After the personal, confessional nature of the early prose poems, the first impression conveyed by Andrić’s short stories is of their objectivity. Andrić as an individual, with a particular life's path and expirience, is remarkably absent from his prose fiction. But this objectivity is only on the surface. The many characters and situations portrayed all tend to illustrate those fundamental facts of human existence with which Andrić is concerned in his verse. The extent to which all his works are indeed part of one and the same work becomes clear as the symbolic quality of the stories emerges. Andrić’s first collection of short stories entitled “The Journey of Ali Đerzelez” was published in 1920. In the interwar period Andrić published three books of stories simply entitled as “Short stories”, in 1924, 1931 and in1936; the collection of stories “New Short Stories” in 1948, “Panorama” in 1950, “Faces” in 1960 and “The House on Its Own”, posthumously, in 1976.

The major part of his fiction consists of short stories, comprising eight volumes of the collected works if one includes the novella, “Damned Yard“, as opposed to the four novelas. The stories cover a range of themes, although many of them, and the majority of those published before the Second World War, are set in Bosnia at different points in its history. The subsequent course of Andrić's life as a diplomat is quite removed from his central interests as a writer. Some aspects of his public life are reflected in the stories published in this period but these are only settings; the the intricacies of diplomatic life and writer's own activity in it play no part..

The stories do, however, arrange themselves into groups, and this is how they have been printed in the collected works, with the author's agreement. There is, for example, one volume entitled “Children“, which contains tales concerning children or seen through their eyes. There is a whole series of stories, set in the little town of Višegrad, which are similar to the individual and more or less self-contained chapters of the novel “The Bridge on the Drina”. There are also stories connected with Sarajevo and with Travnik. In these stories set in Bosnia there is a strong sense of history, some dramatic moments recur, such as Serbian uprising of 1804 and the uprising in Višegrad in 1878. They are, mainly, written in the period 1920-1941. There are also some stories, written between 1945-1960, like pieces of fantasy which are close to Andrić's prose poetry or reflctive prose than to conventional narrative fiction.

The Journey of Alija Đerzelez

Ćorkan and the German Lady

The story published in 1921 can be seen as an enlarged episode of the novel "The Bridge on the Drina". Its protagonist Ćorkan, general scapegoat in Višegrad, a figure of fun who himself joins in the mockery. In this story he is shown obsessively pursuing an obviously unattainable ideal, in much the same way as Alija Đerzelez. The light and humorous tone of the story reflects Ćorkan’s personality. The object of his obsession is physically inaccessible: a tightrope walker in an Austrian circus company visiting Višegrad. The chaos caused by the circus eventually results in Ćorkan’s receiving a beating which seems to be a regular occurrence, having more to do with relieving the feelings of the official inflicting the punishment than the extent of the crime. When his wounds have healed Ćorkan emerges from the hayloft where he crawled to recover, laughing at the way he climbs down the ladder. Ćorkan’s resilience, good humor and spontaneity are always associated with the sun, the central symbol of positive forces in Andrić’s work. Indeed, the character can be seen to have grown out of the role played by the sun in Andrić’s writing.

In the Camp

Love in the Small Town

“Love in the Small Town” written in 1923, one of Andrić’s earliest stories, may be seen even in its title, as an introduction to the Višegrad ‘cycle’. It begins with detailed description of the geographical setting: “The town lies in a hollow. The Rzav hills, the rocks of Olujaci and the crest of Liještani enclose it in a high, almost regular circle, the diameter of which is no more than half an hour's walk. On the sandy, flood-prone confluence of two mountain rivers of inconstant current, which threaten and ravage it with floods twice a year, so confined by its wreath of muntains that its last houses lean against their foothills, ravaged by droughts in summer, by avalanches in winter, by unexpected frosts in spring. “

The landscape is bleak and constricting, the climate harsh. The narrator then proceeds meticulously to draw a parallel between the town’s inhabitants and their environment: “Its closed horizon, its thin soil, its rough climate, the frequent devastation and wars, give even the children the special look of the town, aggressive and crazed.” The landscape itself foreshadows tragic fate of Rifka Papo, a Jewish girl, who attempted to cross the barrier of religion and prejudice. In the mind of Ledenik, her flippant Christian lover, she is closely related, and almost identified, with the image of Višegrad bridge. For him they are the only two things capable of comforting him and cheering him in his Bosnian desolation.

