Death in Sinan's Tekke

Review

This story, written in 1936, can be seen as a further elaboration of the theme of man's powerful, irrational reponse to woman. It is told in a gently ironic tone and offers an example of Andrić’s subtle humor. It is the tale of a wise old dervish, widely respected and admired. As he lies dying in the monastery, people come from miles around to hear his last words of wisdom. Finally the time comes for him to part from the world and he stops speaking in a moment of silent meditation. Those with him watch reverently as the great man evidently offers up his soul to God, and then ceases to be without a further word. What they cannot know is that Alidede, in his final moments, is preoccupied not by a serene prayer but by two memories, the only two incidents from his long life that come to him at that moment of exceptional significance. Each incident involves a disturbing experience with a woman. The first is his discovery, as a child, of the body of a drowned woman. He was so upset that he found himself unable ever to speak of it. The second is his hearing, as a young monk, the running footsteps of a young woman beat on the monastery gate – her only hope of escape – but Alidede, who witnessed the scene from his cell window, could not bring himself to go down and open the gate which would have brought him into direct contact with her. His last, unspoken words do indeed take the form of a prayer, but one that is very different in content from what those watching imagine.

It may be seen that there is a certain pattern in the stories discussed so far. Alidede’s insight into the fundamental forces of life is made possible by the single-minded devotional life he leads. His experience is very limited and his mind uncluttered: he is able to see the world more clearly than others who may be too involved in their own complex affairs.