul Mejid/1839-1961/ sent Omer pasha to Bosnia to suppress the conservative and reactionary feudatories who opposed imperial reforms/ Tansimat/. Andrić however, is less interested in the historical aspects of Omer pasha’s activity than in the human drama.Omer Pasha

For Omer pasha himself the inhospitable land is similarly oppressive, although his initial journey into Bosnia from his native Croatia was itself an escape. He is cut off from that distant former life, however, and his freedom of movcement and action is thus felt to be severely circumscribed. Hisd situation is similar to that of the two Viziers–Mehmed and Jusuf-–who built the bridges over the Drina and the Žepa, because of a similar feeling of disquit: a sense of the complete gulf between the two parts of their lives.

The closing chapters of the novel are written from the point of view of the Austrian consul at the time. The undrlying theme of the letter – that the town of Travnik and the whole of Bosnia resemble a prison- is taken from an authentic  letter from the Austrian consul to Prince Schwarzenberg, dated 5 th June 1851.