This story has less conspicuous pattern then other Andrić’s tales. After the central drama where a beauty from kasaba fell in love with a former Austrian officer who was only playing with her as Onyegin used to play with Tatyana, the author intimates that another girl now crosses the business district and attracts the attention of the shopkeepers, just as the main character, Rifka, had done before. The message of life going on after elimination of the disturbing factor is here combined with the message of that other type of short story, in which the immutability and eternal course of life emphasized.

Mustafa Magyar

In the Guest-House

The Bridge on the Žepa

The Pasha's Concubine

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“The Pasha’s Concubine” (1926) is the story of a young girl who catches the eye of a Turkish army officer and is summoned to his house. She appeals to him because of her extreme youth – she is not quite sixteen and the reason he gives for finding this stage attractive establishes one of the themes of the story: “This is the right moment in her life. She was separated from her family, frightened, alone, dependent entirely on him. From time to time she seemed to him like a little animal, which, driven against a cliff, stared at him wide-eyed aand trembling.” The woman’s vulnerability acts as a provocation, a magnet drawing the stronger element by logic of its own.  In the story the concubine herself are woven two further tales of victimization of woman, so that together they form a complete statement of the plight of woman as an innocent victim. The theme of the pursuit of a wild animal is developed in the subsidiary account of the rape of a ten-year-old, lured out of town by two youths with a promise of sugar. And in the household where Mara ends her days one of the women has a violent husband who has beaten her regularly since their wedding night.

The story of Mara the concubine is developed, as is that of Mustafa Magyar, in such a way as to make them not only vivid individuals in specific circumstances, but also in a way archetypal.

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translated by Joseph Hitrec, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, London, 1969


In the forenoon of the second day, as he was returning from the drill field, the Pasha and his escort found themselves in the bazaar. They rode cautiously over the thawing ice. It was a market day, and in front of the Garić Bakery their way was blocked by some peasants' horses laden with wood. While the flustered farmers began to hop and skip around the stubborn horses, the Pasha cast a glance into the bakery. Next to the closed brick oven stood the old baker Ali, stoop-shouldered, with rheumy, wizened eyes out of which tears kept oozing on his great white mustache. At the wide-open shopwindow, among the bread loaves and pans of meat and pies, was his daughter Mara. On her knees and propped on the counter with one arm, she had stretched the other for a platter on a shelf underneath. When she heard the shouts of the soldiers and the stamping of the peasants' horses, she lifted her head, and the Pasha, seeing her wrapped like this around the counter, fell in love with her round, childish face and her merry eyes.

When he rode that way again in the afternoon, the bakery was deserted, the window half-shuttered, and on the sill was a purring cat with signed white hair.

He gave orders that the girl be found and brought to him. The noncommissioned officers and town constables ran eagerly to carry them out. He stayed over till noon of the third day, when they reported that the matter could be arranged. The girl had no one except her father. Her mother had been well-known Jelka, named Hafizadić after the old Mustaybey Hafizadić, who had kept her for several years and then married her off to this Garić, a quiet and simple-minded young man, to whom he had also given money to open the bakery.

The Pasha left some money and entrusted the matter to his old acquaintance Teskeredžić. And toward the end of March, on another market day, they brought the girl to him at Sarajevo.

The Pasha had not been wring in his judgment. She was the kind of woman he had always sought and particularly esteemed, the only kind that still attracted him. She was not quite sixteen. She had big eyes of a dovelike shade and muted porcelain luster, which moved languidly. Her hair was quite fair, heavy, and thick, such as was seldom seen on women in this region. Both her face and her arms were covered with a fine, light down that was noticeable only in sunlight. What was unusual about her was that even those parts of her skin which were not exposed to the sun and air, were not uniformly white and dun, as is usual with blonde women, but her whole body glowed with a bright, burnished hue that changed only in the shadowy hollows or with a sudden and irregular onrush of blood, when it turned even richer. Her hands were perfectly childlike, short and pink.

The Pasha was buoyed up. In the first few days he was occupied only with her. He also found it pleasant to think that now too, as once before, he could tell by an outstretched hand the kind of woman her owner was, and her true worth. Had he brought her in earlier, it would have been no good; while three to  four months later, it seemed to him, the bloom would have been over. This was exactly the right time. She was cut off from her own kin, frightened and isolated, dependent only on him. At times she appeared to him like a young animal which, driven to the edge of a precipice, quivers in her whole body, her pupils contracting. This fanned the passion of his love and, in the contradictory ways of the male heart, evoked in him the impulse to be generous, to make her happy, to protect her.

She lived not far from the Pasha's residence, in a separate cottage which he had rented and furnished. Except for her visits to the Pasha, she went nowhere and received no visitors, save for Hamša the Gypsy, who kept house for her, and baba Anuša from Bistrik, who was distantly related to her and who lived with her two grandchildren in great poverty. She spent all her days in two poorly lighted rooms, doing those sundry little chores that are so inconspicuous and yet so easily fill a woman's day. At dusk the Pasha's equerry would come for her, and she would wrap and veil herself up to her eyes and then, with a bowed head, accompany him to the Residence.

In the beginning, after they had just brought her from Travnik, she felt utterly lost. Physical pain took complete hold of her; and it was only when this pain, after the first few nights, began to fade that there arose in her mind, like a torment, a vague yet dark and nagging thought of sin and shame. She was afraid of the Pasha, she loathed that Jewess of his, Sarah, and shied away from daylight and from people. She could not sleep, yet even in her dreams felt herself damned.

Nevertheless, she gradually came to terms with Sarah, who was taciturn and good and who did her work and helped in everything with a kind of melancholy friendliness. Getting accustomed to the Pasha and his caresses was harder; even after the initial pain and fear had faded, she accepted those numbly, in childlike bewilderment. But after a while she began to get used to them. She grew especially fond of the smell of his skin. It was seldom that she could look into those unusually steady eyes without a certain timidity, or into that face with its dreadful patch of blight on the left cheek and its dark drooping mustache that was always a little damp and quivered when he spoke like tufted grass in a dark forest pond. But the waftings that his body sent out attracted her more and more, they thrilled and delighted her; and she inhaled them for hours with her eyes closed, her head resting on his chest or in the palm of his hand.

The anguish came back to haunt her only at night when, as it often happened, he sent her to sleep alone. She would then wake up several times with a clear realization-such as can only come in the dark-of what and who she was now, and with a mouth choked with sobs she would press her face between the quilt and the pillows and stammer:


In the darkness, the racking thought would assume the shape of eternal punishment and hellish torture, not of earthly shame and ruin as in the daytime. But the next evening she would again face the Pasha with blushing cheeks and a wordless smile that seemed to be made entirely of glistening white teeth and sparkling eyes.

So it went every evening. He would come from an army exercise, or from a ride, flushed and a little sweaty, and she would wait for him with her hands crossed on her breast. he would then undress; Sarah would bring cold water, and a maid would take away his boots. After he had washed and cooled off, he would ask them to open the door and all windows that commanded a view of Sarajevo and the Trebević mountain. he would sit like this in the cool draft until Sarah brought a bottle of mastika and a tray of olives and thin strips of bread. alter the equerry Salih would come in with the nargileh on which the lighted tobacco heap would smolder a dark red, while in its crystal bottle, on the limped surface of water, there would float two crimson cherries. Then Sarah and the equerry would vanish, and from an adjoining room Mara would return, prepared, and sit on his lap. Between the two of them, this was called "sitting in the box".



Anika's Times

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Among the stories published between the wars there are several characters who dominate the tales in which they appear and seem similarly to stand for a whole category of human experience. An example is the heroine of the of the story “Anika's Times“(1931). Anika is a woman who wreaks havoc in Višegrad through the unpredictable distribution of her favours. The impact she made is still spoken of when the story opens, several generations later. Anika is a self-willed creature whose defiance of convention – flouted initially out of pique with a particular young man – predictably brings her no happiness to the extent that she welcomes the prospect of the inevitable retribution her as a relief for herself and others: “It would be an act of charity of someone would kill me”, she repeats several times before her death. In this way Anika herself is not entirely in control of her destiny, but is the vehicle of an overwhelming power over men.

The story of Anika is given an additional dimension in the form of an explanatory introduction the exact meaning of which is perhaps not immediately clear, but emerges from the account of “Anika’s Times”. This introduction describes the growing schizophrenia of the parish priest of a village outside Višegrad and his obsessive, furtive watching of women. As long as the villagers speak of him they tend to be reminded also of Anika. There is only a tenuous connection between her and father Vujadin, so that the association of the two stories in the villagers’ minds seems to suggest a more profound link. Vujadin’s madness is not directly attributable to his experience of women; he has become cut off from his fellow-men by a variety of factors. But as he steadily loses touch with society, women seem to loom ever larger in his consciousness. In this aspect of his madness that seems to disturb the villagers and urge them to give it form in their recollection of the legend of Anika.

Within the framework of the story “Anika's Times“, this introduction appears as a kind of meditation on man's perennial need to control and account for his powerful response to woman, the need which led to the creation of the legend of Adam and Eve.

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St. Georges feast day that year was remembered in town as the day on which Anika "announced herself". By the time of the feast of St. Elias, only two months later, her banner was completely unfurled. Anika opened her home to men. She hired two women, village tramps, whose names were Yelenka and Saveta, as her companions. It was in this manner that the reign of Anika Krnoyelats began - a reign of a year and a half which Anika devoted herself to evil and disaster in much the same way that other people might occupy themselves with children, bread, their homes. She ignited men, set them afire, not only in the kasaba, but in the whole district of Vishegrad. Many details have been forgotten, and many a misfortune was never revealed, but it was not until Anika's times that the people of Vishegrad discovered what powers an evil woman possesses.

Little by little the yard in front of Anika's house came to resemble a camping site. No one could keep track of the many who came at night; young and old, bachelors and married men, neighbors from nearby Dobrun and travelers from distant Focha. And there were others who, bereft of shame or reason, came in full daylight and sat in the yard or, if allowed, in the house, or simply wandered about with their hands in their pockets, glancing from time to time up at Anika's window.

One of the most desperate and ardent of Anika's visitors was a certain Tane Kuyunjiya, a thin man with very wide eyes on a worn, tired face. He would sit on a crate behind the kitchen door, saying nothing, waiting patiently for Anika, looking up only when Yelenka and Saveta entered the kitchen. Going past him as though he did not exist, Yelenka and Saveta received their guests and proceeded with them to their rooms. When they threw him out of the kitchen, he would seat himself somewhere in the yard, bashfully smiling at Yelenka as she chased him out.

"Ah, let me be, bona. What am I doing to you?"

He would wait in the yard for hours, with a mournful expression, as though he found it hard to sit there for so long. Occasionally he would rise and leave without a word, only to come again the next day. At home he was scolded by his wife, Kosara, a robust woman of peasant stock with eyebrows that ran together.

"Have you been sitting in the bitches' yard again, you ugly duckling? You should stayed there!

"Eh, I should have stayed there." he repeated sadly, and his thoughts went back to the yard he had just left.

This indifference drove Kosara insane and she started a dreadful row, but Tane only waved his hand, as though awakened from a dream.

Some of Anika's company were quite mad, like Nazif, a big and retarded youth from the house of a beg. He was a quiet fool, deaf and dumb. He would pass under Anika's window and call to her in his unintelligible language at least twice a day. He offered her a handful of sugar, and she jested with him about it.

"That isn't enough, Nazif, not enough," Anika called from above, smiling. Somehow or other the idiot understood what she had said, ran home, stole some money from his brothers, bought two half-pecks of sugar and returned to the window. Grinning with happiness, he offered her his fortune in sugar. Anika roared with laughter and indicated to him, through signs, that he had still brought enough, and he left mumbling sadly.

From that day on he came every morning, carrying a basket filled with sugar, as well as additional amounts under his wide sash and in his pockets. Anika soon grew bored with the joke. The madman's persistence angered her, and she sent Saveta and Yelenka to chase him away. He defended himself and then left muttering incoherently, only to appear bright and early the following day with even more sugar. They chased him away again. All day long he carried the sugar around the town, twittering and murmuring. Children followed him, teased him, and stole sugar from the basket which he clutched so passionately.

There were, of course, men who, lacking the courage to come in the daytime, waited for night to make their regular appearance, although many of them had no prospects of even entering Anika's house. They would simply sit there, on the trough by the fountain, waiting and smoking all night long. A man could arrive at night unseen by anyone; and he could leave in the same way. On the following morning a small heap of wood shavings and cigarette butts would appear where he had been sitting. He must have been an unhappy young man, God only knew which one; Anika certainly did not know him, and he knew her only by sight. For they were not all there just to see Anika. Some came simply because they were drawn to evil things, other because they had been from birth lost and tormented. Everything that was questionable, and contrary to God's will, assembled around that house and in that yard. The circle of men around Anika's house was rapidly expanding, and in time embraced not only the weak and the wicked, but the healthy and the wise too.

In the end, there were but few young men in the kasaba who had not been to Anika or who had not tried to approach her. First, they went to her stealthily, at night, obliquely and individually. They talked of her as something shameful and horrible, but at the same time distant and almost beyond belief. But the more they talked and gossiped about her, the more comprehensible her evil seemed. At first they pointed a stern finger at those who went there, but in the end it was those who did not go to Anika's who attracted scorn. Since only a small group of men managed to reach Anika at first try, and the rest had to content themselves with Yelenka and Saveta, envy, male pride, and vanity began taking their toll. Those who had been rejected came again, hoping to make up for the double humiliation of having gone and been rejected all in one night; and those who had been received once could no longer stop themselves, but as if under a spell went back again and again.





Conversation with Goya

Conversation with GoyaThe work which most obviously spans the categories of fact and fiction, history and legend is the “Conversation with Goya” (1935). Here, the author’s identification with his subject is complete. The ideas attributed to Goya are in fact Andrić's own reflections on the nature of art, provoked by an affinity with the painter's work. Had Andrić been interrogated as Ćamil was, he would have had to reply: "I am he".

The form of this piece, which has been used by other modern writers, brings it closer to a work of art than an essay. Goya's physical appearence is described briefly with particular attention to his hands, the bridge between the painter's physical existence and the world of his imagination. The "conversation", like so many of Andrić's works, is set in a frame with two dimension: the timelessness of a small French café, and the reference to a circus being set up outside it. The fact that the café is near Bordeaux rather than in Spain suggests the insignifiance of man-made geographical divisions.

The main idea presented in the essay is that the situation of the artist described  as ambiguous and often painful. He is resented as suspect, concealed behind a number of masks. The artist's destiny "insincerity and contradiction, uncertanity and a constant vain endeavour to bring together things which cannot be joined".

Death in Sinan's Tekke

The Torso


The hounting story, published in 1936, portraes a man who thrives in a violent situation. Its structure is one to which Andrić was to return in "Devil’s Yard". There is an outer frame of omniscient narration which describes the monk Brother Petar in his cell, recouting a story told to him by a servant in Asia Minor, where Peter was exiled for some years. The focal point is the figure Brother Petar sees framed in the window of the clock tower of a huge fortified mansion where he has been summoned to mend the clock. It is the figure of the man who once ruled Syria as ruthless tyrant, having been sent there to quell a rebellion. Eventually, after years of systematic brutality, a terrible revenge is wrought on him, and he is left – his limbs crushed and the features burned from his face – his limbs crushed and the features burned from his face – a grotesque torso, who is carried by his servants out into the garden to sit in the sun. His obvious harmlessness is emphasized before Petar realizes what he is seeing: "Something like a child, like an old woman was sitting there..."

This story is particularly concetrated, with each frame contributing a dimension to the meaning. Peter is a skilled mechanic who is particularly interested in clocks, of which he has a large collection in his cell. He is therefore seen to be on the side of time, in harmony with it and not trying to resist its passing. The servant who tells the story of Čelebi-Hafiz represents a pattern of survival regardless of the fluctuations of the fortunes of his masters. By contrast with these two passive vehicles of his story, Čelebi-Hafiz himself offers an extreme example of a pattern of rise and fall, power and ruin, abrupt change, interpreted by the people either as Divine Retribution of the workings of an Oriental Fate.

There is no real attempt to explain the tyrant’s fall, simply recognition that time and fortune inevitably brought change. The sevant introduces his account of the revenge of the tyrant’s prisoners with the words: "there is a cure for every ill, and that is that at every moment of a man's life there is a possibility that he will make a mistake, just one slight slip, but that is enough to cause his death and his absolute ruin." In addition, the instrument of the tyrant's downfall is a woman; the only creature for whom he ever felt real compassion or affection. But none of these possible human rationalizations is developed; Čelebi-Hafiz simply falls from power, just as cities and whole civilizations have flourished and perished throughout time.


Letter from the Year 1920


For Andrić an essential feature of human relationships remains attack and defense, and he examines this now in his depiction of family life, where one partner in the marriage is seen as the aggressor. One situation is developed in several stories as a symbol of such covert aggression. “Mistreatment” (1946) is a typical instance.

This story opens with a statement of general hostility towards Anica, the wife in one of these ostensibly unexceptionable marriages, and criticism of her having left her husband: “No one could understand why Anica, the wife of Andrija Zereković, one day left her home and husband. There was no obvious reason or reasonable justification for such an action”.

This story offers an example of the balance between individual experience and generalization that typifies Andrić’s technique of characterization. The generalization is deliberately intensified in this story to heighten the contrast between the familiarity of the pattern, the expectations of outsiders and the reality of the marriage itself.

The nature of the harassment to which Anica is exposed is then described. The first hints lie in the way her husband looks on her arrival in his household as a new acquisition, the crowning touch to a perfectly successful life. He likes to refer to “his wife” as often as possible in conversation with others, implying that he is more concentrated with the sound of the world as a boost to his public image than with the woman herself.

The striking common feature of all the stories portraying these various kinds of violence is that its vehicle is speech. It is through words that Andrija persecutes his wife; another character compensates for the humiliation of his working life as a civil servant. A supervisor on a state farm tyrannizes an employee through words which alternate with unpredictable periods of silence.

The Story of the Vizier’s Elephant

The House on Its Own


Only three Andrić’s stories deal directly and exclusively with the War itself, and of these one is in fact a sketch for a passage from the longest of three, “Zeko”, published in 1948. Describing the experience that led the inadequate Zeko, dominated by an aggressive wife and collaborator son, to become involved in illegal activities in the Resistance in occupied Belgrade, it has something of the uneven quality of the “The Woman from Sarajevo”. In the novel the protagonist becomes almost a caricature among characters whose treatment is realistic. In “Zeko”, the situation is reserved. The main character’s credibility is undermined initially by the almost grotesque figures of his wife and son, and his later development lacks conviction. Nevertheless, the story contains some vivid passages, particularly those describing life by the Sava River and the bombing Belgrade.

The Titanic Bar

The Woman on the Rock


The temperament of the children through whose eyes have been seen all the stories mentioned so far is striking similar, and its particular predilections are developed in the story “Panorama”, published in 1958, which contains the least equivocal statement of the positive power of the imagination.

The tale describes a source of great excitement in the childhood of the first-person narrator. For about a year during the boy’s schooldays in Sarajevo there was a permanent “Panorama of the world”: a series of still photographs which could be seen enlarged and brilliantly vivid through a series of special binoculars arranged in a circle. The photographs would be rotated at intervals so that each spectator could look at each one in turn.

For the child the world seen through these binoculars – Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon, Ceylon – became the only reality – “real, glorious, bright life” – and the life of his little Bosnia town seemed “like a bad dream”.

The style of the story conveys its mood of excitement through short sentences and exclamations. The child’s reaction are evoked by his constantly relating what he sees to his own childish experience.

Summer in the South

Jelena, the Woman of My Dream